January 29 – Sapphire Ventures has raised $115 million for a new sport venture capital fund and has Manchester City owners, City Football Group (CFG) as one of its cornerstone backers.
Sapphire Ventures was formerly the corporate venture capital arm of SAP, focussed on investing in technology ventures. The sports fund will be similarly focussed on digital sports investments.
The fund expects to make between five and six investments per year, of between $3
7 million. Current investments include at-home fitness system Tonal, live soccer streaming platform mycujoo, digital sports network Overtime, ticketing and events platform Fevo and gaming studio Phoenix Labs.
CFG’s participation in the fund is, according to a press release, “as a lead partner in the fund, which comprises owners and investors from across major US sports leagues; NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS as well as from related industries.”
Other fund investors include Adidas, the owners of the Indiana Pacers, New York Jets, San Jose Sharks and Tampa Bay Lightning.
CFG which to date has focussed its core investment model on building a group football club franchises the include Melbourne City in Australia’s A-League and MLS franchise New York City Football Club, said the new investment “approach complements its original global, multi-club model, as Sapphire Sport sits alongside other football-related businesses and investments, including recreational facilities (a joint venture with GOALS Soccer Centres in North America), media ventures (Dugout), eSports, football schools and recreational coaching and eleven commercial offices across eight countries.”
Ferran Soriano (pictured), CEO of City Football Group, said: “Challenging the conventional approach is at the heart of our ethos at City Football Group…Our goal is creating winning teams, playing beautiful football, and most importantly, engaging and entertaining our fans all over the world. Through City Football Group’s partnership with Sapphire Sport and its portfolio of investments, we will continue to champion innovation across our business, experiment with emerging technology and work closely with some of the most forward-thinking brands in the world of sport.”
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