Former pro athletes seem to be turning more and more to tech to endorse products, invest, and work with startups. ARC caught up with Lance Ball (former Denver Broncos running back) at Zoom Video Conferencing to find out why tech draws pro athletes and what Lance’s vision of future tech looks like.
Q: What drew you to the technology sector after completing your NFL career?
A: Previously (before I started working at Zoom), I was at Reebok working as a brand ambassador marketing the product and developing campaigns around the Denver Metro area.
Once that chapter ended I was recruited to work in a sales driven role here at Zoom. I was always into computers and technology, so I thought this would be a great move for me while building a resume and career.
Q: Did you look at other industries in addition to tech?
A: I was looking to stay to around the sports marketing/apparel arena, but the right opportunities did not come my way fast enough.
Q: How do you like working in the technology field?
A: Zoom Video Communications is a great place to work and my colleagues are awesome. It’s an ever changing/adapting market. It’s even more exciting to work with a solution that doesn’t suck!
Q: What do you think of pro athletes wearing new tech during press conferences? Kyrie Irving wore a Subpac to the Game 7 pre-game conference, and other athletes have done the same.
A: I think it is pretty cool. I would definitely find use cases for that product for myself. I want one!
Q: What’s your opinion on some of the technology used in the NFL (like GPS trackers, etc)?
A: I think with sports and technology evolving/changing, new tech will help bring new dynamics, analytics, and perspectives to the game that have not been around ever. You will be able to track how long a player is on the field to what plays/formations are work depending on the team etc. Technology also is improving to help players stay in the game off the field with new software that helps prepare the athlete for the next game.
Q: Have you ever thought about investing in a technology company or tech startup?
A: I have not, investing is always a risk especially in IT.
Q: What’s your favorite piece of technology? Favorite app?
A: My iPhone! The app I use the most is ‘Yelp!’ It helps me find entertainment/food and places to go.
Q: A few former pro athletes have become technology entrepreneurs by starting their own companies. If you could start a company, what would it look like?
A: I have started my own company before, but a cold pressed juicing company. Did not turn out the way I wanted it to, due to disagreeing sides. But I’m not sure if I would start a tech company. You would have to have the right people on your team to do so! Finding those pieces takes time and the right finances.
Q: If you could create an app with no limitations, what would you create?
A: Not sure, there are so many apps that you can develop to assist with everyday functionalities. I am a pretty basic app user. I would want to incorporate sports & entertainment. Possibly individual’s favorite local places to watch games, eat/drink and enjoy the venue.
The NFL/Silicon Valley Connection
Lance isn’t the only pro athlete to turn to tech. The NFLPA also organizes ‘Tech Tours’ that connect NFL players with some of the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley. These tours have seen players invest in startups, become part of strong sales teams for various companies, and have started to turn NFL player attention towards tech.
There are obvious reasons why tech companies would want a former player like Lance Ball on their sales team (recognition never hurts a brand), but a lot of players use tech regularly and are interested in forming partnerships with major tech companies too.
There seems to be a lot of room in tech for former pro athletes like Ball. After a hard career on the field, the buzz of technology is something that a lot of former pro-athletes seem to find appealing.