November 09, 2018
Jeff Luhnow is currently the General Manager and President of Baseball Operations for the Houston Astros, holding that position since 2011. Since Luhnow took over the baseball operations functions, the Astros Major League club has transformed into a contender with top-tier young talent, and currently possesses one of the best player pipelines and minor league systems in the industry. Under Luhnow’s leadership, in 2015 the Astros went on to make the playoffs for the first time in a decade, advancing to the ALDS against the Kansas City Royals. Only two years later, aided by key homegrown players like Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, Luhnow led the Astros to their first World Series title in franchise history, when they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games.
Prior to joining the Astros, Luhnow spent eight years with the St. Louis Cardinals, most notably as Vice President of Scouting and Player Development, where he oversaw the scouting, international, and player development functions of the club that brought in many players instrumental to the 2011 World Series victory, the 2012 NLCS team and the 2013 World Series team. Before joining the Cardinals organization, Luhnow founded Archetype Solutions, where he served as President and COO. His background also includes stints as General Manager and Vice President of Marketing at Petstore.com, and five years with the global management consulting firm of McKinsey and Company.
Luhnow is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with dual Bachelor of Science degrees in economics and engineering. He also earned his MBA from Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.
Scott O’Neil is the Chief Executive Officer of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, an organization with the mission of building passionate, high-performing teams that inspire possibilities in people to enhance the communities where we live, work, play and win.
O’Neil is responsible for the organization’s leadership, strategic vision, operations and global vision, including the pursuit and acquisition of sports, entertainment and consumer-facing properties. He is the acting Chief Executive Officer over all properties within the organization’s portfolio and under the ownership of Managing Partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer, including: the Philadelphia 76ers (NBA), the New Jersey Devils (NHL), Prudential Center, a top five-ranked performance venue in the U.S. located in Newark, New Jersey; Team Dignitas, an internationally renowned esports team, NBA 2K League’s 76ers Gaming Club, the Sixers Innovation Lab Crafted by Kimball, the GRAMMY Museum Experience Prudential Center, the Delaware 87ers (NBA G League), and the Binghamton Devils (AHL). He is an acting Co-Managing partner for Elevate Sports Ventures, a sports and entertainment agency created in partnership between HBSE, Live Nation, the San Francisco 49ers and Oak View Group.
With more than 20 years of experience in the NBA, NHL and NFL, O’Neil has earned a reputation as a leader of leaders and is one of the most connected, dynamic and driven executives in the industry today. Previous executives whom he has mentored and managed run many of the top organizations in sports and entertainment today; those he currently manages are poised to lead the industry into the next generation.
O’Neil’s reputation for authentic leadership, unparalleled drive to innovate, and emphasis on the importance of corporate culture has placed him at the forefront of the industry vanguard. In merely six years overseeing operations for the properties in HBSE’s portfolio, O’Neil led the Philadelphia 76ers to sign the first jersey patch sponsorship in “Big Four” sports history; construct the most technically advanced training complex in professional sports, the Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex; establish an industry-leading Innovation Lab, and become the first U.S. professional sports franchise to acquire a world-renowned esports team. In that same period, under O’Neil’s ambitious and aggressive leadership, Prudential Center has become a top seven and top five most-played venue in the U.S. and the world by Billboard and Pollstar, respectively, and welcomes over 1.75 million fans and event attendees through its doors annually.
Of his professional accomplishments, O’Neil considers his organizations’ corporate culture and dedication to community service his greatest successes and future legacy. The Philadelphia 76ers have been named one of the “Most Innovative Companies” in the world by Fast Company magazine (2018), one of the “Top 50 Cultures” in the U.S. by Entrepreneur (2017), three-times named a “Best Place to Work in Philadelphia” by the Philadelphia Business Journal (2016, 2015, 2014), twice named a “Best Place to Work in Pennsylvania by the Central Penn Business Journal (2018, 2017) and named one of the “50 Best Companies to Sell For” by internationally-renowned Selling Power Magazine. Prudential Center was named a “Best Business” by NJBiz (2016). O’Neil’s belief that those who steward iconic sports and entertainment brands have the responsibility and privilege to use those platforms to mentor the next generation of leaders and make the world a better place is the driving force behind HBSE’s community engagement initiatives.
