Commentary

A Dude Splits: Whistle Sports Exec Selander Joins VC Group

Brian Selander, seemingly the public face of Whistle Sports Network, is joining Philadelphia-based SeventySix Capital, the venture capital investment firm that was first to invest in the millennial-oriented sports platform.

Selander, who had been EVP at Whistle Sports since 2012, will join SeventySix as its entrepreneur in residence, a move that allows him to get involved in other SeventySix investments.

Whistle Sports thrives on youthful sports competitions, probably most notably YouTube's “Dude Perfect.”  

The platform was the invention of its CEO, John West, in 2012. It grew out of the idea that younger viewers may enjoy team sports, but wanted a less serious interpretation of them and more individualized involvement than sports networks understand. 

Since Whistle Sports officially debuted in 2014, it’s amassed 270 million fans with family-friendly but often off-the-wall sports competitions that de-emphasize the dead-serious aspects of traditional sports programming narrated, as West likes to point out, by middle-aged men in suits.

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Instead Whistle Sports is fun, snackable content that pays attention to major sports by loading up on backyard-like contests-- a kind of game of H-O-R-S-E on steroids. At industry events like NewFronts, Selander was the platform's enthusiastic interpreter.

Once a multichannel network on YouTube, Whistle Sports was quick to become platform agnostic.  Equity holders now include NBC Sports, Sky and Tegna; Whistle Sports segments were also part of Verizon’s Go 90 mobile platform. “It’s Called Football,” a Whistle Sports series featuring soccer trick shots from The F2 Freestylers, launched on the NBC Sports network last month.

Selander says that the fast growth of Whistle Sports should increase as its reach becomes more global.

“My heart will always be with Whistle Sports,” Selander said in a phone conversation, but he lauded SeventySix as a place that not spots and invests in lucrative companies but also foster esprit de corp. “I don’t think there was a day at Whistle Sports that we didn’t get a kind, encouraging word from SeventySix.”

In fact, on its site, SeventySix describes itself as "passionate" and "smart" but also "nice." 

SeventySix investments range from crowdfunding site Idiegogo to the Thrive retail management platform and Reverbnation, a site that helps musicians showcase their music and promote themselves.

Other investments include Lindi Skin, a manufacturer of skin products for cancer victims and various health-care companies in North America and Israel. Five of its portfolio companies were later acquired by Fortune 500 companies.

Prior to Whistle Sports, Selander served as the chief strategy offficer to Delaware Governor Jack Markell.

pj@mediapost.com
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