MLP by Margaritaville (MLP) has reported two new additions to their League Executive Leadership Team. Chief Executive Officer Julio DePietro and Chief Operating Officer Bruce Popko will form a dynamic unit using their combined knowledge of media, sports business, and finance to bring increased revenue, attract new audiences, and take the game to a different level.
“Another Landmark Step Forward”
“The additions of Julio and Bruce signify another landmark step forward in the evolution of Major League Pickleball,” said MLP Founder Steve Kuhn. “They bring an incredible pedigree, leadership ability, and valued perspective to MLP and the sport of pickleball. I know that their collective insights and experience will help us rapidly accelerate MLP’s continued growth and the overall popularization of the sport.”
Major League Pickleball names new CEO and COO to capitalize on surging popularity https://t.co/wxsCqKHB0x— CNBC (@CNBC) July 5, 2023
DePietro possesses a highly valued skillset that includes strategic insight, innovation, and a strong dedication to team building and community development. He began his career in finance after graduating from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree, quickly establishing himself at Citadel Investment Group, becoming a partner at the age of 28. During his time there, he managed the largest profit center for one of the world’s largest hedge funds.
Driven by his passion for storytelling, DePietro transitioned to the independent film industry, where he achieved success as a writer, director, and producer of multiple award-winning and critically acclaimed films.
Drawing from his experiences in finance and filmmaking, he will play a crucial role in identifying storytelling opportunities and potential distribution partners for MLP as the league plans for 2024 and beyond. His unique combination of initiative, creativity, and business acumen will be instrumental in shaping MLP’s future.
DePietro has already made a significant impact on Major League Pickleball (MLP) as a part owner of the Florida Smash. He advocated for and successfully implemented the concept of geographic connections for teams, which has since been adopted league-wide. This innovative approach opens up countless possibilities for growing fanbases in local markets across the country.
In his role, DePietro will oversee the overall business development of MLP and is dedicated to nurturing a diverse and inclusive community encouraging participation and excellence from all.
Popko brings over 30 years of experience in the sports industry to MLP, along with several core competencies that will be invaluable in the short and long term. His expertise includes revenue generation, merchandise and licensing, media rights, and marketing integration. He will collaborate with the league’s 24 franchises to establish best practices and drive additional business development at the team level.
As a seasoned senior executive, Popko most recently served as the COO for the Buffalo Bills and Sabres at Pegula Sports & Entertainment. During his time in Buffalo, he held positions as the Executive Vice President of Business Development and Chief Revenue Officer.
Before his tenure in Buffalo, Popko worked at the renowned agency IMG, where he served as a Senior Vice President following his role as Director of Sales and Business Development for IMG Golf.
His extensive sports marketing experience began in the early 1990s with the NFL’s New York Jets before moving on to work at the NFL headquarters. He also had significant roles with the San Francisco 49ers and the Cleveland Browns.
Recently, Popko served as the COO for Gioia Capital, where he worked as an operating partner for a family office focused on acquiring, managing, and growing profitable small to mid-sized companies.
DePietro and Popko will work closely with MLP/DUPR Strategic Advisor and former WTA CEO Anne Worcester to strengthen MLP’s leadership team. Together, this trio brings over 60 years of deep sports connections and knowledge to the table, further enhancing MLP’s position in the industry.
Interim CEO Brian Levine will become a Strategic Advisor for MLP.
For more information on Major League Pickleball, visit the official website and follow MLP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
Catch up with more announcements from MLP by Margaritaville in these great articles.
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