Three cable-related companies have become the latest
private investors in an Internet sports site targeted at "extreme" sports.
Comcast Interactive Capital Group, Excite@Home and Liberty
Media Group are among a group of media investors that has purchased $40.7 million worth of
series D preferred stock in Quokka Sports Inc., a San Francisco-based Internet-sports
Other investors in the group include British
Telecommunications plc, MeriTech Capital Partners L.P., The Hearst Corp., Pivotal Partners
L.P., Crossover Fund II L.P. and British Telecommunications (Netherlands) Holdings B.V.
The three cable companies joined MediaOne Interactive
Services, a subsidiary of MediaOne Group Inc., as investors in Quokka.
Other existing investors include Accel Partners, Media
Technology Ventures, Trinity Ventures, Intel Corp., Wakefield Group, Bayview Investors
Ltd., Omega Ventures and Stanford University.
To date Quokka said, it has raised about $78.2 million in
Quokka Sports provides digital-media coverage of adventure
sporting events such as marathon running, endurance sailing and rock climbing.
Quokka also plans an initial public offering of 5.75
million shares of stock priced at $11 apiece to raise about $63 million. The offering is
scheduled to commence in mid-July. Quokka plans to use the proceeds for working capital
and to expand its marketing efforts.
To date, Quokka has relied on sponsorships of sporting
events as its main source of revenue, which explains its fluctuating sales from year to
For example, according to its prospectus, revenue for the
three months ended March 31 was $900,000, compared with $4.9 million in the year-ago
However, Quokka has revamped its business strategy -- it
now seeks long-term sponsorships instead of one-year deals -- and it has landed at least
one partnership with a television company that has cable and broadcast holdings to provide
interactive Internet content.
Earlier this year, Quokka formed a partnership with NBC,
called Quokka/NBC Ventures LLC, aimed at providing content for an interactive Web site to
coincide with NBC's Olympic Games coverage. Details of that arrangement are still
being worked out.
According to its prospectus, Quokka also has earmarked
content categories for four channels: the Olympics, motor racing, sailing and adventure
sports. However, whether those channels will end up on the digital tiers of cable systems
or as part of its Internet offering has not yet been determined.
"Quokka plans to take advantage of whatever the
digital media holds in the future," company spokeswoman Caryn Marooney said.
"The content is being created. Whatever is delivered over remains to be seen."
Quokka currently offers those channels on its Web site, and
it has agreements to cover the America's Cup yacht race next year.
The company also has long-term agreements -- through 2003
-- with the Whitbread Round The Word yacht race, Championship Auto Racing Team (CART)
racing events and FIM 500cc Road Racing World Championship motorcycle races.