April 17, 2013

Another Indian – Naren Gupta – joins Sacramento Kings investors group

Hey, the Sacramento Kings are taking this whole Sacramento Rajas thing a little too seriously now, aren’t they?

Mumbai-born Vivek Ranadivé, current minority owner of the Golden State Warriors, prospective future majority owner of the Sacramento Kings, has added two more investors into the group that is bidding to buy the Kings from the Maloofs and keep them in Sacramento. One of the investors is tech entrepreneur (and former Apple executive) Andy Miller. The other is Naren Gupta, a silicon valley venture capitalist and the co-founder of Indian company Nexus Venture Partners. If their bid is successful, Gupta will join Ranadivé to become the second Indian owner of an NBA franchise.

If you’ve been following the Sacramento-Seattle-via-Mumbai battle closely, you would know that the current owners of the Kings are looking to sell the squad quickly to the best-possible bidder. Until recently, that best bidder came from a tech group in Seattle, a group hoping to carry the franchise out of Sacramento and bring back the Seattle Supersonics. But ever since Ranadivé, Indian tech mogul and the founder of the company TIBCO, joined a group of investors hoping to buy the Kings and keep them in Sacramento, there has been optimism in the California capital that an Indian can help the struggling team stay in the city where they’ve spent the past 28 years.

According to CowbellKingdom.com, Gupta and Miller are joining a group that already includes 24-Hour Fitness Founder Mark Mastrov, the Jacobs Family of wireless tech company Qualcomm, Sacramento developer Mark Friedman and former Facebook executive Chris Kelly.

Gupta also serves on the board of TIBCO. Last September, he spoke to Wall Street Journal on the innovation potential of India, saying, “Indians understand the enterprise space a lot better than the consumer space. I think in the next five years we’ll see a billion-dollar company come out of India.”

With the addition of Miller and particularly Gupta to the group, Ranadivé is continuing to push the ‘global brand’ mission for the Kings, helping the reach of his team reach India and other countries around the world. Ranadivé also has surrounded himself with tech-related investors, and his own technology background will form the major crux of Ranadivé’s plans leading the Kings into the future.

From Sacbee.com:

The goal is to create something Ranadive has begun calling "NBA 3.0," which refers to making basketball as popular worldwide as soccer. Much of the focus would be on China, where the NBA is already quite popular, and India, where cricket is considerably more popular.
Basketball "is a sport that lends itself to that," Ranadive said of the globalization effort. "It can be played in cities, it can be played in villages. Rich countries, poor countries - you don't need a lot of space like you do with cricket or soccer."

The NBA’s Board of Governors meeting will kick off on Wednesday in New York and will help determine the future of the Sacramento Kings.

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