Did the Golden State Warriors Learn the Wrong Lessons From Tech Startups?

The strange place where sports, grifts and technology converge

Chase Center
Chase Center, home of the Golden State Warriors.
Tony Wasserman/Creative Commons

We live in a world where tech startups can command massive values from investors, even if the product they’re selling turns out to be inherently flawed. We also live in a world in which sports teams are able to pit cities against one another for sweetheart deals for their facilities. A provocative new article by Corbin Smith at The Daily Beast makes the case that these two phenomena may not be as separate as one might think.

Its headline, “How the Golden State Warriors Grifted Their Fans Silicon Valley-Style,” suggests a sports-related annex to our ongoing pop-cultural fascination with all things grifter-y. Smith’s story explores how the Warriors’ current ownership group, headed by Joe Lacob, has seen the value of the team increase massively — and how they were able to secure a brand new arena, Chase Center.

But now, the Warriors are suffering through a mediocre season — which Smith argues is also to be expected, and which fits perfectly with the tech startup metaphor:

Because Lacob and his team have managed to replicate the moves of all the great venture capitalists of the last ten years: he acquired something, made it omnipresent and valuable-seeming, leveraged that omnipresence into a concrete asset, and then proceeded to shit the bed right when they got the golden parachute of their dreams.

There are other theories of sports success and failure that may be more familiar, but as the business of sports becomes more and more like the business of other businesses, Smith’s argument has an unsettling logic to it. Where does the team go from here? Longtime Warriors fans may not like the implications. 

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