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Volume 23 No. 24
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Jacobson takes over as president of DRL

Former NBA sponsorship sales executive Rachel Jacobson has joined the Drone Racing League as president.

Jacobson, a Sports Business Journal Forty Under 40 honoree in 2010, will spearhead marketing, media rights and sponsorships. DRL events air on NBC and NBCSN, and a schedule has not been announced for the 2020 DRL Allianz World Championship.

Rachel Jacobson
Photo: Courtesy of Drone Racing League
Rachel Jacobson
Photo: Courtesy of Drone Racing League
Rachel Jacobson
Photo: Courtesy of Drone Racing League

Jacobson will report to CEO Nicholas Horbaczewski, the former Tough Mudder CRO, who founded the DRL five years ago. She said the new job was all but finalized in March, just before the current health crisis.

“I’m certainly happy to be back in sports, but my intention was not to start a new job during a pandemic,” Jacobson said. “I talked to Nick after the world changed, and he said ‘We need you now more than ever,’ as far as creative solutions and my network of contacts.”

Accordingly, Jacobson had a hand in the DRL’s recent FanDuel deal, announced April 2, even before her official DRL start date last week. That deal is the DRL’s first with a fantasy sports provider.

“What excites me about the Drone Racing League is that it combines the top tech experts with sport, entertainment and innovation,” Jacobson added. “That’s where the future is. You can’t just be a startup stick-and-ball sport and expect to survive.”

Jacobson was chief business development officer at Landit since December 2017. Before that, she worked at the NBA for 21 years in sponsorship sales, rising from an associate director to senior vice president of global marketing partnerships.  

Investors in the Drone Racing League include Stephen Ross’ RSE Ventures, CAA Ventures, Courtside Ventures, Hearst Ventures, Lerer Hippeau Ventures and Lux Capital, along with Matthew Bellamy (lead singer of the band Muse), Allen Debevoise (founder of Machinima), Grant Gittlin (chief execution officer of Medialink), Gary Vaynerchuk with Vayner/RSE and Strauss Zelnick (CEO of Take-Two). Last summer, the DRL said it was looking to raise up to $50 million in a Series C round of funding and it has already raised half of that, according to an SEC filing.

Editor’s note: This story is updated from the print edition.