Sapphire Ventures, a technology venture capital firm investing in growth-stage companies and early-stage venture funds with more than $2.5 billion in assets under management, today announced the launch of Sapphire Sport, a first-of-its-kind, oversubscribed $115 million funds platform to drive the firm’s investments in early-stage startups at the intersection of sports, media, and entertainment sectors.
Sapphire Sport pairs the experience of Sapphire Ventures’ investment team with the capital and industry experience of premier global sporting, media and lifestyle brands, including anchor investor City Football Group, owners of English Premier League champions Manchester City, as well as owners, investors and family offices from the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Soccer (MLS) and institutional investors.
Other Sapphire Sport investors include: adidas; Anschutz Entertainment Group; Bank of Montreal; City Football Group; the ownership of the Indiana Pacers; Intersect Ventures; Jeremy Jacobs, owner of the Boston Bruins and Delaware North; Major League Baseball; New York Jets; the funds affiliated with the owners of the San Francisco 49ers; San Jose Sharks; SAP; Sinclair Broadcast Group; Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning; and WISE Ventures, an investment fund led by the Wilf family, real estate developers and professional sports team owners.
Sapphire Sport is launching with an exciting portfolio of five startups, including Tonal, a digitally connected home fitness system; mycujoo, a live football (soccer) streaming platform; Overtime, a next-generation digital sports network; Fevo, a social commerce solution company; and Phoenix Labs, an independent gaming studio launched by the creators of Dauntless.
“Picking the right investor is one of the most important decisions you can make as an entrepreneur. For Tonal, picking Sapphire Sport was a no-brainer. Doug and the Sapphire Sport team are patient and experienced technology VCs with an industry-focused Rolodex to match,” said Aly Orady, chief executive officer and founder, Tonal. “They bring more than just capital to the table; they provide the expertise and connectivity I need to help us navigate our growth in the booming but crowded fitness market.”
Sapphire Sport is be co-led by Doug Higgins, managing director and co-founder of Sapphire Ventures, and Michael Spirito, who joined Sapphire Ventures as managing director in September 2018 from 21st Century Fox, where he led business development and digital media for the Yankees Entertainment and Sports (YES) Network and, post-sale, the Fox Sports Regional Sports Networks.
“Venture capitalists need to continue to reinvent and innovate in order to stay relevant,” said Higgins. “We created Sapphire Sport to serve as a preeminent investment vehicle in a nascent and dynamic sector where technology investment experience is in increasingly high demand. In partnership with some of the most innovative team owners and sporting brands in the world, we are bringing Sapphire Ventures’ investment experience to the global sport marketplace.”
“The opportunity we are addressing is vast and diverse. Sport is the one thing we can all agree on…even as we may disagree on our fan loyalties,” said Spirito. “I joined Sapphire Ventures because I believed that they had the best platform to build an investment firm of consequence, in this industry. From a market perspective, sport includes all global sports media rights, distribution technologies, content creation, sponsorship, digital fitness, esports, betting, data and everything in between.”
Sapphire Sport is focusing on investing in Series A and B financing rounds working to close a funding gap that is growing between seed investors and private equity. With the global sports market already valued at up to $1 trillion, Sapphire Ventures is bringing its 20 years of institutional investing experience, an extensive global network and the capital needed to help advance an industry that is growing faster than GDP.
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About Sapphire Ventures
Sapphire Ventures is a venture capital firm focused on helping innovative technology companies become global category leaders. Leveraging nearly two decades of experience and an extensive global enterprise network, Sapphire Ventures invests capital, resources and expertise to enable its portfolio companies to scale rapidly. Whether entrepreneurs sell to businesses, consumers or both, Sapphire Ventures offers a powerful platform for business development and operational excellence to help them accelerate growth. With more than $2.5 billion under management via direct early-stage and growth investments and early-stage fund investments, Sapphire Ventures is positioned to elevate companies to the global stage.
Disclaimer: Sapphire Sport investors listed within this article may reflect individuals or groups who maintain a level ownership and/or are closely affiliated with the various organizations mentioned. Sapphire Ventures has been granted consent by these investors to describe the relationships as they are presented within the article, and has also been granted consent to use associated, individual logos that may be presented. Nothing presented within this article is intended to constitute investment advice, and under no circumstances should any information provided herein be used or considered as an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy an interest in any investment fund managed by Sapphire Ventures. Information provided reflects Sapphire Ventures’ views as of a particular time. Such views are subject to change at any point and Sapphire Ventures shall not be obligated to provide notice of any change. No guarantee of investment performance is being provided and no inference to the contrary should be made. Past performance is not indicative of future results.
(Image) Source: Press release