Why NBA legend Detlef Schrempf joined Cameo, and what it says about the future of fan interaction – GeekWire
Nearly two decades after he played his last game in the NBA, former Seattle Supersonics star Detlef Schrempf is looking to attract fans once again. But he’s not on the basketball court. Instead he’s courting them on Cameo, the video-sharing website that has lured actors, musicians, sports stars and more with a brand of personalized and monetized selfies.
Schrempf, who played college hoops at the University of Washington and later spent five seasons with the Sonics and was a three-time NBA All-Star, joined Cameo last week.
He’s one of a number of sports personalities with ties to Washington state who are using Cameo to raise money for charitable causes or to put a little extra money in their pockets by cashing in on their status.
Cameo launched in 2016 and works by connecting celebs with fans who pay those celebs to record personalized video messages. The recordings, of varying lengths, can be for any occasion, such as birthday or anniversary gifts, and are delivered via text or email. The price to record a message is set by the celebrity and is based on what they gauge their own popularity and worth to be. Cameo makes its money by taking 25% of each payment.
Schrempf is currently asking $100. His former Sonics teammate Gary Payton is asking $625 and that figure easily outpaces others in a search on Cameo of Seattle personalities. George Karl, who coached both players, is asking $95.
Mariners Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez gets $111 and the team’s broadcaster, Dave Sims, gets $40 a pop. In one video, Sims goes so far as to record an imaginary home run call for a fan. A couple Sounders FC players are in the mix, including Jordan Morris ($75) and Cristian Roldan ($40). Seattle Seahawks Hall of Famers Steve Largent ($150) and Walter Jones ($171) are also there. Brian Bosworth, another ex-Seahawk, goes deep in a message to a 16-year-old kid who is thinking about giving up football. “The Boz” calls the sport “brutal” and shows off the scar from a recent knee replacement surgery — one of 33 surgeries he has had.
Meanwhile, at the higher end of the price spectrum are people like Caitlynn Jenner, who commands $2,500 for short birthday wishes.
— Detlef Schrempf (@Dschrempf) November 24, 2020
But Schrempf is not out to make money for himself. The self-professed geek is doing just fine as a director of business development with Bellevue, Wash.-based Coldstream Wealth Management. Like some others on Cameo, his proceeds are going to charity. Each wish Schrempf grants helps earn money for a campaign he has going on another site, the charitable donation app Cauze.
“Cameo is just part of my overall #erasethehate campaign for Cauze,” Schrempf told GeekWire via email this week, highlighting a hashtagged movement he started this summer to address racial injustice alongside UW football coach Jimmy Lake, basketball great Bill Russell, NBA player Jamal Crawford, hip-hop star Macklemore and others. “We’re trying to raise more funds for a better future,” Schrempf says in his Cameo introduction video, above.
Schrempf is also selling T-shirts and face masks on his own website to raise more money and awareness in the fight for equality.
“I enjoy connecting with people,” he said. “And trying to figure out how to engage more fans for the greater good is fun. Not sure I would do this just to make some money.”
Cameo is certainly not the first company to try to capitalize on the allure of celebrity in the digital age. Seattle-based Egraphs tried to do it with personalized, autographed photos back in 2011, connecting fans and sports stars via an app and emailed correspondence. The startup ran out of funds and shut down in 2013. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson tried to take on big social media giants with his startup TraceMe, allowing fans exclusive digital access to celebs. But the company, which attracted investment from the likes of Jeff Bezos, fizzled after overestimating the market for such content.
Cameo appears to have cracked the code with its lineup of sorta-celebs. The startup raised $50 million last year and is reportedly valued at $300 million.
In his week on Cameo, Schrempf has recorded a 40th birthday wish, a get well message, and a video to help players kick off their NBA fantasy league. It’ll take some effort — or lack of effort? — to go viral, like the lead singer of Motley Crue did, for instance, with a slurry birthday wish for $400. But Schrempf said how much time he spends on the site depends on how many requests he gets and how much he wants to prepare for his recording.
“I do prepare myself a little bit,” he said, adding that he puts in 30 to 60 minutes getting ready for and recording a reply. And he stresses that his $100 fee is going to a good cause.
“I would think my price is a little above what my status would ask, but I am doing it for charity,” Schrempf said.