Mumbai: After acquiring a stake in NBA franchise Golden State Warriors, Indian expatriate and software entrepreneur Vivek Ranadive is now eyeing opportunities to invest in cricket’s Indian Premier League (IPL).
Ranadive, founder and chief executive officer of California-based Tibco Software, was one of the 19 investors in the ownership group that bought the Warriors for $450 million last year.
The multi-billion dollar IPL, which includes celebrity owners from the country’s film and business industries, was also a perfect fit, the Mumbai-born Ranadive told Reuters in a telephone interview.
“Clearly India is a gigantic market. It’s a market for the future and cricket is the sport that people are crazy about in India and the IPL has had quick and substantial success,” he said from his home in Appleton, near Palo Alto, California.
The glamorous Twenty20 league was launched in 2008 with eight city-based franchises and two more teams were added for a combined price of $703 million to play in the 2011 season.
Ranadive, who has authored a New York Times business bestseller, was aware of the fact that entering an existing franchise as an investor was the only viable option in the foreseeable future.
“There are a limited number of teams and the market is somewhat of a monopoly in the way it is structured. That, in a way, makes it even more valuable,” he said.
“Quite honestly, in some ways it’s not different from the NBA where you have a limited number of franchises.
“So I will stay alert to opportunities that might present themselves to participate in one of the franchises.”
The difference in time zones were inconvenient for following cricket but that did not prevent him from watching India’s victory in this year’s World Cup, the 53-year old said.
“I don’t follow it (cricket) nearly enough now being in California. But I watched the IPL with great interest and obviously I followed the World Cup with great excitement,” Ranadive, a Harvard Business School alumni, said.
“We have a fairly large Indian population at the company. We were very happy and it (World Cup) was a great win to have for (Sachin) Tendulkar as well.
“I am very impressed with both the success of the World Cup and the success of the IPL.”
An ardent sports fan, who has a basketball court in the basement of his house besides other sports facilities, Ranadive was confident that basketball, with help from the NBA, could be popularised in cricket-crazy India.
“It (basketball) is catching on quite rapidly (in India). We hope to have training programmes... Have kits for people to play... Have players go there and conduct clinics and may be even have games there at some point in time,” he said.
“We are working closely with the NBA and supporting a variety of initiatives.
“I believe that basketball would be the global game in the 21st century like soccer was in the last century.”