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Hudl acquires APEX, solidifies spot atop sports video analysis market

The high school sports offseason is, it appears, prime shopping season for Hudl.

For the second offseason in a row — and the second time inside a calendar year — Hudl has purchased its largest competitor. The Lincoln company, which makes web-based video analysis and coaching tools for sports teams, today announced it has acquired APEX Sports Software of Lower Burwell, Penn. Hudl paid cash, giving up no equity in the deal. No APEX employees will join the Hudl team, which currently stands at 54 employees.

Today’s news comes just 11 months after Hudl’s July 2011 purchase of Digital Sports Video (DSV), which at the time was the second-largest player in the sports video analysis market.

With more than 8,000 high schools and colleges using Hudl, the company already had the largest client base of any company in the space. Through the purchase of APEX, which has about 1,600 clients in the high school and college ranks, Hudl further solidifies its already dominant position.

Hudl says the larger pool of users means more teams for APEX and Hudl clients to exchange video with, a deeper pool of athletes for recruiters to scout using the software and a wider array of coaches providing feedback, which will help Hudl improve its products.

“As we’ve expanded that base it continues to make things more efficient for our schools,” Hudl CEO David Graff said in a phone interview today, “in terms of the film exchange side of things and in terms of just giving an even better one-stop shop for college recruiters to go to when they’re looking for athletes.”

The purchase also helps Hudl beef up its presence in a couple of football hotbeds where it previously lacked a significant presence. “APEX is a really strong company in Pennsylvania and Florida — that’s where a lot of their client base is — and those are two of the areas where we’re weaker right now,” Graff (left) said. “So they’re really filling some of the holes for us well.”

When Hudl first broke into the high school ranks in 2008, the company did so with 12 clients. That number grew to 350 in 2009, ballooned to more than 2,000 one year later and, with the purchase of DSV, shot up to more than 6,000 last year. By the end of 2012, Graff said his company expects to have 10,000 clients on board.

Although Hudl’s client base is becoming more geographically diverse, Graff said the company’s growth will be concentrated in the city where it started. “Our goal is to stay right here in Lincoln,” he said, “to focus most of our growth here.”

Also central to Hudl’s growth strategy is funding that growth from within. Hudl has raised just more than $3 million in outside funding to date, but it hasn’t brought on capital since it closed a Series B round in December of 2009.

“We’ve been profitable the last few years,” Graff said, “which has allowed us to be in a great position to grow — not only our team but to grow through acquisitions or whatever other opportunities have presented themselves.”

Stay tuned in the coming days for more from our interview with Graff on Hudl’s growth and the implications of the company’s latest acquisition.


Credits: Photo of Graff from hudl.com

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