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About the project

Leading entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and global venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA) have formed an investment partnership called Connect Ventures. With access to CAA’s unmatched resources, relationships, and expertise spanning the global entertainment and sports landscape, combined with the deep investing and company building expertise of NEA’s world-class technology practice, Connect Ventures will identify and accelerate the growth of early-stage consumer-focused businesses, with an initial focus on supporting and enhancing a post-COVID-19 environment.

“Connect Ventures is uniquely positioned to identify and support the most innovative entrepreneurs, helping accelerate the growth of their businesses by providing access to the expertise, knowledge, and relationships of both CAA and NEA,” said Richard Lovett, President, CAA. “Connect Ventures will be deeply integrated into CAA’s ecosystem to help unlock new opportunities in service of our clients.”

CAA is the world’s leading entertainment and sports agency. Recognized for its unmatched client roster of premier artists, athletes, and blue-chip brands, and category leadership in filmed entertainment, live performance, sports, and other areas of representation, CAA has long built upon its collaborative approach to client service to expand its resources and expertise into a multitude of new business areas. CAA Sports is the preeminent sports representation firm, with more than 2,000 athlete, on-air talent, and coaching clients, and the leader in the areas of media advisory, brand consulting, property sales and sponsorship, and owner's representation and strategic management consulting for public/private sports and entertainment facility owners and operations, professional franchises, and leagues.

“In creating Connect Ventures, we’re bringing together two proven platforms built on decades of experience to unlock a really exciting opportunity set that is emerging at the intersection of culture and commerce, as well as data and software,” said Tony Florence, General Partner and Head of Technology Investing at NEA. “Heightened consumer demand for new ways to explore, engage and transact across nearly all categories of daily life will give rise to powerful new creative tools and distribution platforms—a trend already underway but accelerated as a result of the global health crisis.”

NEA is one of the world’s largest venture capital firms, investing in technology and healthcare companies across multiple sectors, stages and geographies. Across more than four decades, NEA has been a pioneering force in the venture capital industry’s evolution and has helped to build hundreds of successful businesses, with historic investments in seminal software companies like Salesforce, Tableau Software and Workday as well as next-generation consumer-facing companies like Jet.com, Snap, and Uber. Currently investing out of its $3.6 billion NEA 17 fund, NEA’s current portfolio reflects the firm’s growing focus on commerce, media and entertainment with investments in BuzzFeed, Coursera, Goop, Houzz, Masterclass, Moda Operandi and Robinhood.

Rick Yang, General Partner and Head of Consumer Investing at NEA, will spearhead the firm’s activities and investments related to this new joint venture. Michael Blank has been elevated to Head of Consumer Investments at CAA and will lead a cross-departmental agency team to guide the agency's involvement in Connect Ventures.

Connect Ventures launches with an investment in Spire Animation Studios, a new feature animation studio from Brad Lewis, producer of the Academy Award-winning Ratatouille, and technology and media entrepreneur P.J. Gunsagar. Spire Studios will empower world-class creative and technical talent from all mediums to develop high-end animated entertainment for global audiences. The company is building proprietary next generation technology that will enable smaller production teams to interact more closely with the director, crew, and story teams. Spire Studios plans to release its first full-length animated feature in 2023.

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