WPP is backing an investment fund—Courtside Ventures—that will help finance tech and media startups with a focus on sports. The lead investor in the fund is Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans and majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The fund is putting up $35 million to invest in early-stage startups and it is partnering with another WPP-backed firm, Bruin Sports Capital, which was formed by sports marketing veteran George Pyne last year. The alliance will jointly seek out entrepreneurs and implement funding.
Courtside will operate out of Detroit and New York. Other partners in Courtside include Deepen Parikh, venture partner at Interplay Ventures and co-founder of NYVC Sports and Vasu Kulkarni, founder and CEO of sports analytics company Krossover. Also participating is Brian Hermelin, Managing Partner and co-founder of Rockbridge Growth Equity and Detroit Venture Partners, two investment arms within Gilbert's portfolio of companies.
"Sports remains a fundamental interest for our clients,” said WPP CEO Martin Sorrell. “So, we are delighted to participate in Courtside, particularly with Dan Gilbert and George Pyne. The icing on the cake is the Detroit location, home of our largest client, Ford."
Courtside Ventures' Advisory Board will include sports media entrepreneur Brian Bedol, founder and CEO of Bedrocket Media Ventures, and Doug Perlman, founder and CEO of Sports Media Advisors, and former head of the media divisions at IMG and the National Hockey League.