By Bay City News Service
Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison won the America's Cup sailing race earlier this year, but Thursday he lost his bid to buy one of the lowest-ranked teams in pro basketball, the Oakland-based Golden State Warriors.
Instead, team owner Chris Cohan sold the team to an investor group led by Joe Lacob, a partner at a Menlo Park-based venture capital firm, and Peter Guber, chairman of the Mandalay Entertainment Group.
Galatioto Sports Partners, a New York-based sports advisory firm hired by the Warriors earlier this year to find a buyer for the team, said the sale price was $450 million, a record price for a National Basketball Association team. The sale is subject to final closing agreements and NBA approval.
"I am incredibly excited to have the opportunity to be the next steward of this storied NBA franchise," Mr. Lacob said in a statement. "This is my dream come true."
Mr. Ellison, who Forbes Magazine ranked the sixth richest man in the world this year with an estimated $28 billion net worth, said in a prepared statement that he was the Warriors' highest bidder, but Mr. Cohan declined to sell him the team.
"In my experience, this is a bit unusual," Mr. Ellison said. "Nonetheless, I wish the Warriors and their fans nothing but success under their new ownership."
Sal Galatioto, president of Galatioto Sports Partners, said the sale process was extremely competitive.
"The ($450 million) price reflects the Warriors' exceptional fan base, the outstanding demographics of the Bay Area, the high level of interest in the team and the strength of the NBA," he said.
Although the Warriors have made the NBA playoffs just once since 1994, Mr. Guber and Mr. Lacob both expressed enthusiasm for the team's future.
"Peter and I intend to do what we do best -- innovating and building," Mr. Lacob said. "It is our passion to return the Warriors to greatness and build nothing short of a championship organization that will make all of us in the Bay Area proud."
Mr. Guber added, "I look forward to and appreciate the opportunity to help make the future of the Golden State Warriors franchise become an even greater story to tell."
Mr. Lacob, who is a partner at investment firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, is also a part owner of the Boston Celtics basketball team and was a primary investor in the American Basketball League, a women's professional league, according to Galatioto Sports Partners.
He has been a Warriors season ticket holder for the past decade and has been involved in Stanford basketball for more than 25 years, with courtside seats at the Maples Pavilion.
Mr. Guber has been deeply involved in the entertainment industry for more than 30 years with producer credits that include "Rain Man," "Batman," "Flashdance," "The Color Purple" and "Midnight Express."
In 1995, Mr. Guber and his partner Paul Schaeffer, who will also be an owner of the team, founded the Mandalay Entertainment Group, which has financed, produced and distributed almost 20 movies.
Mr. Guber is also a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Theater, Film and Television.
After the sale, Mr. Cohan, who has owned the Warriors since 1995, thanked the team's fans in a prepared statement.
"I wanted to take this opportunity to express my sincerest gratitude, and to personally say thank you to the 'best fans in all of sports,'" he said.