Thursday, July 15, 2010
Five notes on the incoming Warriors owners
By Henry Abbott
Warriors owner Chris Cohan has just reached an agreement to sell his team for $450 million to Joe Lacob and Peter Guber. The news comes as a surprise as people around the NBA had long assumed that Oracle's Larry Ellison would be the next owner.
So, who are Lacob and Guber?
The short answer is that Lacob is the managing partner with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers while Guber is the CEO of Mandalay Entertainment. Here is a little more insight:
- In addition to being a minority owner of the Celtics, Lacob is a partner at one of the most prestigious venture capital firms in the world (where Al Gore also works, incidentally). He has been involved in a lot of health-care investments, but also Sportsline and big NBA advertiser Autotrader.com. New environmental technologies are a growing part of the company's portfolio, too, and The New York Times calls the firm "Silicon Valley’s cleantech kingmaker." A quick Wall Street Journal analysis of the deal suggests the Warriors -- with a relentlessly loyal fan base but a lousy team and a valuation that has slipped -- could be ripe for a savvy investor to turn a profit. Does that philosophy still apply now that we know Lacob and Gruber paid tens of millions more than anyone had previously paid for an NBA team?
- Guber co-stars in a 1996 unauthorized and salacious book chronicling Guber's time running Sony Pictures with Jon Peters. From the Publishers Weekly review of "Hit & Run" by Nancy Griffin and Kim Masters: "This is basically the story of two boys who never grew up, but ended up running Sony-owned Columbia Pictures into the ground. Peters, whom the Los Angeles Times described as a 'seventh-grade dropout and reform school graduate who began his show-business career as Barbra Steisand's hairdresser-boyfriend-manager,' was a master at self-promotion; only semi-literate but able to count well enough to make it big in Hollywood. Bostonian Guber earned several academic degrees before 'going Hollywood,' somehow managing to indifferently run several studios and make high profits and only a few good films."
- There's lots of interesting stuff to say about Peter Guber's film and television career. I'd tell you all about it, but it's probably simpler if you just watch the relentless ego indulgence that is touted as the Mandalay Entertainment reel, but is 100 percent ode to Guber, with Mandalay footnotes.
- Guber weighed in on LeBron James' decision last week. He said on FOX that he did not agree with Dan Gilbert's reaction: "Give me a break, will you? [LeBron's] in business. ... This is a 25-year-old kid who wants to put his product in the best marketplace. He gave them seven great years of complete loyalty and built himself from the ground up. He has a right to put that product in the best marketplace, on the best shelves, and think about the future. It's a team sport. He wanted to surround himself with the kind of people that would help build that legacy. I think he did a hell of a job."
- Guber says he learned an amazing amount about leadership from the movie "Lawrence of Arabia", as he explained on the Washington Post's website. Here he talks about the tribes T.E. Lawrence was charged with uniting Arab groups to fight the Turks: "They fought each other more than they fought the Turks! And he kept thinking about it and thinking about it. Finally he came up with one word. Aqaba. If he could get there, the disparate tribes would believe that they could do the impossible. Cross the Nefud desert and attack the Turks from the rear. ... If they could get there to do the impossible, this one small piece of impossible, they would believe anything's possible, and that uniting them's possible."