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October 19 2021 4.46pm

Who is Palace’s new shareholder John Textor?

October 6 2021

John Textor

John Textor

These are exciting times for Crystal Palace supporters, writes Mark Frost.

The appointment of French icon Patrick Vieira as head coach and the arrival of fresh investment in the shape of American John Textor is hoped to take the Eagles to the next level in the Premier League.

Textor has invested approximately £87.5m into the Selhurst Park club, securing an 18 per cent stake in Palace just weeks after a failed effort to secure a 25 per cent stake in Portuguese giants Benfica.

Textor initially hoped to buy Palace outright but has instead been happy to take a seat on the board alongside compatriot co-owners David Blitzer and Josh Harris, as well as chairman Steve Parish. What do we know about Textor’s background and why has he been so keen to invest in elite level football?

Parish described the investment of Textor as the “right” one for the club given the “significant financial challenges” over the last 18 months. Textor’s funds will help to “bolster the balance sheet” as Parish put it, which is much-needed given that Premier League clubs lost a combined £700m during that period.

In addition, Parish confirmed that Textor’s investment will “enable the club to finalise the academy”, with plans to finish the new £20m complex in Beckenham as well as a sizeable redevelopment of Selhurst Park’s main stand.

The story of John Textor so far

Textor is 56 years old and was born in Kirksville, Missouri. A competitive athlete during his college days, Textor is familiar with the commitments required to perform at the highest level of sport, having played American Football and skateboarded professionally in late the 1970s through to the early 1980s.

Around the time of the proliferation of the internet into the mainstream, Textor pioneered Art Technology Group, which sought to deliver personalisation technology to users online.

Textor invested through his holding company Wyndcrest Partners and ultimately steered Art Technology Group through a successful IPO in 1999, resulting in a company valuation of over bn.

Textor then moved on to develop an online 3D multi-user virtual experience named JesterDigital. It worked collaboratively with the likes of IBM and world-renowned musicians, bands and sports teams to develop online virtual reality (VR) experiences and content.

Textor also oversaw the success of BabyUniverse.com, an ecommerce brand specialising in baby products. Under Textor’s wing, BabyUniverse saw its revenues transformed from m to m, resulting in a merger with eToys.com.

Having spent several years building up Art Technology Group, Textor then invested in Digital Domain – a firm specialising in visual effects for big-screen Hollywood movies.

The firm won a bundle of Academy Awards and expanded its services from film production to live music, overseeing the virtual Coachella show from the late Tupac Shakur in 2012. Textor subsequently lost control of Digital Domain following a hostile restructuring from the firm’s hedge fund investors.

Twelve months later, Textor recruited a string of former employees at Digital Domain to forge ahead with a new venture Pulse Evolution. The company developed ‘hyper-realistic’ virtual humans for a string of live shows, including Michael Jackson’s appearance at the Billboard Music Awards in 2014.

Textor also launched Facebank Group which evolved into fuboTV, an online streaming platform specialising in live sports and entertainment, following a sizeable acquisition last year.

fuboTV was one of the most popular IPOs on the New York Stock Exchange in 2020, with a market value of bn at the time. Although Textor is no longer executive chairman, he remains the biggest shareholder at fuboTV.

Textor’s passion for football has existed for some time, having founded a football academy in Florida. Upon arrival in south London, Textor admitted he had browsed “many opportunities across European football” for investment.

Aside from his interest in Benfica, Textor was also linked with an interest in Newcastle United, which has been up for sale by current owner Mike Ashley for some time.

However, Textor quickly developed a “real affinity” to Palace and was delighted to seal the deal. His investment has aided Patrick Vieira’s overhaul of the Eagles’ dressing room, including fresh firepower in the shape of Odsonne Edouard, as Palace seek to cement themselves as a top-half Premier League outfit with future European aspirations.

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