In the course of meetings with business and civic leaders here over the last couple of weeks, California technology businessman Robert Pera has decided it would be a good idea to bring local partners into his bid to purchase the Memphis Grizzlies.
That’s according to a source working with Pera, who along with some of his associates has visited the city recently. They’ve met and talked with key business leaders like Duncan Williams, president of local investment firm Duncan-Williams Inc., and earlier in July Pera – the founder of Ubiquiti Networks Inc. – had dinner with AutoZone Inc. founder J.R. “Pitt” Hyde.
Pera’s initial bid for the team envisioned him as the sole owner, though it was understood that could be amended to add local partners.
“We are getting to know people, actively listening to hear what’s important to the community, and starting to feel the heartbeat of Memphis,” said a source working with Pera. “Based on what we’ve learned so far, Robert thinks having local owners in the deal would be good for the Grizzlies and good for Memphis.”
It’s a response to one of the common refrains Pera and his associates picked up on while hearing from Memphians firsthand – a fear that the new owner might have intentions to move the team elsewhere.
“We are getting to know people, actively listening to hear what’s important to the community, and starting to feel the heartbeat of Memphis.”
–A source working with Robert Pera
At a recent NBA Board of Governors meeting in Las Vegas, league commissioner David Stern said Pera’s bid “is proceeding on pace, and we hope in the next couple of months to be able to approve that.”
In an entry on his personal blog July 27, Pera made reference to his dinner with the AutoZone founder, describing Hyde as “just an overall impressive, humble and great person.” Pera also recalled Hyde telling him about his time serving on the board of directors of Walmart in the early days of the retail giant.
In describing the conversation with Hyde, the blog entry does not mention the Grizzlies. Pera and his associates are limited by the league in what they can say about the deal, the team or the league.
Among the details the blog entry did share, Hyde told Pera that Walmart founder Sam Walton used to pick him up from the airport in a run-down car and take him to the retailer’s offices. There, they’d prop up a table and chairs to have a board meeting.
Hyde’s retelling apparently struck a chord with Pera, because in his blog he goes on to walk through Walmart’s initial vision of serving underserved communities where larger store chains didn’t think they’d make enough money. Pera says his own company’s mission is extremely similar to the one that unfolded in the early days of Walmart.
That’s because a large part of Ubiquiti’s business lies in chasing opportunities in emerging markets. According to an analyst with Wunderlich Securities Inc., network operators are using Ubiquiti solutions to deliver broadband to underserved consumers, a market that represents about two-thirds of the world’s population.