Anschutz, Philip — Anschutz Entertainment Group Inc.

THE LATEST: AEG has felt the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, which has prompted shutdowns of its arenas, theaters and clubs around the world. AEG Presents, one of the world’s largest live music companies, has seen the cancellation or delay of global and regional tours as well as the postponement of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which it promotes each year. AEG and its subsidiary, AEG Facilities, recently merged with SMG Holdings Inc. to create ASM Global, the world’s leading provider of venue services and live experiences.

BACKGROUND: With an estimated worth of $11.7 billion, Anschutz is one of only two people who have made the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans every year since the franchise began in 1982. His downtown-based sports and live-entertainment company, created in 1994, boasts ownership stakes in the Los Angeles Lakers, Kings and Galaxy, plus venues and entertainment districts such as Staples Center, L.A. Live and Dignity Health Sports Park. Based in Colorado, Anschutz also controls real estate, railroad and media investments.


Ballmer, Steve — Los Angeles Clippers

THE LATEST: Ballmer made a $400 million cash purchase of the Forum in Inglewood in March, which will allow him to work toward construction of a new 18,000-seat arena in the city for his Los Angeles Clippers. The team’s lease at Staples Center ends in 2024. The Ballmer Group, founded by Steve and Connie Ballmer, have pledged over $40 million to Covid-19 relief efforts in Los Angeles, Seattle and Michigan.

BACKGROUND: The former Microsoft executive purchased the Clippers for $2 billion in 2014, the same year he stepped down as the tech company’s CEO. He left Stanford University’s MBA program at age 24 in 1980 to join former Harvard classmate Bill Gates’ Microsoft venture. Balmer started as assistant to the president (Gates), making $50,000 with equity and growth options. Forbes estimates Baller’s current worth at $60 billion, including a 4% share of Microsoft.


Beckerman, Dan — Anschutz Entertainment Group Inc.

THE LATEST: For more than two decades, AEG has worked on transforming the sports and live-entertainment industry. Beckerman continues to expand the company’s global business, which owns, operates or is affiliated with more than 300 of the world’s most prestigious venues.

BACKGROUND: Beckerman, who was named president and CEO of Anschutz Entertainment in 2013, joined the company in 1997 as chief financial officer. In addition to heading AEG’s facilities, sports, global partnerships and digital divisions, Beckerman is responsible for financial oversight, planning and debt financing for the company’s $5 billion-plus worth of real estate projects around the world. He represents the Los Angeles Kings on the NHL’s Board of Governors and the L.A. Galaxy on MLS’ Board of Governors. A classically trained pianist, Beckerman received his MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School, where he teaches a class every year with Peter Guber.


Buss, Jeanie — Los Angeles Lakers

THE LATEST: The Lakers rebounded into a championship contender during the 2019-20 season after missing the playoffs for the last six seasons. Buss continues to show her leadership abilities in the front office, forging a new direction after Magic Johnson stepped down as the team’s president of basketball operations last year. She then stood as a representative for the organization helping to heal the city after the January death of Kobe Bryant.

BACKGROUND: Following the death of its patriarch, Jerry Buss, the Buss family took over ownership of the Lakers in 2013. At that point, Buss’ daughter Jeanie had already spent 14 years as the Lakers’ executive vice president of business operations, where she was responsible for all aspects of the Lakers organization, including marketing, sponsorships and broadcast partnerships. She worked with brother Jim to oversee the team’s operations until 2017, when she replaced him as head of basketball operations with Johnson. Buss started her career as general manager of World Team Tennis’ Los Angeles Strings at age 19.


Demoff, Kevin — Los Angeles Rams

THE LATEST: One season after reaching the Super Bowl, the Rams missed the playoffs. With the team scheduled to move into its new home at SoFi Stadium this summer, Demoff’s front office has spent the offseason remaking the team’s roster, starting with the decision to release high-priced running back Todd Gurley. Demoff also forged a partnership with KABC in March to raise more than $2.2 million to assist Southern California response efforts to the global health crisis by supporting the United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ Pandemic Relief Fund and the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

BACKGROUND: Los Angeles native Demoff helped Rams owner Stan Kroenke move the team back to L.A. from St. Louis in 2016. He works closely with general manager Les Snead and head coach Sean McVay on signings and acquisitions. Before joining the Rams, Demoff was an executive with Casey Wasserman’s Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena Football League and then with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.


Dewolfe, Chris — Jam City Inc.

