Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 20 No. 46
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Which tech is this former commish investing in?

NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern last week unveiled an investment and advisory participation in Sportscastr.Live, a New York-based video streaming startup that allows users to insert themselves as color commentators and customize the graphics presentation. The move marked the latest in a string of sports technology investments since leaving his role as league commissioner three years ago.

Working with venture capital firm Greycroft Partners, Stern has steadily amassed equity interests in hot-button segments of sports technology including wearable technology, virtual reality, digital video streaming and artificial intelligence. Stern discussed his evolving approach to his sports investments with staff writer Eric Fisher.

What are your guiding principles as you build out your sports technology portfolio?
I’ve made a number of investments, but those that have been in sports focus on new technology that enhances the fan experience, that is to say streaming with Fubo.TV, virtual reality with LiveLike VR, wearable technology with ShotTracker, artificial intelligence with StatMuse, unmanned cameras with Keemotion, a new approach with Sportscastr.Live, and most recently an app called Overtime, which focuses on high school sports, which I think is the next area that is going to be much more in the public consciousness.

Beyond that opportunity for disruption, what are you looking for from the companies in which you invest?
It’s mostly about the technology and the management team. You often look for people who have successfully started up companies before and have had good exits. Or just spectacular, innovative technology that is in the hands of people you have confidence will be able to deliver on it. Most of these investments are made with Greycroft Partners, and Greycroft has co-invested in most of them.

First Look podcast, with discussion of this story beginning at 10:35 mark:

Sportscastr.Live allows fans to stream themselves with graphics, scoreboards and chat boxes.

These are obviously your personal funds, but what kind of figures are we talking about with these investments?
Small. Smaller than you might think. But it comes with something I like to think is valuable, which is my advisory capabilities.

What you eyeing now? What’s not in your portfolio currently that you would like to be?
It’s interesting. I’m in a position now where this usually comes to me. I don’t have to go looking for a particular investment. The deal flow is very good. People are seeing that I’m involved and are continually bringing opportunities to me, and I bring them to Greycroft.

How focused are you on exits?
I’m not focused on exits at all. Sometimes, exits are accidental. I invested in a company called AlphaDraft, which was fantasy in the esports space, and the exit was immediate, they were bought, I wasn’t in AlphaDraft anymore, and it was an unsuccessful outcome. But right now, I don’t go in looking for an exit. I go in looking for growth and developing growth.