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Lacob and Guber, fresh off officially getting the reins to the Warriors franchise, have made themselves as public as Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag of MTV's "The Hills." After their media luncheon with gumbo that couldn't pass Warriors beat writer Marcus Thompson's palate, they sat down with AOL's Fanhouse to answer some questions about the current state of the team from players to the admin up top and about improving the Warriors fan experience.
What's so great about listening to owners?
It's pretty obvious for a Warrior fan for the last 16 years having to witness no blueprint besides selling (sexy) throwback jerseys, exploiting fan nostalgia of what we used to be like, as opposed to building for what we can be.
As I mentioned before, I'm extremely excited about the holistic planning from what you see on the court to what you see off the court. Basketball is a business and Guber knows a thing or two about entertainment with his whopping 50+ flicks nominated for an Academy Award. I'm quoting at length:
At the same time, you have to think about what the business is. The business is entertainment. It's sports, but it's entertainment sports. That's what it is. And it competes for leisure time activity and leisure time dollars just like everything else. Do I go to this basketball game, do I go to this football game, do I watch this thing on television, do I play this video game? (Fans have) a certain amount consumable income that they can spend and a certain amount of time and a certain amount of what I call rooting interest, and they have to divide that.
This (sports) is a unique communal experience. When we look at the metrics or the analytics of this, you'll find -- and I'm making this number up -- 2.3 people go to 9.6 games per year, drive 5.1 miles, wait 10.9 minutes and stay there 82 percent of the time. It's just what it is, all right? And you're competing with everything else. So what you have to compete for is the product on the floor -- winning, which is crucial -- and that fan experience.
How do you engage that fan? Where do you engage them? How do you engage them and their interest to commit in going to the game? To commit to listening on the radio? To commit to following it on the Internet, to being interactive on the Internet about their opinion? When somebody has an opinion, they're no longer a passenger, they're a participant. They metabolize the experience completely differently.
So you look at all those things, and ask yourself: what is it like to walk into the arena? What is it like to park the car (or, truthfully, as it was pronounced with his Boston accent: pawk the caw)? The idear (yes, idear) of having difficulty to pawk the caw is really a challenge. If you're having trouble pawking the caw, you know what they're doing? You could guess this for a month and you'd never guess. ... You know what they're thinking about? How the f**k am I going to leave here at the end of the game? They're having trouble pawking the car, and they're thinking, "I'd better leave in the 7th inning or early in the fourth quarter because otherwise I'm trapped getting out of here."
I know you don't think that, but what does that do to your business? It means one less thirst-quenching opportunity, one less chance for merchandising. Their fan experience -- nobody wants to go to the whole game and (hear), "You missed the (end)? They came back from 32 points and you didn't see the last four minutes? What are you, crazy?"
So you're thinking about a fan experience, holistically. At the core center of it is everything he's talking about, and that's the most important thing. But it's not the only important thing. So you have to believe that you're going to be successful and bring those things to it at the same time. It's not one ball in the air, it's five balls in the air.
As a consumer (a broke one at that spending on credit) and someone who studies consumerism, I'm extremely cognizant of how far my (non)money is going to go at the game. If the product on the court is terrible, I'm going to feel like I got ripped off. But, I can appreciate the fact that Guber is pretty upfront with the fact that monetizing the fan experience/engagement with sports is all part of the process. And with that, Guber is also admitting that fans are equally important. Of course they're just trying to make money of us, who isn't? But sports is entertainment and if he can transform the Oracle from Hay Place into Disney Land, lets do it! Winning is everything, of course, but if they can make the fan experience a little more exciting, I'm all for it.
For those that don't know what Hay Place is, check it out:
Lacob and Guber’s media came and went but from the sounds of it, it was full of talk and talk that fans, like myself, like to hear. Rich Twu of Golden State of Mind offers up some wonderful details of the business side of NBA basketball at the Media Luncheon with Lacob and Guber, which just so happens to be the things that I love reading about. The game of basketball is wonderful, but most often than I think not enough attention is paid to the political economy of professional sports, which is equally important to the product displayed to you on your home court. Twu’s piece is a really great read that I believe any fan of the professional sports should read up on.