Recognizing the important role HBSE’s properties play within its communities, O’Neil’s employees individually volunteer 76 hours of service annually in the communities where their fans and patrons live, work and play, resulting in more than 30,000 hours of dedicated community service each year. The Philadelphia 76ers’ charitable endeavor, the Sixers Youth Foundation, has additionally raised more than $1 million for Philadelphia-area youth last year alone and is leveraging sports to help children in need.
A former President of Madison Square Garden Sports, O’Neil was the key architect in some of the largest venue sponsorship deals in history while overseeing iconic sports properties including the New York Knicks (NBA) and New York Rangers (NHL). O’Neil spent seven years as the Senior Vice President of the NBA’s renowned Team Marketing and Business Operations group, where he advised NBA, WNBA and NBA Gatorade League teams on all business operations, CRM Department and NBA Canada business. Earlier in his career, O’Neil served as the President of HoopsTV.com and held positions with the Philadelphia Eagles (NFL) and New Jersey Nets (NBA).
For almost a decade, O’Neil has served as an Alternate Governor for the NBA and NHL. Sports and technology outlet, SportTechie, honored him as their “Most Innovative Executive” in 2017. In October 2016, Philadelphia Magazine declared him one of the “Most Innovative” people in Philadelphia. In 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 the Philadelphia Business Journal named O’Neil to their “Power 76” list of the most influential people in the greater Philadelphia region; he additionally received Philadelphia Business Journal’s “Most Admired CEO” honor in 2018. As a young executive, O’Neil was a three-time member of Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 Hall of Fame. O’Neil’s influence and experience has earned him a place at the podium at some of the largest industry conferences in the world, delivering keynotes at events such as: Leaders in Sport, Beyond Sport, Sports Business Journal’s World Congress of Sport, the IEG Pivot Conference, the Ivy Sports Symposium, Sport Marketing Association’s Conference and more. O’Neil’s leadership practices have been chronicled and applauded in The Outward Mindset by the Arbinger Institute, publishers of The New York Times Best Seller, Leadership and Self Deception, The Orange Revolution by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, and Potato Chip Ticket Sales by Kathy Burrows. He has made numerous appearances on CNN, CNBC, FOX Business Network, and has twice co-hosted Bloomberg television’s Bloomberg . He also interacts daily with his more than 18,000 and 30,000 followers on Twitter and LinkedIn, respectively. He serves on the boards for the March of Dimes, Zoomi Inc., the Sixers Youth Foundation and the Sixers Innovation Lab Crafted by Kimball.
O’Neil earned his bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Villanova University and his master’s in Business Administration from Harvard Business School. He currently resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Lisa, and three daughters.
Cade Massey is a Practice Professor in the Wharton School’s Operations, Information and Decisions Department. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago and taught at Duke University and Yale University before moving to Penn. Massey’s research focuses on judgment under uncertainty – how, and how well, people predict what will happen in the future. His work draws on experimental and “real world” data such as employee stock options, 401k savings, the National Football League draft, and graduate school admissions. His research has led to long-time collaborations with Google, Merck and multiple professional sports franchises. Massey’s research has been published in leading psychology and management journals, and covered by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The Economist, and National Public Radio. He has taught MBA and Executive MBA courses for 15 years, receiving teaching awards for courses on negotiation, influence, organizational behavior and human resources. He also co-teaches Wharton’s “People Analytics” MOOC on Coursera. Massey is faculty co-director of Wharton People Analytics, co-host of “Wharton Moneyball” on SiriusXM Business Radio, and co-creator of the Massey-Peabody NFL Power Rankings for the Wall Street Journal. He lives in Center City Philadelphia.
A Lehigh University graduate with a degree in economics, Mr. DuPaul currently serves as the director of basketball analytics for the Brooklyn Nets. In his role, he is responsible for evaluating within the organization, and targeting other NBA players and college talent for acquisition. In his time in Brooklyn, DuPaul has worked closely with General Manager Sean Marks and played an integral role in many important personnel decisions, including drafting Center Jarrett Allen and trading for the draft rights to Forwards Caris LeVert and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. DuPaul previously worked in the analytics department for the Kansas City Royals in advance of their 2015 World Series Championship.
