It has been a week since Brian Lee and Derek Jeter launched Arena Club, an incredible platform built for collectors to buy, sell, grade and trade. While this is my first post after leading the seed round a year ago, the news is already out via The Today Show, WSJ, Bloomberg and others so I wanted simply to say thank you to the team, our partners and the amazing Brian Lee. I have been blessed to be a VC for over 20 years and it has become clear to me that there is one fundamental truth: this is a people business but more than that, it’s a relationship, friendship and fun business. The Arena Club team is incredibly unique with a company builder like Jesse, a passionate marketing person like Warren, a passionate product person like Alan and Derek. While I had not met ‘The Captain’ before this project, he has proved to be much more than just an iconic, legendary hall of fame baseball player. He is a visionary entrepreneur at heart who is thoughtful, smart, kind and gracious with partners, customers and literally everyone he meets — even an annoying A’s fan who still holds him responsible for losing the 2001 ALDS.
Finally, there is only one Brian Lee, literally the finest renaissance man I know — an incredible CEO, spectacular investor, great person, awesome husband and fabulous father. He has built, from scratch, LegalZoom, ShoeDazzle, The Honest Company, Art of Sport and now Arena Club. With each, unlike most CEO’s, his unique humility led him to put his partners Robert Shapiro, Kim Kardashian, Jessica Alba, Kobe Bryant and now DJ to receive most of the attention. He treats everyone with kindness and respect. Brian is antithetical to the leaders who put themselves in front of partners, employees and investors. We first met over a decade ago and since then I have had the honor of investing in him three times, he joined defy.vc as a Sage and perhaps more importantly, we have had fun together. From ballgames, getting our families together or just sharing a meal, I value our friendship above anything else.
I have been close to the other board members of Arena Club for 34 years in total (Brian — 12, Jeremy Liew — 21, Derek — 0) which makes this a special investment because I get to work with some amazing people, hopefully help in some way and have some fun along the way. Thank you to the Arena Club team for all you have built and for the brilliant future ahead.