Former Turner Sports Executive Joins VC in Sports Tech SPAC

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Matthew C. Hong, a former Turner Sports executive who was responsible for the day-to-day operations of its extensive sports portfolio, has joined the SPAC of two venture capitalists seeking a sports technology, e-sports, media or other technology businesses.

The SPAC, Inception Growth Acquisition Corp., filed for a $90 million IPO with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The business states its target sectors are technology, media and telecommunications (TMT), non-gambling games, and sports and entertainment. “We believe one of the biggest sources of alternative revenue for sports organizations will be sports analytics. We expect data-driven platforms and artificial intelligence to play a huge part in helping organizations to better understand consumer behaviors in the coming years,” Inception states in its prospectus.

The sponsors and executives of the SPAC are Paige Craig, an angel investor who has stakes in Lyft and Omaze among other businesses, and Felix Yun Pun Wong, a principal at a finance advisory firm. Hong is an independent director of the SPAC, having been a business consultant since 2019, including with Nascar, according to his LinkedIn profile. For 11 years prior, until June 2019, Hong held various executive positions at Turner Sports, during which he was involved in the AT&T subsidiary’s programming with the NBA, MLB, March Madness, PGA Tour and UEFA Champions League. Hong also is chairman of his own SPAC, Newbury Street, which priced a $120 million IPO in March. That blank check is seeking opportunities in sports and entertainment.

After nearly grinding to a halt earlier this year, the market for special purpose acquisition companies is ticking back up. There are 144 active SPACs focused on finding a sports-related business or involving a sports executive, according to the Sportico Sports SPAC Tracker.

Also filing for an IPO over the weekend is Williams Rowland, a fintech-focused blank check whose board includes Tomago Collins, the executive vice president of communications and business development for Kroenke Sports & Entertainment. Collins is also involved in a sports SPAC from Arctos. Last week, Harry Sloan and Jeff Sagansky, who brought DraftKings public by blank check last year, filed for a $2 billion IPO with a SPAC called Spinning Eagle. Former NFL linebacker Dhani Jones, one-time tennis pro Grady Burnett and previous New York Jets president Neil Glat also are involved in SPACs that have recently filed to go public.

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