Although not related to the famed Vince Lombardi, Mike Lombardi has forged his path as a true football genius, having spent 30 years as a front office executive. He began his NFL career in 1984 as a scout for the 49ers before working for the Browns, Raiders, Eagles, and Patriots. Lombardi’s roles have ranged from Pro Personnel Director to Assistant to the Head Coach as well as GM of Cleveland. In each of these positions, Lombardi was part of some of the most successful drafts in the NFL’s history and has become one of the industry’s most trusted sources. He transitioned to broadcast, becoming an analyst for NFL Network as well as a sportswriter for NFL.com, The Ringer, and just recently, The Athletic.
Eric Fisher is a New York-based staff writer for SportsBusiness Journal, covering baseball, ticketing, digital media, and technology. Fisher has covered 14 World Series, 15 MLB All-Star Games, three World Baseball Classics, five NBA All-Star Games, 10 International Consumer Electronics Shows, and a variety of other major events. He is also a regular moderator in SBJ’s annual series of high-level industry conferences, and also has led sessions at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference and the Olin Sports Business Summit at Washington University in St. Louis. With SBJ since 2005, Fisher joined the magazine from the Washington Times in Washington, D.C., where he was the newspaper’s first sports business reporter. Prior to moving to Washington, Fisher was the business and real estate editor of the Easton (Md.) Star-Democrat. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University.
Amy Geary is VP, Content Acquisition at Comcast Cable. Geary leads deals with partners including entertainment networks, music services and digital video services, to create products and services for Comcast’s subscribers.
Prior to Comcast, Amy Geary was the VP, Sales and Business Development at Viacom. Prior to Viacom, Geary held various executive roles in sales and strategy at The Walt Disney Company, including within distribution at Disney & ESPN Media Networks, Disney Channel and the global distribution strategy team. Geary began her television distribution career at DIRECTV.
In her early career, Amy Geary worked as a writer, producer and editor. Her television credits include productions for VH1, Comedy Central, NBC, The Food Network and ESPN.
Geary received her MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and her BA in History from Reed College.
Zack is the Cofounder and President of Overtime, a sports network for the next generation of fans. Overtime reaches tens of millions of fans every month that watch hundreds of millions of minutes of content. Founded in December of 2016, Overtime’s investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Greycroft, David Stern and Kevin Durant. Previously Zack was Founder and CEO of The Sports Quotient, which he started at the University of Pennsylvania. Zack is a Forbes 30 under 30 listmaker for sports.
Kenneth Shropshire is the CEO of the Global Sport Institute and Adidas Distinguished Professor of Global Sport at Arizona State University. He was the former president of the Sports Lawyers Association, and also worked on projects across the NCAA, MLB, and NFL among others. His past accomplishments include leading the Wharton Sports Business Initiative and also leading the boxing competition during the 1984 Olympic Games, which was the games’ most televised event. In addition, he is the David W. Hauck Professor Emeritus of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at The Wharton School.
As the vice president of social responsibility for Major League Baseball, Melanie LeGrande develops and enhances the initiatives that support the league’s position in the community, collaborates with internal departments and key external stakeholders to integrate social considerations into core decision and planning, and provides oversight for MLB’s community investments, nonprofit/NGO partnerships, large-scale disaster relief and employee volunteer engagement.
Prior to joining Major League Baseball, Melanie was the senior director of corporate responsibility at Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the largest in the country with more than $8 billion in assets under management. In that role, she was responsible for managing strategic community grantmaking, social responsibility programs and employee engagement for a portfolio of corporate partners, in addition to serving as project lead on events on corporate citizenship for clients and other stakeholders.
Melanie earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Morgan State University and a master’s degree in sports administration from Georgia State University. Before joining MLB and SVCF, she directed the community relations department and charitable foundation of the Baltimore Ravens (National Football League). In her dual role, she was the liaison between the team and the community, led employee and player engagement programs, a scholarship program and managed field renovations for the charitable foundation. While with the Ravens, she was an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and taught a graduate-level course on social responsibility in sports. She is an avid sports fan, enjoys the outdoors, volunteer service and traveling.
