Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Netflix’s new CMO is changing things up, Nikki Haley did a 180 on Boeing, and Sheryl Sandberg is the latest investor to back women’s sports. Have a lovely Tuesday.
– Goal! From a new $100 million fund to back women’s athletic leagues, teams, and companies to a record 10 million viewers for the women’s basketball NCAA championship final, people are paying attention to women’s sports. Among those watching? Sheryl Sandberg and her husband, Tom Bernthal.
The pair are part of a group of investors backing a new National Women’s Soccer League franchise set to head to the San Francisco Bay Area. With a $125 million total investment led by Sixth Street—the largest institutional investment in professional women’s soccer in history—a 14th team will join the growing league in 2024, the NWSL announced today.
Players including Brandi Chastain, Leslie Osborne, Danielle Slaton, and Aly Wagner were involved in the effort to bring a soccer club to the Bay Area, a competitive bidding process. NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman said in a statement that the league sought “ownership groups that not only had the structural integrity for our league to thrive, but also demonstrated a genuine commitment to investing in and creating first-rate organizations on and off the pitch.”
Sandberg and Bernthal, for their part, saw the opportunity to marry their interests and expand the impact of a soccer franchise to the broader community in the Bay Area, especially after following the success of Angel City FC in Los Angeles.
Sandberg sees a direct correlation between her longtime work for women’s advancement in business and this new endeavor in athletics. “There’s a clear link between sports and leadership,” the former Facebook and Meta COO told me yesterday. She cites research that has shown that a majority of women who make it to the C-suite played sports growing up.
While that wasn’t Sandberg’s own experience—she’s “not a good athlete,” she says—she nevertheless sees the value of girls’ sports in developing confidence and leadership skills. Sandberg and Bernthal’s daughters play lacrosse and soccer, and Bernthal once coached girls’ soccer. (The pair wed last year and each have children from prior relationships.) “We can go to their games, we can go to their brothers’ games,” Sandberg says. “We are telling them from a young age, ‘Your activities are just as important.’”
Sandberg is set to join the board of the club and plans for the club to offer leadership training to the local community, in addition to its on-field play.
With their respective résumés (Bernthal is the founder of a market research and consulting firm), Sandberg and Bernthal also see the business opportunity in women’s sports which many have pinpointed. Attendance at NWSL games last year was up 80% and ticket revenue skyrocketed 125%, Bernthal says.
“We’re excited that as people start talking about the Warriors, the 49ers, and the Giants, they’re going to talk about this too,” he says.
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ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
- Wednesday dance. Neflix's third CMO in three years, Marian Lee, has shifted marketing budget to boost individual titles rather than the platform itself in hopes of making the content "pop." She also chooses strategic channels, like TikTok, where Wednesday's famous dance went viral. Filmmakers have noticed her approach, as she visits sets frequently to get an in-depth understanding of upcoming titles. New York Times
- More on Su. President Joe Biden's nominee for the head of the U.S. Labor Department, Julie Su, was the head lawyer on a case that won back wages for immigrant workers in a California sweatshop in 1995. Labor activists are excited to see Su up for the seat. The 19th
- Turning around. Instacart, led by CEO Fidji Simo, is one of several private startups poised to go public but waiting for a better window in the market. Its private share price for employees is down 70% from two years ago, but it increased last quarter. The implied valuation is at about $12 billion, up from $10 billion. The Information
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: At Hydrow, Laura Lang has joined the board and Diana Cino has been appointed as senior vice president of marketing and sales. Zineb Bennani will be the new CEO at Mirova U.S. Gina Kastel is the new chair of the board at Faegre Drinker. Jodi Taylor has joined the board at Wella Company. Adelle Connors has been promoted to chief people officer at UserTesting. Trove has brought on Rachel Kahane as business development director.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Switching stances. Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley was a key ally to Boeing as South Carolina governor, helping the company build a manufacturing center that employs 6,500 in the state and blocking union activity. But shortly after joining its board in 2019, she stepped down and rebuked federal aid packages that would have helped the company during the pandemic's economic tumult. As she tries to appeal to the GOP base, she says that helping businesses on a local scale is very different from big government bailouts. Wall Street Journal
- Confusing vision. The head of Amazon Studios, Jennifer Salke, is at the center of internal dissatisfaction with the direction and success of the original programming company. Lack of clear vision, using homogenous focus groups to prioritize budget allocation, and bending too far for expensive writer deals are all part of what insiders say is keeping Amazon Studios from being a competitive streaming platform. Salke says that she views recent expensive shows such as Daisy Jones & The Six as successes and plans to lead the pack on international streaming. Hollywood Reporter
- Enjoined drag ban. A federal judge blocked Tennessee's law known as the "drag ban," which was scheduled to go into effect Saturday. In the temporary injunction, the judge sided with the LGBTQ theatre group Friends of George's in a lawsuit filed last week, and called the law "unconstitutionally vague," for outlawing male and female impersonators. USA Today
ON MY RADAR
What would happen if women athletes got the mythology treatment they deserve? New York Times
Let women's basketball players be petty Vox
Kendall Roy fans highlight the allure of the pathetic man BuzzFeed
The influencer industry is having an existential crisis The Atlantic
“At first, I was very just kind of somber a little bit about it—did I make the right decision? Now I don’t even know the feeling. I can’t really capture it, but I’m very excited, I think about just the journey forward."
—Aflac president Teresa White on her upcoming retirement
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