- TraceMe, which launches its public beta on Friday, aims to be a hub for in-depth celebrity, artist, actor or athlete content.
- The company was founded by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
- Angel investors include Jeff Bezos' Bezos Expeditions, Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai and YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is launching his own platform to help connect celebrities with their die-hard fans.
TraceMe, which launches its public beta on Friday, aims to be a hub for in-depth celebrity, artist, actor or athlete content. The mobile-first platform will be available on iOS.
"I want to connect directly with my most passionate fans—my superfans," Wilson told CNBC via email. "It's a front row seat for them, right by my side, that allows them to see what's on my mind, what's behind the scenes, each and every day. And I'm not the only one who wants this. While on this journey, I've been fortunate to speak to many other athletes, artists, celebrities, entertainers ... many of them say they have the same problem. That they feel they can't give back to their most passionate fans."
The company announced a $9 million Series A funding round on Friday led by Madrona Venture Group, whose founder and managing partner Tom Alberg is a director at Amazon. Other angel investors include Jeff Bezos' Bezos Expeditions, Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai and YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley.
Increasingly, celebrities have been launching their own apps to get closer to their followers featuring exclusive content, including the Kardashians' individual apps and Lady Gaga's Little Monsters. The MLB Players Association created Infield Chatter to allow baseball fans more access to their favorite players. But rather than an individualized platform for each celebrity or specific sport, TraceMe is aiming to be a place for all notable people to create their own online space.
"It's not for 100 percent of fans and not for 100 percent of celebrities," admitted TraceMe CEO Jason LeeKeenan, who previously was an executive at Hulu and Zulily. "It's for superfans that want to go deeper."
Wilson will still post on his regular Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels. However, TraceMe users will get access to exclusive content like a weekly podcast called "DangerTalk," training tips with Wilson's personal trainer, Decker Davis, and recipes with Wilson's personal chef. Wilson will also take questions from fans, and will have some involvement during the NFL season. However, he insists his primary focus will be football during that time.
"While (the TraceMe team) is hard at work building this platform, I'll be focused on football," he said. "My primary goal is to win the city of Seattle another Super Bowl. TraceMe will help me achieve this by motivating me through the ups and downs of the season, giving me that direct line to my fans and helping me stay focused. I'm super excited."
Though the only person on TraceMe at launch will be Wilson, the company is in talks to add others in the upcoming months. As more celebrities join the platform, they'll share similar additional content related to their areas of expertise.
"We're starting with my fans, but soon we'll add the worlds of other celebrities to the platform," Wilson said. "We're building these stunning, unique worlds that you can dive into."