As Stu Siegel sees it, Waterloo Region has "two religions" – hockey and tech.
“And we cover both of them,” says the founder of stats and streaming company HockeyTech.
Siegel, a former Managing Partner/CEO of the NHL’s Florida Panthers, was waxing nostalgic this week following the announcement that U.S. multi-sport streaming service FloSports has acquired HockeyTech for an undisclosed amount.
HockeyTech will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of FloSports. It will also stay in Waterloo, where it employs about 40 full-time staff and numerous students part-time during the hockey season.
“The plan is to grow other sports entities out of Waterloo as well,” said Siegel, a Florida-based American who will join FloSports as an adviser to the CEO. “I don’t know if FloSports has a complete plan yet of how they’re going to do this, but they really do like the operation we have, and they like the tech environment in the Waterloo community. Their headquarters are in Austin, Texas, which is another tech hub, similar to Waterloo.”
“Any tech company is looking for good talent,” he added. “One of the things they (FloSports) were very pleased with when doing their diligence on us and getting to know us was the staff that we have and seeing Canada as a great place to build a business, just as I saw it.”
HockeyTech President Stewart Zimmel is also staying on to manage the company’s operations.
Launched in 2006, FloSports provides live and on-demand viewing for hundreds of thousands of games and competitions annually.
“HockeyTech and its suite of products are a perfect complement to FloSports and represents our commitment to deeper coverage of and investment into the sport of hockey to help bring this sport to new audiences worldwide,” Mark Floreani, CEO and co-founder of FloSports, said in a news release. “Stu, Stewart and their team at HockeyTech will propel FloSports into one of the leading streaming platforms for passionate hockey fans. We welcome them to the FloSports family, and we’re excited about the future we can build together.”
Siegel, who played varsity hockey at the University of Pennsylvania while earning a business degree from the prestigious Wharton School, launched HockeyTech in 2012. He began by acquiring a number of hockey-focused stats, tech and scouting companies in Canada. Two of those – RinkNet and NEXT Testing – were located in Guelph, Ont., and so HockeyTech established its headquarters there in 2013.
As the company expanded its data and video-streaming services, it required more space and tech talent. It moved its operations to Waterloo, where it was conducting research with the University of Waterloo’s men’s and women’s hockey teams.
“Waterloo has been a great place for us and has been a great key to our success,” said Siegel. “And, of course, Communitech has been a great part of that as well, just the whole ecosystem there, and making it grow and be successful, but also a good number of our staff take part in Communitech opportunities to learn and further what they do. I always encourage it.”
HockeyTech has given back to the community as well. The company is a big supporter of Hockey Helps the Homeless, a national charity that organizes fundraising tournaments across Canada.
Siegel, who still plays in a rec league several times a week in Florida, plans to return to Waterloo Region later this month to lace up his skates and play in a local tournament hosted by Hockey Helps the Homeless.
“The other thing about Waterloo is – as a guy who doesn’t live there, and not being a Canadian – I’ve found that the people I’ve met there have been so welcoming to me,” he said. “I feel like an adopted son of Waterloo… I think I’ll always be a lifelong Waterloo visitor-citizen.”