It’s not that I am rooting for Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison to win the bidding war for the Warriors. It’s more that I want it to be over, and he’s got wallet big enough to make the other wallets run and hide in the back pocket they came from.
But Ellison’s obvious refusal to flex his financial might, and a venture capitalist named Joseph Lacob, had me posted in a local Starbucks all day.
I am convinced that’s what this has been all about, anyway: getting the guy with the big bucks to pull out his wallet instead of the offering the few dollars he has in his jacket pocket. The whole process — the announcement of the sale, the bidding process, the various deadlines — I think was done to draw out Ellison. The one guy who had the dough and the desire, but hadn’t come with an offer strong enough to make Cohan nearly spit out his drink.
So this morning, when I got a text about this thing could be done today, I admit I got a little excited. Then I got on Twitter and saw the Sports Business Journal had tweeted the winning bidder could be announced today. I got more excited. Then I checked my email, where a couple more people were telling me the same thing. I kissed the wife and daughter and headed to Starbucks, my office down the street from my house. Excited.
Wow, did Ellison get tired of messing around and squash the competition?
Did Cohan stop trying to squeeze every nickel he could out of the interested parties?
Some 10 hours later — not consecutively, I did go back home for a few hours — I am about to leave Starbucks. My excitement has morphed into severe irritation and a strong desire to just sit on my couch with wifey and watch the new “Lie to Me” and “The Closer” I have waiting for me on DVR. Why am I irritated? Because this will continue Wednesday.
Here is what I know (and I use “know” loosely):
* This thing is really close to being done. I was told one more day by a couple of people, but definitely it seems like this week is a lock that a winning bidder will be announced. Obviously, something can fall apart, but at the rate it’s going now, it’s going to happen. Before this morning, I thought August at the earliest. But all it takes is for Ellison to say “I’m done” and walk away, or “I’m done messing around” and blow everybody out of the box.
* Mark Mastrov is practically out of the mix. The founder of 24-Hour Fitness, who many thought was Ellison’s strongest competition, wasn’t at the proverbial table as this was going down today. Not sure yet what happened, but I assume the price got too high for him. So you know what I’m thinking, right? If Mastrov is out, that means it’s Ellison is the guy. Right? Just about everybody I talked to said the same thing. Save for one source, who is consistently reliable, who said: “Don’t count out Lacob.”
Tim Kawakami got ahold of Wyc Grousbeck, managing partner and CEO of the Boston Celtics and asked him about Lacob’s interest in the Warriors. Obviously, Grousbeck didn’t come close to promising his partner would take down Ellison in an upset.
Grousbeck: “Joe Lacob is a valued member of our Celtics Board of Directors and earned a 2008 championship ring. I have known him for many years. He has a true love of the game of basketball.”
* That name being dropped meant more digging for me, and more time glued to a wooden chair at Starbucks in the only open spot — which was right under the speaker through which Keith Sweat was crooning. (I know, right? Since when did Starbucks start playing Keith Sweat?!)
Lacob is part-owner of the Celtics and is a partner at the venture capitalist firm KPCB, which is based in Menlo Park. I remembered the name from when Matt Steinmetz reported back in June. But I never was able to confirm his involvement from people I trust, just Peter Guber. Didn’t matter anyway, right? This thing was destined for the top two seeds to meet in the finals: No. 1 Ellison vs. No. 2 Mastrov. Wrong. Of course, Tuesday is the day I confirmed he was in the mix. And boy is he in the mix.
It’s not that Lacob can outbid Ellison. It’s that Ellison “won’t overpay” as one person told me. Because of that Lacob is in the game.
And I will be at Starbucks another day, in my wooden corner, hoping some Goapele is oozing out of the speaker, hoping Ellison pulls out the big wallet.