San Diego Business Journal


Nels Jensen

One of the challenges facing Bill Walton and the San Diego Sport Innovators when they spun out of Connect in 2010 was how to define the Sports and Active Lifestyle (SAL). Do you target members from a traditional definition of an industry sector — equipment makers and wholesalers — or do you go after anyone associated with the lifestyle? Obviously you include companies making golf clubs and cycling parts, but how about people making and selling protein bars and yoga pants?

Bob Rief took that baton in 2015 when he came on board as SDSI executive director and has been pounding away at it since. SDSI recently partnered with the Cal State University San Marcos Office of Business Research and Analysis to complete an economic impact report. The report found that the SAL in San Diego County now has 39,000 jobs in direct employment with a direct impact of $3.6 billion, more than double that of a survey done in 2013.

It’s not just a lifestyle, it’s increasingly what many of us do for a living.

• • •

Speaking of SAL, Chip Brewer continues his impressive turnaround of Callaway Golf Co. Their recent acquisition of international outdoor brand Jack Wolfskin brings its accessory category from 23 percent to 43 percent of total corporate revenue, according to an analyst from Raymond James.

• • •

This summer, after co-founder J. Craig Venter had left Human Longevity Inc. amid high-profile lawsuits, several other C-suite executives had departed, staff had shrunk from 300 to 160, and the private company had reduced its frequency of communications to some of its investors, interim CEO David Karow told the SDBJ there was no shortage of cash at the company. HLI, founded in 2013, raised $300 million between March 2014 and April 2016. How much cash could they burn through?

Now comes news of HLI’s valuation plummeting from $1.6 billion to $310 million, revealed with the news of “short-term financing” of $25 million. It raises a couple of questions: How long will $25 million last, and might investors be lining up to acquire specific assets?

• • •

The most unique “for sale” approach we’ve seen in some time comes from Carlsbad-based Sonic Boom Wellness, which is hosting not one but two webinars under the title of “Wellness Consolidation — Is Sonic Boom Next?” Among the topics on the agenda is how the company is investing to differentiate itself in the marketplace. In other words, why it is an attractive takeover target.

Editor-in-Chief Nels Jensen can be reached via