Tuesday, April 1, 2014

@Twitter announces Pro Cycling Sponsorship

While "tech" has caused ballistic increases in housing prices in San Francisco, pushing condo prices over $1000/square foot, there are advantages to the presence of these companies close to home. And that's connections. A friend sent me the following story, scheduled for publication on VelocyclingNews.com.

Fresh off its remarkable $18.36 billion IPO, @Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) has announced it will be sponsoring professional cycling in 2016, coincident with the first phase in the new UCI restructuring of the top tier of professional racing.

"Every sponsor comes into cycling wanting to win the Tour de France," announced CEO Dick Costolo (@dickc), an avid cyclist himself. "Yet for any team to win is always a long shot. That's why we are taking a new approach, a guaranteed approach."

That approach, it turns out, is to become title sponsor of each and every of the 16 class 1-A UCI professional teams. With the media exposure of professional cycling teams estimated at $88.4 million per year, it only makes sense to multiply that profit 16-fold, according to Costolo. That's a $1.4B annual return on a roughly $250M investment.

"In 2016, the pro peloton will become a sea of blue," Costolo continued. When asked how the teams will now be distinguished from each other, he noted each team would have a unique hashtag printed on their blue-and-white kits.

The Twitter monopoly on class IA teams won't give them a corresponding monopoly of the top races, as teams from the lower classes may be invited. However, it would be unprecedented for a minor team to win one of the valued grand tours. So Twitter does indeed now have a virtual lock on these 3-week stage races. One day races, like Paris-Roubaix and Milan-San Remo, provide more opportunity for upset. But it's safe to say @Twitter jerseys will be dominating podiums year-round.

Twitter has already gotten enormous benefit from professional racing, as it's become ubiquitous that top riders tweet before and after each race. For example, Taylor Phinney was an early forerunner in this practice. Yet Twitter is looking at greater opportunities.

"We expect riders of every Team @Twitter to be tweeting not just before and after races, but during them. Indeed we've been working with a major component manufacturer for handlebar-mounted keyboards to facilitate this," he said. "It will be a pleasure having Taylor on Team @Twitter, firing off tweets to his captivated followers as he rides elbow-to-elbow over the cobblestones of Belgium and France."

Equipment sponsors remain to be determined, although it has been rumored that the teams will be all using OEM frames and wheels from Hong-Fu Bikes of Taiwan, with shifting and derailleurs from MicroShift.

Dramatic stuff. But we live in interesting times.

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