In a major club announcement on Tuesday morning, Seattle Sounders FC opened a new era in its storied 45-year history, as the organization unveiled 11 new families that are joining the club’s Ownership Group. Representing a diverse array of backgrounds and experiences, all 11 families have direct ties to Seattle, bringing a wealth of expertise to the Rave Green in sports, entertainment, technology, broadcast, finance and many other fields.
This new group of investors is led by former Microsoft executive Terry Myerson and his wife Katie Myerson, combining a talented array of families that includes Grammy Award-winning music icon Ciara and Seattle Seahawks six-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson, Seattle-bred hip hop superstar Macklemore and his wife Tricia Davis, in addition to several families representing Microsoft’s present and past. This group includes Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella and wife Anu Nadella, Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood and husband Max Kleinman, Corporate Vice President of Experiences and Devices Joe Belfiore and his wife Kristina Belfiore, as well as former Microsoft senior executive and current Managing Director of Madrona Venture Group Soma Somasegar and wife Akila Somasegar. Like many of his fellow partners, Chee Chew brings an extensive amount of experience to the Rave Green from the Seattle technology community, with the current Chief Product Officer at Twilio having represented Amazon, Google and Microsoft at the executive level, all within the region. He comes to the club alongside wife Christine Chew, President of the Bellevue School Board.
David Nathanson and wife Sabina Nathanson are also part of Sounders FC’s new group of investors. Nathanson is no stranger to the sports or soccer worlds, having overseen all of FOX Sports Media Group’s national sports networks – including its investments in soccer properties on FOX, FS1 and FOX Soccer. Like Nathanson, Brian McAndrews brings a bevy of media experience to the Rave Green, previously serving as CEO of Pandora, CEO of aQuantive, Senior Vice President of Microsoft Advertising and Publishing Solutions, Executive Vice President of ABC Television Production and Executive Vice President & General Manager of ABC Sports. He is joined by wife Elise Holschuh, who currently serves on the strategy committee of Hugo House. The new group of partners also features Mark and Tomoko Agne, with the former working as Managing Partner at Softbank Investment Advisors, having previously been a partner at Goldman Sachs.
This new group of partners joins Sounders FC’s existing Ownership contingent of Adrian Hanauer, Drew Carey and Jody Allen. As part of today’s news, Hanauer Fútbol – a group comprised of Adrian Hanauer, Paul Barry and Lenore Hanauer – has increased its overall investment in the club.
“Today we begin another chapter in the story of Seattle Sounders FC, this proud club that means so much to so many people,” said Sounders FC Majority Owner Adrian Hanauer. “We are doubling down on this community and growing our local roots even deeper. Sounders FC was born right here in Seattle, and for more than 40 years, the club has forged a meaningful legacy that is deep and far-reaching. Today’s news is a testament to what our community has accomplished, as 11 new families have joined with the broader Sounders family as fans and invested stewards of our club.”
Hanauer continues, “This diverse, passionate group of new partners wants to continue developing the club’s community-first approach, while also furthering its proud winning tradition on the field. Collectively, we believe that Seattle is the greatest city in the world and that Sounders FC has a responsibility to both preserve our region’s unique spirit while also leading our community by fostering an environment that is inclusive and welcoming to all. On behalf of our entire Sounders family, I want to extend a proud and warm welcome to our club’s new partners.”
As part of today’s news, Sounders FC founding Owner Joe Roth is announcing his departure from the club. A leader behind Seattle’s successful 2007 MLS expansion bid and the team’s 2009 launch that saw Seattle set a new standard for soccer support in North America, Roth was instrumental with his ambition and vision, helping to lay the foundation of a club that has won more matches than any other team in MLS over the past 10 seasons. The Hollywood producer oversaw six major trophies in his time as Sounders FC Owner, including four Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups (2009-2011, 2014), the 2014 Supporters’ Shield, in addition to the organization’s first MLS Cup in 2016. His penchant for showmanship was critical in building the club’s profile, helping to land influential players like United States Men’s National Team forward Clint Dempsey.
“When MLS gave me permission to look at the Pacific Northwest to start a soccer franchise, there was no question that Seattle was the place,” said Roth. “The last ten years watching our Sounders grow with their incredible fan support beat any hit movie I ever created. I love the team, from the players to the staff, and most of all I love the fans. When they write the history book of soccer in America, it was Seattle that propelled our game into being perceived as a first-tier sport. You did that! I’ll be a Sounder until I die. Thank you Adrian, Drew, Paul and Jody Allen, as well as the new partners. The club is just getting started.”
Said Hanauer of Roth’s contributions to soccer in Seattle, “Joe was the inspiration of Sounders FC as we know it. He came to the Northwest, chose Seattle, decided on his partners, and I was lucky enough to be one of those partners. His vision, drive, partnership, his caring about the community and our fans, delivering a first-class experience, atmosphere and product – he was the lynchpin in putting this whole thing together and for that I will forever be grateful. Joe thought big about this club. And obviously with his Hollywood background and knowing that we’re in show business – part of our job is to deliver a show on Saturday nights – he had great vision in that regard. I’m really proud to have been his partner.”