Larry H. Gail Miller, owner and chairman of the Miller Group of Companies and Utah Jazz, announced today that it has entered into firm deals to sell the majority interest in Utah Jazz and other sports to technology entrepreneur Ryan Smith.
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Ryan Smith, the new owner of Utah Jazz, is not yet sure what kind of owner he is going to be, but he already knows that his focus will be on improving fan and player experiences.
Smith, 42, officially joined the Sports Owners’ Brotherhood after being approved by the National Basketball Association. Jazz $ 1.6 billion purchase Friday. The co-founder and CEO of Qualtrix will be the final decision maker for the business and basketball operations for the team.
The new ownership group also includes Atlasian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brooks and venture capital firm Ryan Sweeney Axel As minority partners.
In an interview CNBC ProS “A view from above,” Smith said he did not plan to be behind the scenes. However, unlike other NBA owners, directing Jazz may not be his full-time job. Quality Rotating Two years after the acquisition of the German software company, from SAP at the beginning of next year. Smith says he expects it to be “a great company.”
Smith told CNBC’s Alex Sherman, “I think I’m going to shake hands.” But we have unique leadership. We have world-class general manager Dennis Lindsay and one of the best coaches in the league, Quinn Snyder. There are some owners, they do it full time. It’s not me. I’m still very involved in Qualtrix.
Prior to purchasing the Jazz, Smith said he was exploring the acquisition of several NBA owners, including the Minnesota Timberwolves. Conversation between sports bankers familiar with the process suggests that Glenn Taylor, owner of Timber Wolves, is currently considering keeping the team.
“There are still a few minority pieces,” Smith said of the small NBA group owner shares. “You’ll see them coming around.”
Smith said Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Palmer had previously spoken with other NBA owners with technical backgrounds prior to the purchase, including Microsoft CEO. Both are one of the most watched team owners in NBA games. Like Cuban and Palmer, Smith said he plans to continue to sit on the court.
“I had a unique vision because I talked to Mark five different times or twice,” Smith said. “I already know the other owners in the league because that’s where I was interested. But they gave me different suggestions. Especially since no one said this, especially since everyone you have to do this has their own style.”
Smith said he hopes his basketball intelligence will help Jazz better integrate with a technology and social media-driven league.
“I understand basketball,” he said. “I get basketball. I play basketball three days a week. There is a basketball side and a business side. Each is equally interesting to me. From an experiential standpoint, understanding.”
When asked what jazz fans would expect from his franchise, Smith replied: “They’ll see it. They already see it. They know me – many of them do.”
Smith spoke about court seats next to previous owner Gail Miller. “But I have to pay now.”
Watch: Ryan Smith was inspired to own Utah Jazz here