Football superstar Lionel Messi has created “Play Time,” a holding company to invest in sports, technology, and media.
Play Time will be headquartered in San Francisco, California, and will be headed by Armenian-American entrepreneur Razmig Hovaghimian, who is a partner at venture capital firm Graph Ventures. Michael Marquez will be a special adviser; he is a founding partner of investment bank Code Advisors LLC.
The holding company will be Messi’s main investment vehicle and will also be looking into taking stakes in sports teams and investing in football-tech companies.
Lionel Messi, the Argentine professional football/soccer player who is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. The Argentine captain says, “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 revealed that it has already incubated Hovaghimian’s other startup called Matchday.com, a still-stealth-mode games studio for football fans that plans to launch before the FIFA World Cup in November. In addition, it’s made its first seed-stage investment in AC Momento, which auctions match-worn football shirts sourced from clubs and players.
“From the time I met Leo and the Messi family in 2017, it was clear that their vision for the future is bold,” said Hovaghimian, adding, “They want to continue to have a direct and lasting impact on and off the pitch.”
Hovaghimian said, “We’re all in, starting by building a strong bridge between football’s 5B fans and technology.”
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 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.