SBJ/March 10-16, 2014/Forty Under 40

Forty Under 40: Ethan Casson

Ethan
Casson

Team: San Francisco 49ers
Title: Chief revenue officer
Age: 39
Where born: Milford, Conn.
Education: Colby-Sawyer College (B.S., sport management)
Career background: ESPN (1997-99); Minnesota Timberwolves (1999-2010), in several positions: director, corporate sales, VP, corporate sales, and SVP, corporate sales, corporate services and game presentation; San Francisco 49ers (2010-present), starting as VP, corporate sales, promoted to chief sales officer in 2013, and named to current position in January 2014
Family: Wife, Lisa

Favorite apps: Uber, Spotify, NFL Mobile.
Favorite way to unwind: Weekend trip to wine country with my wife.
Guilty pleasure: Lounging on the couch and going through hours’ worth of DVR programming.
Cause supported: The Make-A-Wish Foundation. (I currently serve on the board of directors for Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area.)
Most adventurous thing I’ve ever done is … : Sold most of my belongings and moved to Minneapolis for an entry-level position with the Minnesota Timberwolves.


TERRELL LLOYD

Fresh out of college, Ethan Casson was on his way up the pecking order at ESPN in a new area for the broadcaster at the time called sponsorship development. It was a dream job for the sports fan from Connecticut. What could be better than working for the Worldwide Leader in his home state?

How about the Minnesota Timberwolves, for $24,000 a year?

SBJ Podcast:
Executive Editor Abraham Madkour and project editor Mark Mensheha talk about the Forty Under 40 selection process and the class of 2014.

Casson had another passion: sales, and he wanted to break in with a team. He cold-called, he said, every team in the Big Four leagues, and only one team answered his call: the Timberwolves.

“I convinced them at my own expense to fly out for an interview for a job they said was near to being filled,” he said of his career shift in 1999. “I flew out and got the job by the end of that evening. I went back to Connecticut, I sold everything I owned; sold my car.”

The Minnesota job was a lower-level sales position, but Casson ran with it. He spent 11 years with the team and was promoted several times, ascending to a senior vice president position.

In 2010, he made the jump to the San Francisco 49ers as a chief partnership officer. In that role, he had a hand in the sale of sponsorships to the team’s new stadium that’s opening this year. The biggest is Levi’s, the naming-rights partner, but there are 10 other founding partners as well.

Casson’s career ascension continued earlier this year, with his promotion to chief revenue officer for the 49ers. It’s a role that means sponsorship sales are no longer his only focus. Now, ticketing, events and the fan experience all fall under his purview.

— Daniel Kaplan

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