From team managers to fans: everyone interested in sports can benefit from the big data analysis options provided by Genius Sports
The company is dedicated to delivering real-life information to all stakeholders in professional sports and offers a number of solutions to ensure informed, clever and effective decision-making. Atanas Ignatov, Delivery Director at the Bulgarian branch of Genius Sports, and Anna Krusteva, People Operations Manager, share more.
What is Genius Sports?
Genius Sports is a part of Genius Sports Group, one of the world's largest sports technology companies, specialising in the capture, distribution and commercialisation of live data, streams and digital content. Our ultimate goal is to help sports grow while providing fans with exciting experiences. We help sports leagues and federations undertake digital transformations or how their sports are managed, while enhancing how they engage their fans.
Anna Krusteva, People Operations Manager
Headquartered in London, we have offices here in Sofia, New York, Medellin, Tallinn, Melbourne, Bologna, Vilnius, Lausanne and Singapore, which are home to over 1,400 of our talented employees. Our Sofia office is really the "nerve centre" for Genius Sports' data collection and monitoring operations, building cutting-edge software that underpins its strategy of representing official data rights and monetising them on behalf of sports.
Who are your clients?
We work with over 500 sports globally, including many of the world's largest leagues and federations such as the NBA, Premier League, FIBA, NCAA and PGA TOUR. We are an official partner to the Bulgaria Football Union, as well as the Bulgarian basketball and volleyball federations.
Why is big data analysis important in understanding modern sport?
Every aspect of sport requires data analysis. Whether you are a coach wanting to improve performance, a fan wanting to get to know your favourite team or players better, or a sport wanting to safeguard against match-fixing, detailed live data is absolutely key.
How can data provided by Genius Sports help clients?
Genius Sports builds technology and offers operational services that allow sports to collect data in a really accurate and efficient way. Our LiveStats app is used by hundreds of basketball and football leagues around the world to capture official, real-time data from pitch and court-side. Once that data is collected we have the infrastructure and distribution network to help those sports engage their fans and monetise the asset via the sports betting and media sections. It is a very clear strategy of sports to take control over their data in this way as it provides an extremely important and sustainable revenue stream.
What is your LiveData product for sportsbooks?
One of the key experiences that real-time data facilitates is in-play betting. In-play betting is now a huge part of the sport betting industry, in fact, it is its fastest growing product. But sportsbook operators can only offer this product safely and securely if they have very fast, accurate and reliable data. Their odds (probabilities) need to be updated the second a goal is scored or a red card is given, otherwise they are exposed to risk and their customer experience is poor. Using the live data we collect as a business, we are able to offer these sportsbook operators a variety of services. They are all based on giving customers real-time updates on what is happening at thousands of sporting events around the world. That is why our Sofia team is so vital in our global operation; to ensure we are collecting the right data, that it is accurate, and that our partners can trust it.
What is the essence of your product Betgenius? What are its advantages to users?
Betgenius is the division of Genius Sports Group that offers all our services to bookmakers. Its multi-award-winning technology is built to help sportsbook operators maximise their performance through engaging betting content and sportsbook management services. And because we work so closely with sports to create official data and streaming products, we can be sure we offer the best possible service at all times, while also ensuring that sports leagues see a good financial return on the betting activity around their competitions.
Why did Genius Sports open an office in Bulgaria?
We first opened an office here in 2015 and we quickly tripled the scale of the company both globally and locally. Last year we moved to a new office with plans to employ over 400 people. Here we work in two main directions: technology and product development, and the operations in which we collect all the information. As soon as we started working and hiring in the city we realised the talent pool is fantastic and we now have some of the world's leading experts in live sports data. We are still growing though! We have exciting new Engineering vacancies currently available for .NET, PHP developers, DevOPs Engineers.
What was 2020 for your Bulgarian office? What were the main challenges you had to deal with? What are its main goals?
For us, 2020 is the Year of Challenges, but in a much different aspect. Stopping the sport because of the pandemic put us in an unprecedented situation.
On the one hand were our customers and on the other our employees. Being a close and trusted partner to sports, rather than simply a service provider, has always been central to Genius Sports' ethos. This philosophy has never been more important than in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has had a profoundly damaging impact on sports at every level.
Even the small minority that was able to resume their competitions (providing a welcome relief to our business and the wider industry) are doing so with empty stadiums. The grim reality is that for 2020 and for some time after, rights holders will be without the ticketing, hospitality and merchandise revenues that are vital for their existence.
This is where we come in. Genius Sports is taking a proactive approach, via a new Support Programme, that will help offset these losses, accelerate their digital transformation and tie us into long-term partnerships.
Safeguarding our employees' health and wellbeing has always been our priority. In the very first months of the pandemic we proved that we can work extremely flexibly and can adapt to the changing environment without having a decrease in our employees' efficiency. Our global IT Infrastructure Team played a huge role here as they could set up all our systems in a short time and allowed all employees – not only in Bulgaria, but worldwide – to work remotely.
One of the main challenges was how to maintain the company culture and communication. In this new environment for the whole company, the teams and their managers showed exceptional qualities and adaptability. Our senior management played an extremely active role by organising monthly virtual meetings, during which they answered various questions asked by the employees. Globally we created new virtual spaces to replace the office ones for socialisation, we changed the form of the work meetings and created many virtual clubs of interest – for gym and sports, Genius-kids, Genius Foodie, etc. We also created a calendar and virtual events with different useful and interesting articles related to the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our employees.
What professionals work in your Bulgarian offices?
The Bulgarian office of Genius Sports is a unique symbiosis of different professionals. On the one hand we have IT and development engineers, and on the other we have our operational specialists. In the last year our Sofia team grew with an amazing speed. We tripled the number of our colleagues and we continue to hire.