Golden State Warriors president: ‘Everything we generate, we invest’

Golden State Warriors President Brandon Schneider sits down with Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the NBA franchise's investing strategy, partnerships, and its investments in crypto.

Video Transcript


- The business of basketball, moving at the speed of the Showtime Lakers, for those of you that are old enough to remember. And for the first time in more than two decades, it's not LA nor the New York Knicks who sit atop the pile of cash that is the NBA. Nope, the Golden State Warriors valued at $7 billion are the league's most valuable team according to "Forbes". Their President and COO, Brandon Schneider, with us now. Brandon, good to see you, man.

So the Lakers, they have Hollywood, the Knicks, they have Wall Street. The Warriors have Silicon Valley, which has been very good for the bottom line, until recently. But now we're seeing this round of tech layoffs, you see them on the screen, most recently, DoorDash, Amazon, Twitter, Lyft, Snap, you name it. How has that impacted business for the Warriors?

BRANDON SCHNEIDER: Well first of all, thanks for having me on, Dave. I think, just like anything else, there's a lot of factors that impact the business. We're fortunate to have a really good team on the court, a really good team off the court, but we got off to a little bit of a slow start, but our fans are excited to come see Steph Curry, come see Klay Thompson. So we're fortunate and haven't felt the impact of the economy that I think some companies have. So we feel really good about the outlook moving forward.

- Yeah, it's easy to pack that place with Steph Curry, but you can't win on the road. But we'll leave that for later. "Forbes" also says arena sponsorships and advertising are double any other team in the NBA, which is a staggering number. Besides Steph, how do you account for that? And do you see any softening in that area? We hear often about a softening ad market across the country.

BRANDON SCHNEIDER: So I think we're fortunate. Joe Lacob and Peter Guber bought the Warriors with their partners back in 2010 and haven't taken a dime out of the business. So everything that we generate, we invest, and whether that's in the basketball team. We have the highest payroll in the history of the NBA, breaking our own record from last year.

And then you're seeing some of the images here. I mean, we built Chase Center, which is a $2.1 billion privately financed arena project, with Thrive City being the surrounding district. So I think creating that palette, if you will, has created a lot of opportunity. And then for us, you mentioned Silicon Valley.

We're lucky to have some incredible partners, a lot of technology partners that were involved in helping us craft the fan experience at Chase Center. So I just mentioned Chase, Thrive City, Kaiser Permanente is a big partner there. But then you have technology companies. We wear Rakuten over our badge, Oracle, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Google, Adobe, Verizon, RingCentral, Accenture, these are all partners that aren't just wanting to put signage on the wall, but we tell stories together.

We talk about the impact that they're having in creating the fan experience. So I think that's what's differentiated us and I think will allow us to continue to grow, because these are true partnerships. We're helping them grow their business and they're helping us grow ours.

- Yeah. Talked about this with the Seattle Mariners President just a few weeks ago. How are technology and fan experience linked for the Warriors and their arena?

BRANDON SCHNEIDER: Well, being in the Bay Area, we have an incredible opportunity because our fans, I would say, expect the state of the art technology. But I think we've all probably been to sporting events or concerts or large gatherings where your phone doesn't work, right? Like you can't text or you're trying to send a photo. You're not going to experience that at Chase Center.

HPE has done our internet infrastructure. We just installed, we were the first building in North America to install Wi-Fi 6E. So you have fast Wi-Fi. Our DAS, which is the cell service, is Verizon. It's all state of the art.

So that's the starting point to enable everything else you want to do. We just did a partnership with DoorDash so you can have food delivered to your seat, just like you do at home, but you can actually do that inside Chase Center. So we could go on and on.

I mean, Google and Oracle are both integral with stuff on the player side, actually. With helping us with analytics, to help us get a little bit smarter in terms of our basketball team. So I would argue that technology is integral to everything we do within Chase Center.

- Another one of the innovative things the organization did was leaning on crypto, signing that $10 million deal with now bankrupt FTX. Your organization is now named in a pair of lawsuits. As far as FTX, how much due diligence was put into that deal? In retrospect, were there red flags that may have been missed?

BRANDON SCHNEIDER: So we, obviously, don't comment on legal stuff that's going on. But yeah, we do due diligence with all of our partners and FTX, I think up until recently, was viewed as a market leader. So at this point, just like everyone else, we're waiting to see how this all evolves. But we're still very bullish on crypto, NFTs, Web3.

We were the first sports team to do an NFT drop, was very, very successful. We did one during the playoffs with responsive NFTs that was really well received by our fans. And we really view the space as like, we're always looking for new ways to engage our fans globally.

We're actually working with Accenture right now to do a whole kind of mapping out of the Web3 space as we we're all learning. And we're trying to figure out the best way to engage that next generation of fans. So that's really how we view it.

- Very interesting. So you wouldn't back away from another crypto partnership in the future. And if I can just tag on to that, reaching that younger base could be streaming in the future. We know the MLS, Major League Baseball, the NFL is now on Amazon. Could Apple, could Amazon be a part of the Warriors and the NBA future?

BRANDON SCHNEIDER: So the first question, we'll definitely continue to be active within Web3, whether that's a crypto partnership, or NFT drops, or a whole host of other things that we're talking about. And if I sat here today and told you what we'd be doing in the space in two or three or four years, I'd probably have a different job, right? I mean, I think we're all trying to figure that out. In terms of streaming, yeah, I mean, the world is changing.

We all know that and we still have millions and millions and millions of people watching linear television. But we have more and more people watching on their iPad, watching on their phone, streaming. So that's going to be a really interesting evolution. And we're fortunate in the NBA, not only to have the global fan base, but to have a young, tech savvy fan base that will continue to challenge us. And we want to meet fans where they are.

So you mentioned some of the technology companies, you mentioned the Apple deal with the MLS, and Amazon. I mean, I think they'll all be involved and it'll be very interesting to see how this evolves. It's another one where if you say, hey, where is this going to be in 5, 6, 7 years? I don't think anybody knows. But I can tell you that within the NBA, we're at the forefront of figuring out the best way to deliver our content, which is super valuable to our fans.

- It'll be fun to see how that evolves and how this season, the Warriors 11-11. COO and President, Brandon Schneider. Good to have you, sir. Appreciate it.

BRANDON SCHNEIDER: Thanks for having me on.