Warriors Sold -- But Not to Larry Ellison

Meet the new boss, Joe Lacob
Ellison claims he made highest bid -- but Chris Cohan sold team to Joseph Lacob anyway

Billionaire Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's quest to buy his favorite basketball team has been stuffed. The long-awaited sale of the Golden State Warriors was announced today, for a record $450 million -- but the winning bidder was Joseph Lacob, a part-owner of the Boston Celtics and partner at the Menlo Park venture capital firm KPCB. Also on Lacob's team is Peter Guber, the CEO of Mandalay Entertainment and former Sony Pictures boss.

Sales of multi-million dollar sporting franchises are complicated. But this one might boil down to the simplest explanation of all: Lacob was willing to pay more than Ellison. A lot more.

Oracle Corporate Communications
You'd have needed an oracle to predict Larry Ellison wouldn't be the Warriors next owner...
While Ellison is a supremely wealthy man -- one of the nation and world's richest -- who could almost certainly have outbid Lacob's group if he wished, it appears he just didn't want to pay more than what he thought was a good price. (The team was valued at $315 million by Forbes in December; former owner Chris Cohan paid $119 million for the W's in 1995.)*

With Ellison unwilling to meet Cohan's monster asking price, the prize has apparently fallen to Lacob.

How this will affect the future of the beleaguered franchise -- one playoff appearance in the past 16 years. Yes, we noticed -- may never be known. Fans may look back and rue the day Larry Ellison didn't pony up to take over the team. Or they may never think about him again except when they see him in his nifty courtside seats.

What is known is that Cohan's tenure atop the franchise has run its course. And there will be much rejoicing among the Warriors faithful, regardless of who succeeds him.

*Update, 1:50 p.m.: Bizarrely, Ellison is now claiming that he made the highest bid -- but Cohan chose to sell the team to Lacob anyway. It remains to be seen whether Ellison's alleged bid was made after the deal was closed with the Lacob group.

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