With that said, Guber (via Rich Twu’s amazing eye-witness account) had some interesting tips on marketing, which I am amped about:
His approach is very engaging. Along with the raspy Bostonian accent, he’ll do a fair amount of hand and arm gesturing, even some finger pointing and poking you just enough to make sure you have his full, undivided attention.
He talked about his concern that young fans aged 7 or 9 would have a hard time coming to a 7:30pm game at Oracle on a Tuesday night. He talked about perhaps having a mascot to re-engage such fans. He talked about how he hated it when someone sang the national anthem and you couldn’t hear what he or she was singing. And how he wants to somehow tie in social media, to which Bucher joked that ethernet at an arena was all but an impossibility.
Guber even broached the subject of anime or animation on-screen at the arena. He joked that the dot races were terribly outdated, although Bucher quipped that they were hugely successful. Guber wasn’t disagreeing with that, but he was hoping for better ideas and even more engaging experience.
It was clear that Guber was ready to put every ounce of his expertise to work, for the benefit of Warrior fans.
Of course, in the press, he will now be forever tied to his, “We’re not the cure for cancer, but we may be the cure for Cohan” quote.
This is just a snippet of what Rich reported on, but I wanted to quote this in length just because I think it gets at some of the ridiculous-ness of the Cohan-era. There’s probably little he can do to change the start of games (interesting approach though putting families first), but his calling out of the randomness of the “Thunder” mascot, his desire for a new mascot (for the kids!), and new in-game entertainment is definitely in the right direction.
We’ve discussed this ad nauseum on Golden State of Mind in the past about what really matters: the actual game or the marketing. And since the Warriors fan base loves the team regardless, marketing tends to get the backseat. But with years of cellar-dwelling with no sign of hope, I, personally, wanted the Warriors to at least make the rest of the experience of going to the Oracle fun. What’s up with the lousy food (even in the Smirnoff Lounge)? Club 200 is family friendly and in the right direction, but what about the adults looking for some "nightlife"when they’re not sitting in the area that allows them access (by the Warriors rules at least) in the Smirnoff Lounge? And instead of Smirnoff, how about something more exciting. How about the “Petron Lounge” or the “Rose Lounge.” Lets get more current!
Anyway, you all should read the whole thing because it is worth it. And it should get you excited about a new Golden State Warriors experience, possibly, that may attract not just more fans, but more free agents.
The NBA announced Friday morning that the sale of the Golden State Warriors franchise has been completed following unanimous approval by the NBA Board of Governors.
Joseph Lacob, a Menlo Park venture capitalist, and Peter Guber, CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, take over as principle owners of the Warriors. Back on July 15, the team announced that owner Chris Cohan had agreed to sell the franchise to the pair for $450 million.
“We are delighted to welcome Joe Lacob and Peter Guber as majority owners of the Warriors,” NBA commissioner David Stern said in a statement. “Their commitment to the community, strong ownership group and business acumen will benefit the Warriors and their passionate fans both on and off the court.”
Lacob and Guber had pretty much been operating the franchise since the purchase was first announced, but it’s nice for Warriors fans to have it in stone. They no longer have to worry about the fates conspiring to somehow botch the sale and give Cohan back control.
How far can Golden State rise under what appears to be competent management? And how quickly can they do it?
With new ownership coming in, everyone in the Dubs front office is in danger of losing their jobs. Marc Stein of ESPN reports that Nelson would at least like to finish his contract before stepping aside.
"I'm excited about the new ownership," Nelson said. "I think this team needed that kind of change.
"I think we've made a couple good deals to improve the roster. I really love Lee and I think our locker room is getting cleaned up. We're really moving in a good direction.
"I'd love to coach another year, but I understand that it's a possibility [I won't be retained]. I want to do what's best for the organization. If I have to be a part of the change, I will understand."
Now, a lot of Warriors fans are looking to start over. On a poll on Golden State of Mind, the Warriors SB Nation Blog, 57 percent of those polled wanted Nellie to go (and a more select set, 36 percent want both Nelson and general manager Larry Riley out). That's not too bad, but it is leaning toward a plurality.
