The WNBA received $75 million from a group of investors that includes Michael Dell, Nike, Swin Cash and a few NBA owners in its first capital raise and the largest ever for women’s sports.
“It’s a historic moment, I’m really excited to close on a very successful capital raise,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said. “Bringing some new investors into the league and having some of our own NBA and WNBA people is great. Thanks in huge part to the ability to raise this capital and access it, we’ll take a huge step forward and accelerate our transformation.”
The capital raise was funded by selling equity in the WNBA and will be used for marketing and elevating the league’s brand. The new investors will be equity partners with the league, sharing in the profits and losses.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told The Associated Press in 2018 that the WNBA was losing $10 million a year. When asked if the league was still losing money, Engelbert responded: “Despite the challenges of the past two years, we have made terrific progress in growing the business of the league. We feel very good about where we are today and interest in the WNBA is at an all-time high, which is why we are capitalizing on this moment for the W.”
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Nike, which was already a WNBA partner, has made a significant equity investment in the league, Engelbert said.
“Women’s sport is one of the best investments, with great potential to impact and grow the next era of basketball,” said Sonja Henning, Nike vice president of North America league partnerships. “Nike has always been more than a sponsor with the WNBA – we’re a strategic partner. And we’re proud to be part of a movement to redefine the future of sport for a new generation – for WNBA players, fans and girls.”
Engelbert said that she wanted to do something like this when she came into the league. Conversations started last spring and they were able to raise $50 million and that quickly ballooned to the $75 million mark.
“Susan (Dell) and I are excited about the growth opportunity in women’s sports and specifically the WNBA,” said Dell, the CEO of Dell Technologies and a minority investor in the San Antonio Spurs. “We also are proud to support a league that is committed to empowerment, and we look forward to supporting Cathy and all the accomplished and diverse women of the WNBA to make a positive impact in the world.”