Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Local Rivals.com CEO faced only 'one jackass'

Just a year ago, Brentwood-based Rivals.com was acquired by Yahoo! Inc. in a deal valued by some observers at about $100 million -- or, what Founder-CEO Shannon Terry, tongue in cheek, referred to last week only as "a reasonable sum of money." Today, the college-sports news leader is headquartered on Cadillac Drive and is running at a $30 million annual revenue clip, serving an estimated 400,000 fans, including more than 210,000 paid subscribers. Those and other figures were shared by Terry (pictured above) during last week's Nashville Technology Council annual meeting. Rivals.com traces its lineage from the founding of AllianceSports.com in 1996; the sale of that firm to Rivals Network for $3 million in 2001; and, the repurchase of its key assets back from Rivals Network for $500K, after RN went bankrupt. Terry said the company became cash-flow positive just nine months after being rechristened Rivals.com, helped along by a $2.5 million round of financing. Terry projects that the myriad team pages of Rivals.com will see 4.75 billion page views in 2008. Terry said resisting the temptation to wade into fields other than college sports was a crucial decision -- one that he says was reinforced by reading Forbes Columnist Jack Trout's Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. During his presentation Thursday, Terry said he's hired about 90 people at Rivals.com, yet, "I think I've only had to deal with one jackass," who didn't fit in. Himself a former Lipscomb University basketball standout, Terry said he thinks former athletes bring both the team orientation and competitiveness he looks for in new hires. Terry said Rivals.com has done well by demanding four traits of itself: Passion; Differentiating to achieve "special" status among subscribers; Mental Toughness to overcome fear of risks; and, "servant leadership." Said Terry, "The last six-seven years of my life, I feel that I've been an effective leader because I've done a good job of putting myself last."

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