It is extremely difficult to distinguish between athlete agents. Many have decades of experience, are employed at agencies with vast resources and charge clients similar commissions, often capped by regulations distributed by players' associations.
Yet,Jason Ranne who oversees the Team Sports division at Wasserman thinks it's game over when you compare his employer with competitors like Creative Artists Agency, Octagon and Excel Sports. Ranne, a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School, worked at Wasserman from August 2007 through March 2013 before serving as Director of Strategic Planning at the Oklahoma City Thunder for a couple years. He returned to Wasserman in September 2015.
"We focused on catering toward today's athlete, starting at the end of 2015," explains Ranne. "That includes the millennial generation. It wasn't existing in the agency business at the time. Our competitors had gotten what I call 'legacy' -- they had become traditional. They were all doing the same thing. No one was differentiating themselves."
Ranne's commentary is important as it highlights that opportunities are abound even in crowded industries, such as the sports agency business, which is often criticized as being overpopulated and restricted by low margins.
"What Wasserman has represented since it started was being a disruptor and provider of services that were always pushing the limits," adds Ranne.
Since the end of 2015, Wasserman has accomplished a lot of things internally to cater toward the next young athlete while continuing to pay attention to the needs of existing clients. Ranne puts great emphasis on the theory that health is wealth, and notes that Wasserman's innovation extends to engaging a well-known physical therapist to be on staff, which is something you won't find at a boutique sports agency.
"This business is always about differentiating yourself," says Ranne. "Almost all of our agents are either a former player, former coach or former team executive."
Additionally, differentiation needs to constantly be reviewed and adjusted. As Ranne notes, several years ago, a select few sports agencies offered basketball coaches to assist clients with pre-draft workouts. Today, most agencies are offering that type of service.
Ranne believes that boutique shops will disappear over the next three years, because athletes are demanding sports agencies to provide more non-traditional services. He also predicts further consolidation within the industry.
Wasserman has not necessarily focused on acquiring competitors, but instead has focused on adding companies likeLaundry Service and Cycle, which have each carved out a niche in the digital space.
"We see social media's magnitude and obvious influence in sports and entertainment, and Laundry Service is the right team to augment our client commitment in this area," said Wasserman CEO Casey Wasserman in conjunction with the purchase. "Together, we can scale our business opportunities on a more significant global level."
Scaling the company's business opportunities is a wise focus, as it doesn't necessarily need to spend so much time on athlete recruitment. The company currently represents 53 basketball players (including Anthony Davis, Draymond Green and Derrick Rose), 42 baseball players (negotiating the $325 million deal between Giancarlo Stanton and the Miami Marlins), 9 NFL players (including Andrew Luck) and many others in the realm of soccer, action sports and Olympics, golf as well as broadcasting and coaching.