At The Gym With UFC's Michelle Waterson
A new generation of owners has emerged in the NBA and they are coming from backgrounds in technology, entrepreneurship and venture capital. Many of these owners, who have had decades long careers in business and investing, are looking to leverage their knowledge and experience to build out a successful team both on the court and in the front office.
The forward-thinking owners try to give their team an advantage by adopting and implementing technology before their competitors. They seek out advancements in sports analytics, player performance and fan engagement technology. Some go as far as building state of the art arenas from the ground up to have complete control of the game day experience.
Some franchises seem to have developed a proven model, while the verdict is still out on others. Some of these ownership groups may never change the fortunes of their teams but they are certainly shifting the landscape of the NBA and professional sports ownership—and making a fortune while doing so.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors have arguably become the most forward thinking franchise in all of professional sports since the current ownership group bought the team in 2010. The defending Western Conference Champions are led by an ownership group of venture capitalists, technologists and businessmen. The owners have set the tone for a culture that accepts technology and encourages innovation. The adoption of the Silicon Valley mindset has proven to be fruitful as the Warriors have become one of the best teams in the NBA.
They have done this by taking advantage of the proximity to Silicon Valley by tapping into the tech and talent of the Bay Area. They will be getting even closer in 2019 when they move into the Chase Center—the state-of-the-art sport and entertainment complex equipped with emerging technologies.
Joe Lacob – Lacob is the Chief Executive Officer and majority owner of the Golden State Warriors. He is a Partner and Strategic Advisor of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, where he has spent decades working as a venture capitalist. At KPCB he made investments in over 50 startup companies across multiple fields in life sciences and medical technologies, the internet and energy.
Peter Guber – Guber is the Founder and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment. He was formerly the Chairman and CEO of Sony, President of Columbia Pictures, Chairman and CEO of Polygram Entertainment and Co-Owner and Co-Chairman of Casablanca Record and Filmworks. Along with being an owner of the Warriors, he also owns the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Football Club.
Chamath Palihapitiya – Palihapitiya is the Founder and Managing Partner of Social Capital—a venture capital fund that invests in healthcare, education, financial services, mobile and enterprise software. He previously served as an executive at Facebook.
John Walecka – Walecka is a Co-Founder of Redpoint Ventures where he serves as a Partner.
Mark Stevens – Stevens is a Silicon Valley venture capitalist that has invested in companies such as Google, PayPal and LinkedIn at Sequoia Capital.
Bob Kagle – Kagle is a Founder and General Partner of Benchmark Capital.
Harry Tsao – The product manager turned internet entrepreneur is a Co-Founder of Juvo Capital and MeziMedia. Along with owning a stake in the Warriors, he owns a stake in the Los Angeles Football Club.
Chad Hurley – Hurley is one of three former PayPal employees that went on to co-found the popular video sharing company YouTube. He served as CEO up until the company sold to Google for $1.65 billion in 2006
Nick Swinmurn – Swinmurn is a serial entrepreneur who founded Zappos, Stagr and Dethrone Royalty Clothing Brand.
Since 2000, the Dallas Mavericks have been owned by Mark Cuban. Cuban has been one of the league’s most outspoken and recognizable owners—regularly sitting courtside and sometimes getting involved in the action. Under the watch of Cuban, the team transformed from a lottery team into a championship contender—ultimately winning the Larry O’Brien trophy in 2011.
Off-the-court, the franchise has leveraged its billionaire owner’s background in tech to transform the experience of the players, fans and personnel. The franchise is often ahead of the curve by being the first team to implement a new technology before the rest of the league follows along. In 2015, the team debuted an immersive shopping experience by partnering with Tixsee to provide a virtual tour of American Airlines Center and provide fans a new way to purchase tickets and merchandise. Other than Tixsee, Dallas has partnered with other companies such as MuscleSound, Minecraft, SportsVU & more.
The Mavs and technology have become so synonymous that Cuban has referred to the franchise itself as a “technology product.”
