Three lessons from Coach Don Meyer

ImageI gathered with former teammates, coaches and supporters of the Lipscomb Basketball community Sunday at Allen Arena to pay respects to Coach Don Meyer and his family.

Coach Meyer has been a central influence in my life for the past 30 years. I was blessed to play for Coach during his epic Lipscomb run. While I didn’t always practice what he preached, I did my best to take his principles forward in the organizations I’ve led over the past two decades.

It is safe to say Coach Meyer’s influence was baked into our culture with everything we tried to do at Rivals.com – and are now doing at 247Sports.

I could write a book on what I learned from Coach – and I may do that someday. For now, I’ve narrowed it down to my top three most important lessons:

  1. “Get In, or Get Out”

After beating rival Belmont on Jan. 29, 1990, Coach Meyer drew a circle on the whiteboard after the game. “Get in, or get out.”

What Coach Meyer knew well before Jim Collins penned it in his best-selling book is “good is the enemy of great.”

It is much harder for most people to handle success than deal with adversity.

As soon as we have some degree of success or achievement, we have a tendency to become complacent, selfish, not as focused and start allowing outside influences (family, friends) to dictate our actions.

Coach knew that the greatest threats to successful organizations where from within. He always made it a point to emphasize, “no one was bigger than the team.”

Get in, or get out.

  1. “Hard, Smart and Together”

Whether it was a central theme of Coach Meyer’s teachings or just something that resonated with me personally, the phrase “play hard, smart and together” filled my player notebooks from 1988-92.

From the inception of 247Sports in August 2010, we tagged “work hard, smart and together” in most of our internal memos and public messages.

Over the past 20 years, I’ve learned there is no greater challenge as a leader than getting an organization to consistently work hard, smart and together.

1) Hard because it takes daily and consistent effort to reach a goal
2) Smart because we need to execute a common plan
3) Together because excellence can only be achieved when everyone is working toward a goal greater than self.

Coach frequently quoted John Wooden’s, “happiness begins where selfishness ends,” because he knew that it takes an unselfish person to work hard, smart and together.

  1. The journey is better than the inn

Spanish novelist and poet Miguel de Cervantes, who is best known for his novel Don Quixote, said, “the journey is better than the inn.”

If I learned anything from Coach, it was that the treasures of life come from the experiences, trials and hard work to get to your destination – not the destination itself.

Coach Meyer was able to sustain greatness for such a long period of time because his “Super Bowl” was working hard, smart and together on a daily basis.

He competed just as hard during a Monday morning practice as he did in front of a sold-out arena against his archrival.

It was that passion to “do the next right thing, right” that fueled him to reach the top of Wooden’s Pyramid – “Competitive Greatness.”

247Sports has record traffic month

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247Sports set a record for users in May 2014.

247Sports generated 5.453 million unique users during the month of May 2014, surpassing the previous high of 4.605 million in January 2014.

  • In May 2014, users were up 142.09% compared to May 2013.
  • May 2014 surpassed Jan 2014 totals by 18.43%. It should be noted that January is seasonally the highest traffic month in our industry, while May is the lowest. In previous years, May traffic was expected to be between 25-40% lower than the previous January.

May’s disproportionate traffic growth coincided with 247Sports’ new platform which featured Bolts — an integrated news product that allows fans to get all the scoop and news on their favorite teams. Bolts is currently in an editorial and technology beta phase with a full release scheduled by the start of football season. We expect traffic trends to continue.

Traffic Data Source: Google Analytics

 

 

 

247Sports to launch new platform on Thursday

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We are excited to announce that on Thursday at 11:59 p.m. (Central) 247Sports will start the process of launching our next generation network platform.

The new infrastructure has been in development over the past 12 months and will allow 247Sports to aggressively release new products.

We had originally planned to release the platform in August 2013, but decided to spend more time in development and not risk downtime or user interruption during the high traffic football/basketball season leading up to National Signing Day.

The new platform includes updated message boards, improved administrative tools, Community Threads and our new short-form news feed that we call Bolts.

