Happy Walters, former chief executive of the Relativity Sports agency, has launched Catalyst Sports & Media, a new company that will act as a strategic advisor, investor and talent representative for clients in the sports industry.
Catalyst will focus on global growth properties, serving customers in sports such as basketball, football and esports, and exploring the opportunities created from the shift away from traditional broadcast television to over-the-top and mobile content delivery.
Walters will serve as chief executive of the new entity and work in partnership with co-founder Josh Swartz, the former president of Relativity, who has taken the same role with Catalyst. Prior to his time with Relativity, Swartz spent time as chief operating officer of sports marketing and talent management company Wasserman Media Group.
Walters, who left Relativity in October of last year, will bring his existing athlete representation practice under the Catalyst umbrella, and continue to represent NBA basketball players such as Corey Brewer, Iman Shumpert, Moe Harkless and A'mare Stoudemire. Plans are also in place to expand this practice into representation of football stars through the acquisition of established agencies in Europe.
The sports representation practice will run alongside an esports division, which will be headed up by Bryce Blum as executive vice-president. Blum will retain his role as a founding partner at interactive media and entertainment firm IME Law, as well as continue to offer general counsel services to legal esports betting company Unikrn.
The two co-founders will also have support from Brad Sive, who has been appointed chief revenue officer after an 11-years spell as director of multimedia sales and marketing at international sports broadcaster ESPN, while entrepreneur Charles Jackson will take on the role of executive vice-president and board member.
“We have assembled an unbelievable team of individuals who are experts in what they do,” Walters said. “We will leverage their experience and leadership in traditional sports and media businesses as we seek to redefine the notion of a ‘sports agency’, capitalise on the tectonic shift of media consumption in growth sports such as global football, basketball, and esports, and make significant investments that will fundamentally alter the sports world like never before.”
Catalyst has already brokered partnerships with GumGum, a computer vision company that offers advertising and visual intelligence solutions for brands and publishers, as well as Super League Gaming, a recreational league where gamers compete in cinemas around the world. Catalyst Sports & Media is being backed by a group of investors led by US entrepreneur Jim Fowler.
Co-founder Swartz added: “Happy first identified the opportunity in esports several years ago through our investment in Major League Gaming. We have spent a considerable part of the past year building a first class team with deep expertise in both endemic esports and more traditional stick and ball sports.
“Esports represents a vast and still untapped opportunity for marketers to reach an audience that is not consuming sports content the same way it has over the last 25 years.”