SBD/August 16, 2012/Franchises

Jay-Z's Role In Nets Organization "Wildly Disproportionate" To His Ownership Stake

The role that Nets investor Jay-Z plays within the organization and Barclays Center is profiled by David Halbfinger in a front-page piece in the N.Y. TIMES. The hip-hop artist's “contributions have dwarfed” the $1M he invested nine years ago, and the Nets have “effectively written a new playbook for how to deploy a strategic celebrity investor.” His influence “has been wildly disproportionate to his ownership stake -- a scant one-fifteenth of one percent of the team. And so is the money he stands to make from it.” Jay-Z helped design the Nets' logos and “choose the team’s stark black-and-white color scheme.” He also “counseled arena executives on what kind of music to play during games,” while “pushing niche artists like Santigold over old favorites like Bon Jovi.” Jay-Z has capitalized on his Nets investment by “extending the Jay-Z brand into endorsement deals normally reserved for elite athletes.” He is featured in a new Budweiser ad “wearing a Nets cap” that was broadcast during the Olympics, and he was named Exec Producer of “NBA 2K13.” Jay-Z "has achieved a remarkable feat of leverage with his tiny sliver of the team." Sources said that his investment "was reduced from one-third to one-fifteenth of a percent upon [Nets Owner Mikhail] Prokhorov’s purchase of the Nets.” Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said Jay-Z “was not receiving a fee for his advice or any special deals for his businesses,” yet he has attended quarterly meetings of the arena’s BOD and keeps in touch by phone and e-mail with Yormark. At one time during the Nets’ free-agency moves this summer, Yormark received a call from Jay-Z who was following the team’s moves on television. Yormark: “He said he was watching ESPN, and the size of our logo was too big, because the word Brooklyn was getting cut off on the ticker at the bottom of the screen. He said, ‘Call ESPN and get them to fix it.’ And he was right. And then they fixed it” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/16).
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