Noah will follow up with full details on the new product enhancements, but here are a few tidbits:

Bolts: Short form content in a feed format.

The idea is to have a single feed of original and curated content that gives users/fans all the news on their favorite teams and athletes. For so long, our great content from experts has been hidden in the message boards or in long-form articles. We will continue focusing on articles, updates and boards, but will be adding a news feed that fans can check frequently for the latest news and info on everything concerning their team. We are releasing a beta version with a full release in Summer 2014. Bolts will easily convert into an app and allow for 247Sports to go beyond college and recruiting coverage.

Integrated Publishing:

247Sports has created a revolutionary (for our industry) publishing platform that allows experts, moderators and curators to post short form updates (Bolts) directly to the message boards, front page, social media and the network-wide Bolt feeds from a single interface. This allows reporters to work more efficiently and insures that fans/users can easily get the news on their teams.

Community Threads:

When we released All-Access VIP (AAVIP) in 2013, we had Community Threads in mind. With Community Threads, admins will be able to launch message board threads on multiple sites and allow conversation to take place among different fanbases. Users from different message boards will be able to engage in a single topic without leaving their home message boards.

Message Board Enhancements:

Noah will have the full scoop of the board enhancements in an update on Thursday, but several popular features added with this release include: Twitter and Instagram embed in post, video and image vault, multi-quote, flag post, and other administrative functions.

***

It is an exciting time to work at 247Sports. We are now in the product phase of our business. Our team has spent the past three years laying the groundwork so that we could get to this stage – creating products and services we believe will define our category for years to come, while also allowing us to expand our coverage and take advantage of more mainstream opportunities.

We have one more significant hurdle, and we respectfully ask for your help.

As I mentioned above, the team will begin the infrastructure release Thursday night just before midnight Central. This is the most significant release in our company’s history; every administrative function has been rewritten to the new platform.

We have tested the platform for many months, but there are aspects we cannot replicate in a test environment. We ask for your patience following the release as we work through anticipated bugs and potentially an unstable environment. Our team has a plan in place to deal with the issues as they arise, but we anticipate a somewhat unstable environment for 5-10 days.

We ask for your understanding as we migrate to the new platform. The immediate benefits and schedule of new products and message board enhancements coming this spring and summer will make this obstacle well worth the minimal nuisance.

Again, thank you for your support and belief in 247Sports. We are committed to bringing fans great editorial products and services and will continue to work overtime to create the best content and experience possible.

Shannon

 

BOOM! POW! ComicBook.com crushes traffic goals in March

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Behind increasing popularity in AMC’s hit television show, The Walking Dead, and increased content focus, ComicBook.com crushed traffic goals during the month of March 2014.

– ComicBook.com registered a record 2.712 million unique visitors, a 313.22% increase over the same period in 2013

– ComicBook.com grew page views by 343.86% in March

– ComicBook.com reached ~20,000 concurrent user sessions during the month

– ComicBook.com surpassed its previous high month for traffic (Nov 2013: 1.693 million uniques) by 60.19%

ComicBook.com was founded October 31, 2012 and was reorganized in January 2014. The company plans to relaunch in May 2014 with an increased emphasis on expanded coverage, new social media initiatives and a next generation publishing platform, with proprietary products to enhance fan experience as they follow their favorite superhero/comic book inspired television shows, movies, video games and more.

 

247Sports reaches traffic milestones & team site superlatives

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Highlighted by an ultra successful National Signing Day 2014, 247Sports continues to earn market share, meeting traffic and new member goals in February 2014.

February 2014 Notes:

– Through the first two months of 2014 (Jan & Feb), 247Sports registered 250.9 million page views.

– Registered 4.01 million unique visitors in February 2014, after recording a company best 4.61 million in January 2014.

– Registered 30% YOY growth in unique visitors and page views in February 2014.

As previously noted, a few NSD 2014 Highlights:

– Reached a single day record 1.033 million unique visitors on NSD 2014, a 49.68% increase over NSD 2013.

