Shaquille O’Neal Retirement Announcement a Slam-Dunk for Tout

When National Basketball Association superstar and sure-fire Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal announced the end of his 19-year career, he didn’t hold a traditional press conference at TD Garden, the home arena of his last club, the Boston Celtics. He didn’t commandeer ESPN for a one-hour special, as LeBron James did last offseason when announcing that he would join the Miami Heat as a free agent. In fact, most people initially learned the news through his Twitter feed, which boasted more than 3.8 million followers at the time of this post, but O’Neal actually broke the news of his retirement via a post on Tout.

Tout? Yes, Tout, which describes itself as “the network for real-time status updates,” but in the form of short, 15-second videos, rather than Facebook status updates or 140-character musings on Twitter. Tout videos are shared in real-time directly from its app for the iPhone and iPad, and updates can be shared via Twitter, Facebook, email, text, and directly to iPhone contacts. An Android version is slated for July, founder and CEO Michael Downing told the Los Angeles Times.

O’Neal is by far the best-known user of the San Francisco-based startup’s site, which is currently in beta, and Tout said O’Neal will use the site as his own personal media network, including updates from his official retirement press conference, to be held Friday.

Downing told the Los Angeles Times O’Neal is on the company’s advisory board, but he is not being paid to use the service, adding:

We are as brand-new as brand-new gets. The company’s been around for about a year, but we’ve only been live, in a beta, for six weeks, and it’s an early stage beta, not without a couple of bugs. And Shaq came to us out of the blue, really. He liked what he saw, and his team contacted us and said, “Hey, Shaq will be making a big announcement soon and wants to use your platform to do so.” And we we’re just excited that he wanted to use our technology.

On the one hand, we were thrilled that Shaq wanted to use Tout, but we were also scrambling to figure out how to beef up our servers and build up our back-end to accommodate the traffic spike we expected we’d get once Shaq started using Tout. So it’s been a lot of excitement and a little bit of fear all at the same time for us over the past four weeks.

Shaq wants to use Tout to get his message across all the social networks he uses. We’re integrated with Twitter and Facebook, and we’re already working on building and expanding Tout so users can share video more broadly across the Web, too. So it just made sense to ask him along the way to be on our advisory board and help us grow Tout as he does what he does, and he was excited to be a part of what we’re up to. He should be a good fit for our team.

Downing added in a press release:

In addition to being one of the greatest basketball players of our time, Shaquille O’Neal is one of the savviest social media influencers out there. We were thrilled that he instantly understood the potential of Tout. Shaq now effectively has his own real-time media network through Tout, instantly updating his nearly 4 million Twitter followers and 2 million Facebook fans, determining the programming solely with his iPhone.

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