Tiki Barber's talent booking agency Thuzio raises funding

Wed Sep 30, 2015 2:49pm EDT
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By Lauren Hirsch

(Reuters) - Thuzio Inc, the online celebrity booking platform co-founded by retired football player Tiki Barber, said it had raised $7 million in its second funding round since its launch in 2012.

Investment firm Prudence Holdings Inc led the latest round for Thuzio, which allows businesses and charities to book athletes and other celebrities for corporate events, endorsements and entertainment.

Other investors included previous shareholders RSE Ventures, the investment arm of Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, and Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula's East Asset Management, as well as a new investor, private equity firm Vanterra Capital. Shad Azimi, managing partner at Vanterra, will join the board of Thuzio.

Thuzio declined to comment on the valuation of the company after the new funding. It had previously raised $6 million last year.

By accessing New York-based Thuzio's database, users can search over 27,000 celebrity profiles, sorting by qualifications such as brand affiliation, pricing and social media reach. Celebrities are available for hire for events, from a roster that includes singer Taylor Swift, actor Tom Cruise or TV personality Oprah Winfrey.

The service also allows users to search by terms that cater to their professional need, with options as specific as "cats" "philanthropic" and "family oriented." It can quickly determine that the sports celebrity with the most Facebook likes is Portuguese professional soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo.

Thuzio was founded by Barber, a former New York Giants running back; Mark Gerson, co-founder and chairman of expert networking firm Gerson Lehrman Group; and Jared Augustine, a former executive director of business development at food delivery company Seamless.

(Reporting by Lauren Hirsch in New York; Editing by Richard Chang)

New York Giants runningback Tiki Barber at the post game news conference after his final game, the NFC Wild Card NFL playoff football game in Philadelphia, January 7, 2007. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine