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Volume 21 No. 1
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Plugged In: Sean Barror

Sean Barror is a managing director of Raptor Accelerator, a Boston-based financial advisory company focusing on the sports, entertainment and technology industries. Barror, who previously worked in senior executive positions for Madison Square Garden Sports and the Boston Celtics, talks about the role of private equity in sports and his transition from the front office to venture capital.

The sports industry is a great validator of technology, whether it is through media, ticketing or database technology. You are seeing a lot of companies approach teams and sports properties because they feel it will accelerate their growth. We are trying to get ahead of the curve a bit and do it in a very agnostic way. We are looking to facilitate the marriage of the properties.

On Raptor Acclerator’s sports investment strategy
: Traditional venture capital and private equity will take a 10 percent to 30 percent stake in a company but not really have a say in the operations of the company. They may have a board seat, but we get a little more involved in the day-to-day operations based on our collective capabilities from a personnel standpoint. We are not just bringing in capital; we are bringing in expertise. But we have to make sure that when we are deploying capital we have expertise in that space. It is a little different than the traditional private equity, venture capital model.

About the firm’s AS Roma work: Our engagement … is driven by our in-house expertise, but it also becomes a platform to leverage a lot of the technology and other companies we have invested in.

How is investment success measured?: It is ultimately return but it is also how well we can have each of the assets of our companies in the portfolio help one another. We can make an investment in a database company, which can help our sports properties group. The idea is that each of our investments are not just one-off investments. It is about creating scale in our business, which allows us to do more with our resources.

Drawing from his sports management days: The thing I learned the most at MSG and at the Celtics was that we saw of lot of the early stage opportunities walk through the door and pitch us on how they could help us. It illuminated to us to look at new technologies and new companies. Clubs and teams carry a lot of clout in those investments. It was a great illustrator to see the power of sports in driving these entities.