The Sports Entrepreneurs Podcast by Marcus Luer

Sophie Goldschmidt, “From Tennis, Basketball, Rugby to Surfing”

April 1, 2021

Sophie Goldschmidt, has been recognized as one of the most influential/powerful Women in sports by multiple publications/organizations from Forbes, Adweek, Leaders in Sport, Sports Business, etc, working across the globe in leadership and senior positions from the WTA, NBA, England Rugby to the World Surf League.  All very different sports, with different opportunities and challenges along the way.  Great stories and learning from her exciting career over the past 20 years.


Key Highlights

  1. Journey from Baylor University playing NCAA tennis and landing at Adidas USA in Portland
  2. Working in the Adidas Tennis division, Indian Wells, Roland Garros, dealing with top players from Hingis to Kournikova,  Henman, Safin, etc
  3. Moving to WTA during the time the William sisters, Sharapova all becoming big stars, working with Larry Scott in the commercial and marketing space
      1. Sony Ericsson WTA Tour – US$ 88 million  (5-6 year deal) – breakthrough deal
      2. Porsche, Lotto, Wilson and Eurosport deal
      3. Moved WTA Year end final from LA to Madrid – new commercial deals
  4. Next stop, the NBA in NYC – David Stern and Adam Silver, tennis fans too - made connection through tennis and then moving into this new sport 
  5. Moved back to London as Managing Director EMEA, establishing NBA operations in Europe, Middle East and Africa – more decentralized operations, opening offices in Moscow, Milan, Istanbul, Jo-burg, etc
  6. Over 70 players from Europe in the League already at that time, NBA League Pass (OTT), finding new local marketing partners (sponsors), 
  7. “Basketball without Borders” across South Africa and other countries, grassroots development, something the NBA is very good at – Leading up to potential NBA League in Africa
  8. Long terms view,  “one kid at a time” convert from kicking to bouncing a ball  (David Stern)
  9. Opportunity to join England Rugby (RFU) as Chief Commercial & Marketing Officer – passion for the sport from her dad – opportunity for the sport following the very successful London Olympics and leading up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup in the UK
  10. First female board member at the RFU (also became the first female board member of the PGA European Tour during that time), evolved the brand and more progressive approach to sponsors, driving commercial and engagement with fans 
  11. CVC new investment into Rugby and her thoughts on it – new resources and more independent strategic thinking for the sport
  12. Joined the agency world at CSM – getting a look into the agency world
  13. Moving back to the US with the World Surf League as CEO – sport accepted into the Olympics, new wave technology with Kelly Slater Wave Company, etc
  14. Turning the challenge of the unpredictability of the weather (waves) into an opportunity, streaming vs linear TV, early digital adoption, less focus on live, lifestyle brand 
  15. Elevator pitch – as many surfers than golfers (over 400 million) in the world, beautiful location and people doing amazing things, highly engaged audience (sponsors from Corona to Airbnb)
  16. Big educational process, understanding and interest depending on the markets, Brazil is huge 
  17. Sophie continues on the WSL Advisory Board, in addition to new roles now as an Advisor in sports, media, tech, health & fitness including; as a business partner to the new connected Home Health & Fitness Platform (Tersa), LOVB volleyball, MIXhalo, Egoli, Racquet Publishing, Pamos and as Board Governor for the International Tennis Hall of Fame


About Sophie Goldschmidt

Sophie is a dynamic, senior, global leader with broad and deep proven experience in sports, entertainment, media and technology. Throughout her career she has been at the forefront of globalizing and innovating sports and entertainment properties.

Most recently she was CEO of the World Surf League (WSL) and previously in leadership, commercial and marketing roles at the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), the Rugby Football Union (RFU), the PGA European TourAdidas and the global sports marketing & entertainment agency CSM.

Sophie is a member of the WSL Advisory Board and business partner for Tersa. She also currently advises Egoli, LOVB, MIXhalo, Racquet Publishing, Pamos, round21, West 10th, Sportable and McKinsey, is a mentor for Techstars and a Member of the Board of Governors for the International Tennis Hall of Fame.


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