New Seattle Sounders investors include celebs, local business titans

Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders FC have added nearly a dozen families to its ownership group, including several prominent sports and entertainment figures and Microsoft’s current chief executive.

The set of 11 new families to the Sounders’ ownership group, all of which have some ties to the Seattle market, include Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his singer wife Ciara, hip hop artist Macklemore, and former Fox Sports executive David Nathanson. The new group of investors is led by former Microsoft executive Terry Myerson and his wife, Katie. 

Myerson pulled the group together as founding partner and Hollywood producer Joe Roth, the club’s majority owner from 2007-15, is exiting the group, and the transition was 15 months in development. Current Sounders owners Adrian Hanauer, Drew Carey and Jody Allen, representing the Vulcan Sports & Entertainment led by his late brother, Paul, are remaining as club investors. Carey is well known as a popular US television figure and current host of the long-running game show The Price Is Right. Hanauer will remain as the club’s majority owner.

Myerson said in a lengthy open letter posted on LinkedIn that his entry into soccer followed an initial meeting with John Stanton, Microsoft board member and chairman of Major League Baseball’s Seattle Mariners, who in turn introduced him to Hanauer.

“I learned that the team I loved as a fan could be a great investment opportunity,” said Myerson, who previously oversaw the Windows operating system for Microsoft, and now a venture capitalist with the Madrona Venture Group.

Terms of the deal, which closed July 31, were not disclosed. The Myerson-led group held off competing interest in the Sounders from a California-based group. 

The Sounders have consistently been one of MLS’ most successful franchises, annually averaging around 40,000 fans per game at CenturyLink Stadium, which is shares with the Seahawks. The figure trails only the wildly popular Atlanta United FC in average attendance, and the Sounders set several league attendance records prior to United beginning play in 2017. 

The Myerson-led investment team also extends the reach of current former Microsoft executives in the ownership ranks of US pro sports. Former Microsoft chief executive and Nadella predecessor Steve Ballmer owns the Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association. In addition to holding the Sounders equity interest through Vulcan Sports & Entertainment, Paul Allen also previously owned the Seahawks. That team is now held in a trust bearing his name following Allen’s death in October 2018.

“Today we begin another chapter in the story of Seattle Sounders FC, this proud club that means so much to so many people,” Hanauer said. “We are doubling down on this community and growing our local roots even deeper.”