THE LATEST: Celebrating its 10-year anniversary, DeWolfe’s entertainment company continues to grow its global footprint in mobile gaming. Jam City developed a new genre with the release of the award-winning real-time strategy title “World War Doh” and expanded into Japan with the fan-favorite Match 3 game “Disney Emoji Blitz,” which has surpassed 30 million installs. This year the studio is celebrating the two-year anniversary of “Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery,” the most downloaded mobile game in more than 40 countries. It has surpassed 35 billion minutes played since its release.

BACKGROUND: Jam City founder DeWolfe was the co-founder and one-time chief executive of MySpace, which had more than 130 million monthly users by the time he left the company in 2009. Backed by Austin Ventures, DeWolfe purchased social-gaming platform MindJolt Inc. in 2010. A year later, MindJolt acquired Jam City. DeWolfe is an adviser for USC’s Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and a board member of Uproxx Media Group Inc.


Dunn, Darryl — Rose Bowl Operating Company

THE LATEST: In his 21 years at the helm, Dunn has seen the Rose Bowl’s annual budget rise from $9 million to $55 million. The stadium continues to reap the benefits of its long-term relationships with UCLA and the Tournament of Roses. On Jan. 1, 2021, the Rose Bowl is scheduled to host a semifinal game for college football’s national championship.

BACKGROUND: Dunn manages all aspects of the Rose Bowl, including contract negotiations, tenant relationships, marketing and operations. The organization also oversees the 36-hole Brookside Golf Course, which wraps around the stadium. Dunn has previously worked for the Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Raiders and Los Angeles Clippers as well as the 1994 World Cup Organizing Committee. He spearheaded a $183 million renovation of the Rose Bowl starting in 2011. Concerts at the Rose Bowl have included a record-breaking 2009 U2 show that attracted 97,000-plus as well as shows by the Rolling Stones, Taylor Swift and BTS.


Friedman, Andrew — Los Angeles Dodgers

THE LATEST: As the Dodgers’ de-facto general manager, Friedman waited until just before spring training began in March to pull off a blockbuster multi-team trade that brought former American League MVP Mookie Betts and former Cy Young winner David Price from Boston to L.A., along with cash to help pay their salaries. Friedman was given a contract extension by the Dodgers last November.

BACKGROUND: Friedman has been the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations since 2014, when he signed a five-year, $35-million deal. He has overseen the rebuilding of the organization’s farm systems and reorganized the team’s front office. Friedman was previously executive vice president of baseball operations for the Tampa Bay Rays (he was named MLB Executive of the Year in 2008, when the team went to the World Series). Before that, he worked as an analyst with Bear Stearns & Co. Inc. and as an associate for private equity firm MidMark Capital. He played baseball at Tulane University.


Guber, Peter — Mandalay Entertainment Group

THE LATEST: The NBA’s Golden State Warriors, where Guber serves as co-executive chairman, this year moved into the new $1.4 billion Chase Center in San Francisco after decades in Oakland. In L.A., Guber remains a fixture with his Mandalay Entertainment Group. He also holds ownership stakes in the Los Angeles Dodgers and Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Football Club.

BACKGROUND: Guber founded Mandalay Entertainment in 1995 with interests in film, sports and digital media. Previously, he was chief executive and chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. and Polygram Entertainment, where he produced 1988 Academy Award best picture winner “Rain Man.” Before that Guber co-founded Casablanca Records and Filmworks and served as president of Columbia Pictures. He has been part of the Golden State Warriors ownership team since 2010 and has been with the Dodgers’ Guggenheim Baseball Partners from the start in 2012.


James, LeBron

THE LATEST: After persuading the Lakers to acquire All-Star forward Anthony Davis last June, James has flourished. Following a disappointing first season in Los Angeles, James bounced back in 2019-2020, pushing the Lakers to the top spot in the NBA’s Western Conference and making a strong bid to win his fifth MVP award before play was suspended in March. James continues to produce TV, film and video content with his company, Uninterrupted, and his production company, Springhill Entertainment. James will have a starring role in the movie “Space Jam 2,” which is due in 2021.

BACKGROUND: The Akron, Ohio, native is a three-time NBA champion and 16-time All Star. James, who now calls Brentwood home, came to the Lakers in 2018 as a free agent, signing a four-year, $154 million deal. The 35-year-old superstar has now spent nearly half his life as an NBA player. James was drafted No. 1 overall as an 18-year-old out of high school in 2003 by the Cleveland Cavaliers.


Kasten, Stan — Los Angeles Dodgers

THE LATEST: Since joining the Dodgers in 2012, Kasten has guided the Dodgers to a franchise-record seven consecutive National League West titles and two World Series appearances. While MLB attendance has been in decline, the Dodgers drew a league-best 3,974,309 fans in 2019 (more than 49,000 average per game). That was an increase of 120,000 from 2018 and more than 200,000 from 2017. Kasten has also been instrumental in managing roster payroll, down from a league-high $282 million in 2015 to No. 3 overall at $186 million in 2018 and No. 5 overall at $196 million in 2019.

