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NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana is giving a $250,000 boost to messaging app and chatbot platform Blend, it was announced Wednesday. Montana’s investment expands his technology and social portfolio, which also includes investments in social company Pinterest and file storage service Dropbox.
His investment in Blend will directly support the development of “Genies” or the app’s equivalent of customized messenger chatbots.
This week, Blend is releasing 32 NFL Genies—one for each team—in order to provide fans real-time content, such as game updates, injury news and viral Tweets.
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Through Blend’s proprietary technology, Genies can pinpoint viral content online and across social media even before it goes viral, leveraging third-party APIs to pull in the various pieces of information from sports teams, leagues, news sources and other platforms.
Still, in spite of chatbots receiving little buzz over the last 12 months and wavering as a communication tool, Montana believes Blend has a two-fold advantage compared to other platforms on the market.
“First in its easy ability to curate or personalize only the information, post or subject matter that interests you. With the volume content available scattered across the web, we feel Blend has created a solution to funnel and concentrate the information into one easily digestible social space while not taking away from any of the experiences that come along with the platforms consumers love,” Montana explained to SportTechie via email. “Secondly, having it shared directly with a group of friends who also share those interests and genuine conversation can be generated surrounding the posts could lead to something powerful.”
He added that with Blend’s entry into the NFL, the “potential for franchise engagement is exponential.” The NFL chatbots will join existing Genies, including Yahoo Fantasy Football and ESPN.
Since Blend’s launch last October, the company has already released 200 Genies, which has led to more than 300,000 new users. By 2017, Blend—which has received over $10 million in funding to date—plans to release over 1,000 Genies.