Two young employees at Tibco Software Inc. recently challenged the head of the company to a pull-up contest, and Vivek Ranadive didn't hesitate to accept. The employees, men in their 30s, combined to gut out 12 pull-ups. Ranadive, who is 55, pumped out nearly twice as many. "When he was done, he just hung up there for two minutes looking at them," said Roger Craig, the former San Francisco 49ers star who is now an executive at Tibco and a close friend of Ranadive's. "He said to them, 'I can do more. You want me to do more?' " Craig said that lesson in humility for the younger workers underscores Ranadive's competitive drive – a characteristic on display in his bid to buy the Sacramento Kings and partner with the city to build a $448 million downtown sports arena. On Friday, a group of investors led by Ranadive finalized an agreement to buy a controlling interest in the Kings franchise from the Maloof family for $347 million. The deal requires approval from the NBA's board of governors, which is expected to vote this week. Along with his drive – he soundly defeated another Tibco executive in a push-up contest by completing 150 – Ranadive brings a hands-on leadership style, Craig said. He has been known to pitch in on sales calls at Tibco, a $1 billion-a-year software firm in Palo Alto that specializes in data analysis and e-commerce. Craig said Ranadive didn't like the idea of Sacramento, the capital city, losing its only major league sports franchise. When a Seattle group reached agreement with the Maloofs in January to buy the Kings and move the franchise to the Pacific Northwest, Ranadive was committed to blocking the sale, Craig said. He assembled an ownership group that includes wealthy investors from the Silicon Valley, San Diego, the East Bay and Sacramento. "He hates to lose," Craig said. "I don't care if someone's grandmother is on the tennis court, he's going to beat that person." In an interview Friday, Ranadive acknowledged his ultra-competitive side. He said his first order of business is to ensure the sale of large numbers of season tickets for Kings games. After that, he said, "we want to restore this team to its former greatness." Ranadive lives in Atherton but said Kings fans should expect to see him at every home game. He said he also plans to attend team practices regularly, suggesting he will transfer his hands-on business philosophy to his new role as lead owner of the Kings. A longtime basketball fan with an admittedly "ugly" jump shot, Ranadive was part of a group that purchased the Golden State Warriors in 2010. The Warriors finished with losing records in the first two seasons under that ownership group but experienced a dramatic turnaround this year. The team made the second round of the NBA playoffs, only to be eliminated Thursday night just as Ranadive learned the Maloofs had accepted his offer.
New Kings boss Ranadive is all about winning
Sacramento Bee | May 19