NFL executive Kevin LaForce, architect of the league’s media and investment strategies, is leaving to join sports-focused private equity firm RedBird Capital.
Led by former Goldman Sachs partner Gerry Cardinale, RedBird holds stakes in Fenway Sports Group, the YES Network and OneTeam Partners. LaForce will be a managing director, helping RedBird with its investments in technology, media and telecom (TMT), and sports.
LaForce has been the NFL senior vice president of media strategy and business development since 2017. In that role he’s helped negotiate billions in broadcast deals, including the NFL’s latest, announced in March, which are worth more than $110 billion over the next decade. LaForce played a key role in the NFL’s gradual addition of streaming partners to its traditional television lineup and led major partnerships like the NFL’s Genius Sports data deal.
“Over the last six years, Kevin has been a great partner and colleague in our various projects with the NFL,” Cardinale said in an email. “He has been a leader in the sports industry across all aspects of media – content distribution, media partnerships, digital platforms – as well as data analytics, licensing, sports betting and the League’s strategic investment portfolio.”
LaForce also ran 32 Equity, the NFL’s venture capital fund, which was seeded in 2013 with investment from all 32 teams. LaForce has led 32 Equity investments into ecommerce giant Fanatics, mobile gaming platform Skillz, and hospitality company On Location (spun off from the league itself and later acquired by Endeavor).
Cardinale noticed the results. “There’s no better place to cut your teeth in this industry than the NFL, and Kevin fits extremely well within our investment model that marries operating expertise with investment acumen,” he said.
LaForce joined the NFL in 2007, coming from Bear Stearns, where he was an associate in its TMT investment banking group.
Cardinale founded RedBird in 2013. The firm has made a number of investments across global sports and media, including a 10% stake in Fenway Sports Group (parent of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC) and a significant minority stake in Wasserman Media, the sports marketing and talent agency founded by Casey Wasserman. RedBird also owns French soccer club Toulouse FC and assets from the XFL.
The group has $5 billion in assets under management.
(This story has updated the amount of RedBird’s assets in the last paragraph.)