The Money Behind the PTO

Some people don’t know where the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) gets their money, so I’ll fill you in: almost every penny is in some way, shape or form coming from billionaire Mike Moritz. This guy used to be a tech journalist in the ‘80s so maybe he’ll read this one day and leave a comment telling me how I did. Maybe he can share with me the secret of how he became a billionaire from beginning as a journalist.

Anyway, Moritz invested an alleged $10-20 million of his own money [1] into the PTO (it is unknown whether this is a one-time seed investment or if he’s going to need to continue pumping money into this venture). The money invested in the PTO actually comes from the Crankstart Foundation [2][3], his wife’s 501(c)3 charity, which is a that supports vulnerable individuals or organizations [4][5], such as a money pit like the PTO.

Now the PTO is not-for-profit organization [6]. They collect no dues for membership from professional athletes. They are not a legal union [7]. They do not have an ownership stake in any race production companies. They have no rights to televised broadcast with the exception of the Collins Cup [8], which I believe is going to bomb. The PTO’s website says they’re 50/50 split in profits with Crankstart [9] but they don’t really say where revenue is coming from. Literally all that is there even hinting at revenue on their website is a line saying “The spread of the internet, the rise in terms number of media outlets thirsty for top-notch content…” [10]. There are no corporate sponsors to be found with the PTO and they don’t advertise any partnerships on their website.

The PTO exists solely because of the generosity of an admirer of the sport since they admittedly couldn’t find financial backing anywhere else…because those people all knew it’s dumb to invest in an organization that will never generate a profit. $10 to $20 million to a guy worth $5.8 billion (I imagine he’s worth at least a billion more as billionaires wealth vastly increased during the pandemic [11][12][13]) is equivalent to someone with $5,800 in their savings account throwing $1 or $2 on a scratch-off lottery ticket…it’s nothing. There is a catch though, because Mike Moritz is donating his money to the Crankstart Foundation (a 501(c)3) in lieu of funding the PTO directly from his own pocket it means he’s getting a tax deduction on that $10 to $20 million. Technically, it’s more because he donates money to it to support other businesses, and other people can throw down money towards them for their own tax deduction. Now there’s rules to funding a 501(c)3 charity that are way over my head so I’m including a link.

So that’s where the money comes from for triathlon, a very wealthy benefactor that happens to be a fan. It should be worth noting that Moritz is a signatory of “The Giving Pledge” [14] and had committed himself to giving away at least 50% of his wealth to charitable causes [15][16][17] (the PTO is a non-profit, not a 501(c)3 charity, but donating to Crankstart is donating to a charity). To date I’ve been able to track down about $250 million worth of donations [18]. So if he’s going to plan on donating at least $3-4 billion dollars then he could fund the PTO for many years to come, but without his financial support they’re doomed to fail as no one else has any interest in partnering or investing in the PTO.

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