The billionaire owners of the Brooklyn Nets of the NBA seek to improve the performances of the best athletes in the world, and the rest of us too.
Today Joe and Clara Tsai made their debut Wu Tsai Human Performance Alliance, a foundation to take the latest technologies and biotechnologies off the bench and put them into the field.
“There have been huge advancements in body imaging, bioengineering and AI, but none of them have been applied to athletic and athletic performance,” says Clara Wu Tsai, founder of the ‘alliance. “Being close to the athletes, we noticed that there hasn’t been a lot of innovation in the areas of healing and training, which is because most of the funding from government agencies is focused on diseases. “
The couple, who amassed a fortune of $ 11 billion through their stake in tech titan Alibaba, pledged $ 220 million to the foundation that will fund teams of experts and academics from the University of Stanford, University of Kansas, University of Oregon, UC San Diego. , Boston Children’s Hospital and the Salk Institute. “You can get breakthroughs when you cross ideas among people who don’t usually meet,” says Wu Tsai. “They are leading clinicians, athletes and practitioners who work with the scientists of the depths.”
Wu Tsai is clear that although she owns one of the most prominent teams in the NBA, the goal of the new nonprofit is to make significant strides in physical performance that will eventually combat the effects. disease, injury and aging. “It’s not a Nets thing. It’s a scientific question. It’s about intense research and translating it into the real world, creating real diets, clothes and products that will improve everyday life.
Wu Tsai’s husband, Joseph Tsai, a former corporate lawyer, co-founded Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba in 1999. Today, Alibaba’s market capitalization exceeds $ 550 billion. The Tsai used $ 1 billion of their windfall to buy 49% of the Brooklyn Nets in 2017. In 2019, Tsai bought the rest of the team from Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, as well as the operating rights to Barclay’s Center, in a deal valued at around $ 3.3 billion. at the time. Tsai also owns the WNBA’s New York Liberty and a professional lacrosse team, the San Diego Seals.
Off the field, the Tsai have generously donated to philanthropists supporting brain research and social justice. In August 2020, they pledged $ 50 million to create a social justice fund aimed at tackling systemic racism and promoting economic mobility in Brooklyn.
“I grew up in Kansas as the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants. They came to the United States for economic opportunities and the ideals of democracy,” says Wu Tsai, who later graduated from the University of Stanford and Harvard Business School. “But the country’s inequalities have become exposed and democracy does not treat everyone the same.”
Tsai’s Social Justice Fund has launched pilot programs around the Nets’ home court in hopes of scaling successful models across the country. One of the first experiments was a $ 2.5 million interest-free loan program for black-owned businesses struggling to stay open during the pandemic shutdown. “I listened a lot to understand the gaps and see how we could meet the most urgent needs of the community,” says Wu Tsai. “We learned that the biggest problem was access to capital, and we grabbed it. We didn’t want to waste time designing a complex program, but starting something that could have an impact quickly.”
Wu Tsai says they are currently developing metrics to study the impact of loans and are planning a similar testing program for Brooklyn start-ups. According to Wu Tsai, “You want to leverage your platform and find where you can bring unique value or unique ideas. This goes hand in hand with why we chose the areas on which to focus our giving. “