Owning a professional team is something that most sports fans only dream about. Anyone can do it: A nickel miner, divorce lawyer (Donald Sterling), and wedding supplier are some of the former professions of the people who were able to afford sports franchises. With billions of dollars floating around in the tech world, it was a foregone conclusion that professional sports would feel the impact.
As we all know, Steve Ballmer recently retired after his long career at Microsoft earned him billions of dollars to play with. And play with it he did, by offering $2 billion to buy the Los Angeles Clippers from Donald Sterling and his wife. Steve's not an owner yet, Mr. Sterling said he could nix the deal, but Mrs. Sterling is on Ballmer's side.
Former tech execs can be found in all professional sports and one group even bought the Professional Bowlers Association. Some have excelled while others are fighting for the cellar. In fact, the owners of the last two Super Bowl winners had their start in the tech world.
Here are six of the owners that may or may not surprise you.
Previously on Six Clicks:
Vivek Ranadive made his fortune by founding TIBCO Software in 1987 and has the distinction of owning two different NBA franchises. In 2010 Ranadive became co-owner and vice chairman of the Golden State Warriors. He then led an ownship group which bought the Sacramento Kings in May 2013 for a then-record $534 million. What a difference a year makes.
Robert Pera began his career as an Apple engineer who left the company in 2005 to lead Ubiquity Networks. He became a billionaire at age 34 when his company went public. In 2012 Pera spent a mere $350 million or so to buy the Memphis Grizzlies.
Just this past week, Pera took control by firing the team president and challenging his players to games of one-on-one.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has been playing the sports ownership game since 1988 when he bought NBA's Portland Trail Blazers. In 1997, Allen branched out into the National Football League with the purchase of the Seattle Seahawks. He was behind the building a new stadium in Seattle and developing one of the most rabid fan base in the NFL. Allen has a 2014 Super Bowl ring to show for it.
Another successful former techie is NFL owner is Stephen Bisciotti of the Baltimore Ravens. He made his fortune from Aerotech which provides staffing to tech companies. His Ravens were Super Bowl champs in 2013
Surprised to see this guy here? Since 1992 video game company Nintendo has been the owner of Major League Baseball's Seattle Mariners. The company's long-time president, Hiroshi Yamaguchi, who apparently was not a baseball fan, arranged for his company to buy the team. He died in 2013 but Nintendo says it has no plans to sell the team.
Seattle's baseball team has been mired in mediocrity during Nintendo's ownership.
Hasso Plattner made his mark in software as co-founder of SAP AG in 1972. In 2001, Time Magazine Europe named him the No. 1 most important and influential IT personality.
Plattner, an avid sports fan, became an investor in San Jose Sports and Entertainment Enterprises which owns the NHL's San Jose Sharks. In 2013 Plattner bought out two of his partners and became a member of the NHL's Board of Governors.
Charles Wang is best know as the co-founder and CEO of Computer Associates, now CA Technologies. He started the company in 1976 and made it the first software company to earn over $1 billion in revenues over one year. He is probably best known for his company's controversial $9 billion hostile takeover bid for Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC).
In 2000, Wang became part-owner of the NHL's New York Islanders and then majority owner in 2004. His team has underperformed in the last decade with one fansite calling it, the New York Horror Picture Show. Wang has recently indicated his willingness to sell the team.