Startups & VCs

Alibaba billionaire Joseph Tsai invests in startup lacrosse league

Brooklyn Nets minority owner leads Premier Lacrosse League’s Series A funding round.

by Sam Carp

Alibaba billionaire Joseph Tsai invests in startup lacrosse league

The Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) has announced the closure of its Series A funding round with Alibaba co-founder Joseph Tsai revealed as the lead investor.

The Taiwanese-Canadian billionaire businessman, who also owns a minority stake in the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Brooklyn Nets, is joined in the investment by Hildene Capital Management president Brett Jefferson and the Raine Group, which led the startup league’s initial round in September.

The PLL, which is the brainchild of Paul Rabil, lacrosse’s most high-profile player, and his brother Michael, did not disclose the terms of its latest funding round, but Michael Rabil said the financing came as a result of increased interest in the league since it was announced.

“We are excited to build upon an investment group that is aligned with our vision of bringing the sport of lacrosse into the mainstream and delivering a world-class product for our fans,” said Michael Rabil, who serves as the PLL’s chief executive. “This latest capital infusion will also provide the PLL with additional resources to ensure that our infrastructure is strong and stable far into the future.”

Tsai’s latest foray into professional sports comes shortly after he was announced as the owner of Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) franchise the New York Liberty. He is also an owner of the San Diego Seals in the National Lacrosse League and has previously lent support to the Hong Kong national team.

“The PLL will take professional lacrosse to the next level, and J Tsai Sports is proud to support the vision of its founders and players,” said Tsai. “Paul Rabil has done so much for lacrosse. From youth to college, he has inspired a generation of players to strive for the best and grow the sport.”

The PLL, which has been dubbed the ‘sport of the future’ by Sports Illustrated, is planning to revolutionise lacrosse through a touring model that aims to boost the profile of the sport’s top players and stage games at state-of-the-art venues.

The organisation already has a broadcast deal in place with NBC Sports Group, which has now vowed to increase the league’s presence on its flagship network to three games, instead of the previously announced two programming windows.

The inaugural PLL season, which comprises six teams and will conclude with play-offs and championship games, gets underway on 1st June.