Tesla chair and Blackbird partner Robyn Denholm is the latest tech titan bitten by the sports bug, buying into Australian basketball team The Sydney Kings.
Denholm’s 30% share in the Kings, via her family investment office, Wollemi Capital Group (WGC), also includes Women’s NBL club Sydney Flames.
Majority owner and Kings chairman Paul Smith is selling a stake of the club’s holding company Hoops Capital, with outspoken former basketballer Andrew Bogut remaining as a co-owner.
Denholm launched Wollemi Capital last year to invest in businesses and ventures that deliver positive impacts for the communities. While owning a sports team is often see as a trophy for billionaires, WCG sees the positive impacts of sport as a key focus. Her adult children, Matthew and Victoria, grew up as basketball fans watching the Kings play before the family moved to the US, will be involved in the club while Denholm brings her governance skills to the business.
Smith said the agreement marked a major milestone for the growth of the Kings and basketball in Australia.
“We are delighted to have Robyn join us in her capacity as founder of the Wollemi Capital Group. With her corporate acumen and experience, she will be an asset to our board,” he said.
“She joins us alongside Matthew and Victoria who bring a clear passion for both men’s and women’s basketball in our ownership. I think this diversity will ensure we are in a great place to achieve something very meaningful over the next 20 years.”
Denholm said she was “blown” away by the vision and work of Smith and Hoops Capital.
“We are particularly impressed with the commitment to diversity shown by being the only organisation in Australia with both female and male basketball teams at the highest level. Wollemi Capital Group is excited to be creating a long-term partnership,” she said.
Matthew Denholm said they huge potential for the growth of basketball in NSW and nationally.
“This is a whole of family passion, and we hope by becoming part of the Hoops Capital family we can advance basketball and grow the sport so that everyone can experience the unique joy of basketball across our community” he said.
Basketball is a fast-growing sport in Australia, with the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup, featuring national teams from 12 countries playing 38 games to across 10 days from September 22 in Sydney.
Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes is also a basketball team owner, having nabbed a stake US NBA team Utah Jazz in late 2020, in a A$2.2 billion alongside fellow tech billionaire Ryan Smith, co-founder of Qualtrics, and Accel VC investor Ryan Sweeney.
In November last year, Cannon-Brookes signed on with actor Russell Crowe and fellow billionaire James Packer to grab a 25% share of the South Sydney NRL club.