Stunning truth behind Aussie's $2.2 billion NBA deal

Andrew Reid
·3-min read
Atlassian co-founder and tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes is seen here giving a speech.
Tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes is the first Australian to have an ownership stake in an NBA franchise. Pic: Getty

Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes has sealed an incredible slice of history after becoming Australia's first owner of an NBA franchise.

The Aussie tech billionaire is part of a powerful group that's purchased the license for NBA team, the Utah Jazz.

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Cannon-Brookes joined forces with fellow tech entrepreneurs Ryan Smith and Ryan Sweeney to buy the Jazz in a deal worth a reported $1.66 billion ($A2.18 billion).

The Daily Telegraph reports that Cannon-Brookes chipped in "hundreds of millions of dollars" to be part of the buy-in.

“I am super excited and stoked to become part of the ownership group for the Utah Jazz with two awesome friends,” Cannon-Brookes told The Saturday Telegraph.

In 2019, Forbes estimated the net worth of Cannon-Brookes to be $8.5 billion ($A11.15 billion) after he co-founded software development company Atlassian with Scott Farquhar.

He was ranked the youngest billionaire in Australia in 2019 and came in at number five on Australia’s 50 Richest 2019 list.

Cannon-Brookes joins forces with fellow tech pioneers Sweeney and Smith, who the NBA officially approved the sale of the Jazz license to.

The NBA's Board of Governors formally approved the sale of the Utah Jazz to software developer Smith, welcoming the tech billionaire as a "fantastic addition" to the league.

NBA approves sale to tech guru

Smith is the co-founder and chief executive of Utah software company Qualtrics, and takes control of the team from the Miller family, who had owned the franchise for 35 years before the sale first reported in October.

"Ryan Smith is a forward-thinking, community-minded entrepreneur and business leader who will be a fantastic addition to our league," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

"As a life-long fan of the Utah Jazz and more recently as one of their key marketing partners, Ryan has demonstrated his deep commitment to the Jazz and the Utah community and there's no doubt he will bring that same level of dedication to the operation of the team."

Forbes magazine ranked the Jazz at 21st in value among the NBA's 30 clubs earlier this year at $1.55 billion ($A2.03 billion).

The sale brings Smith a majority interest in the team, the Jazz's home, Vivint Arena, plus developmental basketball and baseball clubs in Salt Lake City.

Pictured here, Utah based tech billionaire Ryan Smith.
Ryan Smith spearheaded the group that has purchased the Utah Jazz. Pic: Getty

Smith, a lifelong Utah resident, has been a corporate partner of the Jazz for many years, including a philanthropic patch that has raised $25 million in recent years.

The Miller family will retain a minority interest in the Jazz, who went 44-28 last season and lost to Denver in the first round of the playoffs.

"We all owe a great debt to the Miller family for the amazing stewardship they have had over this asset for the past 35 years," Smith said earlier this year.

"My wife and I are absolutely humbled and excited about the opportunity to take the team forward far into the future, especially with the greatest fans in the NBA... We look forward to building upon their lifelong work."

with agencies

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