When Carsten Koerl rang the bell at the Nasdaq this morning with Sportradar investors Michael Jordan and Todd Boehly, the German native found himself presiding over a multi-billion-dollar company and crowned himself a multibillionaire, some 24 years after he first entered the sports data field.
With Sportradar’s $27-a-share IPO today, the amiable sports data innovator is worth about $2.45 billion. It’s primarily from a class of supervoting stock in Sportradar that only he owns. The 903.4 million Class B shares have a value of 10 votes a piece, compared to one vote for every common share sold to investors today. Every 10 supervoting shares converts into one common share, meaning Koerl economically owns 90.55 million shares, including common stock he also holds. He can convert the supervoting shares to common stock anytime, though most likely he’ll wait until the mandatory conversion of the equity to common stock in 2028. The timing gives the founder more time to effect his vision on the organization.
“It gives me exactly what I wanted to have: I can make quicker decisions and more quickly execute,” Koerl said in a video call. “I’m super happy about this. It’s not about how many billions I have now. I’m financially independent since many, many years ago. I’ve had a lot of luck in my life. I was on the right moment in the right place. My main goal now is to get the best investors into Sportradar to help me and the team excel.”
Sportradar started trading midday at the IPO price and perked briefly higher as large buy orders came in. Investor follow-through was muted after the start of trading, however, and shares sold down 8% on lighter volume to finish the day at $24.81 as the overall market traded down Tuesday.
Growing up in southern Germany, Koerl dreamed of being a downhill skier or tennis pro, according to a profile by the Toronto Globe & Mail in 2018. He had better luck with computers and data, founding his first company, Betandwin Interactive Entertainment, in 1997, combining his engineering skill with his love of sports. Betandwin, more commonly known as ‘bwin’ went public in Austria in 2000, with Koerl leaving the company a couple of years later. (It’s now part of Entain.) He started Sportradar in 2001, and he methodically built it into the largest sports data and analytics provider in the world.
Sports have produced plenty of billionaires, mainly from the skyrocketing valuations of pro teams. Koerl, however, is the industry’s first sports data billionaire, a sign of how data and analytics has matured since he and a couple of early Sportradar programmers started scouring the internet to gather up sports league scores for betting operators.
A key to the success of the business has been focusing on partnerships and relationships, Koerl says. “It’s not Carsten. Sportradar is a team,” he said. Part of the team includes bringing big league talent into the fold. In 2015, he brought on sports team owners including Mark Cuban and Michael Jordan as venture capital investors. Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffry Lurie is an investor as well. Most recently, sports team owner and investor Todd Boehly bought into Sportradar in a private placement at the IPO.
Among sports leagues, the NFL owns 7% of the Sportradar U.S. subsidiary, while the National Hockey League has rights to buy up to about $90 million of Sportradar stock now that the company is publicly traded.
“The network is important,” added Koerl. “The knowledge from them is very important to understand what is the best opportunity, how we tackle that market and how we accelerate our growth already being the number one in our market.”
(This article has been updated in the fourth paragraph with information on how the Sportradar stock traded throughout the day.)