Strattam invests in SSB as it eyes opportunity in high-quality datasets

  • Data analytics platform for sports/entertainment, education, healthcare
  • Customers, including NFL and NHL, a selling point
  • 3rd data analytics play by Strattam, after Blacksmith Applications, Trax

Strattam Capital’s investment in data-management company SSB, the first deal out of its second fund, was about more than just technology, according to Managing Partner Bob Morse.

“There’s a lot of talk about AI,” Morse said. “A lot of people have developed very sophisticated algorithms of different sorts. What’s hard to do … is to get long-run complete datasets in a particular industry and to understand the particular problems of a set of customers, so you know what to do with the insights.”

The possession of such datasets is one “huge advantage” that older companies have over young startups, he said.

Strattam sees that advantage in Denver-based SSB, whose website offers “a comprehensive method of enabling an enterprise to provide a common point of reference for all of its critical data.”

Among its customers are leading sports leagues: NASCAR, the NHL, NBA, Pac-12 Conference, SEC and NFL —“one of the more interesting logo slides you ever put in a deck,” according to Jeff Sussman of First Hill Partners, an investment bank focused on tech and healthcare companies in the Pacific Northwest.

Sussman and his co-founder, Richard Wood, advised SSB on the transaction, which was announced last week. The company works with half the NFL’s teams, as well as clients in healthcare and education.

For organizations selling tickets to a sporting or entertainment event, it’s difficult to combine information from Ticketmaster, secondary exchanges like Stubhub, alumni and boosters clubs, and concession sales, Morse said. “This team has done a really great job with the plumbing of putting that together and then adding analytics.”

SSB was “in a succession-planning process and looking for not just an investor but someone to come in and help with that transition,” Morse explained. The company started out 10 years ago doing consulting, then developed a platform that several of the partners decided to turn into a software business.

Strattam is investing alongside those partners, as well as new CEO Mike Banville, previously a vice president at IHS Technology.

Discussing potential for growth, Morse said universities that sell tens of thousands of tickets to big games face similar problems in fundraising and other areas: “We are in a small number of universities. Increasingly, the company’s been drawn into broad, universitywide fundraising efforts, and we think there’s a big opportunity to do more of that.”

Morse likened SSB to two other Strattam investments: Blacksmith Applications, which provides software for managing consumer-packaged-goods promotions, and Trax, a data and analytics platform for logistics.

“All three are expressions of the same investment thesis in different specific niche markets. These are very valuable franchises, and as people want to do more with their business data, it will be the specialists who really understand their industries that will have a great opportunity.”

Morse co-founded Strattam in 2013 with fellow Oak Hill Capital Partners alum Adrian Polak. Based in Austin, the firm invests in enterprise software and IT companies that are 15 to 20 years old. SSB is the first investment out of Strattam’s second fund, which is targeting $225 million and held a $101 million first close in September, Buyouts previously reported.

Photo of co-founder Robert Morse courtesy of Strattam

Action Item: Check out Strattam Capital’s Form ADV here.