Sports media execs launch VC firm

Accrue Sports, based in New York, plans to capitalise on the ‘digital shift as it related to sports’, and hopes to raise an institutional fund by 2009.

Investment and advisory firm Accrue Sports and Entertainment Ventures has been established to seek out investment opportunities in “next-generation sports-related companies”.

The opportunity Accrue seeks to exploit lies in the “seismic shift in the transfer of advertising from the old media world to the new”, said chief executive Bryant McBride. The niche firm will focus narrowly on companies “involved with the digital shift as it relates to sports”.

Accrue plans to build a track record with two or three “one-off” investments over the next 12 to 18 months backed by high net worth individuals before raising an institutional fund in 2009, according to managing director Paul Levy.

The firm’s investment mandate is to make early and expansion stage investments ranging from pre-revenue to $10 million per year in revenue. Investments may go as high as $10 million in equity throughout the life of a company although initial investments may be as small as $1 million.

The firm has its roots in an informal partnership established two years ago between McBride and president and chief operating officer Steve Solomon. Together, the two invested in start-up businesses FanNation, sold to Sports Illustrated in January 2007 and Football Scout, sold to ESPN in December 2005.

“Media conglomerates are increasingly recognising the value of owning rich sports content and sports-specific technologies”, said Levy in a statement.

In terms of exit opportunities, Accrue is looking to help these large media players “fill the holes in their portfolios” Levy added in an interview with PEO.

McBride emphasizes that Accrue’s goal is to remain “deep and wide in the sports vertical”. He adds that both the team and investors were hand picked to support this goal.

McBride himself has been an entrepreneur in the sports industry founding Vision Sports and Entertainment Partners, a youth sports marketing firm. Solomon has run an advisory business focused on the sports and broadcast industries and was president of Univision’s sports division. Advisory business president Douglas Perlman was previously president of sports and entertainment focused IMG Media in North America and Levy joins Accrue from lower mid-market private equity firm Main Street Resources following the sale of a ticketing technology company which he founded.

In addition to its venture activities, Accrue has an advisory business giving guidance to companies operating in the sports media space.