BACKGROUND: A founding member of the Guggenheim Baseball Management Group, Kasten has been on several team ownership committees throughout his career. In 1999, he became the first executive to serve as president of three teams in three major sports simultaneously, leading Atlanta’s MLB Braves, NBA Hawks and NHL Thrashers. Prior to the Dodgers, Kasten was president of the Washington Nationals from 2006 to 2010.


Kotick, Bobby — Activision Blizzard Inc.

THE LATEST: The head of the video game giant that created the “Call of Duty,” “Candy Crush” and “Overwatch” franchises made news recently when he gave out his personal phone number to 10,000 workers and encouraged them to contact him if they had health care concerns in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. Despite the global pandemic, Kotick said that production of games “remains on track.”

BACKGROUND: Kotick has been chief executive of Activision since 1991. The creation of “Overwatch” in 2016 led to the launch of a 12-team professional esports league. Kotick is on the boards of Coca-Cola Co., the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Center for Early Education and Harvard-Westlake School. He is also the founder of the Call of Duty Endowment, a nonprofit that helps military veterans find high-quality careers. He was a director at Yahoo! from 2003 to 2008. Kotick began his tech career while attending the University of Michigan.


Kroenke, Stan — Los Angeles Rams

THE LATEST: Kroenke, the L.A. Business Journal’s 2020 Business Person of the Year, is preparing to open his $5 billion SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, which is being built completely with private financing on the site of the former Hollywood Park race track. Since the start of construction, more than $633 million in certified construction contracts were given to 95-plus minority and disadvantaged businesses across the region. In addition, the project has led to more than $84 million in wages earned by local area residents

BACKGROUND: A real estate and sports mogul, Kroenke became principal owner of the St. Louis Rams in 2010 and in 2016 returned the team to Los Angeles after a 21-year absence. His company, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, also owns the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and a majority of U.K.-based Arsenal Football Club. Kroenke owns the Los Angeles Gladiators of the Overwatch League, and part of the new SoFi Stadium complex is set up to host esports tournaments.


Laurent, Nicolo — Riot Games Inc.

THE LATEST: West L.A.-based Riot Games, co-founded by USC friends Brandon Beck and Marc Merrill, remains best known for the “League of Legends” esports video game and global tournaments. In the past 12 months, Riot has developed new titles such as “League of Legends: Wild Rift” for multiplayer online battle arena games on Android, iOS and consoles as well as “Legends of Runeterra,” a digital collectable-card game. It also plans this summer to launch “VALORANT,” a first-person shooter game that has drawn rave reviews in beta testing.

BACKGROUND: Born and educated in France, with an MBA from the ESSEC Business School, Laurent lived in Seoul, Dublin and Hong Kong before moving to Los Angeles to head up Riot Games in 2017. Prior to that, he spent seven years as the company’s vice president of international business, followed by nine months as its president of global publishing.


Schloessman, Kathryn — Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission

THE LATEST: Schloessman oversees day-to-day operations for the nonprofit LASEC, which was founded in 1995 and partners with the city’s tourism and convention board to attract major events. Among the events Schloessman has helped secure for Los Angeles are the Super Bowl for 2022, the College Football Playoff National Championship game in 2023 and WrestleMania in 2021, all set for the new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. She also worked to help land the 2023 U.S. Open golf championship at the Los Angeles Country Club. In addition, Schloessman has worked with the L.A. venues that will be used for the 2026 World Cup soccer tournament and the 2028 Summer Olympics.

BACKGROUND: Before joining LASEC, Schloessman spent 13 years at CB Commercial, where she was managing officer of the company’s downtown office, overseeing business development, operations, management and community-relations efforts. Schloessman has a BS in business from USC, which she attended at the same time as future Lakers owner Jeanie Buss.


Shanks, Eric — Fox Sports

THE LATEST: Shanks oversees Century City-based operations for one of the most powerful brands in sports television. He recently helped Fox secure a coveted Thursday-night package of primetime NFL games and extended the company’s national deals with Major League Baseball through 2028. Shanks also added WWE programming to Fox’s Friday prime-time schedule. In 2018 he guided the network’s World Cup coverage from Russia.