– Recorded 14.9 million pageviews (all-time high), up 66.55% over NSD 2013.

February’s Super 12 Team Sites

Gold Medal

1). Dawgs247 (Georgia) … breakout month for traffic and new member growth … registered 130.75% growth in unique visitors and 126.35% growth in page views in February 2014 vs Feb 2013 … moved up to the 9th largest traffic site in 247Sports network.

Silver Medal

2). Lions247 (Penn State) … continues as one of the fastest growing team sites in the industry … registered 94.40% growth in unique visitors and 114.69% growth in page views in February 2014 vs. Feb 2013 … ranked the 6th largest traffic site and 10th largest subscription site.

Bronze Medal

3). Geaux247 (LSU) … moved up to 13th largest traffic site in 247Sports network, after registering 192.10% growth in unique visitors and 91.27% growth in page views in February 2014 … now the 9th largest member site in the network.

Other winners.

4). Gigem247 (Texas A&M) … moved up to the 12th largest traffic site in 247Sports network … recorded 74.50% growth in unique visitors and 89.53% growth in page views.

5). TheBigSpur (South Carolina) … breakout month with unique visitor growth of 64.56% and page view growth of 23.15% … finished February as the 5th largest traffic site and subscription site.

6). Bucknuts (Ohio State) … led the network in page views in February, beating its peer team site BamaOnLine (Alabama) by more than 14%. Bucknuts remains one of the iconic team sites in our industry and one of the top 5 largest overall team sites, regardless of network … ranked no. 1 subscription site.

7). Vandy247 (Vanderbilt) … breakout month and quickly becoming the market leading site … grew unique visitors by 205.29% and page views by 295.83% in February 2014.

8). Badger247 (Wisconsin) … reached a major traffic milestone in February 2014, registering 155.54% page view growth … moved up to the 23rd largest traffic site in the network.

9). Horns247 (Texas) … registered 40.65% growth in page views in February 2014 … 7th largest traffic and member site in the network.

10). VTScoop (Virginia Tech) … registered 66.17% unique visitor and 65.60% page view growth in February 2014 … 19th largest traffic site in the network.

11). OUInsider (Oklahoma) … starting to breakout and return to prominence in our industry … Moved up to no. 16th largest traffic site in the network after registering 46.85% unique visitor growth in February 2014 … 8th largest member site in the network.

12). HuskersIllustrated (Nebraska) … breakout month with 72.16% growth in unique visitors and 36.48% growth in page views.

ComicBook.com scores TD during Super Bowl XLVIII

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 ComicBook.com registered another record traffic month in February 2014.

 Highlights:

 –  Registered YOY unique visitor growth of 290.45% and page view growth of 274.35% in February 2014, compared to February 2013.

 – Registered 1.608 million unique visitors in February 2014, just below an all-time high of 1.693 million in November 2013.

 – Second highest traffic day in company history on February 2nd as ComicBook.com was a go-to destination for Super Bowl XLVIII commercials/trailers featuring the summer’s upcoming action blockbuster movies. ComicBook.com registered 172,389 visits.

 – Through the first two months of 2014 (Jan & Feb), ComicBook.com registered unique visitor growth of 288.98% and page view growth of 269.05, compared to the same period previous year.

 – Will re-launch on a new proprietary platform with expanded products and coverage in May 2014.

247Sports: Transitioning to Product Phase

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Our mission at 247Sports has always been to work with the highest quality editorial staff while building the next generation of disruptive products in sports media.

Since launch in August 2010, 247Sports has experienced torrid growth.

In fact, our somewhat unexpected attraction of top talent and market-leading sites actually slowed our ability to deliver innovative products.

Our leadership group struggled to find a balance between building and supporting a traditional team and recruiting network with our overall mission of building game-changing products for our category.

We’ve taken the approach of supporting our large market team sites and their fans/users as first priority and building innovations secondarily, with hopes of some day completing our traditional platform and launching the company down the path we intended 3½ years ago.

