John Textor, from virtual reality to football

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John Textor, an American billionaire, has signed to buy the majority of shares in Olympique Lyonnais (OL). This investor has been interested in sport and in particular football for several years. But before that, it has proven itself in virtual reality.

« I have always considered myself a builder, declared John Textor during the press conference organized on June 21 by Olympique Lyonnais. A builder of technologies, of applications. I like to imagine what people will do in the future thanks to technology. And I think that if we don’t have this vision at five to ten years, we are already behind in this area.. »

Before investing massively in sport, this 56-year-old American made his fortune thanks to virtual reality and particularly special effects in cinema. Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean or Tron Legacy, in the early 2000s, his company Digital Domain produced the special effects for many blockbusters and the businessman became a benchmark in the industry. In 2009, he even received the Oscar for best visual effects for actor Brad Pitt’s ultra-realistic aging in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

In 2016, the magazine Forbes devotes an article to him and gives him the nickname of “ virtual reality guru in hollywood “. The media then largely take over the expression.

Tupac and Michael Jackson holograms live

With a new company, Pulse Evolution, John Textor designs holograms of departed stars. In 2012, rapper Tupac came back to life on stage at the Coachella festival in the United States. In 2014, Michael Jackson’s hologram performance at the Billboard Music Awards was watched by 11 million viewers. At that time, this technology was still new. This success earned him an appearance in the satirical animated series South Park the same year.

John Textor did not stop there and decided to invest in artificial intelligence, to ” improve humanity “. His new company EvolutionAl is dedicated to creating digital humans.

sports strategy

John Textor knows sports. He was a champion skateboarder when he was young, but a fall forced him to quit. In 2020, he set up a sports event streaming platform, FuboTV, and was particularly interested in football.

From Botafogo in Brazil, to Crystal Palace in the London suburbs via Molenbeek in Belgium, the billionaire is gradually buying shares in several clubs. This choice is strategic, explains Jean-Pascal Gayant, professor specializing in sports economics at the University of Le Mans: “ This is the opportunity to detect players, to make them hardened in different championships. He is, as a shrewd businessman, aware that sport in Europe is a lever to participate in economic development. ».

John Textor highlights the love of sport and sharing. He regularly posts photos and messages of support to his players on his Twitter account. Jean-Pascal Gayant underlines a real interest on the part of the billionaire: “ To say he’s a football fan, in the soccer sense, I think is a bit of an exaggeration. But I think he is sincere about the fact that he is really interested in sport and that he wants to participate in the development of the European sports entertainment industry. ».

The businessman has spent nearly 900 million dollars for the purchase of OL shares and has already announced his objective: to win the Champions League. Its investment remains above all financial. In March 2022, he said: “Football is no different from any other business. You have to win to be profitable ».

► To read also: Olympique Lyonnais goes under the American flag, Aulas remains at the helm

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