March 23, 2013

Indian software tycoon Vivek Ranadivé joins bid to keep Kings in Sacramento

Vivek Ranadivé – the Indian-born software giant and the owner of billion-dollar software company TIBCO – has joined the team bidding to keep the NBA’s Kings in the city of Sacramento. Ranadivé, who currently owns a share of the California neighbours Golden State Warriors, will join a team led by health-club financier Mark Mastrov and billionaire Ron Burkle.

As you may have already heard, the current owners of the Kings – the Maloof Family – are looking to sell the franchise to its highest bidder, and the highest bidder up to this point seemed to be another tech-inspired group from Seattle, led by Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer and Chris Hansen. If their bid is successful, the Kings would move to the city of Seattle and mark the comeback of the Seattle Supersonics, who moved to Oklahoma City to become the Thunder back in 2008.

The Kings have been in Sacramento since 1985-86. A few weeks ago, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced that the only way the franchise could remain in the city after this season was if Sacramento’s bid was as large as the bid from the Seattle group.

Enter Ranadivé: on Thursday March 21, Ranadivé confirmed that he has joined Burkle and Mastrov to become the third major investor in an attempt to purchase the Kings and keep them in Sacramento. Ranadive extended his support to Sacramento Mayor and former NBA player Kevin Johnson via Twitter.

"Looking forward to supporting @KJ_MayorJohnson as we work towards keeping the @SacramentoKings where they belong. #HereWeStay" Ranadivé tweeted. "Excited to be a part of the revitalization of a great community and the globalization of an amazing franchise."

Born in Mumbai, Ranadivé – a graduate from MIT and a post-graduate from Harvard – founded software company TIBCO in 1997 and is the company’s CEO. He has also authored two books: The Power of Now (1999), The Power to Predict (2006), and most recently, The Two-Second Advantage (2011). He became co-owner and vice chairman of the Golden State Warriors in 2010, making him the first person of Indian descent to own an NBA franchise. Ranadivé has helped bring Indian flavour to the Warriors as the team has held ‘Bollywood Night’ annually for the past three seasons.

If Ranadivé’s bid to the buy the Kings is successful, he will have to sell his share with the Warriors.

Ranadivé’s role is yet another interesting twist in the ever-growing drama surrounding the future of the Kings. It is yet unclear why Ranadivé will want to give up his growing legacy with the Warriors, with whom he seems to have been a successful owner for the past three years. He has been able to engage with the Oakland Indian community as well as spread the message of basketball to Indians back home. The Warriors are enjoying their best season in over a decade and currently stand at a comfortable sixth place in the Western Conference standings.

It’s an intriguing tug-of-war between West coast cities and basketball teams. Seattle wants the Supersonics back, and Sacramento wants to keep the Kings. And now, the Indian owner of the Golden State Warriors Warriors now wants to own the Kings in Sacramento. DeMarcus Cousins better be worth it.

The NBA’s Board of Governors will make a final decision about the Kings’ possible relocation by mid-April.

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