|Bill Squadron - President, Bloomberg Sports|
|Profile of the week|
Monday, 22 April 2013 08:40
Bill Squadron has been an executive, government official and attorney in the telecommunications, sports and media fields for more than 25 years.
Since 2009 he has served as the President of Bloomberg Sports, a new company which takes the technology developed by Bloomberg L.P.
Mr. Squadron recently spearheaded Bloomberg Sports’ expansion into predictive analytics with a focus on the soccer market throughout Europe and Asia. Bloomberg Sports was named a Finalist by the Sports Business Journal for “Best in Technology” in 2012 and by Fast Company Magazine as one of the “Most Innovative Companies in Sports” in 2011.
Prior to Bloomberg Sports, Mr. Squadron headed advanced media and technology in North America for IMG, focusing on digital products and services for fashion and sports clients. From 1997 to 2003, Mr. Squadron was co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Sportvision, Inc.
Before founding Sportvision, Mr. Squadron was Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning, at News Corporation. He also served as Commissioner of the NYC Department of Telecommunications in the Dinkins Administration and a partner at the law firm of Morrison & Foerster in Washington, D.C.
By Ismail Uddin
From working on a product like Sportvision how does Bloomberg Sports compare to this and what are major differences between the roles?
There are a number of similarities in that Sportvision, which is the company that I co-founded in 1998, was and that remains dedicated to the application of technology to sports media and finding ways that technology can enhance the fan experience bringing more entertaining and compelling sports to fans whether it's on television , online or on other platforms.
Bloomberg sports is similar in the sense, in that we are very technology oriented and look to use the core technology developed by Bloomberg for the financial markets over many decades to enhance the sports experience. But I think the main difference is that Bloomberg Sports focuses primarily on data and analytics as well as the visualisations of that data analysis where Sportvision technologies was more focused on the collection of data. Bloomberg is more focused on the analysis and presentation of data and that's what we do exceptionally well whether it comes to forecasts or predictions or enhanced content which creates insights into sports that really no one else is able to pull out. We have the opportunity to do it because we are using underlying technology that's very sophisticated and able to deal with large volumes of data and make sense of it for sports fans.
Bloomberg Sports has been up and running for the last couple of years now. How has the company evolved in that time?
Well I joined Bloomberg Sports just as it was beginning to gather some steam having been envisioned by a couple of very smart financial product executives who had been at the company for years. They were big sports fans and had came up with the idea and began to develop the concept and began to build a baseball model but Bloomberg didn't have someone experienced in the sports industry to help get the company off the ground, so I joined about three and a half years ago to head the group and get the company going and we've been very fortunate that our baseball products have been extremely popular particularly with Major League Baseball clubs who are now using our baseball system to manage their operations.
Our fantasy products have proven to be very accurate and popular and now we are very excited about the European Football products we are introducing so that's been the evolution but our plan really from the beginning was to become the premier provider of sports analytics worldwide and to be across all major sports and were still planning to follow that path.
Analytics has a huge presence in MLB. How has your partnership with the Washington Nationals developed this?
The relationship with the Nationals will help extend what we have done already because they intend, much like some of our other partners like the Chicago Cubs, to capitalise to the greatest degree possible on the underlying technology and to make sure we can apply it for them in ways that can help their operations. It will help them make better decisions about scouting, player performance, contract negotiation and about every aspect of the organisation's activities. But the underlying system is where the strength is because it is an integrated one stop shop that provides data, video and all the information required for the club to manage its range of operations across the board.
We are very excited about the deal with the Nationals because they like several other clubs are really committed to getting most out of the technology and working with us to make sure it can serve all the different needs they have within the organisation.
What are the main differences between the team product and the consumer product?
The consumer focus is very much geared towards fantasy baseball and that set of needs is very different to what a team would use. It is not even as if the consumer product is a light version of the professional product. They are simply very different products.
For our Fantasy Baseball product we would tell our customers the best order to draft your fantasy baseball team based on our projections on how different players will perform during the season. That component of the consumer product doesn't exist anywhere in the professional product and it would make no sense to have it there as it will have no use for a professional baseball team. But what we provide as part of the professional product is a very powerful integrated complete system for running a baseball's teams operations and so they are really geared to completely different audiences and while we use the same underlying data set and technology platform, the product themselves are different.
There are a number of analytics companies in the European market. What is unique about your product that will give you an edge in a competitive environment?
We think we do several things that are truly unique and result from the fact we have access to an underlying technology that was built originally for the financial markets and is very powerful and very sophisticated. We have teams of engineers and mathematicians that we think are the best in the world and that leads to what we think is our distinctive strengths.
The kinds of content we develop; the analytics and visualisations about matchups, particular teams, performance opportunities are really on a level different from what another statistics company do because they don't have access to same kind of platform we have at Bloomberg. But I would say most particularly we are able to do predictive analytics because of our mathematical forecasts and algorithms that our team are able to build which provides the most accurate purely scientifically driven projections that anyone has been able to develop, so when we provide projections on a Premier League match we believe strongly and so far the data is proving out that they are the most accurate projections that anyone has ever developed.