Last September, our engineering team all but completed our core platform – which will serve as our foundation for the next several years.

We opted not to launch the new core at that time because we did not want to disrupt user experience during the high traffic season.

This decision was extremely difficult because our engineering team was tasked with supporting two systems – an outdated legacy platform and our new platform that will launch us into the product phase of our business.

Now that we are through the high traffic season, culminating with a record National Signing Day, our team is preparing to launch our new core – which will come with several message board enhancements.

The team is shooting for a March 15 launch. The two weeks after launch we’ll be fine tuning and working through any issues that we couldn’t test for without the heavy traffic loads of going live.

After the launch, 247Sports will enter the anticipated product phase and turn our focus and vast resources to building the next generation of products and services.

***

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Even though we’ve been tasked with building the team and recruiting network from scratch, the 247Sports product and engineering team led by Noah Stanley (CPO/COO), Cory Lovelace (CTO) and Riley Bryant (Chief Architect) have launched many game-changing products and innovations – which serve as a sampling of what fans/users can expect from 247Sports in the future.

All-Access VIP (AAVIP), Class Calculator and Recruiter Rankings have all received high user adoption. However, most 247Sports releases in 2013 were overshadowed by the immense popularity of the Crystal Ball and 247Sports Composite.

Crystal BallIf you’re forced to drive a horse and buggy, you aren’t going to be pro-automobile.

I believe the 247Sports Crystal Ball is the most polarizing and disruptive product the recruiting media industry has seen since broadband allowed highlight videos to play seamlessly online.

Crystal Ball compiles predictions from the industry’s recruiting experts into an intelligent projection of which school a recruit will choose.

The product removes much of the unwanted drama with a recruit’s decision, and can be expanded into an unlimited number of categories and user-interaction products.

247Sports is just scratching the surface with the data applications and interactivity of the product.

247Sports Composite:

Can a recruiting network claim to be the best when 75%-80% of its staff has moved on to work for its competitors?

Can a recruiting network claim to be the best when a large percentage of its scouts/evaluators are twenty-somethings just out journalism school?

Can a recruiting network claim to be the best because it’s the “world-wide leader in sports” – or the “No. 1 brand” in recruiting for that matter?

The answer is — it can’t.

With that said, I am a staunch believer the recruiting industry as a whole has never been stronger or more accurate.

The proliferation of camps, all-star games, access to more video, larger recruiting media travel budgets and the cultivation of relationships with college coaches over the past decade have helped all the participants in the category deliver an outstanding product.

All the major players in the recruiting industry do an outstanding job, but you will never convince me that one group consistently outperforms the others year after year.

Everyone has strengths, and all have weaknesses – and that includes 247Sports.

That is why we created the 247Sports Composite.

The 247Sports Composite offers fans/users the most comprehensive and unbiased prospect rating and ranking in the industry. The 247Sports Composite is the featured ranking for 247Sports – powering our Team Rankings, Recruiter Rankings and Crystal Ball points. It will also be used in a wide range of rankings planned for the future.

The 247Sports Composite is quickly becoming the most widely used and sourced recruiting rating and ranking by media, fans and bloggers.

***

It is an exciting time to work at 247Sports. After three tremendous years, we are now 30-45 days away from transitioning into our product phase.

Our team has spent the past three years laying the groundwork so that we could finally be at the stage to create products and services that we believe will define our category for years to come, while also allowing us to expand into more mainstream opportunities.

Our investors believe in our long-term vision and have provided the investment capital necessary for our team to continue to enhance and broaden our product offering – at a time when our competitors continue to remain OK with status quo.

In addition to improving the existing publishing platform, we will enhance message boards, further develop interactive products like the Crystal Ball and adapt our editorial practices with new technologies to best fit the way fans/users consume content.

We understand that sports business – especially college and recruiting – is a highly competitive landscape.

However, we embrace competition! It takes true competition for us to reach our full potential, and it takes competition to create the innovative products and services that benefit consumers.

We appreciate your support!

 Shannon

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