Qualtrics founder Ryan Smith and his wife Ashley are officially the new majority owners of the Jazz, the team announced today in a press release. Smith was able to formally complete the purchase of a majority stake in the franchise after being unanimously approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors.
“Ryan Smith is a forward-thinking, community-minded entrepreneur and business leader who will be a fantastic addition to our league,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement, following the Board of Governors’ vote. “As a life-long fan of the Utah Jazz and more recently as one of their key marketing partners, Ryan has demonstrated his deep commitment to the Jazz and the Utah community and there’s no doubt he will bring that same level of dedication to the operation of the team.”
Gail Miller and the Miller family reached an agreement in October to sell a majority share of the Jazz to Smith, with a valuation of $1.66 billion. The now-official transaction also included Vivint Arena, the Salt Lake City Stars, and management operations of the Salt Lake Bees, a Triple-A baseball team.
The Millers have retained a minority stake in the team, while tech entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brookes and venture capitalist Ryan Sweeney have also been announced as minority owners, according to the Jazz.
Smith, a Utah native, told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon that he was “really close” to making a bid to buy the Timberwolves before Ashley objected.
“With my wife, something wasn’t right. She was putting her foot down,” Ryan said. “She was like, ‘You know we’re Jazz fans, right? That’s what we do, and I’m not moving.’ She doesn’t put her foot down very often, but it was a nice reminder that I was kind of getting caught up in this other world because I liked the business side of it.”
As MacMahon writes, part of the agreement calls for the Jazz to remain in Utah, but that was never a question for Smith, who has been a lifelong fan of the franchise and had courtside seats before reaching an agreement to purchase a controlling share of the team.