Lionel Messi, the Argentine professional soccer/football player who is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, is to make a push into technology investing via a new vehicle that will be shepherded by two Silicon Valley veterans.
Play Time is the name given to a new partnership between the player’s Messi Group and Silicon Valley executives Razmig Hovaghimian and special advisor Michael Marquez.
Headquartered in San Francisco, the Messi Group said Play Time will be a holding company and will act as the main vehicle for Messi’s investments in sports, media, and technology investments globally.
At the same time, Play Time will also be looking into taking stakes in sports teams and investing in “football-tech,” the company said in a statement.
Play Time also revealed that it has already incubated a startup called Matchday.com, a still-stealth-mode games studio for football fans that plans to launch before the FIFA World Cup in November. Plus, it’s made its first seed-stage investment in AC Momento, which auctions match-worn football shirts sourced from clubs and players.
In a statement, Messi said: “I am excited to extend our roots into Silicon Valley, and I am thrilled that Play Time will collaborate with daring entrepreneurs from all over the world. I hope that through its success Play Time will help many people and have a positive impact on the world. I trust in the team and our partners to achieve our objectives.”
Play Time’s co-founder and chief executive will be Razmig Hovaghimian (pictured, left). Hovaghimian formerly headed up Hoodline (Pixel Labs), a local news platform that combined machine learning with on-the-ground reporting. He also co-founded entertainment startup Viki, which exited to Rakuten for $200-plus million in 2013. As a result, he joined Rakuten’s corporate board as a board observer and in 2016 was named the company’s first Entrepreneur in Residence.
Hovaghimian said, “We’re all in, starting by building a strong bridge between football’s 5B fans and technology.”
He will co-lead Play Time with Michael Marquez of Code Advisors, a merchant bank, and Morado, a seed-stage fund focused on early-stage investments.