Lionel Messi launches SF-based investment company
Lionel Messi, one of the most recognizable names in the sports world, is moving to Silicon Valley. But you’d be forgiven for assuming it’s always been there.
The Argentinian football star is one of the richest celebrities in the world. Messi’s career, coupled with his time at FC Barcelona, dates back to 2004 and earned him almost 400 million online subscribers. Now plying his trade in Paris, Messi’s current contract almost pays him off $738,000 per week.
Last week, Messi announcement the launch of Play Time Sports-Tech, an investment company that will fund sports, media and technology ventures. The new fund will be based in San Francisco.
“I’m thrilled to extend our roots in Silicon Valley, and I’m thrilled that Play Time is collaborating with bold entrepreneurs around the world,” Messi said in a statement.
Partnering with Messi in this endeavor is Razmig Hovaghimian, who founded and sold his video site Viki to Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten in 2013 for $200 million. Rakuten was also a major sponsor of FC Barcelona during Messi’s last run with the club, but chose not to renew his contract. once the superstar is gone and signed at Paris-Saint-Germain in 2021.
One of Play Time’s early investments is also in a football startup – although vague at this point – called Matchday.com. Founded by Hovaghimian, the startup says it wants to “build a place where fans rub shoulders with the biggest players in the world”.
The timing of Messi’s announcement is no coincidence. The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is set to kick off in less than three weeks, meaning the eyes of the world will soon be on one of the game’s greatest ever players.
Play Time gave no details on the amount of funds it plans to invest. It only said in a statement that it would be “stadium independent”, investing in businesses at different stadiums and locations.
Prior to announcing the move to venture capital, Messi’s off-pitch wealth was accrued mostly through his lucrative endorsement deals with Adidas, Pepsi and the online crypto company. Social. It also owns a chain of hotels and resorts in Spain.
Its entry into Silicon Valley continues the trend of major sports and entertainment celebrities getting into investing. Local Golden State Warriors the stars have been public with their investments for years, and Serena Williams and Kevin Hart came to San Francisco last week to promote their funds.
Next month’s World Cup will likely be Messi’s last. The seven-time World Player of the Year has won 11 La Liga trophies and four Champions League titles but is yet to win international competition in four tries. He came closest in 2014 when Argentina lost 1-0 to Germany in the final in Brazil.
The 2022 World Cup will start on November 20. In Qatar, Argentina will compete in Group C along with Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland.