The Sacramento Kings’ New Orwellarena

by Keith Johnson

Arena image courtesy of

The parking rates in Downtown Sacramento will soon rise on busy arena nights, when the Golden One Arena is estimated to be filled to 85 percent capacity, to a flat fee of $11.25 for a reserved garage spot. An unreserved spot with the SacPark smartphone app is $15. Street parking will still cost $1.75 per hour for two hours or $1.75 for the first hour and $3 for the second hour. However, within three blocks of the arena the third hour jumps to a flat fee of $18.75.

Two Paul McCartney concerts will be the first events for Vivek Ranadive and the Sacramento Kings’ “Tesla of arenas”.  Ranadive, along with Silicon Valley legend, David Kelley, who helped design various tech gadgets, including the mouse for Apple, have made Golden 1 the highest tech arena in sports.  Fans can use the new Kings app to order food from their seat that can be delivered to them, whether they’re lounging in a luxury suite or sitting in the nosebleed seats. The app would be able to find the shortest bathroom or concession stand lines, and after the event, contact Uber for a ride home. Complete with “smart turnstiles” to enter and tap cellphones against for seat location, the massive bandwidth makes tweeting and posting photos easy. The world’s largest indoor video scoreboard has been designed by a Walt Disney Co. engineer to minimize eye movement. Of course the video monitor comes with a $11.6 million price tag. The Kings’ new smartphone app also allows fans to make friendly, non-cash wagers on the outcome of plays as the game progresses. If betting becomes legal in California, the profits could be astronomical.

“All of the resources of the arena are at their fingertips with the touch of a button on their iPhone or on their Android,” Ranadive said.

The 40-foot-high aircraft hangar doors, manufactured by the company that built the hangars at SpaceX, the private space-launch company founded by Tesla’s Elon Musk, at the main entrance can be left open during games and concerts. Ranadive envisions several thousand spectators watching an event from the exterior of the world’s first “indoor-outdoor arena.”

“It’s part of my technologist thing,” Ranadive said. “We think this is pretty cool.”

The Kings are no longer just a basketball team but a “purveyor of experiences.” Pop star Drake is having a recording studio built inside the arena. This studio will be accessible to selected fans. Contest winners, maybe honor students from area schools, or musicians who perform at Golden 1. Perhaps used by Kings players.

“The players, they all aspire to be musicians,” Ranadive said.

Eventually, Ranadive plans to install facial recognition technology, stating that it would eliminate the need for tickets. “It’s a technology marvel,” he said. “The arena should recognize you. I don’t want you to even pull your phone out” to enter. “We’ve shown a willingness to spend money,” said Ranadive.

The bowels of the arena house “mission control” that monitors all security, guest services, and more. Next to “mission control” is a room full of servers equal to tech giants like Amazon. The Category 6A copper wire in the arena is enough to stretch all the way to Oregon.

Is a crowd of 17,500 at Golden 1 just computer data, bits and bytes that can be used to help fans spend more money while their information and buying habits are stored at “mission control”?

In a December 22, 2014 interview with Fortune, Ranadive stated, “The next 15 years will bring even more dramatic change. It’s the age where math will trump science.… big data is going to apply to agriculture, to medicine, to just about every field. I’m hoping that I will be involved with a lot of those companies.”

Golden 1 has gone over budget by $80 million dollars to a grand total of $557 million! The cap for the city of Sacramento is $225 million. Investors such as current and former executives of Qualcomm, Apple, and Facebook have contributed to the arena and its tech imprint. This includes a security robot to patrol the old arena. Although Vivek Ranadive was hailed as a savior when he bought the Kings from the Maloof family in 2013, Kings minority owners have quietly explored ways to seize controlling interest from him. His mismanagement has set the rebuilding Kings back years, but that alone won’t be enough for anyone to remove him.

The technology used at Golden 1 stems from Ranadive’s former company Tibco Software Inc. of Palo Alto. Tibco specializes in managing data for big corporations. One of its software products helps casinos analyze the gambling habits of their frequent customers. “It knows about your preferences; it knows about your (buying) habits,” Ranadive said. Tibco started as Teknekron. The following is from an article published in 1993:

Reuters Holdings P.L.C. said today that it had agreed to pay $125.1 million in cash for Teknekron Software Systems Inc., a private company that competes with Reuters in the market for computerized financial trading systems. Teknekron, based in Palo Alto, Calif., south of here, has primarily served Wall Street trading firms, but has recently diversified into providing software services to large manufacturing companies.

Although little known beyond the trading floors, Teknekron’s Information Bus software is a working example of a global information highway. Teknekron’s technology allows the seamless sharing of data by computers and networks, even if the data come from different sources or are in different software languages. For traders, Teknekron’s technology makes it possible to obtain data from foreign exchanges or news services that may have been generated using different computers, different applications and different software.

“The underlying technology doesn’t care what the information looks like,” Norman Siegler, Teknekron’s senior vice president, said in a telephone interview.

Reuters and Teknekron said they would develop larger information highways and would work to enhance the compatibility between their respective product lines.Teknekron will continue to operate as an independent company, with Teknekron employees controlling a majority of seats on the board. Teknekron had 1992 revenues of $38.7 million and pretax profits of $8.2 million.

“Our investment in Teknekron adds substantial financial support to its operation as a supplier of information management systems,” David Ure, the Reuters executive director for marketing and development policy, said in a statement. “Both Teknekron’s products and our own Triarch system will benefit increasingly from the software skills applied to meet our customers’ needs through this partnership.”

Reuters, based in London, said the ability of Teknekron to extend its technology to markets beyond financial services was a crucial factor in its decision to acquire the company. Teknekron has helped manufacturers like the Intel Corporation and Motorola Inc. use its networking software in their operations used in factories.

“Teknekron’s TIB technology is emerging as a standard communications tool in factory automation and in the semiconductor industry,” said Richard Deininger, director of national research programs at Sematech, the semiconductor industry consortium. Teknekron Software Systems was created in 1986 by the Teknekron Corporation, a company that provides seed capital to entrepreneurs to start new enterprises. Teknekron Software was spun off as an independent company in 1987.


Tibco was purchased by Vista Equity Partners. Not without its controversy. In April, 2016 Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Vista Equity Partners agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by investors in a $4 billion buyout two years ago. The firms will pay $30 million to former investors in Tibco Software Inc., whose sale to Vista was marred by a share-count error that lowered the price and deprived shareholders of $100 million.

The parties reached an agreement without disclosing the terms. Goldman, which was paid a fee of $47 million for advising Tibco, has defended its work on the deal.

Vista had agreed to pay $24 a share for Tibco, valuing the software company at $4.1 billion. But after the agreement was reached, Tibco told its investors that Vista may have relied on an overstated share count and intended to pay $4.2 billion. The error came from a spreadsheet distributed by Goldman bankers that double-counted some shares that were given to executives as compensation.

The shareholders sued, alleging that Goldman didn’t tell Tibco once it realized Vista’s bid was underpriced, and in failing to do so tied the board’s hands at a critical moment.

Goldman in court blamed Tibco for providing inaccurate figures and said it promptly called lawyers for Tibco’s board when it realized the error. In court filings, Goldman produced handwritten notes from a lawyer at Ropes & Gray LLP who was on that phone call that appear to confirm the bank’s version of events.

Vista was founded in 2000 by a former Goldman banker. The private-equity firm, known for midsize technology buyouts, has often hired Goldman for advice and financing on its deals.

Not only is the arena going to be the most Orwellian stadium, we now have ties to Goldman Sachs and Vista. Now it gets interesting with the addition of defense contractor Raytheon.


From an article published in 2013:

Austin, TX-based Websense and its private equity owners were looking for a buyer, Boston-area defense contractor Raytheon announced today it is acquiring the cybersecurity company in a $1.9 billion cash and debt deal.

Raytheon offers customers, mostly governments and their militaries, products such as missile defense systems, cybersecurity software, and various engineering services. The company plans to merge Websense, which was owned by Vista Equity Partners, with a unit of its business also focused on Web security, called Raytheon Cyber Products.

San Francisco-based Vista Equity is investing $335 million of the $1.9 billion for a 19.7 percent stake in the new joint venture. Raytheon, which is contributing $1.57 billion in cash for the other 80.3 percent, says its Cyber Products division is valued at $400 million. The overall $1.9 billion purchase price includes a $600 million intercompany loan between Raytheon and the new joint venture.

The company was taken private in 2013 by Vista Equity for $906 million, then uprooted and moved to Austin from San Diego. Just last month, Vista Equity began looking for a buyer for the business, as Xconomy’s Bruce Bigelow reported.

Websense’s Internet security technology is intended for entities like large corporations or governments. In January the company introduced the latest version of its Triton cybersecurity technology, which is used to prevent data theft and protect systems and devices.

Raytheon has been bolstering its Web security products since long before the Websense deal, having made 14 acquisitions of cyber-related companies since 2007, the company says in its annual report. Most recently, it paid $420 million for Blackbird Technologies, a cybersecurity company that provides persistent surveillance and secure tactical communications.

“We believe cyber is a strong growth market, offering Raytheon the potential to leverage our extensive capabilities, to enhance existing customer relationships, to develop new customer relationships, and to grow and scale our cyber business,” Raytheon says in its annual report.

Raytheon’s Cyber Products unit is housed within its Intelligence, Information, and Services business segment, which had almost $6 billion of the company’s $22.8 billion of net sales in 2014, according to the annual report.

This is where my distrust of defense contractors and ‘technocracy’ come in. From a Raytheon press release January 2016:

January 14, 2016 – Global cybersecurity leader Raytheon|Websense today unveiled its new company name, Forcepoint™, and multiple new products.

Built on the successful integration of Websense®, Raytheon Cyber Products and the recently-acquired Stonesoft next-generation firewall (NGFW) business, Forcepoint brings a fresh approach to address the constantly evolving cybersecurity challenges and regulatory requirements facing businesses and government agencies.

Forcepoint was created to empower organizations to drive their business forward by safely embracing transformative technologies – cloud, mobility, Internet of Things (IoT), and others – through a unified, cloud-centric platform that safeguards users, networks and data while eliminating the inefficiencies involved in managing a collection of point security products. The Forcepoint platform will protect against threats from insiders and outsiders, rapidly detect breaches, minimize “dwell time” – the period between compromise and remediation – and stop theft.

“With Forcepoint, organizations can protect users, networks and data in the cloud, on the road, and in the office. We simplify compliance, enable better decision-making and streamline security so that our customers can concentrate on what’s important to them,” said Forcepoint CEO, John McCormack.

 “We will provide a unified cloud-centric platform to defend against attacks, detect suspicious activity sooner, and give the context needed to decide what actions to take to defeat the attack and stop data theft. Defend, detect, decide, defeat – this is our vision for Forcepoint 4D Security. We have the expertise, financial commitment and ongoing access to unique, defense-grade security technology necessary to deliver on this vision.”

“A platform solution that both simplifies and strengthens security as part of a holistic strategy that includes people, process and technology is a far more compelling value proposition than a simple point solution,” said Dan Wilson, Executive Vice President of Partner Solutions for Optiv, a market-leading provider of end-to-end cyber security solutions.

“Forcepoint’s platform focuses on insider threat protection, cloud data protection and network security. We’re seeing clients ask for these capabilities and are excited to see how Forcepoint delivers.”

Raytheon Company, with 2014 sales of $23 billion and 61,000 employees worldwide, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, civil government and cybersecurity markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 93 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as cybersecurity and a broad range of mission support services.           

My concern grows as I consider the marriage of high tech surveillance, facial recognition, smart apps, defense contractors and FEMA.

FEMA? You ask….

Yes. Sports franchises, many 501(c)(6) “non profit” corporations have agreed to allow stadiums and arenas to be used during disasters or possible detention centers. If this seems hard to phathom, take into consideration 2011 Denver’s Operation Mountain Guardian on September 23, 2011 where several busloads of school children were taken to Sports Authority Field along with their teachers. Surrogate parents were hired by FEMA to attempt to pick up their children at the stadium. The training was apparently a desensitization exercise for security personnel designed to refuse demands to pick up their children from these “pretend” parents. The real parents of these children were not properly notified that their children would be transported to the stadium and would be a part of this disaster drill.

The 2005 debacle at the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina illustrates the disaster FEMA and federal authorities created following the flooding of New Orleans. Many stadiums have jail cells and Philadelphia has a court with a sitting judge.

Tech firms, Wall Street bankers, and defense contractors are merging with sports franchises to create a giant information and data collection center nightmare.

Now state of the art technology and facial recognition makes this nightmare a possible reality. A reality I must pay for if I need to park downtown during an ‘event’.

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