London, January 22nd, 2024 (Mercury/13 via 50NewsWire) — Mario Malav (31), a tech entrepreneur, Harvard and Forbes 30 Under 30 alum, and former VP of Sports Betting at Yahoo Sports, will split CEO duties with Victoire Cogevina Reynal (32), a global advocate for women's football and former VP of Womens Football at Onefootball. The collaboration marks an important step for Mercury/13 in its ambition to build the worlds leading multi-club ownership group in womens football.
Mario was previously the CEO and co-founder of Wagr, a sports betting startup acquired by Yahoo Sports in April 2023 that focused on making gaming social, safe, and accessible and was the first social sports betting operator to receive a license in the US. Following the acquisition, Mario became the VP of Sports Betting at Yahoo Sports and oversaw the full integration of his team.
As Wagrs CEO, Mario raised over $16M across three rounds and was backed by some of the worlds leading sports and technology investors, including: Seven Seven Six, led by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, Greycroft, Pear Ventures, BITKRAFT Ventures, the Kraft Group, owners of the New England Patriots and New England Revolution, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, owners of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, among others.
In joining Mercury/13, Mario is embracing a new challenge by venturing into women's football, citing it as an exciting opportunity to build in a space that has incredible potential and is close to both his and Victoires heart.
The duo, who originally met in 2020 because they shared the same lead investor in their respective startups (Ohanian), are joined by the common belief that womens football has an opportunity to grow itself more sustainably, creatively, and rapidly than the mens game historically has. Their ambition is to establish Mercury/13 as a leading multi-club ownership group in women's football by acquiring clubs and supercharging their commercial viability.
Women's football is not just an exciting business opportunity; it's become an incredibly powerful gender equality movement. However, to succeed, we must shape its future not in opposition to men but in collaboration with them. Gender parity in leadership is not just an empty statement: both Mario and I want Mercury/13 to showcase what a diverse leadership team can achieve said Victoire. Marios world-class experience as an investor and founder, coupled with his deep passion and knowledge in football, made him the obvious partner to build Mercury/13 with, she added.
After overseeing the full integration of his team into Yahoo, Mario departed in October 2023 and joined Victoire Cogevina in the pursuit of a bold vision redefining football club ownership by embracing a massive yet overlooked audience: women.
"Unlike other investors in the space, we're intentionally focusing our efforts in Europe and Latin America, where we see more compelling risk-reward dynamics and valuations that are still lagging US comparables despite ample upside potential said Mario. "As the recent growth in NWSL valuations has proven, investors can reset price expectations very quickly once they recalibrate their growth assumptions. We see all the right ingredients for something similar to happen in Europe if clubs and leagues can execute correctly. We want to help catalyze that growth in the markets we enter.
Drawing from their experience as successful startup founders in the sports space, Victoire and Mario are joining efforts to embark on a new journey together with conviction that womens football is at an inflexion point that will transform the sports landscape. With an ambition to invest up to $100M over time, Mercury/13 is currently focusing its investment efforts in Europe and LatAm.
The duo epitomizes a complementary leadership model, with each Co-CEO spearheading distinct facets of the organization. Malav, with his background in business and investments, will oversee Mercury/13s investments, business strategy, and football operations, while Cogevina will commandeer all commercial, marketing, and brand efforts across the portfolio.
About Mario Malav:
A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Mario began his journey in the U.S. at 16. He graduated in 2013 with majors in Economics and Political Science magna cum laude. His first job was as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley, where he focused on cross-border M&A transactions across Latin America before transitioning to the firms renowned Technology Group in Menlo Park. Fascinated by technology and early-stage investing, Mario joined Playground Ventures, a deep-tech venture capital fund with $800M AUM, where he oversaw the execution of 40+ deals before pursuing an MBA at Harvard Business School.
At HBS, Mario combined his passion for sports and entrepreneurship, leading a European Football trek and working with the Los Angeles Football Club. Before graduating, he co-founded Wagr, a venture-backed sports betting startup that raised over $16M from world-class investors and was acquired by Yahoo Sports in April 2023. Following the acquisition, Mario became the VP of Sports Betting at Yahoo Sports, making him one of the youngest VPs in the company. After overseeing his teams integration, he joined Mercury/13 as a co-founder and co-CEO.
Mercury/13 is a multi-club ownership group focused on acquiring controlling stakes in professional women's football teams in Europe and Latin America. The group aims to invest 100 million dollars in womens football over the coming years. The vision is to become the industry standard of womens football ownership, by identifying and investing in the next decades super clubs and fueling their commercial power to attract a massive, yet underserved, market: women.
The group's acquisition strategy is based on the fundamental principle that women's football is a different game, and fans want a different experience. The name Mercury/13 is a tribute to the 13 women who were not allowed to work for NASA on the basis of their gender back in 1960. The program that would carry a spacecraft manned only by women was canceled in 1961. The authorities at the time did not believe that women alone could achieve the goal.
Alejandra S Depalma
View source version on newsdirect.com: https://newsdirect.com/news/mercury-13-unveils-co-ceo-alliance-mario-malave-and-victoire-cogevina-aim-to-transform-womens-football-club-ownership-702694137
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