Innovators: Fantasy Football Pioneers

FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

If the phenomenon of “fantasy football” had a Hall of Fame, publishers Ian Allan and Bruce Taylor would likely be charter inductees.
The co-founders of Seattle-based Fantasy Index Magazines LLC laid out the first edition of Fantasy Football Index on a bootlegged copy of PageMaker 1.2 in 1987, when the internet was merely a dream. The magazine, which provides statistical analysis and a projection of professional football players’ performance for the millions of fantasy-sports geeks out there, was the first of its kind. Today, it has a circulation of more than 217,000.

“I really wish I was about 15 years younger so that I had more time and energy to learn database programming,” says Taylor, 43. “That has become an enormous information driver”

Taylor and Allan introduced a simple online application a few years ago that produces customized NFL player rankings. Users enter scoring system data from their various respective leagues. The application then matches those data with Fantasy Football Index’s statistical projections and generates player rankings tailored to each individual league.

To keep up with competitors, Fantasy Football Index has taken incremental steps to stay fresh, such as the addition of daily blogs and updates about fantasy football and baseball.

After 21 years in the business, it remains a small company, with just six employees. Will it ever get bigger? Taylor isn’t sure.
“Our sustainable competitive advantage is quality of analysis,” Taylor says. “My wife says, ‘Keep it small, keep it all.’ We could offer a share of our company to someone who wants to pour a ton of money into hiring database people, but we’d always be outgunned by ESPN and Yahoo.


Photo by Richard Darbonne