About Boardroom

Boardroom is a media network that covers the business of sports, entertainment. From the ways that athletes, executives, musicians and creators are moving the business world forward to new technologies, emerging leagues, and industry trends, Boardroom brings you all the news and insights you need to know...

At the forefront of industry change, Boardroom is committed to unique perspectives on and access to the news, trending topics and key players you need to know.

All Rights Reserved. 2022.

Kara Nortman & Monarch Collective Eyeing a Huge Impact on Women’s Sports

Last Updated: July 1, 2023
Nortman discusses the Monarch Collective, her new women’s sports investment fund, the possibility of buying a WNBA team, and more with Boardroom.

Angel City FC co-founder and former Upfront Ventures managing founder Kara Nortman wears two necklaces, both with significant meaning to her.

The first features a basketball, given to her when she was 13 years old by her grandmother after receiving it in the Bronx in 1930. The second is a butterfly Nortman started regularly wearing just 15 months ago, but it is the inspiration for the name of Monarch Collective, an investment fund focused solely on women’s sports that announced a $100 million funding round on Monday.

The monarch has a few significant meanings to the groundbreaking investor. It signifies all the butterfly effects and chaos theory Nortman believes leads to the best things in life, including Monarch Collective co-founder Jasmine Robinson and what guided her to decide to dedicate her life to women’s sports and the founding of Angel City, the NWSL‘s crown jewel that aspires to be the first $1 billion women’s sports team. The second element of the monarch is a double entendre about building new institutions and new kinds of monarchies.

“I believe in the yin and the yang of men and women coming together — black, brown and white, gay and straight, rural and urban,” Nortman told Boardroom “And in women’s sports, we can actually build these new kinds of monarchies from a place of understanding what a modern world would require.”

Sign up for our newsletter

Get on our list for weekly sports business, industry trends, interviews, and more.

Nortman, Robinson, and Monarch have compiled a diverse list of investors and advisors that include Billie Jean King, former Netflix executive Cindy Holland, CapitalG managing partner Laela Sturdy, EQT Partners’ Marc Brown, SoftBank Investment Advisers managing partner Lydia Jett, San Francisco 49ers president Paraag Marathe, and Becca Roux, the president of the US Women’s National Team Players Association. Monarch plans to spend money in places that will make both profit and impact where more people will be interested in putting additional dollars into women’s sports in creative ways that recognize the value of diversity in both the C-suite and the cap table.

Monarch will focus on sports that are at the beginning of what Nortman believes are at the beginning of getting more visibility and revenue with a broader distribution. That includes sports like soccer, basketball, cycling, racing, tennis, golf, rugby, and cricket.

“They’ll be heavily featured there because the world wants to watch it, which we believe creates a virtuous cycle and high-margin revenue,” she said.

While the focus will be initially on sports in North America and Europe, Nortman’s Monarch — which formed at the beginning of the year — already received a proposal from outside those two continents that was more intriguing than she anticipated. Monarch could’ve raised more than $100 million but stayed at this current size to build a concentrated hands-on portfolio where it can be involved on the business side as a partner while also helping controlling owners or other businesses who’d want the collective’s particular skill set.

“We wanted it to be big enough to have a concentrated portfolio, but small enough that we could be creative in how we put coalitions together and create co-investment opportunities either alongside us or with other large funds and family offices that exist,” Nortman said.” So I think there’s an opportunity to put a lot more than a hundred to work, and we’ve had an opportunity to potentially take a lot more than that in. “We think this is sort of the right size to start to be really focused on getting in business with the right people.”

35V co-founder and CEO Rich Kleiman and Angel City FC co-founder Kara Nortman at Fast Company’s Innovation Festival. (Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Fast Company)

Could those right people include the WNBA? While W commissioner Cathy Engelbert said last month that the league is still 2-4 years away from expansion, that won’t stop speculation from building that the co-founder of one of the most successful expansion teams in the US in some time would want to make a WNBA club her next huge project.

“We have a high interest in the W,” Nortman said. “We think it’s one of the special opportunities in the United States. So our interest is really high. We’re at a stage where we are definitely trying to listen, learn, and meet with the right people and figure out the right way to get involved.” 

Nortman said addressing which cities she may be interested in pursuing a WNBA expansion team are premature, currently more focused on getting in business with people and companies who really want to drive innovation and value collaboration. The next big step for Monarch Collective is making its first investment, which Nortman hopes to achieve sometime in 2023.

“We’d love to work collaboratively and really get to know more of the owners, spend more time with the owners in global soccer leagues and the basketball league here,” Nortman said. “We’d love to meet with as many people who are thinking about doing something creative and ambitious in other sports as possible, talking to all of our co-collaborators and do a lot of listening and really figuring out where, in a very kind of concentrated portfolio, how we can be incredibly thoughtful about setting ourselves up to drive extraordinary returns financially and make a huge impact.”

More Women’s Sports Stories:

About The Author
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung is a Senior Staff Writer at Boardroom. He has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with past work appearing in Forbes, MLB.com, Awful Announcing, and The Sporting News. He graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2011, and his Twitter and Spotify addictions are well under control. Just ask him.