Scott believes in the power of sport for social good. His desire to incorporate sports with philanthropy drove him to create Pledge It, an innovative performance-based fundraising application that empowers athletes from all levels of sport to support charitable causes. Under Scott’s leadership, Pledge It has built an all-star team of “nerds and jocks,” including athletes like Chris Long, Klay Thompson, and Lindsey Vonn, and continues to grow their impact at more than 300% a year. Through partnerships with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the American Cancer Society & CBS Sports, Pledge It has created two national programs (touchdownsagainstcancer.com and 3pointchallenge.org) to empower high school and college teams in the fight against cancer.
Pledge It is Scott’s second entrepreneurial venture. He established Uplifting Athletes while on the Penn State football team and started the inaugural “Lift For Life” event in 2003. Uplifting Athletes is a national nonprofit inspiring the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport. Today, Uplifting Athletes has college chapters across the country (including UPenn). Each chapter is run by current student-athletes, providing them with practical job skills while learning how to leverage their popularity to make a positive and lasting impact. Uplifting Athletes has had an estimated economic impact of more than $400 million on the rare disease community.
Scott received his B.S. & M.Eng. from The Pennsylvania State University and went on to become an Executive Scholar in Nonprofit Management at the Kellogg School at Northwestern University.
Chris Stone is Editorial Director of Meredith’s Sports Illustrated Group, which includes Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, and Sports illustrated kids. Previously, Stone served as Managing Editor of SI for nearly four years, and was formerly assistant managing editor and senior editor, after first joining the magazine in June 1992 as an NHL reporter. In his current role, Stone oversees all editorial content and operations on a cross-platform basis for the SI Group of brands.
Stone has instituted a new approach to cross-platform content and has set the organizational framework for SI to expand beyond traditional boundaries and engage new audiences across emerging platforms, channels and consumer experiences. This vision led to the creation of marquee franchises — TheMMQB.com, SI Films, Planet Fútbol – and new lifestyle verticals SI Edge, Fashionable 50 and SI Eats, among others. Under Stone’s tenure, SI recently launched its first-ever over the top streaming network, Sports Illustrated TV (SI TV), which is available on Amazon Channels and features both original and acquired content.
Stone has also played a pivotal role in the expansion of the SI’s core franchises. He guided SI Swimsuit from an annual print edition into a cross-platform, year-round cultural juggernaut reaching 70 million U.S. adults via an array of platforms and channels, as well as Sportsperson of the Year, one of the most respected awards in sports, which now features a year-end, star-studded celebration and show honoring generations of sports and humanitarian achievements.
Stone has also spearheaded the infusion of new multi-skilled editorial talent into the organization. While doing so, he oversaw many transcendent journalistic coups such as exclusives with LeBron James, Jason Collins and Michael Phelps, SI’s uncovering of Alex Rodriguez’s positive steroids tests – a watershed moment for the brand – and groundbreaking reporting on workplace misconduct within the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Mavericks organizations. Since joining SI in 1992 and prior to his managing editor role, he oversaw virtually every major sports beat, editing acclaimed journalists such as Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins and Jack McCallum.
After graduating from Tufts University in 1991, Stone attended Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism where he earned an M.A. in journalism.
Stone lists launching SI On Campus in the fall of 2003 as his most memorable career moment. His favorite sports include baseball and pro basketball. Stone enjoys spending time in New York’s outer boroughs, the works of J.R.R. Tolkein and Boston Red Sox.
Stone was born in Seoul, South Korea and raised in Mystic, Connecticut. He currently lives in New York City with his wife, Kim, and their children, Sam and Annabel.
Jenny Vrentas is a senior writer for Sports Illustrated and The MMQB, SI’s pro football website. She previously spent six years at The (Newark) Star-Ledger, where she was the beat reporter for the New York Giants (2012) and the New York Jets (2010-11). The 2018 season is her 12th covering the NFL. A native of State College, PA, Vrentas received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from Penn State University in 2006 and then moved to New York City, where she completed her master’s degree at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2007.
