Global Growth Continues With Equity Announcement

by Jul 27, 2022Most Popular, News

Playbk Sports is excited to announce their biggest and most strategically important announcement to date, with news experienced sports marketing professional Rick Burton is joining as an equity partner in the business.

Effective immediately, Burton will take on an operational role for Playbk Sports with the goal of client acquisition in North America at the top of his list. After a decades long relationship with Playbk Sports co-founders Jon Shepherd and Damian Hecker, the move solidifies the trio’s business interests whilst merging their passion of sport, technology and content driven impact.

Rick Burton joins Playbk Sports as an equity partner
Rick Burton, Chief Operating Officer (North America)

Burton has a long and distinguished career in sports business in both Australia and North America and this pursuit allows him to marry his love of sport and Australia in an exciting new venture.

“I keep telling anyone who’ll listen that I should have been born an Aussie and this opportunity to come in as a partner for an Australian-founded company is the next best thing. More importantly I can see where Playbk Sports is heading and why sports around the world will benefit from working with us,”

Rick Burton, Chief Operating Officer (North America) at Playbk Sports

“Professional teams are currently sinking money into important areas of their business – players, staff, business functions, even the team mascot. We think all these assets can be engaged with and repurposed in different ways to develop exciting immersive content that gives fans of all ages unique perspectives and learning opportunities which teams can commercialise. This approach of fusing sport, technology, education and fan engagement is exciting, and we believe it’s a new frontier in driving commercial outcomes.”

Burton was recently in Australia to deliver a keynote address for Playbk Sports showcase ‘A New Paradigm: Driving Fan Avidity and Revenue Through EdTech’. Playbk Sports Co-founder Jon Shepherd shared how this event was the accelerant for many in the room to think about fan avidity, content, technology and revenue in a whole new light.

“Rick’s keynote really challenged all of us, Playbk co-founders included, to consider the cost of sitting idle when the world of technology, content and micro-transactions are moving faster than what many of us can keep up with”

Jon Shepherd, Co-founder at Playbk Sports

I think we all walked away more cognisant of the opportunity sport has within its existing structures to utilise assets in creative ways to drive revenue. Rick’s acumen in sports marketing is one of the key reasons we were so eager to bring him in as an equity partner and this was on show for those in the room in June.”

Upon his return to the States, Burton was quickly on a plane to engage with all 32 National Hockey League (NHL) teams on a soon to be released book he co-authored called ‘Business the NHL Way’. He shares the similarities between the book and the new world opportunities for professional sport.

“The book really came out of analysing why the NHL is such a great business, especially as it manoeuvred strategically throughout the pandemic. Every team on the planet has similar assets to the NHL and can generate content quickly and use technology to reach more fans, more often. There’s a huge opportunity globally to reimagine every asset within the often spruiked ‘four walls’ of professional sport to grow fan avidity and generate appropriate profitability for the clubs. It’s that simple.”

Burton is adamant every team in the world needs to think about their brand as a global entity. “If you’re not thinking about your brand in this global economy, you’ve missed the jump at the gates. If you don’t start to pick up the pace, not even a Winx like performance will help you catch up. Every major team in the world is already thinking about doing business in Australia and the Aussie teams have to start thinking about countering those challenges.”

Playbk Sports Leadership Team
Playbk Sports Leadership team – Rick Burton (L), Damian Hecker, and Jon Shepherd (R)

Burton’s role will focus acutely on client acquisition across the professional sporting codes in North America, as well as exploring opportunities in the collegiate sporting sector.

He will also be available to bring his wealth of experience to support Playbk Sports clients in Australia as they look to grow their footprint globally.

With this new flag in the ground, Playbk Sports will enter its second year of business with a simple goal of working with more sports in both Australia and the United States.

If you’d like to follow any of Rick Burton’s regular analysis of the world of sports business, sign up to the Sportico and Sports Business Journal subscription service. Business the NHL Way is slated for release by the University of Toronto Press in early October.

Burton is the David B. Falk Professor of Sport Management at Syracuse University and if you’d like to get in touch with Rick or have any media enquires, please email [email protected]


About Playbk Sports

The best way for sport to commercialise online learning.

Playbk Sports makes delivering online learning simple and effective with dynamic technology, immersive custom and white-label courses, and – of course – unbeatable fan engagement.

Playbk works with your team by harnessing your logo, players, coaches and administrators and uses the power of those ‘brands’ to create learning opportunities that clubs can commercialise.

As SportsTech trailblazers, Playbk fuses online learning and fan engagement – at scale.

Playbk’s full-stack digital approach provides strategy, portal design and development, marketing and technology solutions that seamlessly work within and uplift existing business functions.  

Playbk continues to focus on innovative solutions for organisations across elite sport, education and not-for-profits to connect with fans in authentic and meaningful ways.  

At Playbk, we create experiences that people remember


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