Bollywood celebrities, Indian and American entrepreneurs and billionaires – there’s a lot to know about the Major League Cricket team owners.
Established by the American Cricket Enterprises, Major League Cricket’s inaugural season will set sail on July 13 with six participating teams. This tournament is about to set history for American cricket, and as the first season of a potentially long future, there are many things to know – one of them being the owners!
MLC is featuring six teams, namely Los Angeles Knight Riders, MI New York, San Francisco Unicorns, Seattle Orcas, Texas Super Kings and Washington Freedom – and here are the owners of each of them:
Los Angeles Knight Riders – Knight Riders Group
Image: SUJIT JAISWAL / AFP
The Knight Riders Group, known famously by their Indian Premier League team Kolkata Knight Riders, is the owner of LA Knight Riders. Operating below parent company Red Chillies Entertainment, it’s a team under famous Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan along with his wife and movie producer Gauri Khan.
Red Chillies Entertainment was founded in 1999 by Shah Rukh Khan and a couple of other members who were also part of the Indian film industry. Back then, the company was called Dreams Unlimited and was changed into Red Chilies Entertainment in 2002.
While Red Chillies Entertainment is primarily focused on visual effects, production and distribution, Knight Riders Group makes investments in cricket teams and has major stakes in Kolkata Knight Rider and Trinbago Knight Riders.
Venky Mysore, CEO and managing director of the Knight Riders, described that building a business at a global scale has been the company’s vision before making an investment in MLC’s T20 league.
“In addition, we will be working hard to build infrastructure there, six world-class stadiums in the next few years.” – Mysore told ESPN Cricinfo about Knight Riders Group’s future plans in North America.
MI New York – Indiawin Sports
Image: Hindustan Times
With cricket teams in India, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, and now the United States, Indiawin Sports has been a major investor in sports worldwide. The company is mostly known for its Indian Premier League team Mumbai Indians, which also serves as the parent club for all other teams under Indiawin Sports, hence the initials MI (Mumbai Indian) on MI New York’s name.
Indiawin is a 100% subsidiary of Reliance Industries, an Indian multination conglomerate owned by billionaire Mukesh Ambani with nearly half the stock. On March 2023, it was confirmed that Indiawin invested in MI New York alongside their other venture in franchise sports. With this decision, they became one of the four companies with an IPL team that have secured a team in MLC.
“I hope we are able to establish Mumbai Indians as a global brand of fearless and entertaining cricket!” – Mrs. Nita. M. Ambani, owner of Mumbai Indians and wife of Mukesh Ambani, talked about acquiring MI New York. This was their second investment in a team this year after getting Mumbai Indians Women for the Women’s Premier League of India under their flag.
San Francisco Unicorns – Anand Rajaraman and Venky Harinarayan
Unlike most of the teams in MLC that are owned by IPL franchises, San Francisco Unicorns’ stocks are under the names of entrepreneurs Anand Rajaraman and Venky Harinarayan, both co-founders of Cambrian Ventures, a venture capital firm based in California.
Anand Rajaraman played a huge role in Amazon.com’s growth in the 90s while co-founding Jugleee Corp. in the same decade. He is a Web and technology expert born in Chennai who helped get third-party retailers on Amazon.com, helping it become the world’s leading eCommerce platform it is today.
Venky Harinarayan is also an entrepreneur who, alongside Rajaraman, was an important individual for Amazon.com in the late 90s. Both of them studied together at IIT Madras, also writing a paper with their joint effort that became a leading computer science article in the last few decades.
These two entrepreneurs with Indian backgrounds found themselves together in many aspects of their careers, from studying at the same institute, working at Amazon.com, founding a venture capital firm, to now in Major League Cricket.
Seattle Orcas – GMR Group and Others
The Seattle Orcase is owned by the GMR Group, Samir Bodas, Ashok Krishnamurthi, Satya Nadella, Sanjay Parthasarathy, and S. Somasegar. GMR Group is a co-owner of the IPL team Delhi Capitals, formerly known as Delhi Daredevils, making Seattle Orcase one of the four teams in MLC to be associated with the Indian cricket league.
GMR Group partnered with the Seattle Orcas on March 2023, and the team had an investor group consisting of five people alongside the Delhi Capitals’ co-owner.
Samir Bodas, one of the investors of the Seattle Orcas, is the co-founder and CEO at Icertis. Ashok Krishnamurthi is the managing partner at GreatPoint Ventures.
Satya Nadella is an Indian-American executive chairman and CEO of Microsoft. Sanjay Parthasarathy is another member of Microsoft as he has the roles of executive and technology expert at the multinational technological corporation.
Lastly, Sivaramakrishnan Somasegar is a venture capitalist working as the Managing Director at Madrona Venture Group based in Seattle.
Many of the members of this investment group have occupations in Microsoft and participated in venture firms.
Texas Super Kings – Chennai Super Kings and Others
The Texas Super Kings is acquired by the Indian Premier League team Chennai Super Kings, alongside KredX’s founder Anurag Jain and the developer of Alliance, Texas Henry Ross Perot Jr.
Chennai Super Kings is a cricket franchise with IPL’s Chennai Super Kings, South African T20 franchise team Joburg Super Kings and now Texas Super Kings under their flag. The organization, owned by Indian industrialist and former Chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Narayanswami Srinivasan, was founded in 2008.
Washington Freedom – Sanjay Govil
Sanjay Govil is an Indian-American entrepreneur who is the lead investor of Washington Freedom, one of the only two teams in Major League Cricket not associated with the Indian Premier League. He is also the Chairman of Infinite and Zyter|TruCare, both software solution companies.
“The Washington, DC, area is home to hundreds of thousands of cricket fans, and it’s an honor to be able to bring a professional team to the nation’s capital.” – Govil said. Among billionaire-owned names to teams handled by professional cricket franchises, getting a successful debut in MLC will be a big challenge to handle for the businessman.