Courtside Ventures $100M Fund Targets Sports-Related Investments

Venture capital firm Courtside Ventures announced the close of its third fund Thursday, with $100 million coming from people including owners, athletes and industry executives. Courtside—which has previously invested in The Athletic, StockX and 100Thieves, and currently has investments in more than 80 companies—said it plans to find startups across sports, collectibles, wellness and gaming. It also expects to grow its international portfolio.

Courtside’s first fund came together in 2016, with Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert serving as one of two initial anchor investors. This time around, limited partners also include the ownership groups of the Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Charlotte Hornets and Monumental Sports. Larry Fitzgerald and Shaquille O’Neal are among the individual investors, while Dicks Sporting Goods is one of the public corporations to have invested in Fund III.

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“We’ve gone from primarily being a domestic firm in fund one into fund three really being global both with the LP base but also with the companies that we’re looking at,” Courtside Ventures partner Vasu Kulkarni said in an interview. In particular, the company is looking at areas where it expects fantasy sports and gambling companies to grow the way they have in the U.S., including Brazil, India, Mexico and parts of Africa.

Courtside has already made several investments with the new funds. It has backed Web3-connected soccer game Matchday; Mojo, which bills itself as a stock market for sports; and online lottery platform

Kulkarni said the company remains bullish on recent trends including blockchain technology and collectibles. However, he added that Courtside has been somewhat relieved to see a more calm VC market recently, marked by a renewed “sense of sanity.”

“We started to do pre-seed deals for a little while there so that we could still get in early enough to get our ownership percentage that we needed,” Kulkarni said. “Now we’re back to being able to do more seed and Series A deals at relatively reasonable prices.”

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