BACKGROUND: Shanks became the youngest executive to lead a broadcast network sports division in 2010, when Fox promoted him at age 38. Previously, he was executive vice president for entertainment at DirecTV (2004-2010), where he helped invent the popular RedZone Channel. He originally joined Fox Sports in 1994, the broadcaster’s first NFL season. The Sports Business Journal recently ranked Shanks and Fox Sports national network president Michael Silverman as the fourth most influential people in sports, behind the commissioners of NFL, NBA and MLB.


Spanos, Dean — Los Angeles Chargers

THE LATEST: Spanos’ Los Angeles Chargers are in a state of transition. The team is preparing for its move from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson into the new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. After a disappointing 5-11 season in 2019, the Chargers parted ways with quarterback Philip Rivers, a 16-year veteran and the franchise’s passing leader. Since Spanos moved the team to L.A. from San Diego in 2017, the Chargers have a 26-22 record under head coach Anthony Lynn.

BACKGROUND: The 69-year-old Spanos, who attended the University of the Pacific, heads the family-owned organization with the help of sons John (president of football operations) and A.G. (president of business operations). He is the son of the late Alex Spanos, who purchased the Chargers in 1984. Dean took over daily operations of the team in 1994. He was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2012, 16 years after his father received it.


Walter, Mark — Los Angeles Dodgers

THE LATEST: Walter’s Guggenheim Baseball Management company invested $300 million in upgrades to Dodger Stadium ahead of the now-delayed 2020 season. The Dodgers were also scheduled to host MLB’s All-Star Game in July. In its latest estimate of baseball franchises, Forbes valued the Dodgers at $3.4 billion, making them the sport’s second-most valuable team.

BACKGROUND: Walter holds a law degree from Northwestern but went into finance instead. As co-founder and chief executive of Guggenheim Partners, Walter led the group that acquired the Dodgers in 2012 for $2.15 billion in cash. His team started with Peter Guber, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Stan Kasten, Todd Boehly and Bobby Patton and added tennis legend Billie Jean King and her partner, Ilana Kloss, in 2018. In 2014, Walter’s company also bought the WNBA’s Sparks, which won the 2016 title.


Wasserman, Casey — Wasserman Media Group

THE LATEST: As the leader of the LA28 organizing committee, Wasserman oversees the $7 billion budget that the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Olympics will require. He also continues to expand his sports agency, which represents more than 1,300 athletes around the globe. The Wasserman Foundation, meanwhile, has helped fund the Academy Museum, which is scheduled to open later this year.

BACKGROUND: In 2002, the UCLA graduate and grandson of Hollywood mogul Lew Wasserman started Wasserman Media Group, a sports, entertainment and lifestyle marketing and management agency representing brands, properties and talent. In addition to running “Team Wass,” as the agency is also called, Wasserman purchased the Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena Football League, serving as the league’s chairman in the early 2000s. He also serves as president and chief executive of the Wasserman Foundation, started in 1952 by his grandparents.


West, Jerry — Los Angeles Clippers

THE LATEST: Before the start of the 2019-2020 season, West helped bring two Southern California natives and NBA superstars — Paul George and NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard — to Los Angeles. The moves overhauled the Clippers’ roster and immediately moved the team into championship contention. West also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom last September.

BACKGROUND: The 81-year-old Basketball Hall of Famer joined the Clippers as a special advisor in 2017. He was a 14-time All-Star in the 1960s and 1970s with the Lakers, where he also served as coach, general manager and executive vice president of basketball operations. West built the Lakers’ “Showtime” teams of the 1980s, then combined Kobe Bryant with Shaquille O’Neal to secure championships in the 2000s. A two-time NBA Executive of the Year, West has eight titles on his resume as an executive, including championships in 2015 and 2017 with the Golden State Warriors.


Zucker, Gillian — Los Angeles Clippers

THE LATEST: With the Clippers emerging as an NBA title contender, Zucker was named co-winner of the 2019 Executive of the Year by the L.A. Sports Council, which said she “completely reinvented the Clippers brand and transformed the organization’s culture.” Zucker was included in the 2019 Top Women in Sports list by media company Cynopsis, with the organization spotlighting how she “transformed the in-arena entertainment and developed new experiences for every segment of the Clippers’ audience.” Zucker helped spearhead the launch of the Clippers’ CourtVision digital broadcast product and a partnership with mobile app Bumble.

BACKGROUND: Zucker was named president of business operations by the NBA team in 2014 after nine years as president of the Auto Club Speedway in Ontario. She has served on the boards of the California Chamber, California Travel and Tourism Commission, L.A. Convention Center Commission, L.A. Sports and Entertainment Commission, Young Presidents Organization and L.A. Recreation and Parks Foundation. She graduated from Hamilton College in 1990.


See the full LA500 list and features in the 2020 LA500 Special Edition.

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