Large capital expenditures are necessary when organizations are looking for support to bring new projects to life. To that end, Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, has teamed up with other investors to finance a VC fund worth $60 million.
The sports betting and fantasy sports business DraftKings combined forces with venture capital companies Accomplice, Boston Seed Capital, and Catalyst to create the new VC firm Drive by DraftKings of Boston, MA, as noted by Forbes.
Originally, Drive by DraftKings was intended by its founding partners to assist professional athletes in learning more about the world of venture capital and the ins and outs of investing in technology.
Now Drive by DraftKings has changed course and is operating just as a VC investor in the world of sports and entertainment.
Who Are the Investors?
Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, is a significant investor, along with Los Angeles Lakers stakeholder Todd Boehly (who also invests in the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Sparks).
Jerry Jones, who owns the Dallas Cowboys, is also involved, in addition to Madison Square Garden Sports Corp (which owns the New York Rangers and the New York Knicks.)
Robert Kraft Has a Deep Involvement in Sports
Robert Kraft, who serves as founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of the Kraft Group, launched his first packaging company in 1968. The insight he gained into the paper industry prompted him to found International Forest Products. IFP eventually developed into today’s Kraft Group for his family’s investments.
Always a major fan of the sport of football, Kraft held season tickets to the New England Patriots for 23 years before he purchased the team in 1994. He vowed that buying the Patriots was the first step in helping the team achieve its overriding goal to become champions.
During the first five years under Kraft, the Patriots qualified for playoffs on four occasions and won 49 games. The Patriots went to the Super Bowl just three years after Kraft took over in 1996.
As Patriots fans know all too well, the team has won six Super Bowls following Kraft’s purchase of the team, making them the winningest team in the history of professional football.
A Solid Advisory Board for Drive by DraftKings
It’s prudent for a sports-oriented VC fund to have advisors with expertise and a background in sports.
Accordingly, the Drive by DraftKings fund has put together a group of athletic advisors, including:
* James Blake, a pro tennis player
* Theo Epstein, baseball operations executive from the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox
* Larry Fitzgerald, an NFL wide receiver
* Hilary Knight, a hockey player and U.S. Olympian whose team won the gold in 2018
Having athletically-inclined advisors will help the fund make better investment decisions and find new opportunities that other VC companies may not see so quickly or so clearly. This is a major advantage for Drive by DraftKings when funding new ventures in the sporting industry.
Main Areas of Focus for the VC Fund
Drive by DraftKings’s chief executive Meredith McPherron came onboard in 2020, having played lacrosse and soccer at Harvard University back in the 1980s before going into investing and marketing at the executive level.
Under McPherron’s expertise, the Drive by DraftKings fund is aiming at four categories for investment:
* Gaming and Sports
* Human Performance
* Monetization and Data Analytics
* Fan and Media Engagement
The VC fund has invested in such ventures as Papaya Gaming, a mobile gaming business, Guidesly, a platform to connect people with fishing trip guides and Just Women’s Sports, a new media company.
More recently, Drive by DraftKings spearheaded a $4 million round of funding in female-run gaming studio Toya, according to Front Office Sports, which noted the VC firm’s other new investment in WHOOP, a manufacturer of fitness wearables.
Advances in Sporting and Gaming Businesses Thanks to the New VC Fund
With a roster of professional athletes serving as advisors and such major figures as Robert Kraft and other investors, the Drive by DraftKings looks poised to shake things up with new opportunities and ventures in a wide range of sporting and gaming endeavors