49ers minority owner invests in skateboard league

Harry How

The San Francisco 49ers are owned primarily by the York family, but they have a few limited investors. One of them is investing in more sports.

We all know Jed York is in charge of the San Francisco 49ers, while his parents retain their stake in the team, but there are a lot of other people involved in the team from an ownership perspective. The York's own the majority stake (reported by Tim Kawakami as 95 percent), but there are various minority stakes to account for in the team. One such minority owner is Mark Wan. According to Kawakami, Wan has a 1 percent ownership stake in the team. Former president Gideon Yu reportedly also owns 1 percent, and the front office directory lists John Sobrato as another co-owner.

I bring Wan up because he is in the news with a new business dealing. Dan Kaplan and Tripp Mackle of the Sports Business Journal are reporting Wan is investing in the Street League skateboarding circuit (subscription). Wan is also a minority investor in the Boston Celtics, and he and Celtics managing partner Wyc Grousbeck purchased a non-controlling stake of up to 50 percent in the circuit.

I have little interest in skate-boarding, but I'm guessing one or two folks here might be interested, and might know something about the Street League skateboarding circuit. Anybody?

Wan and Grousbeck work together at Causeway Media Partners, which it appears they co-founded. Wan's primary experience is in "private equity and venture investment." Want and Grousbeck formed Causeway Media Partners solely for sport investment. Equity funds appear to be all the rage these days in terms of sport investment. A notable example would be Guggenheim Partners, who backed Magic Johnson's purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and reportedly has expressed interest in purchasing the Los Angeles Clippers in light of the world realizing that yes, in fact, Donald Sterling is racist scumbag (and has been for a long time).

I realize this isn't the most interesting of topics for some folks, but I find it interesting to know a little more about the people behind the 49ers. I imagine having a guy like Wan was of value to Jed York when he was putting together the deal that got Levi's Stadium built. Some 49ers fans are not pleased the team is moving down to Santa Clara, but the best opportunity presented itself there in part because of the serious business opportunities. Given the California's financial problems, and the relatively small amount of public money available to the 49ers, moving the team completely down to Santa Clara was not entirely a surprise. Well, that and having to deal with San Francisco politics. But that's a whole other story.

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