The Sale Announcement That Never Came

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.

Marcus Thompson

  • robert rowell

    marcus, why not try Peets or a place that serves Philz instead of that Seattle swill? 😉

  • John Starks

    Marucs, don’t go putting bad juju on this transaction. Ellison NEEDS to buy this team.

  • Aussie Warrior

    You need to get yourself a home office Marcus.

    Let’s say this thing gets done tomorrow. Is there still a lengthy NBA approval process to go through? How many more days/weeks would we have to put up with Larry Riley and co?

  • Grey Warden

    Ellison must win this! For the sake of Warriors fans!

  • Sammie :)

    I’ll buy the team.
    Eleven dollars
    I’m all in

  • Fierce South

    Avoid those apple fritters at Starbucks. I hear they pack a lot of calories.

  • GregC

    Which Starbucks is bumping Keith Sweat, the one on Hegenburger? :o)

  • GDub

    If Lacob is part-owner of the Celtics, isn’t that conflict of interest? Could you be part-owner for 2 NBA teams?

  • Del

    Dude, home office deduction.

  • DN8

    Which Starbucks are you chilling at? Maybe we can hang out and analyze this ownership dilemma together haha. Heck for all the insightful reportings you gave us, coffee’s on me.

  • JimPunkrockford

    i too am hoping for an ellison win but why do you people insist that he is “the rich guy” here? yes he owns a lot of Oracle, and has a massive net worth, but money people have lots and lots of… well, money.

    from ARS article in the NY Times

    “Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle, lives like a king. But most of his wealth is tied up in Oracle stock. Mr. Ellison lives in part off loans”


    yes he’s rich, but these other guys are loaded too, just because forbes doesn’t know how rich, doesn’t mean they don’t have it.

  • itsagreattimeout

    Marcus I had a similar day, but I was following your blog and twitter (among others), hoping for a word on the sale. I do want it to be over but I don’t want it to be anyone but Ellison. I think Ellison is just being prudent. When you’ve done major acquisitions and everyone knows you have the money, you need to learn not to overpay, because you’re being squeezed with every ounce into paying more than it’s worth. I think you’re right: All the hoopla is just to squeeze a few more million out of Ellison. There were few who were as serious as he, but he sees right through it and won’t be forced into overpaying. I think he will allow himself to be outbid, will walk away, and at the very last possible moment, he will make a final bid to outbid Lacob. Any good purchaser knows that walking away is the way you get things cheaper. You have to have the gumption to force someone’s hand. For example, when a store has a deal that has expired, I’ve gone in and they tell me that the deal has expired and then I walk away… and then they tell me “wait! you can have the deal.” because I know they’d rather give me the deal than not have my business at all. It’s just positioning, stalling, pressuring. Ellison is one of the best! This may take a lot longer, Marcus. But Larry Ellison will get his.

  • A’s in 2010

    There is no suspense. Larry Ellison will be named owner.

  • StevieJ

    Lacob will win and because of his Celtics ties, will retain Nellie and hire Bill Walton as the new color analyst!!!

  • some guy

    #9 i think it’s b/c we know the lengths he’ll go to to win from the America’s Cup.

    if we knew for sure that these other guys would be willing to go over the luxury tax (which Cohan was unwilling to do – causing the break up of the 06-07 playoff team & most recently the loss of Anthony Morrow) & would hire the big name execs (who actually only matter if they can draw big name players), i think people wouldn’t care so much about who, only when.

  • TownLove

    Who cares. Is any of these potential bidders going to get the Warriors into the playoffs this year. Im more interested in Brandon Wrights shoulder. Will that dude finally be able to play an entire season.

  • Marcus Thompson

    I can’t focus at home. 3-year old won’t let me. …

    Lacob would have to sell his share of Celtics to be owner of Warriors. …

  • DJB

    We all forgot that Oracle just sold $1.3 billion in stock yesterday. Che-Ching. Ellison ain’t messin’ around.

  • YungBaronPlayedUs

    I would love to have a billionaire rockin wit us, but I worried he’ll move the team, is any thing sacred anymore? First the fatboys break up, we lose our thunder and possible this.

  • chris gatling

    It’s no surprise the Bucks was knockin’ some Kieth Sweat, it’s Oakland! But some Goapele “Milk & Honey” would be choice also.

    Buy Ellison Buy!

  • MWLX

    I think you’re right about the negotiating games being played, but it also seems that either guy would be a huge improvement over current ownership. Who cares if it takes a few more days or weeks for us to be free of Cohan’s 15-year reign of mediocrity?

  • Starbucks? Lie to Me? The Closer?

  • haastheman

    First off, there is no need to bad mouth Keith Sweat. Marcus, you and I both know you used to wake up and go to sleep listening to Keith Sweat when you were in college, probably the reason you picked this particular starbucks.

    Second, as long as we don’t open the season with Cohan as the owner, I don’t think it matters who wins the bid. Especially, if these are the two finalists, as both gentleman have exemplary track records as far as competition goes.

    Third, I’m telling everybody at homecoming that you watch the closer. Hilarious.

  • Gunner

    I am curious whether Riley’s Maggette & Morrow giveaway are “okay’d” by the potential owners.

    I would be really pissed if I were one of them. Imagine when you are in the process of buying a house, and the current owner starts painting the house’s exterior black, and the interior neon green…

  • Cleve Yu

    Everyone is falling in love with Ellison who has NO basketball ownership experience or any track record that he could build a BASKETBALL championship team. The America’s cup was won largely in part by the lawsuits of Ellison. Remember how Cohan got control of the Warriors ? Yes, by suing the previous owner- Fitzgerald who for the most part was delivering 50 win seasons year (run TMC days) in and year out. The fact that Ellison is unwilling to fork out the cash to get this over with is indicative of what he will do when we have a major free agent on the market and he will NOT overpay for the free agent. Ellison is a great business man and great business men do NOT OVERPAY (that’s why they are rich). It is against their DNA. Eddie DeBartollo was NOT a great businessman but he is a great owner. Lacob, on the other hand, has the track record by being part of the Celtic championship teams. He has shown himself to be opportunistic as evident by this episode. Great owners MUST be opportunistic in order to snatch the great talents.


    Keith Sweat is a sweet blast from the past! Who came after him, Al B. Sure?

    Ellison is a beacon of hope. After 16years of looking up at everyone, even the Hornets/Bobcats/Grizzlies!, there’s a chance.

    I hope this gets wrapped up today.

  • jsl

    Very funny blog post, MT. We’ve ALL got our fingers crossed.

    BTW, this week’s “Lie to Me” is a very good one; Cal goes a little nutsy-cuckoo (in a good way), and it seems as if the lovely Melissa George (first seen the The Limey, I think) has joined the cast.


    Then, back to the NEW grind.

  • DKnight007

    Giving away Maggette and Morrow and then trading Azbuke, Randolph and Turiaf for an overpaid David Lee who can’t play man to man defense were “genius” moves and now the Warriors will contend for a title!

    Yeah….riiiiiiight and the pigs will fly!

    LOL! The Looooouuuusssy Warriors!

    Just sell baby!

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