“We are the largest fan-driven platform in the world.”
This is the claim made by Israeli-born Asaf Peled, the chief executive of FTBpro.com, a football fan’s top port of call for user-driven news, opinion and humour on the beautiful game.
Around 1500 writers contribute written content for free, generating 300 articles per day purely for the thrill of having their work published on the prestigious website.
Peled, who lives in London, has attracted £4.87 million of investment for the site, which he founded two years ago with fellow Israeli entrepreneurs Gili Beiman and Yuval Larom.
The football source now garners 40 million page views per month, and is growing by 40 to 50 per cent, quarter on quarter.
The funding from Battery Ventures and Gemini Israel Ventures will enable FTBpro to expand beyond its current reach, which is mainly concentrated in Europe. This is reflected in the four languages which the site offers: English, Italian, German and Spanish.
Peled spoke of his plans to roll out more linguistic options in the coming years, including French to Portuguese, Arabic and Chinese.
“Most of our users are coming from Europe,” he says. “I believe Asia presents the most lucrative expansion opportunity over the next five years.”
In order to achieve his goal of forming “the most global, vibrant football community in the world,” Peled will push forward the company’s new business model in 2014.
“Advertising and sponsorship is the business model, which we will implement when we have 100 million page views per month,” he explains. “We’re almost halfway there at 40 million. We think we’ll get there next year, either in the first or second quarter.”
He also secured a deal with the League Managers Association, which represents Premier League and Football League managers, that allows the site exclusive interviews with the bosses of some of the best clubs in England. Peled, 39, puts the success of his company down to “the innovative, tech-driven platform that enables thousands of fans to produce varied content and put it online.
“It taps into every football fan’s passion to write about football.”
However, he admits that not every submission sent to the site is good enough to be published: “Many people generate content that we don’t share. At first we didn’t put enough emphasis on quality — but we fixed that.” Peled says working for venture capital firms and networking provider Cisco Systems in what he called “three major Silicon Valleys” — Tel Aviv, San Francisco and Bangalore in India — inspired him to start-up the company.
“I saw an opportunity to combine my three passions: technology, finance and football.”
Why solely focus on the game? “We’re not like traditional sites, where you go for all sports. It doesn’t make sense to have different sports fans on the same platform.
“You wouldn’t have them at the same ground!”
The most popular demographic for the site is 20 to 35-year-olds, and Peled believes that young supporters engage with FTBpro because it serves the needs of modern fans.
“When we started out, there were two gaps in the market. Every football fan has the enthusiasm and expertise to be a journalist, but they had no platform. The other gap we fill is that the site is more engaging, authentic and colourful than traditional sports news as rely on social networks.”
With the game’s global popularity growing all the time, FTBpro is set to satiate fans’ obsessive need for football stories for years to come.