Labor and Agents

Osaka strives to control her own portfolio growth with new agency

Tennis player Naomi Osaka's goal with her new independent management company Evolve, which she co-founded with agent Stuart Duguid, is to "grow her business portfolio" to $150M annually in the coming years, from roughly $50M today, but "not by signing deals that put more company logos on her tennis outfits," according to Matthew Futterman of the N.Y. TIMES. Osaka and Duguid left IMG Tennis to launch Evolve. IMG losing a star of Osaka's magnitude is a "significant loss for the company, though it will most likely continue to earn money on existing endorsement deals that it negotiated on her behalf." She is one of a handful of "transcendent tennis stars" IMG has represented in the past two decades. Duguid said that Osaka "might actually pare down her endorsement portfolio." The model for Evolve is "similar to businesses set up by several of Osaka's role models" in the sports industry like LeBron James and Stephen Curry. She has been "weighing a venture like Evolve" since the Tokyo Games, where she lit the Olympic cauldron. Osaka has "wanted more leeway to invest in businesses, have an ownership stake in them and grow her own" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/12).

FULL STEAM AHEAD: Tennis Channel’s Andy Roddick said, “She has the cash to do it. Hopefully, she has great advisors around her but at this point, with all the deals she’s had with the exposure she’s had, experience matters. Athletes will want to hear her story, her pitch.” Tennis Channel’s Chanda Rubin: “I like the title, Evolve, and maybe that’s a sign of what Naomi Osaka will look to focus on with this management company. Certainly, that’s been part of the growth and what she’s talked about in terms of her own career. It’s kind of a neat prospect and certainly, if you can do it, if you’ve got the resources, why not?” (“Tennis Channel Live,” Tennis Channel, 5/11).

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