Still, it'd be hard for many NBA fans outside the Bay Area to respect the new ownership if they didn't look elsewhere and purge any remaining memories of the Chris Cohan era.
Well, here's an interesting twist. According to Ellison he had the highest bid, but Cohan rejected it anyway.
"Although I was the highest bidder, Chris Cohan decided to sell to someone else. In my experience this is a bit unusual. Nonetheless, I wish the Warriors and their fans nothing but success under their new ownership," said Larry Ellison.
Counterpoint came from the firm in charge of the sale, Galatioto Sports Partners. (HT HT Golden State of Mind)
It's possible Ellison's just trying not tot take one on the cheek. He doesn't want to look bad for not spending the most on the Warriors and didn't submit his bid until the last minute. If it IS true, this is a bizarre turn of events and totally out of character for Cohan, who has never shown himself willing to turn down a deal that maximized his bottom line.
What do you guys think?
This might mean something. This might mean nothing. But the Wall Street Journal article on Lacob does illuminate a few things about Golden State’s new boss.
Lacob will hope this investment goes better than one he made in another company that pulled down some $450 million.
That would be oil and gas exploration company Terralliance Technologies Inc., of Newport Beach, Calif., which raised that capital from Kleiner and other firms – and burned through most of it without the results its investors hoped for.
Terraliance, which bought up oil and gas leases in places such as Mozambique and Kazakhstan, purchased satellite data to use in analyzing potential drilling sites, and dug test wells, certainly started off full of promise. It gained a series of large funding rounds starting in 2004 and reached a valuation of nearly $1 billion by 2006. But by March 2009, it had closed its foreign offices and laid off half its staff. VentureWire reported last year that the company had been in violation since the previous fall of the terms of a $150 million bridge loan it received from Passport Capital, after a $1 billion or more investment from Singapore-based Temasek Holdings fell through, according to sources.
Lacob was a board member of the company by virtue of Kleiner Perkins’ stake, and he got a first-hand look at the pitfalls of backing a capital-intensive company with somewhat experimental technology. Terralliance claimed that its mapping technology was more than 90% accurate. Results, however, never approached that level, and the company failed to find commercial quantities of petroleum.
So, you can interpret this in many ways. The two things that come to mind for me are:
1) Lacob takes a lot of risks.
2) He’s willing to lose a lot of money.
The fact that he was willing to outbid one of the richest men in the world for ownership of the Warriors shows massive cajones. And people need to spend a lot to net the big players in the NBA, so that’s also a good sign.
Maybe this is the type of guy Warriors fans have been looking for. Then again, anyone BUT Cohan would probably work for Warriors fans.
According to CNBC, Larry Ellison did not win the bid to buy the Warriors. Instead, Joe Lacob, managing partner at private equity firm Kleiner Perkins, and Peter Guber, chairman of Mandalay Entertainment have bought the team for $450 million.
The sale was brokered by Galatioto Sports Partners, which has been involved in the recent sale of the Charlotte Bobcats and Chicago Cubs.
The Warriors franchise, which was bought by Chris Cohan in 1995 for $119 million, was valued at $315 million by Forbes in December of last year, but the Warriors’ location in the Bay area undoubtedly added more interest and thus a higher price.
Ellison looked to be the top candidate to buy the Warriors, but was unwilling to match the $450 million bid placed by Lacob and Guber.
And if you are thinking about the possibility of the team moving, Tim Kawakami points this out:
Lacob lives in the Bay Area. I don’t know much about him, but there’s little incentive for him to move the Warriors.
Lacob is expected to handle the primary roles of the ownership while Guber serves as a secondary role.
Chris Cohan seems to be milking the Warriors sale for all it's worth. Totally in his character. Steinmetz again with the down-low.
Cohan has an offer on the table -- one that exceeds $400 million -- but he is holding up the deal in the hope of bumping up the sales price even further. Ellison, along with the current minority owners of the Warriors, remains the frontrunner to buy the franchise, but another candidate remains in the mix.
