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Shaq announces NBA retirement on Twitter, using Tout iPhone app [Updated]

June 1, 2011 |  4:48 pm

ToutShaq

Shaquille O'Neal announced his retirement from the National Basketball Assn. on Wednesday, from his @Shaq Twitter account.

Broadcasting his message to his more than 3.8 million Twitter followers, the ever quotableformer Los Angeles Lakers center was a man of few written words, tweeting simply:

im retiring Video: http://bit.ly/kvLtE3 #ShaqRetires

To send out that message, O'Neal used Tout, an iPhone app built by the San Francisco start-up Tout Industries that allows users to send 15-second videos on Facebook or Twitter or to specified email addresses.

Linked to his Twitter message was a video, which Tout users call "touts," where a more lengthy message was offered to fans of O'Neal's nearly two-decade-long career, in which he also played for the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics.

"We did it -- 19 years, baby," O'Neal said in the video. "I want to thank you very much. That's why I'm telling you first. I'm about to retire. Love you. Talk to you soon."

O'Neal's use of Tout might bring the app maker a bit more attention, something the start-up seems ready for.

"Shaq will be using Tout as his own personal media network, updating his Twitter followers and his Facebook fans directly with new and exciting developments in his life following his retirement from the NBA," Tout said in a statement announcing O'Neal's use of the app.

Company officials weren't available for comment on Wednesday afternoon as to whether O'Neal was being paid for his use of Tout.

But Tout Industries did say in its statement that it would be venturing beyond Apple's iOS devices soon, expanding to Google's Android mobile operating system in July.

[Updated 4:50 p.m.: O'Neal isn't getting paid for using Tout, but he does has some interest in seeing the start-up succeed, said Michael Downing, Tout's chief executive, in an interview with the Technology blog.

"Shaq's on our advisory board," Downing said. "It's pretty cool, but we aren't paying him for that. It's not a sponsorship deal or pay thing at all."

O'Neal found Tout on his own after the video sharing service launched about 6-weeks ago, the CEO said.

"We are as brand new as brand new gets," Downing said. "The company's been around for about a year, but we've only been live, in a beta, for 6-weeks and it's an early stage beta, not without a couple 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."

About 4-weeks ago, Downing and the 6-employee team at Tout was told that O'Neal would be announcing his retirement. To that point, the start-up was kept in the dark about what O'Neal's news would be.

"On one hand we were thrilled that Shaq wanted to use Tout, but we we were also scrambling to figure out how to beef up our servers and build up our backend to accommodate the traffic spike we expected we'd get once Shaq started using Tout," Downing said. "So it's been a lot of excitement and a little bit of fear all at the same time for us over the last 4-weeks."

Traffic has fallen between the company's high and low projections and after only a few hours, it seems Tout has been able to deal with the influx of Shaq-fueled traffic.

"Over 500,000 people have come through in the last hour or so, and we've had as many as 700,000 or 800,000 views,"Downing said. "For us, that is an enormous amount of traffic and we've seen a lot of people 'touting' back and forth around this news too, which has been a lot of fun for us today. We're really pumped."

So far, Shaq's retirement plans haven't involved in investing in Tout. But, that isn't a problem, the CEO said, noteing that Tout closed a $1.9 million funding round in December, with investment contributions from the Stanford Research Institute, Horizons Ventures, Seavest Venture Capital and Anduin Venture Partners which was founded by former execs at PayPal and Palantir Technologies.

But, with O'Neal's involvement as a company advisor and Tout user, the small firm and its investors do hope traffic will continue an upward trend as the future Hall-of-Famer uses Tout to announce more moves regarding his post-NBA life over the next few weeks and months.

"Shaq wants to use Tout to get his message across all the social networks he uses," Downing said. "We're integrated with Twitter and Facebook, and we're already working on building and expanding Tout so users can share video more broadely 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."]

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Image: Shaquille O'Neal announces his retirement in a video using Tout. Credit: Tout Industries

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