Debbie DiVito is a Senior Vice President on the Sports Advisory team at Citi. In this role, she leverages her deep industry experience and relationships to provide sports team owners and investors value-added strategic transaction advice. Additionally, Debbie serves as a relationship manager for her professional sports clients including teams, team owners, leagues, and league executives. In this capacity, Debbie expertly navigates the complete Citi platform to deliver holistic solutions including banking services, financing options, and tailored investment opportunities. A Certified Public Accountant with nearly fifteen years’ experience in the financial services industry, Debbie served as a Manager in Ernst & Young’s Transaction Advisory Services practice prior to joining Citi in 2011. At Ernst & Young, Debbie exclusively supported clients in the financial services industry, closing numerous insurance, asset management, and banking and capital markets transactions. An avid writer, Debbie has also worked in strategic communications developing and executing communications strategies to advance her clients’ objectives.
Wayne Kimmel is a sports tech venture capitalist and entrepreneur and currently acts as the Managing Partner of SeventySix Capital, the venture capital company he founded in 1999. Together with his partners Jon Powell, CEO of Kravco Company LLC, and Ryan Howard, former MLB NL MVP and 2008 World Series Champion with the Philadelphia Phillies, SeventySix Capital invests in startup consumer-facing tech companies in the sports, health, and retail industries.
Wayne focuses a large part of his investment strategy on sports, sports betting, and esports. This has included early investments in companies like Whistle Sports, N3rd Street Gamers, and Vegas Stats & Information Network (VSiN). In addition, Wayne has invested in over 50 startup technology and healthcare companies, including SeamlessWeb (now public as GrubHub), Take Care Health Systems, and Nutrisystem. Among the Fortune 500 companies that have acquired his portfolio companies are Aramark, Intel, IBM, Walgreens, and Yahoo!
SeventySix Capital was recently nominated as an Outstanding Investor by SportTechie, and Wayne himself has been named a Top Innovator by Philadelphia Magazine and is on the Philadelphia Business Journal’s Power 100 list. Wayne also serves as a partner in Rubicon Talent and is the author of Six Degrees of Wayne Kimmel.
Caroline Rebello is a Principal at Evolution Media, and focuses on sports media advisory and sports M&A advisory. Past clients include the Minnesota Wild, Vegas Golden Knights, Memphis Grizzlies, Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Sacramento Kings, Anaheim Ducks, and Nashville Predators.
Prior to joining Evolution, Caroline served as a Senior Associate at SCP Worldwide, the holding company of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues and MLS’ Real Salt Lake. In this role, she evaluated and executed new and strategic investments across sports, media, entertainment, and real estate. She also managed the monetization of media broadcast rights in North America for the CONMEBOL 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying tournament. Previously, Caroline was an Investment Associate at TowerBrook Capital Partners, a transatlantic private equity firm with $2.5 billion in assets under management. She began her career as a member of the Global Consumer Group in the Investment Banking Division of Citigroup Global Markets, executing more than $20 billion in transactions.
Caroline graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Charles Baker is Co-Chair of O’Melveny’s Sports Industry group, and his corporate practice encompasses mergers and acquisitions, private equity, and venture capital transactions. Baker has represented buyers and sellers of sports franchises in the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, and many of the European football leagues. Most recently, Baker represented David Tepper, founder and president of global hedge fund Appaloosa Management, in his acquisition of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. He has also been nationally recognized for his prominence in sports and entertainment law, most recently profiled as a leading “Dealmaker” in Variety’s 2017 Dealmakers Elite: New York.
Baker holds a JD from Cornell University and is currently a Distinguished Lecturer at NYU’s Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media, and Business.
Andrew Brandt previously served as the Vice President of the Green Bay Packers where he managed player contracts, negotiations, the salary cap, etc. Currently he provides NFL Business Analysis for ESPN, contributes to The Athletic, writes a weekly column for TheMMQB, and hosts his own podcast “The Business of Sports.” Andrew Brandt has quickly become one of the most well-respected and well-known faces of the sports business industry.