March 27, 2023
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Accenture will eliminate 19,000 jobs, Beyoncé and Adidas sever ties, and a $100 million fund will invest in women’s sports. Have a mindful Monday.
– Game on. Advocates for women’s sports know that there is interest in the women’s game, paying attention to factors like the gulf between the accessibility of watching a National Women’s Soccer League game on TV and the millions of fans who follow those players on social media.
But it can be hard to translate potential into dollars—especially when constantly compared to the men’s game. Women’s sports altogether earn less than $1 billion in revenue (excluding the Olympics), less than 1% of revenue on the men’s side.
A new fund launching today is seeking to capitalize on the potential of women’s sports. Kara Nortman, a former managing partner at Upfront Ventures, and Jasmine Robinson, a former partner at VC firm Causeway and ex-executive at the San Francisco 49ers, are debuting Monarch Collective. The $100 million fund will invest in women’s sports, from teams and leagues to adjacent revenue streams like media and gaming.
“We believe it’ll be the only focused strategy of that type in the market,” Nortman says. The fund already has the support of a group of advisors and investors from both athletics and Silicon Valley, including Softbank’s Lydia Jett, Forerunner’s Kirsten Green, and Becca Roux, head of the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association.
Monarch Collective cofounders Jasmine Robinson and Kara NortmanCourtesy of the Monarch Collective
In addition to her work as an investor, Nortman was a founder of Angel City FC, the Los Angeles-based women’s soccer team cofounded by Natalie Portman. “What is needed to grow and scale women’s sports is like any business—you need real capital flowing into the ecosystem,” Nortman says. Nortman and Robinson hope that a dedicated $100 million fund will be that game-changer for the whole ecosystem.
They haven’t written their first checks yet. But they’re targeting “creative dealmaking” that accounts for the needs of teams and leagues receiving checks, from soccer and basketball to volleyball and rugby. They’ll work to bring in operators who understand the scale of the men’s game—but are open to innovation on the more nascent women’s side. They aim to develop content and programming for women’s sports fans and bring in advertisers beyond brands like Nike and Heineken that dominate men’s sports and that will speak to female consumers who control 80% of household spending.
Comparisons to men’s sports can be frustrating for operators trying to build and scale leagues like the NWSL and the WNBA. But the sheer size of the men’s sports market provides some upside for Monarch Collective’s founders as they debut a new kind of fund. “Even if the market is only 10% of the men’s side, that’s huge,” Nortman says.
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