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MLS Aug 13, 2019

Seattle Sounders FC announces new additions to Ownership Group

SEATTLE, WASH. – 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 Agne and wife Tomoko Agne, with the former working as Managing Partner at Softbank Investment Advisors, having previously been a partner at Goldman Sachs.

A full list of member bios from Sounders FC’s new Ownership Group can be found below.

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.”

Listed below, the new families representing Sounders FC’s Ownership Group are among the best and brightest of a number of industries, inclusive of sports, entertainment, music, technology, broadcasting, finance, education and many other paradigms.

  • Russell & Ciara Wilson – Grammy Award-winning singer / songwriter Ciara and husband Russell Wilson, six-time NFL Pro Bowler and Super Bowl-winning quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, have made the Pacific Northwest their home and join the Sounders FC Ownership Group as they solidify their dedication to Seattle and the power of sports in the community.
  • Soma & Akila Somasegar – Excited to join the Sounders FC community, Soma and Akila Somasegar bring a variety of technology, finance and philanthropic experience to the Rave Green. Formerly a senior executive at Microsoft, Soma Somasegar is currently a venture capitalist that serves as Managing Director of Madrona Venture Group. Akila Somasegar, a former finance professional, is a philanthropist serving on several local and international non-profit boards.
  • David & Sabina Nathanson – David and Sabina Nathanson come to the Sounders FC Ownership Group, bringing David’s extensive background in entertainment, television and broadcast rights. Nathanson previously served as Head of Business Operations for FOX Sports Media Group and Chief Operating Officer & General Manager of FS1 and FS2, in addition to overseeing all of FOX’s global and domestic soccer properties. As part of those efforts, Nathanson oversaw FOX’s successful bid for the 2018, 2022 and 2026 FIFA World Cup rights. He is an investor and board member of NHL Seattle, and also serves on the Board of Directors for the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the Over Under Initiative and Fan Duel Group.
  • Satya & Anu Nadella – Current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and his wife Anu join the Sounders FC Ownership Group looking forward to a continued investment in the region.
  • Terry & Katie Myerson – Driving forces behind the new Seattle-focused Ownership Group, Terry and Katie Myerson are longtime Sounders FC fans who are looking forward to achieving new heights with the Rave Green. Terry Myerson was formerly Executive Vice President of Windows and Devices at Microsoft, now with Madrona Venture Group and the Carlyle Group.
  • Brian McAndrews & Elise Holschuh – Brian McAndrews is a seasoned veteran of the entertainment and media industries, having served 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. Elise Holschuh retired from a marketing career and currently serves on the strategy committee of Hugo House and, until recently, was Chair of the Board for local non-profit Path with Art.
  • Macklemore & Tricia Davis – Grammy Award-winning hip hop artist Macklemore and his wife Tricia Davis are Seattle natives, with the duo proudly joining the Ownership Group of their hometown Sounders FC.
  • Amy Hood & Max Kleinman – As Chief Financial Officer at Microsoft, Amy Hood leads the company’s worldwide finance organization. She and her husband, Max Kleinman, a former partner at Accenture, proudly join their hometown club.
  • Chee & Christine Chew – Chee and Christine Chew join the Sounders FC Ownership Group with extensive backgrounds in the region, as Chee currently serves as Chief Product Officer at Twilio following time at Amazon, Google (Seattle / Kirkland) and Microsoft. Christine Chew has served on the Bellevue School Board since 2010 and is currently Board President. She also serves on the board of Amplio, and was previously the Executive Director of College Access Now, both Seattle-based nonprofits.
  • Joe & Kristina Belfiore – Joe Belfiore, Corporate Vice President in the Experiences and Devices division at Microsoft, and his wife, Kristina, who serves on the Board of Trustees for both Rainier Scholars and Seattle Day Country School, are excited to expand their commitment to the Puget Sound region by joining the Sounders FC Ownership Group.
  • Mark & Tomoko Agne – Mark Agne is currently a Managing Partner at Softbank Investment Advisors. Prior to Softbank, he was a partner at Goldman Sachs, with extensive experience in various senior leadership roles throughout Asia. Agne joins the Sounders FC Ownership Group alongside his wife, Tomoko.

Seattle’s new partners join an existing Sounders FC Ownership Group that helped launch one of the most successful expansion franchises in North American sports history. Led by Majority Owner Adrian Hanauer, Sounders FC’s longtime Owners are listed below.

