Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Thuzio Enables Private Video Messages That Won’t Get Athletes in Trouble

Thuzio, a website that lets us “normals” book lunches and appearances with famous athletes, has been quietly rolling out a new feature that further lowers the access barrier for fans.

ThuzioPicture

The company has introduced a mobile app that allows the “talent” listed on Thuzio to record quick, personalized video messages by request, for $99 a pop.

This includes quick game tips from pro athletes, birthday messages from their coaches, or, maybe, perhaps, a belated Happy Fathers Day message, straight from the source to Dad.

Thuzio, which officially launched last fall, is the brainchild of Mark Gerson of Gerson Lehrman Group, former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber, and Jared Augustine, who serves as CEO and previously worked at Seamless.com.

Gerson and Barber have said they saw an opportunity in the talent-booking market to create a more transparent marketplace — whether athletes are being booked for personal engagements or corporate events (it should be noted that the majority of Thuzio’s bookings are still corporate gigs).

About half of the thousand athletes on Thuzio are currently sending personalized messages through the video app, available through either the iPhone 4, 4S, 5 or iPad. A majority of these athletes are retired, while about a quarter are still currently playing in their respective sports leagues.

Five hundred athletes is a pretty solid number to pick from, considering that Thuzio launched just about eight months ago, and names like Lawrence Taylor, Daunte Culpepper and Gary Payton are ready and willing to tape and send a quick video by request.

But there are some limitations. The first is that the mobile app is for the athletes only; Thuzio fans still have to book their athlete appearances through the website, which can be cumbersome. The site is heavily skewed toward male athletes.

Thuzio

Also, I ran a quick search for a few athletes — the San Antonio Spurs’ Danny Green, who broke an NBA finals record last night with his sharp shooting, and Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, who our boss, Kara Swisher, has admitted to not recognizing in the past (and she lives in San Francisco) — and Thuzio came up short. Green isn’t offering video messages, although you can get him to make an appearance somewhere if you’ve got $6,200 on hand; Joe Montana isn’t even on Thuzio.

Not surprisingly, other marquee players are missing, too. It doesn’t look like you’ll be lunching with LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal or Michael Jordan anytime soon through Thuzio.

But Thuzio says that as the platform grows, more and more athletes are joining of their own accord. The company says it processes dozens of transactions per week, with 20 percent growth month over month in both transactions and revenue.

It’s also starting to slowly expand to areas beyond sports, with around 30 Broadway stars currently listed on the site, and there are plans in the works for other talent verticals.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik