THE SPORTS ENTREPRENEURS
Sports Tech “Made in Italy”
Giampiero Rinaudo, a passionate Italian sports tech Entrepreneur, Founder & CEO of Deltatre. Being the CEO for the past 35 years, managing the growth over three decades with now a team of over 1,000 technologists, designers, and innovators across the world who are driven by a passion to change the way the world consumes content.
- How it started, at the young age of 20 as a student, started to work part time in “timing support” with Olivetti – in Alpine Skiing and F1
- In 1986, Deltatre was born, with three partners – continuing to service Olivetti in result and timing systems (manual time spotting at F1)
- Olivetti starting to have financial problems, time to be a proper entrepreneur and start offering service to multiple clients
- In 1995, about 40 people, growth in second decade driven by growth in media rights fees, especially Football
- UEFA Champions League, big new client and opportunity, central results system operator
- Staying at the cutting edge, working with top clients who push company to new heights and working globally
- Internet and PC boom offering new opportunities, World Championship of Athletics, Gothenburg, 1995 – first real time results on the internet
- Building websites and portals for Federations – clear focus to be a service provider, not in competition with our clients
- In 2005 (second decade), 110 staff, two offices, heavily focused on 2-3 big clients, UEFA, FIFA, IAAF
- His own Entrepreneurial journey and learning – software developer turned CEO. Learning on the job
- Third decade, from 5 clients to 70 clients, streaming over the internet and social media, nearly 500 people
- First Olympic streaming website for NBC at the Beijing Olympics 2008 – great success
- London 2012 – first proper digital Olympics – again involved at a major level
- Starting to develop “Products” for broader range of clients with smaller budget (changing from Service to Product culture)
- New Broadcasters clients, still focused on Europe and a few around the world
- Growth funded internally until 2008, looking for growth beyond organic, Italian investor came in and Deltatre saved them during the subsequent global crisis
- 2016 Bruins Sports Capital (BSC), buys 75%, 25% still held by management – big growth in the US through BSC strong network
- First new client(s) in the US, NFL Game Pass, then MLB, MLS
- OTT growth, now 50% of the business – broadcast clients
- Acquisition of Massive Interactive – combining their product culture with Deltatre service culture
- OTT – discussion about the evolution, the opportunities and challenge with monetization
- Partnerships with Rights Holders, example with DFL (Bundesliga) and Sportec Solutions
- Beyond sports, a look at entertainment, Gaming & Esports
- Deltatre and Covid – effects on company & “one company” system & the “new normal” office culture
- Look into the future of Deltatre – continued two digit growth, acquisition, etc
“When I was young, I wanted to be a timekeeper for alpine skiing,” says Deltatre’s Group CEO, Giampiero. Fascinated by sports, and growing up near Turin, Italy, within easy reach of mountains, it wouldn’t have been an unrealistic goal. But Giampiero, known as Gipi, would follow a related, but different, tact.
After completing his Computer Science studies at the University of Turin, he took his career dream as a starting point and supercharged it. Setting up Deltatre with two partners in 1986, he combined his interests in technology and sport to produce better fan experiences across the world – an ambition which began with creating ways to record times and other sports data more accurately. “I was a lover of computers and data and I loved sports, so I thought ‘what better than setting up Deltatre?’ Computers and sports were my passions,” he says.
When he set up the company aged just 27, Deltatre was unsurprisingly a very different place to today. An early project involved developing software to provide more accurate timekeeping for Formula 1, with the company installing transponders within cars to ensure lap times could be measured accurately – a tactic still used to this day.
Personal computers were in their infancy, meaning heavy equipment would often be carted to games. “They did the tasks we were doing at that time like record timings and inform about results,” he says. “Now we’ve moved in a completely different direction.”
Gipi could never have foreseen the incredible growth that Deltatre would encounter. From its humble beginnings as a team of just three, to more than 1,000 technologists, designers, and thought-leaders today in 19 offices across the globe. Now a silent partner powering many of the world’s most-watched events, including FIFA World Cups, UEFA Champions Leagues, ATP Tennis Tournaments, and NFL Super Bowls – to name just a few.
Disruption has remained constant over the past three decades – and Gipi and employees have evolved with it rather than fervently clung on to techniques of the past. With the recent acquisition of software company Massive Interactive, which specialises in the entertainment OTT space, this has never been more true. “When I look back every year, the company is never the same as the year before; it’s a constant transformation,” he says.
As well as the continued growth of the company, he believes one of his biggest achievements is the culture fostered at Deltatre. “It’s a very informal environment and my door is always open,” he says. And how does he want others in the company to view him? “Honest and loyal,” he says, “which I believe are also important sport values.” Outside of work, he enjoys alpine skiing, swimming, and hiking.