Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant and Qualtrics International Inc. co-founder Ryan Smith, the billionaire majority-owner of the Utah Jazz, are among investors backing ticketing platform SeatGeek’s merger with blank-check firm RedBall Acquisition Corp.
Durant’s Thirty Five Ventures and Smith have agreed to invest in the deal alongside institutional investors including venture capital firm Accel, an existing backer of SeatGeek, according to a statement, confirming an earlier Bloomberg report. The transaction, which includes $100 million private investment in public equity, or PIPE, gives the combined entity a roughly $1.35 billion enterprise value.
SeatGeek, led by Chief Executive Officer Jack Groetzinger, has partners including the Dallas Cowboys, Brooklyn Nets and Manchester City FC, as well as theaters across New York’s Broadway and London’s West End, its website shows. The company counts growth equity firm TCV, rapper Nas, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning and Carmelo Anthony’s Melo7 Tech Partners among its investors. Existing shareholders are expected to own 63.5% of the company.
RedBall raised $575 million in an August 2020 initial public offering. The special purpose acquisition company is led by CEO Alec Scheiner, as well as co-chairmen Gerry Cardinale, the founder of RedBird Capital Partners; and Billy Beane of the Oakland Athletics, who was portrayed by Brad Pitt in the film “Moneyball.” With the $100 million PIPE, the combined company is expected to get $675 million in gross proceeds.
Vivid Seats, a rival to SeatGeek, in April agreed to merge with Horizon Acquisition Corp., a SPAC led by Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly.
SeatGeek isn’t the only company backed by Eli and Peyton Manning to pursue a SPAC merger. BBQGuys, an e-commerce platform for grills and related products, agreed this year to go public through a deal with Velocity Acquisition Corp.