By: Jonah Sharf
Peter Guber is perhaps best-known as the co-owner of the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Dodgers, as well as for being the CEO and Chairman of Mandalay Entertainment. He has been a producer for numerous blockbusters such as Rain Man and 1989’s Batman, respectively, but despite all of his success, at 76 years old he is still looking into new ventures. Guber has always been one to talk about the next big thing, looking to stay ahead of the industry and keep innovating.
“The expression I use is ‘CAN I,’ constant and never ending innovation,” Guber said. “I believe you’re either an agent for change, or you’re changed and discarded, self-discarded or discarded by your profession.”
So, in order to keep himself afloat and successful in a cutthroat business, Guber has made moves like becoming co-owner and the executive chairman of LAFC, purchased an esports team, Team Liquid, and invested in and became chairman of the advisory board of NextVR.
Guber has also maintained his innovative nature in LAFC’s first regional broadcasting deal—instead of making a deal with a more common TV channel, LAFC’s matches are televised on YouTube TV. This is the first deal in North American sports where all live matches for a team will be on a TV streaming service.
Along with innovation and staying ahead of the game, Guber stresses constant change and the lack of fear of failure as other keys to his success.
“The fuel for success is the idea of never being satisfied with the status quo, but always trying to reach a little farther,” he said.
Both LAFC and Team Liquid seem to be successful at the moment, as LAFC is currently in third place in the western conference in its inaugural season, and Team Liquid’s Dota team won The International in 2017 and most recently the China Dota2 Supermajor.
While virtual reality doesn’t have as tangible a way of qualifying how well it is doing as a sports or esports team does, NextVR seems to be making a strong impression, as well. The company is trying to change the way most live events like concerts and sporting events are experienced, and to bring VR into the mainstream as a way to take in these live events.
Not only is NextVR trying to make virtual reality a household appliance as common as a TV, but they are trying to make a VR experience of a live event a more participation-based way to digest a sporting event. This is something that Guber has believed in for a long time, comparing the audiences of sporting events to the audiences of television, films, and music.
“The audience in sports, they aren’t passengers, but participants—they do make a difference in the outcome,” Guber said. “In sports the outcome is always different, the variation of the outcome brings a different experience, so you encourage that and deliver on that promise and that premise, and you get loyal, rabid fans.”
Guber is of the opinion that sports is already one of the more participatory forms of entertainment, and that this experience can only be improved by further developments and popularization of VR technology.
NextVR also gives fans the opportunity to not only be more of a part of the experience, but also to bring fans closer to the action and give them more control over how they view the event and how they experience it.
It is hard to say now whether NextVR or VR in general will make as much of an impact as many believe it will, but as Guber notes, success is nearly impossible to obtain without at least some small failures along the way.
Guber is continuously devoted to improving and learning about new advancements in entertainment and sports. This is shown through his dedication to educating people about trends and about the business—Guber is a professor at both UCLA’s film school and business school, as well as a regent of the University of California. He preaches that the possibility of a venture or investment failing should not deter someone from pursuing it if they believe in it.
“Sometimes [an idea] doesn’t work,” Guber said. “Failure is an inevitable cul-de-sac on the road to success.”