Sports Business

Venture Capital Firms Take Majority Interest In Athletes First

MASTRY Ventures and General Catalyst, each a venture capital firm, have jointly acquired a majority interest in Southern California-based sports agency Athletes First. Brian Murphy will remain the CEO of the agency and run day-to-day operations.

The venture capital firms hope to create new platforms for Athletes First to find new opportunities and establish enhanced ownership across various industries. MASTRY Ventures co-founder Rudy Cline-Thomas also stresses diversity in the representation of athletes and will assume the role of Chairman of Athletes First.

“The need for more diverse representation in the sports industry was a driving force in pursuing this partnership,” said Cline-Thomas. “The acquisition allows us to expand opportunities for our clients, create real value, and remove long-standing barriers to access.”

Portfolio companies for MASTRY Ventures include Players Health, Crstl, and Jukebox Health. It has previously invested in Allbirds, Cheddar, Coinbase, Cloudflare, Hims, and many other very successful companies.

MASTRY Ventures and General Catalyst together are now able to boast that they are majority shareholders in a sports agency that has represented 8 Super Bowl MVPs, the most first-round NFL draft picks for 3 years in a row, and many NFL and NCAA coaches and front office personnel including Matt Lafleur and Brian Kelly.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.