It’s been more than a decade since Tim Livingston developed his writing chops as a member of Santa Monica High School’s student newspaper. And look at him now.
A former college baseball player who had been working as a recruiter in the tech start-up scene, Livingston recently combined his interests in athletics and entrepreneurship by launching his own sports news service.
Under the direction of Livingston and co-founder Jacob Honig, a fellow Samohi alumnus, TheLead delivers free daily newsletters to the email inboxes of its growing subscriber base.
“We believe that consuming sports news should be an entertaining, enjoyable experience,” states a company manifesto that was sent to readers earlier this month. “That humor and irreverence should be the norm. That calling Roger Goodell bad names is more than acceptable. That saying more with less words is a good thing.”
Since its inception, Livingston said, his company has worked to develop a voice that is unlike what can be found on ESPN.com and other mainstream sports news websites.
TheLead has listed recaps of college games under an “Unpaid Football” header, a nod to the debate over whether college athletes should be paid. It has jokingly blamed Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry for starting El Nino, a reference to his constant 3-point rainmaking. It even organized an online petition to get Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan to shoot free throws underhanded. (Through 60 attempts this season, Jordan’s success rate was hovering at a career-worst 35 percent.)
And there’s more to the e-blast than a series of short, punchy posts about the latest in the sports world. It also contains GIFs, memes and links to stories around the Web. Each edition concludes with a random athlete of the day and a sports trivia question. (One recent challenge that would resonate with local readers: Steve Smith and Chad Johnson both attended what community college?)
“I want it to be rebellious, and I want it to be irreverent and everything that mainstream sports news is not,” Livingston said. “We’re busy, we’re working our tails off and we don’t have time to browse ESPN for three hours a day. The goal is to give everybody a refreshing 3-minute read and change the way we consume sports news.”
The creation of TheLead marks a new chapter for Livingston, who graduated from Samohi in 2004. He played baseball while studying journalism and mass communications at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, hitting a team-best .397 with 24 RBI and 12 runs during a standout junior season.
After college he returned to Southern California to recover from surgeries following injuries to his labrum and anterior cruciate ligament.
Livingston held jobs at several sports and media companies before landing a position as a recruiter in the tech world. In his free time, he penned analytical sports articles for Yahoo.
Then, while on his honeymoon last year, Livingston and his wife were waiting at a train station in Pompei when they came across theSkimm, a daily email newsletter.
“This is how news should be delivered,” he said. “Within a few months, it was like, ‘I think people would dig this if I did it for sports.’”
Livingston continued working in tech recruiting but spent his evenings cranking out content for his sports news service. He eventually quit his job to focus on TheLead.
“It became obvious that TheLead is what I wanted to do full-time,” he said.
Livingston said he’d eventually like to use the newsletter to drive traffic to TheLead’s website, which would feature longer pieces and other original content. For now, though, he is working to expand the newsletter’s subscriber base.
“I’ve never worked this hard,” he said, “but I think we have a product that sports fans really like.”
To sign up for the e-blast, visit www.theleadsports.com.