The Golden State Warriors have a deal in place to sell for $450 million, the largest amount ever for an NBA franchise. That’s nice, but what does this have to do with tech? One of the key partners in the team that made the winning bid is also a partner at the famous Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. And they beat out a bid that was being made by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.
Specifically, Joe Lacob, a longtime partner at Kleiner Perkins, teamed up with Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber to buy the team from current owner Chris Cohan. “I am incredibly excited to have the opportunity to be the next steward of this storied NBA franchise. This is my dream come true,” Lacob told ESPN.
At Kleiner Perkins, Lacob is mainly involved with life science and greentech deals, but he has backed a number of websites. That includes Sportsline.com, which CBS bought in 2004 and renamed to CBSSports.com in 2007. ESPN also notes that Lacob was “the primary investor in the women’s American Basketball League in venture capital.”
Lacob is actually not new to the NBA at all. He’s currently a minority owner of the Boston Celtics — a stake which he’ll have to sell off before this deal gets approval from the league. The group he was a part of which bought the Celtics contained several other VCs from firms like Highland Capital, TPG Capital, Bain Capital, and Accel Partners.
But the Celtics are good — Lacob saw them win their 17th championship in 2008, and they made the finals again this past year. The Warriors have been one of the NBA’s worst-performing franchises, as they’ve only made the playoffs once in the past 16 years. But Lacob, who has been a season-ticket holder, sounds committed, “Peter and I intend to do what we do best — innovating and building. It is our passion to return the Warriors to greatness and build nothing short of a championship organization that will make all of us in the Bay Area proud,” he tells ESPN.
ESPN is also reporting that Ellison, who had been considered the frontrunner, backed out of the bidding as he didn’t want to go as high as $450 million, which again, is the highest amount ever paid for an NBA franchise. Ellison is worth around $30 billion, but he also also didn’t make that money by simply outbidding everyone on deals like this.
Ellison’s Oracle owns the naming rights for the arena that the Warriors play in in Oakland. But the team has long been rumored to be looking for a site for a new arena, perhaps even one in San Francisco, near AT&T Park where the San Francisco Giants play.
If nothing else, at least the Warriors have gotten rid of those awful lightning bolt-man uniforms. Their new logo is more of a retro one (above).