Wednesday, November 14, 2007

POTW II: MyFootballClub

Here goes the first violation of my Post of the Week policy: A second post of this week. Couldn't resist this one: MyFootballClub Agrees to Buy Team. Take a quick peek ... it's a wonderful democratization of an affinity, part Wisdom of the Crowds, part heretofore unthinkable micro-capitalism, part emotive-string-striking brilliance.

The scoop: MyFootballClub (in less than three months) signed up 50,000 people willing to pay a GBP 35 membership fee (quick math: 1.75mm pounds; $3.6mm) to buy and manage a soccer team with a crowd of other dedicated fans. MyFootballClub members will vote on player selection, transfers and all other major decisions.

Amazing. The crowd (the little guys) now own and control, with their 1/35,000th say, a soccer team. As shareholders, they voted on which club to acquire. As the crowd swells, the company/team can acquire better players and boost its probability of success: on the field, on the balance sheet. Or, they can acquire additional clubs. Or, buy the whole enchilada (the league).

Assuming you can bypass U.S. securities laws -- and presuming you're parked in the States; apparently it flies across the pond -- think of the possibilities: A mass of people with an affinity for (and a few bucks to back) anything, be it a Zoo, a professional sports team (think minor league baseball), a band or performing arts groups, a now-public golf course ... it's endless.

Have fun, be a fanatic, and -- perhaps -- make money.

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Post-script (04 Feb 08): Crowdfunding's all the rage, and new derivatives are popping up everywhere. The latest: A professional Bulgarian basketball team is now looking for sponsorship from a crowd of fans.

Springwise: While MyFootballClub first collected enough money from its members and then selected a team to buy, ten-year-old Start is taking a pro-active approach by asking basketball fans to fund an existing team. Start is seeking a minimum of 10,000 people—in Bulgaria and elsewhere—who are willing to sign up before May 1st, 2008, pledging to pay BGN 40 (EUR 20 / USD 30) each if enough other members register to do the same.

Once the money has been collected, the team will organize a basketball camp and try-outs. Training sessions will be filmed and broadcast on nashiaotbor.com, allowing crowdfunders to help spot and vote for talented new players. Akin to MyFootballClub's setup, members will virtually manage the team, voting online on key decisions concerning players and coaches.

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