The Players Fund founder highlights what women athletes bring to the table
The GIST: Fergus Bell, founder of the athlete-led venture capital firm The Players Fund (TPF), recently argued that women athletes can be more impactful than male sports stars. While Bell mentioned how this is influencing sports sponsorships and coverage, recent additions to TPF demonstrate how it’s also influencing the boardroom.
The Players Fund: The firm was launched last August by a global group of men’s cricketers and soccer players. Raising $50.9M at the outset, the fund allows athletes to have a say in its investment choices while also educating them on investing risks and rewards and helping them pave a financial future after retirement.
- The firm was entirely composed of male athletes until last December, when TPF added several prominent women athletes as new partners, including retired legends such as Allyson Felix and Eni Aluko and active players like Nikita Parris.
The trend: While most women athletes are only starting to get paid, tennis stars specifically offer a window into the future as the pay gap closes. Top women’s tennis players have been bringing home the bacon for years thanks to equal Grand Slam prize money and lucrative sponsorships, which savvy players like Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka have leveraged into investment opportunities.
- Williams is in a league of her own with Serena Ventures, the firm she started in 2014 that has invested in at least 64 companies, including popular startups like MasterClass, Tonal, and Olly. Over half of these companies are founded by women, while 76% have founders from historically underrepresented backgrounds. Making sure everyone has a seat at the table.
- Osaka has partnered with popular companies that align with her athletic lifestyle like BodyArmor and Sweetgreen, but she’s also stepped beyond the court. Osaka’s media company, Hana Kuma, launched in partnership with LeBron James’ SpringHill Productions.
Zooming out: Including women athletes doesn’t just bring in their money, but also their unique perspectives and expertise: Diversity leads to higher revenue and better decision-making. As major women’s sports’ revenue is set to cross the billion-dollar threshold in 2024, the venture capital space should continue to recruit women athletes as investors.