One of this week’s more notable venture capital deals involved baseball’s Iron Man.
Ripken Baseball, the sports company of which Cal Ripken, Jr., is president, received what was described as a “significant minority investment” from LionTree LLC. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it’s drawing interest given LionTree’s association with big names in tech.
Founded in the early aughts by Cal, Jr., and his brother and fellow former Orioles infielder Billy Ripken, Ripken Baseball offers “experiences” such as youth camps and tournaments at facilities in Aberdeen, Md., Myrtle Beach, S.C. and Pigeon Forge, Tenn. With the deal, the company is looking to expand in the tech realm.
“I am proud of the way we have been able to grow and expand all that Ripken Baseball does, and now with this investment and long-term partnership with LionTree we can accelerate the growth plans and enhance our digital presence to reach even more people who share our passion,” Cal Ripken, Jr., said in a statement announcing the deal. “We can do that much more with terrific partners, and we view LionTree as just such a partner.”
Ripken Baseball currently offers streaming services, coaching content and ecommerce. The investment will help with expansion around the U.S., and new digital products including analytics tools and mobile apps, according to the companies. LionTree will also “provide strategic advice and assist senior leadership in forging new relationships and partnerships with sports, media and technology companies,” the announcement states.
With the deal, LionTree CEO and noted “rainmaker“ Aryeh B. Bourkoff is joining Ripken Baseball’s board. There’s a local connection, as Bourkoff tells Bloomberg that he grew up in Baltimore.
For its part, LionTree focuses on tech and media. It’s on a sports streak of its own, with prior investments in sports news venture The Athletic (which recently expanded to Baltimore), player tracking startup Second Spectrum and over-the-top television channel fuboTV. The firm has also been a notable advisor on deals such as Snap’s IPO and scorekeeping startup Gamechanger’s acquisition by Dick’s Sporting Goods.
We’ve seen Baltimore sports greats like Michael Phelps and Ed Reed get involved in venture investing, but this is the first time in recent years that a local legend has attracted capital.
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