Josh Swartz spent a lot of time playing Zelda when he was younger, and he might have made the NBA if he were a little bit taller. Okay a lot taller. And more athletic. It’s probably for the best, though, because not making it led him to find other ways to stay in the game. Following a political science degree from UC Berkeley, and a JD from Harvard Law School, he spent twenty-or-so years working on the agency side of the sports world. As employee number two and COO of Wasserman, Swartz helped build their now legendary stick and ball sports representation business, as well as overseeing strategy and corporate governance. He later went on to serve as President of Relativity Sports, where he oversaw day-to-day operations as well as each specific sport division and over 400 clients in total. Ultimately he realized, though, that even though fanbases grew and shifted between sports, the number of teams, and thus players (and potential clients) stayed static. It’s a good business, but it isn’t evolving, he would say.
When he co-founded Catalyst Sports & Media, he was intent upon focusing on growing markets, and specifically esports. Beyond helping major corporate brands find their way into “the game,” through Catalyst’s esports practice he led over 35 acquisitions and investments in early stage sports and media companies, including Super League Gaming, Ateyo, FanAI, and numerous major league team entries into the world of esports. Josh sees the business of esports, competitive gaming, and digital interactive entertainment at large as a quickly growing space with near limitless potential. The barriers to entry being so low, relative to traditional sports, means that operating successfully is much more a question of being best practiced than it is about being best resourced. Further, because of where the content comes from, there are more opportunities to be innovative than there are in traditional sport verticals where more entrenched views of “the way things have to be” tend to reign supreme.