Qualtrics CEO Buys An NBA Team
|Ryan Smith, CEO, Qualtrics.
Photo credit: Fortune Conferences, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Ryan Smith, an entrepreneur who built survey software company Qualtrics from the ground up and sold it to German software giant SAP for a steep price of $8 billion last year, has reached a deal to buy up a majority stake in the Utah Jazz, a US pro basketball team. ESPN reports the value of the acquisition deal as roughly $1.7 billion.
Smith is purchasing the Utah Jazz from the Miller family, the NBA team’s long-time owners who have controlled it for more than three decades. Even before now, he has long been associated with the Utah Jazz, being a native of Utah, the state where his company Qualtrics has long been based in. Qualtrics has been a major Utah Jazz sponsor and has a current deal with the club that runs through 2023.
Smith is joining a sizeable cohort of technology moguls who hold stakes in professional sports teams. That cohort includes Robert Pera of Ubiquiti Networks (Memphis Grizzlies), Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavericks), Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer (LA Clippers), and Michael Rubin of Fanatics (Philadelphia 76ers).
Upon closing of the acquisition, Smith will take the helm at the Utah Jazz and its affiliates and have final decision-making authority for all business and basketball operations related to the team.
Included in Smith’s acquisition of the Utah Jazz is the Vivint Arena venue, the NBA G League Salt Lake City Stars, and management of the Triple-A baseball affiliate Salt Lake Bees.