Tech is taking over soccer in Seattle.
An all-star roster of current and former technology executives from the Seattle area — including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella — are joining a revamped Sounders FC ownership group, the club announced Tuesday.
There are 11 families, all with Seattle roots, putting their dollars behind the city’s professional soccer franchise, including:
- Nadella and his wife Anu Nadella
- Former Microsoft executive and current Madrona Venture Group partner Terry Myerson and his wife Katie Myerson
- Microsoft CFO Amy Hood and her husband Max Kleinman
- Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Experiences and Devices Joe Belfiore and his wife Kristina Belfiore
- Former Microsoft senior exec and current Madrona Venture Group Managing Director Soma Somasegar and wife Akila Somasegar
- Twilio Chief Product Officer and former Amazon/Google/Microsoft executive Chee Chew and his wife Christine Chew
- Former Pandora and aQuantive CEO Brian McAndrews and his wife Elise Holschuh
The group also includes Seahawks star quarterback Russell WIlson and his wife, music star Ciara, along with Seattle hip-hop legend Macklemore and his wife Tricia Davis. FOX Sports exec David Nathanson and his wife Sabina Nathanson are also coming on as investors, as well as former SoftBank and Goldman Sachs exec Mark Agne and his wife Tomoko.
Sounders FC majority owner Adrian Hanauer, a longtime tech investor and entrepreneur in Seattle, will increase his investment in the club as part of the new Seattle-focused ownership group. Drew Carey and Jody Allen, sister of the late Paul Allen, will continue as investors, while founding partner Joe Roth will depart. Existing investors Paul Barry and Lenore Hanauer are also staying on.
“Today we begin another chapter in the story of Seattle Sounders FC, this proud club that means so much to so many people,” Hanauer said in a statement. “We are doubling down on this community and growing our local roots even deeper. Sounders FC was born right here in Seattle, and for more than 40 years, the club has forged a meaningful legacy that is deep and far-reaching. Today’s news is a testament to what our community has accomplished, as 11 new families have joined with the broader Sounders family as fans and invested stewards of our club.”
This club is ours, Seattle.
All of ours.
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) August 13, 2019
Myerson, a longtime Microsoft executive who most recently led the Windows and Devices Group, was the “driving force” behind the new group.
“My family loves the Sounders and couldn’t imagine them being owned outside Seattle,” Myerson told 10minmail on Tuesday.
Myerson detailed the journey of recruiting his former Microsoft colleagues and others from the Seattle tech community in a LinkedIn post.
“I am honored to now be part of this club, with its great heritage, and so much future potential as a pillar of our great city of Seattle,” Myerson wrote. “Soccer has so much to offer all of us – lessons in teamwork, perseverance and hard work — and the opportunity for boys and girls, whole families, and friends to bond together across all walks of life and across generations. I look forward to the day when we bring our next championship home to Seattle, bringing together our entire Seattle community for a shared moment of pride and celebration.”
Somasegar said the new owners all share a common thread: a passion for the Seattle community.
“We wanted to step up and do our part to make sure the Sounders continue to be a Seattle-owned and Seattle-based and a Seattle-run organization for the Seattle people,” he told 10minmail in a phone interview.
Belfiore, corporate vice president of the “Essential Products Group” at Microsoft, told 10minmail that “my wife and I are massively enthusiastic about the way that sports can bring together a community – and the Sounders have been an amazing and growing part of Seattle’s identity.”
“We’re excited to help grow the organization and be a part of bringing the world-sensibility of soccer more strongly to the Northwest,” Belfiore added.
Hanauer will speak at a media event later this afternoon — stay tuned for more on 10minmail.
This isn’t the first Microsoft-Sounders connection. The Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant — via its Xbox arm — was the team’s jersey sponsor since the club’s debut in 2009, until earlier this year when Seattle-based online retailer Zulily took over sponsorship rights.
Football. Fútbol. We Love them both! @ciara and I are fired up to announce we are Team Owners of the Seattle @SoundersFC one of the best soccer franchises in the world! We can’t wait for our kids to grow up loving Soccer! Family is everything! #SoundersIsFamily ⚽️💚💙 pic.twitter.com/LbOCt7WI5i
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) August 13, 2019