Sung Ho Choi is the cofounder of fuboTV and an early LP in CoFound Partners.
fuboTV is a live TV streaming platform targeting families who want to cut the cord from traditional TV viewing. fuboTV started as Netflix for soccer but since then has expanded to all sports plus news, popular shows and movies to provide a holistic TV streaming platform. Unlike other similar services, fuboTV builds its tech stack in-house and is focused on building a premium viewing experience with differentiated product features like 4k streaming.
Launched to consumers in 2015, fuboTV now has over 250+ employees and raised a total of over $250M prior to their $183M IPO on NYSE (NYSE:FUBO). fuboTV now has 450k+ subscribers. In its more recent earnings report, fuboTV announced $66 million in revenue for the quarter, 47% YoY growth.
What was the most surprising part of the IPO experience?
SH: The most surprising part is how little effect it had on our day to day work. We’ve spent a lot of our days talking about our exit and IPO dating back to 2016. I would’ve thought it would be the apex of the startup experience.
The IPO day was fun and exciting for our team, but we were heads down building right after the bell. We still have a long way to go until we become the ultimate destination for sports fans. It still feels very early for all of us and the market.
What was your founding story?
SH: fuboTV was co-founded by me, David Gandler, and Alberto Horihuela in 2014. I met David working together at DramaFever and Alberto was a classmate of mine from the University of Chicago who I actually recruited to DramaFever to run LATAM marketing.
When DramaFever was getting acquired by SoftBank, Alberto and I were already thinking about starting a new company together. We were pursuing an idea that was generating over $1M in revenue and was profitable, but David actually convinced us to abandon that project and ultimately build fuboTV with him.
The idea started as Netflix for soccer. Along the way, we made a few major transitions, from free-to-watch, to advertising supported model, to the subscription tv-replacement product we’re now known for.
How was it working with former co-workers?
SH: Finding co-founders is tough. You truly see people’s working style by being in a pressure cooker together. So starting a company with David and Alberto felt like a huge advantage. The three of us have very little overlap in skillset and we complement each other very well to this day.
Finding co-founders is tough. You truly see people’s working style by being in a pressure cooker together
What was the unique insight that made you guys start the company?
SH: When we started, we believed that no one in the US was watching soccer because networks weren’t making it available. At that time, major networks weren’t even featuring Bundesliga games (German’s premier football league). David insisted that the soccer-watching audience was growing and he thought there was a huge opportunity.
So we started tracking the search queries for pirated soccer streams and monitoring the traffic activity. It was fascinating as we saw a large US population watching Bundesliga in Germany and La Liga in Spain. It turns out this was the case for pretty much all the major leagues. The primary search query volume was in-country and the second would be in the US. The US domestic soccer league had very little demand and most soccer fans were still primarily focused on the rest of world soccer games.
We realized there was a massive market opportunity for us to aggregate the demand for international soccer in the US as the pain point for those viewers were high and we could
Were you guys naturally interested in Soccer or always knew you would extend to other content?
SH: David certainly had a big soccer plan — he played D1 soccer. Previously at DramaFever, we all talked about building a new business. We were initially building a video ad network and David came along and pitched the idea of Netflix of soccer. And we thought it wasn’t a good idea because, at the time in 2014, we felt like no will watch soccer in the US. In 2013 no one was watching soccer so why should we grab that content.
We always had the vision we needed to extend beyond sports as very early on we found it hard to build a sports-only bundle in the US because of how licensing worked. Later we found customers who were only watching sports on our platform weren’t sticky because they could only watch so many hours a week. We figured out the best customers were existing TV subscribers who wanted sports, news, entertainment, and others so we can continuously provide programming to them.
How has COVID impacted your business?
SH: Even during COVID, we’ve found resiliency in our audience. We were preparing for a very high rate of cancellation with sports on hold, but instead what we saw was a sharp increase in viewership in news and entertainment to a point where the new viewership more than made up for the sports viewership. With sports coming back on again, we’re now seeing record levels of reactivation of sports fans. This was a very clear case of our content diversification strategy working way better than we had originally thought.
What advice would you give founders who are starting businesses today?
SH: Don’t go solo especially if you’re a first-time founder. Having co-founders with complementary skill sets who can stay on the course was critical to our success. The company and product can pivot and change early, but you can’t change the working dynamics among the founders.
Don’t go solo especially if you’re a first-time founder. Having co-founders with complementary skill sets who can stay on the course was critical to our success.
CoFound Partners is an early-stage venture firm helping founders build a repeatable sales motion.