Del Biaggio Makes NHL Play

Silicon Valley investor William “Boots” Del Biaggio III has submitted a letter of intent to become the lead investor of NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins.

Del Biaggio and a group of unnamed investors are buying the team from current owner Mario Lemieux, a friend and business associate of Del Biaggio. Del Biaggio says he can’t even skate, but he met Lemieux a few years ago when a mutual friend introduced them during a celebrity golf tournament at Lake Tahoe. He and Lemieux are among the co-owners of the Omaha Lancers in the United States Hockey League. Del Biaggio also has a small investment in the San Jose Sharks, which he would have to sell if the offer for the Penguins goes through. The approval process, by the NHL Board of Governors, is expected to take up to six months.

Del Biaggio said he would not be involved as a hands-on owner, but he says that he would oversee the Penguins’ attempt at building a new arena in town. Del Biaggio told PE Week that his involvement with the hockey team will be like any investment and is akin to taking a board seat. Del Biaggio is president and CEO of Sand Hill Capital, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based firm he founded in 1996. The firm supplies venture debt to distressed companies and is currently raising a private equity fund, Sand Hill Sakura Fund, an equity side fund that invests in the companies to which the venture debt fund has provided financing. His nickname, shared by his dad, is the same nickname as his grandfather, who wore boots daily while working in the cherry orchids of Silicon Valley.