Mark Cuban – Cuban is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor. His first venture MicroSolutions, a computer consulting service, was sold to CompuServe for $6 million dollars in 1990. He later co-founded one of the world’s first interest radio websites, Broadcast.com, and sold it to Yahoo four years later for $5.6 billion dollars. With the influx of capital he purchased the Dallas Mavericks for $280 million dollars in 2000 and turned it into one of the most valuable franchises in sports.
Today, he actively invests in tech startups and companies from various sectors and is a “shark” on ABC’s hit TV show Shark Tank. Some of Cuban’s investments include: Synergy Sports, a web-based analytics platform; Catapult, an Australian company that makes motion-tracking devices for elite athletes; and Axon Sports, a cognitive training tool.
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At The Gym With UFC's Michelle Waterson
On May 16 2013, an ownership group, led by Vivek Ranadivé, purchased the Sacramento Kings from the Maloof Family, saving the Capital City from losing its sole professional franchise. Collaborating with the city of Sacramento, this ownership group developed the high tech, state-of-the-art Golden 1 Center. The $507 million arena is equipped with one thousand Wi-Fi access points, an 84-foot-long 4K video board and an app that acts as a remote control for fans. “The Highest Tech Stadium in Sports” has already hosted NCAA March Madness men’s and women’s games, the California state high school basketball championships and will play host to major eSports tournaments. From being the first pro sports franchise to offer bitcoin payment to building out the most technologically advanced sports venue, the NorCal ownership group has proven itself to be early adopters.
Vivek Ranadivé – Ranadivé is the Founder of UNIX Consulting Company and TIBCO Software Inc. He served as CEO at TIBCO from its inception in 1997 until December 2014. He also served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Proginet Corporation.
Andrew Miller – Miller is the Chairman and Co-Founder of NRG eSports. He Co-Founded Quattro Wireless where he served as CEO for three years until the company was acquired by Apple for $275 million by Apple in 2009—in which he stayed on for two years as VP of Mobile Advertising where he reported directly to Steve Jobs. He previously served as the President and Chief Operating Officer of Leap Motion and as a Partner at Highland Capital Partners.
Mark Mastrov – Mastrov is the Founder and CEO of 24 Hour Fitness. He has also founded New Evolution Ventures and co-founded NRG eSports with fellow Kings owner Andrew Miller.
Irwin & Paul Jacobs – Irwin Jacobs is the Co-Founder and former Chairman of Qualcomm. Paul Jacobs is the son of Irwin Jacobs and the current Executive Chairman of Qualcomm. The family members of the telecommunications giant, Qualcomm, bought into the Kings in 2013.
Shaquille O’Neal – Known as one of the most dominant players in NBA history, the former NBA Center and Hall of Fame Inductee is now an analyst for Turner Sports. Shaq has been an active investor dating back to his playing days. In 2004, Shaq became a pre-IPO investor in multi-national technology company Google. His involvement in other tech companies includes investing in LOYAL3, partnering with app myVegas to develop two Vegas-based games called Shaq Jack & Caddy Shaq, working with video reporter application Tout to announce his retirement, and co-owning NRG eSports.
Los Angeles Clippers
In 2014, the opportunity to buy the Los Angeles Clippers became available after long time owner Donald Sterling was forced to sell the team when his racist remarks became highly publicized and he was banned from the NBA for life. Steve Ballmer stepped in and offered a record-setting $2 billion dollars to gain ownership. Since the transfer of ownership, the Clippers have become one of the most tech savvy organizations in the NBA.
Steve Ballmer – Ballmer was one of Microsoft’s earliest employees, and Bill Gates right hand man and eventual successor as Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft. He served as CEO from 2000 to 2014. He is the wealthiest owner of an American sports team and quickly put his wealth to use by spending several million to upgrade the franchise’s equipment and technology. Other than investing into his team, he has invested in companies such as Twitter, The Stagwell Group and more.