A Warriors source told CSNBayArea.com on Tuesday that Mandalay Entertainment Group chairman Peter Guber was the other finalist. Also involved in that group is Joe Lacob, currently a minority owner with the Boston Celtics.
The source who said Cohan is delaying the process did indicate the situation is fluid and that things could change quickly. However, at this time the source said there was concern about getting the deal done by the weekend.
One thing seems certain: If a deal does get done it will top the $401 million that the Phoenix Suns fetched in 2004, the highest purchase price for an NBA franchise.
And it really wouldn't be close, according to the latest Forbes rankings. Age and net worth indicated below.
Remember the days we thought Cuban was the most dynamic non-athlete presence in the league? That was like...two months ago! Now he could be third?
Lacob is not on this list. Yeah, I think I know who Warriors fans want.
Nope, it's not done yet. And while the 24 Hour Fitness founder is out of the mix, a totally new face has entered the ring. Marcus Thompson reports.
Lacob is part-owner of the Celtics and is a partner at the venture capitalist firm KPCB, which is based in Menlo Park. I remembered the name from when Matt Steinmetz reported back in June. But I never was able to confirm his involvement from people I trust, just Peter Guber. Didn’t matter anyway, right? This thing was destined for the top two seeds to meet in the finals: No. 1 Ellison vs. No. 2 Mastrov. Wrong. Of course, Tuesday is the day I confirmed he was in the mix. And boy is he in the mix.
It’s not that Lacob can outbid Ellison. It’s that Ellison “won’t overpay” as one person told me. Because of that Lacob is in the game.
Now, I'm not saying Lacob isn't competent or capable, but I'd guess most Warriors fans want the guy who'd immediately become at least the third richest owner in the league rather than a random third party emerging at the 11th hour.
Hang on. We're not quite there yet.
The timetable, from the March announcement that Chris Cohan was publicly putting the team up for sale, was that the process would probably wind its way to late-July or, more likely, mid-August. But, as was frequently pointed out to me by multiple sources throughout the process, there was one way to quicken that pace: If Ellison made a drop-dead bid, and if Cohan took it.
Makes sense. Anyone who's watched the Warriors the past decade knows Cohan has treated the Dubs as a cash cow, no more, no less. It'd make sense that all that would be needed is an extra $50 million to $100 million.
And of course, how complete is an NBA ownership story without the Commish laying his hand on the table?
Hmm. David Stern is there, obviously. I’ve heard throughout the last few years that Stern very much wants Cohan out and Ellison in.
Interesting that this might be breaking now, when Cohan and Stern are together. If you know Stern, you know he could have told Cohan: Sell now, get the best price you can, and go away quietly
It'd be a nice little story for Golden State fans ... and just another punch in the face to Seattle fans.
An NBA source said Tuesday that he'd heard over the past week that Oracle software billionaire Larry Ellison, in tandem with the team's current minority ownership group, had emerged as the front-runner.
That same source also said that he understood that the group led by 24-Hour Fitness owner Mark Mastrov was second in the bidding.
Early Tuesday afternoon, a Bay Area-based source with knowledge of the bidding process, said that he'd be surprised if Ellison's group did not come out on top.
The field of potential buyers was whittled down to four finalists: Mastrov's group, Ellison's group, a group head by Texas-based Wall Street financier David Bonderman; and one that includes Mandalay Entertainment Group chairman Peter Guber. Last week, Warriors owner Chris Cohan, who hired Galatioto Sports Partners to sell the franchise, trimmed the list of prospective owners in half. Cohan chose the two highest bidders after each group submitted purchase of sale agreements, which included binding bids. The winner could come later today. Stay tuned!
The field of potential buyers was whittled down to four finalists: Mastrov's group, Ellison's group, a group head by Texas-based Wall Street financier David Bonderman; and one that includes Mandalay Entertainment Group chairman Peter Guber.
Last week, Warriors owner Chris Cohan, who hired Galatioto Sports Partners to sell the franchise, trimmed the list of prospective owners in half. Cohan chose the two highest bidders after each group submitted purchase of sale agreements, which included binding bids.
The winner could come later today. Stay tuned!
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