2 Sports Execs Launch Company to Invest Up to $50M in Early-Stage Companies

2 Sports Execs Launch Company to Invest Up to $50M in Early-Stage Companies

Newcastle United’s Alexander Isak in action with Crystal Palace’s Cheick Doucoure.

Lee Smith | Reuters

Two longtime sports executives are launching an investment firm that they say will back startups that capitalize on growing opportunities at the intersection of sports, media and entertainment.

Velocity Capital Management said Tuesday that it will invest up to $50 million in early-stage companies with enterprise values ​​of up to $2 billion.

One of Velocity’s co-founders is David Abrams, co-owner of English Premier League club Crystal Palace and former private equity partner and chief investment officer of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils. the NHL. . The other co-founder is Arne Reese, who recently served as the US CEO of Sportradar, a sports technology company.

The firm closed its first investment in Camp NYC, which creates retail shopping and gaming experiences based on intellectual property from popular children’s entertainment such as Disney’s “Mickey & Friends” and “Paw Patrol.”

“Camp is a business that encompasses some of the things that we’ve been looking at as a company,” Abrams said.

The company’s stores, which are a mix of an interactive and shopping experience, are located in New York City, including its flagship location on Fifth Avenue, as well as in New Jersey, California and Texas.

Velocity said it has received investment capital from a variety of sources, including Delaware North, a private company with a portfolio that includes more than 50 sports and entertainment venues, sports betting sites and the NHL’s Boston Bruins. Other investors include Signify Wealth, an investment adviser with NFL clients; Remington Ellis, a sports marketing and talent agency; Bolt Ventures, a family office that invests in sports and entertainment in the US and Europe; and RWN Management, the family office of Apollo Global Management co-founder Mark Rowan.

In an interview, Abrams and Rees said they decided to start Velocity after seeing the sports and media ecosystem evolve in areas like technology, analytics and intellectual property.

“Right now we’re primarily focused on growth-stage companies,” Abrams said. “These are companies that we will likely take an investment in without control, but we want to play an active role as an advisor or on the board.”

Abrams and Rees said their investment and sports backgrounds gave them the confidence to get Velocity off the ground.

Before joining Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment as chief investment officer in 2018, Abrams was a partner at Apollo for much of his career. Harris Blitzer, founded by private equity professionals Josh Harris and David Blitzer, also owns the Prudential Center, the stadium where the Devils play, and the electronic sports organization New Meta Entertainment, among other businesses in the world of sports.

Rees previously guided Sportradar, a data firm that works with sportsbooks, sports federations and media companies, through its IPO in 2021. His resume also includes roles at ESPN and the Union of European Football Associations.

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