The Top Ten Sports Franchise Owners
10. Stephen Bisciotti – Baltimore Ravens (2000 – Present)
Net worth: $1.5 billion
Baltimore Ravens owner Stephen Bisciotti knows a thing or two about cultivating self-made fortune. Although his early jobs included mowing lawns, babysitting and pumping gas, he is now the majority owner of staffing firm Allegis Group and the NFL’s Ravens—a team that’s sold out every game since 1996.
9. Jeremy Jacobs – Boston Bruins (1975 – Present)
Net worth: $1.9 billion
It took 36 years for the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup under his watch and his spending habits have been lean, so Jacobs hasn’t always been Boston’s favorite team owner. In recent years, Jacobs has invested in his team heavily and his efforts have been paying off.
The team’s 2008-2009 rankings and 2011 Stanley Cup victory look like the start of a beautiful turnaround.
8. Henry Samueli – Anaheim Ducks (2005 - Present)
Net worth: $1.7 billion
When Samueli purchased the NHL’s then-named Mighty Ducks from Disney for $75 million, he also snagged what’s now known as the Honda Center. The Anaheim Ducks are now worth about $188 million and Samueli has leveraged his smarts and fortune to become a prominent philanthropist. Not bad for a guy who used to stock shelves in his family’s liquor store.
7. Daniel Gilbert – Cleveland Cavaliers, Lake Erie Monsters (2005 – Present)
Net worth: $1.5 billion
Quicken Loans chairman and founder Dan Gilbert is a hands-on franchise chief. When he purchased the NBA’s Cavaliers in 2005, he completely overhauled the front office, coaching staff, game presentation and player personnel. And when LeBron left the Cavs in 2010, Gilbert didn’t hold back his criticism in a controversial open letter posted on the team’s website.
6. Jeffrey Lurie - Philadelphia Eagles (1994 – Present)
Net worth: $1.1 billion
Lurie made a name for himself as a Hollywood producer and president and CEO of Chestnut Hill Productions, but he really started flexing his executive muscles when he bought the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles for $195 million. Forbes estimated that the Eagles are now worth over $1.164 billion. Lurie continues to produce films; he has two documentaries slated for release in 2012 and his “Inside Job” doc snagged the 2011 Academy Award.
5. Michael Ilitch – Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers (1982 - Present)
Net worth: $1.6 billion
Ilitch’s association with the MLB’s Tigers began shortly after high school, with a three-year minor league playing career. A knee injury forced him out, and he decided to start up Little Caesars Pizza. In 1982, Ilitch and his wife Marian bought and revived the “Dead Wings” and they scooped up the Tigers ten years later.
4. John W. Henry – Boston Red Sox, Liverpool Football Club (2002 – Present)
Net worth: $1.1 billion
Henry founded hedge fund J.W. Henry & Company and then went on to wheel and deal at not just one, but two professional sports teams. His Fenway Sports Group bought the Liverpool F.C. soccer team eight years after he bought the MLB’s Red Sox and broke the “Curse of the Bambino” with two World Series wins.
3. Robert Kraft – New England Patriots, New England Revolution (1994 - Present)
Net worth: $1.7 billion
Kraft has been a Patriots season ticket holder since 1971 and his admiration of the team led him to a then NFL-record $175 million purchase of the then struggling team in 1994. The Patriots are now worth about $1.4 billion and in his 17 years of ownership, the team has made the playoffs 12 times and every single home game has sold out.
2. Mark Cuban – Dallas Mavericks (2000 – Present)
Net worth: $2.3 billion
Cuban has been described as a “serial entrepreneur” because of his varied and frequent investments since starting software reseller MicroSolutions. He’s now the owner of the NBA’s Mavericks, Magnolia Pictures, Landmark Theatres and chairman of HDNet. Cuban has become one of sports’ most high profile owners because of his frequent outbursts directed at the NBA and his subsequent fines (amounting to at least $1,665,000).
1. Stanley Kroenke – Denver Nuggets, Colorado Rapids, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Mammoth, St. Louis Rams, Arsenal Football Club (1995 – Present)
Net worth: $3.2 billion
Kroenke’s the head and owner of Kroenke Sports Enterprises—a pro sports juggernaut that owns teams in the NBA, NFL, NHL, NLL, MLS and FIFA as well as Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and Pepsi Center, home of the Nuggets and Avalanche. He’s earned the nickname “Silent Stan” because of his reluctance to give press interviews and he typically steers clear of his teams’ day-to-day operations, but Kroenke’s name and reputation have produced a deafening ring in the world of sports. His propensity to align himself with powerful organizations extends to his personal life as well—he’s married to Ann Walton Kroenke, daughter of Wal-Mart cofounder Bud Walton.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.