  • Adrian Hanauer – The club’s Majority Owner, Adrian Hanauer has been involved with the Sounders franchise since 2001, when the team played in the United Soccer League. His passion, dedication and vision helped bring Major League Soccer to Seattle in the form of Seattle Sounders FC in 2009, and he has continued to lead the way, seeing the club to the highest winning percentage in MLS since entering the league, along with six major championships over the past decade.
  • Drew Carey – A passionate driver of the club’s Democracy in Sports pillar, Drew Carey is an original member of the Sounders FC Ownership Group. The stand-up comic turned actor and producer is regarded as one of American soccer’s most recognizable supporters.
  • Jody Allen – Representing Vulcan Sports and Entertainment within Sounders FC’s Ownership Group following the passing of Paul Allen last fall, Jody Allen continues her role leading with a focus on philanthropy and conservation.
  • Paul Barry – Originally from Cambridge, England, Paul Barry has spent 26 years in the Pacific Northwest building businesses primarily in the travel sphere, as well as raising a family in the region. Barry joined the USL Sounders in 2000 as part of the club’s Ownership Group, and has remained a constant presence within the organization since that time. He is also an Owner of Cambridge United in the English Football League.
  • Lenore Hanauer – In addition to being part of Sounders FC’s Ownership Group, Lenore Hanauer is also a partner of National Women’s Soccer League side Reign FC. She is an active local philanthropist with a focus on the arts and environmental issues.

The driving force behind this new group of Sounders FC Owners, Terry Myerson was instrumental in bringing such a diverse coalition of individuals together in pursuit of becoming part of their hometown team. A current partner at Madrona Venture Group and an operating executive at the Carlyle Group, Myerson was previously an Executive Vice President at Microsoft, where he headed its Windows and Devices division. Viewing Sounders FC as a pillar of the Seattle community, Myerson began putting together this current group more than a year ago, a process he outlines in an open letter published earlier today.

“What motivated so many of us to come together was to make sure the Sounders were owned here in Seattle for our kids and for our community,” said Myerson. “It was a combination of meeting people involved in the club, the families’ incredible passion for the club, and everything just became more and more positive as we got further engaged and closer to the organization. The people, the staff – it’s just an incredible organization. And we see the impact on the community. We just had to make this happen.”

Said Katie Myerson of the road that led her family to today’s announcement, “We have three kids who are really passionate about soccer, and we’ve spent lots of time at Sounders games with our family. When Terry met Adrian Hanauer, one thing led to another, and the rest is history.”

Like the Myerson family, Ciara and Russell Wilson are deeply committed to Seattle, and both echo the Myersons’ sentiments surrounding today’s news.

“Seattle means so much to me and Ciara. We’re fired up about being part of the Sounders for a long, long time, having ownership in the Sounders and continuing to build that winning culture,” said Russell Wilson. “When I got here in 2012, Seattle was a place that I felt I could call home forever. And obviously because of the Seahawks, and now because of the Sounders, it makes that really come to life. This city is a special place. The Pacific Northwest is a place we love and we get to raise our kids here and have a lot of fun while doing it. We want to bring the best soccer players in the world right here to Seattle.”

Wilson continues, “We believe this is a transformational sport. It changes peoples’ lives. It brings people together from all different countries, all different worlds, all different socio-economic statuses, all different races, all different troubles in life – it brings people together. That’s what we’re excited about for this game, the Sounders, and what we can do not only in Seattle but around the world.”

Said Ciara, “This is not only a special moment for Russ and I, but for our kids as well. When we walked into the building and our kids were running around with their names on their little jerseys, it meant a lot for so many reasons. It’s an honor to join the Sounders team and have the unique opportunity to represent female ownership within major league sports. The team has already done some amazing things, but I believe the best is ahead and we’re excited to be part of that.”

From helping to launch the club’s Democracy in Sports ethos to continuing to be a staple at CenturyLink Field on matchdays, Owner Drew Carey has been with the Rave Green since its MLS inception, and knows what the club means to the community and its fans.

Said Carey, “It’s great to have fresh faces and fresh ideas coming into this club, and we are proud to welcome everyone into the Sounders culture. This organization has a high standard, and we don’t try to lower it and cut corners around it. I think everybody here is bought into that. You can call it the Sounders way, and it goes into how we play, and it’s the same with our front office group away off the field. This is an organization that wants to win, and today we have added several new owners who believe in these same values.”

Raised on Capitol Hill and an ambassador for Seattle across the globe, fellow entertainer Macklemore shares Carey’s reverence for the Emerald City and its proud soccer club.

“Man, to be part of this organization, having grown up in Seattle – it’s pretty surreal. It’s just very exciting,” said Macklemore. “I’m very honored. I think we have a great group. This team is building an incredible legacy and I’m just excited to be part of it.”

Following a 3-3 home draw with New England on Saturday, Sounders FC (11-7-6, 39 points) continues its push for an 11th-consecutive postseason berth. The club embarks on a two-match road stretch this week, beginning with a Wednesday matchup at Real Salt Lake (11-9-4, 37 points) at Rio Tinto Stadium (7:00 p.m. PT / JOEtv, YouTube TV, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM). Seattle then heads to Southern California for a fixture with the LA Galaxy (12-11-1, 37 points) on Saturday, August 17 at Dignity Health Sports Park (7:00 p.m. PT / ESPN2, YouTube TV, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM).