The Kraken are Seattle’s newest sports franchise. They started playing during the 2021-2022 hockey season as the NHL’s 32nd team. Yet, creating the team cost a considerable sum. First off, the Kraken paid a $650 million “expansion fee” that was split among the league’s existing owners.
Second, a $1.15 billion renovation was required to bring the Kraken’s arena up to current NHL standards. All this money begs the question, just who owns the Seattle Kraken? Let’s dive into the Kraken’s ownership structure to see not only who owns the team, but how they built their fortunes.
Who Owns the Seattle Kraken?
The Seattle Kraken are co-owned by private equity executive David Bonderman and Samantha Holloway, who is his daughter. While Bonderman and Holloway are co-majority owners, other prominent owners include Jerry Bruckheimer and Tod Leiweke.
Untangling ownership structures of sports teams can be difficult. Kraken ownership is housed under an organization (likely an LLLP) named Seattle Hockey Partners, and there are no public filings of ownership percentages for the franchise.
When the Kraken were announced as an expansion franchise, numerous publications cited Jerry Bruckheimer, Tod Leiweke, and Bonderman as equal partners. However, the team’s own press releases cited David Bonderman as the majority owner. In addition, Bonderman was the Kraken’s first representative at the Board of Governors meetings. That role is generally held by majority owners.
In the years since the Kraken franchise was awarded, the names of many other minority partners have been revealed while others bought into the franchise. Some notable minority owners include:
- Christopher and Ted Ackerly: Sons of former Sonics owner Barry Ackerly.
- Adrian Hanauer: Majority owner of the Seattle Sounders
- Andy Jassy: CEO of Amazon
- Marshawn Lynch: Former Seattle Seahawks running back, who purchased a minority stake in April 2022
- Macklemore: A famous musician who took a minority ownership stake alongside Marshawn Lynch
The biggest development in Seattle Kraken ownership happened in December 2022. That’s when Samantha Holloway assumed the team’s seat on the NHL Board of Governors from her father. At that time it was announced she was becoming an equal co-owner with David Bonderman.
Who is David Bonderman?
While David Bonderman was the Kraken’s original majority owner, he’s not as well known as other outsized figures in Seattle’s business scene.
His time in the city began when he attended the University of Washington as an undergraduate. After graduating in 1963 Bonderman picked up his law degree from Harvard Law School and became a partner at the law firm Arnold & Palmer.
What put Bonderman on the path to being a billionaire was his co-founding of the private equity firm Texas Partners Group (TPG) in 1992. TPG is among the world’s largest private equity groups and has more than $135 billion in assets under management. TPG held an IPO in early 2022 that valued the company at about $10.4 billion.
What is David Bonderman’s Net Worth?
As of March 2023, David Bonderman’s net worth was estimated at $6.5 billion by Forbes Billion LIst. That’s a significant increase from 2018 when his fortune was estimated at $2.6 billion.
Beyond his co-founding of TPG, Bonderman has numerous other pursuits. He’s an avid supporter of conservation causes and also sponsors the Bonderman Travel Fellowship at the University of Washington. In addition, Bonderman is a minority owner of the Boston Celtics and also was an investor in Las Vegas’s T-Mobile Arena.
Today Bonderman’s money is managed by his family office, which is named Wildcat Capital Management.
Could David Bonderman Become the Sonics’ Next Owner?
As noted earlier, David Bonderman is a minority owner of the Boston Celtics. However, he has said he’d sell his stake in the team to purchase an NBA team for Seattle.
In interviews after being named co-owner of the franchise, Samantha Holloway was quick to note that she’d be leading the family’s efforts to bring an NBA team back to town. But what are the chances the Bonderman family could succeed in bringing the NBA to Seattle?
The current belief among most NBA insiders is that the league will award two expansion franchises in the coming years, with Seattle and Las Vegas being favorites. With Bonderman just having navigated the expansion process in the NHL, he’s familiar with the process leagues use when awarding new teams.
However, the biggest obstacle could be the price tag of an expansion franchise. In 2021 NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called a $2.5 billion expansion fee for the league “very low.” Recent reports from NBA insiders predict an expansion fee for new owners that’s north of $4 billion. For context, that would be more than six-fold the fee Bonderman’s group paid for the Seattle Kraken!
Regardless, if you’re a Seattle sports fan it’s great news that Bonderman is so interested in pursuing an NBA team. With a net worth of $6.5 billion, he has the capital needed to purchase a team. In addition, his experience from NHL ownership would be extremely valuable. The Kraken have been a well-run franchise since their founding and Bonderman has a team in place that could transition to an NBA franchise.