Nike's technological push landed them with the acquisition of Seattle-based startup TraceMe, which could eventually let "superfans" interact with athletes like Eliud Kipchoge and ask him about how his Nike Vaporfly Next% helped him break the two-hour barrier in Vienna.  

TraceMe, an app for connecting athletes and celebrities with their fans, was founded by NFL star Russell Wilson in 2017. Other investors of the company include Bezos Expeditions (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos's fund), YouTube founder Chad Hurley, Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai, and Madrona Venture Group.

Back in  2018, the startup transitioned to Tally, which is a platform that enables sports teams, broadcasters, fans, and partners to engage in sports events by predicting plays, stats, and scores.

"NIKE, Inc. has acquired TraceMe to supplement the company's content strategy on Nike-owned platforms," a spokesperson from Nike confirmed in an email with TechCrunch.

GeekWire reported that Nike is interested in the original TraceMe technology and that there's uncertainty regarding Tally's future. It's also unclear as to how Nike will make use of TraceMe.

TraceMe's team of fewer than 15 people, which includes CEO Jason LeeKeenan, a former Hulu and Zulily executive, will join Nike. Some of TraceMe's staff have even changed their job titles on Linkedin and switched their employer to Nike on Friday.

The importance of Tech

Nike isn't one to shy from embracing technology.  The shoemaker's investment in their NikePlus membership program that coincides with their existing team up with Apple helps them connect with their customers on a more personal level. Through the app, Nike can reward members who complete suggested workouts or purchase products with a free Apple music subscription.

In April, the shoemaker hinted that it might launch a cryptocurrency of its own called "cryptokicks" in a trademark filing.

Cryptokicks would cover "providing online nondownloadable computer software for use as a cryptocurrency wallet; providing a website featuring technology that enables users to mine, earn, purchase, receive by any other means, store, and transfer blockchain-based tokens, coins, cryptocurrencies, and other crypto assets."

Similar to this TraceMe acquisition, there are still questions as to how Nike will use cryptocurrencies for its products, but the blockchain technology could offer the same tool that another sneaker company, New Balance, intends it for -- authenticating sneakers.

Nike CEO Mark Parker, seen in New York in 2016 Nike CEO Mark Parker, seen in New York in 2016 Photo: AFP / Jewel SAMAD