The Sacramento Kings won't be a small-market team anymore if Vivek Ranadive has his way.
The Silicon Valley software tycoon, who is leading the investor group trying to keep the Kings in Sacramento, laid out an ambitious vision Monday for transforming the woebegone franchise into a "global brand" that would extend the NBA's reach into China and his native India.
Ranadive, 55, said two more investors have joined his effort to block the Kings from moving to Seattle: Naren Gupta, a venture capitalist with offices in India and Menlo Park; and Andy Miller, a tech entrepreneur in San Francisco. There are now seven investors in the group.
With just days remaining before the NBA could decide the team's fate, Ranadive and two other partners, fitness magnate Mark Mastrov and Facebook alumnus Chris Kelly, spoke enthusiastically in a phone interview with The Bee about creating a tech-savvy basketball organization capable of engaging fans the world over.
But they offered no details about their actual purchase offer for the team, or how they expect the next several days to play out in New York, where NBA owners will weigh the question of whether the Kings should stay or go.
Ranadive wouldn't say whether his group plans to match the increased offer submitted last Friday by Seattle investor Chris Hansen. Nor would he say if his group has yet filed a written purchase offer with the NBA.
A source connected to the Sacramento group said last week the Ranadive group would match Hansen's original $341 million bid for the 65 percent of the Kings controlled by the Maloofs. With his higher bid, Hansen is now offering to pay $357 million.
While the Sacramento investors wouldn't discuss their bid, Mastrov offered clues about the frantic pace of bringing the deal together.
"We've worked very hard in a short period of time," said Mastrov, founder of the 24 Hour Fitness chain. "We've been working around the clock; I don't think I slept much over the weekend."
Ranadive and other investors were coming to Sacramento on Monday for a dinner hosted by their Sacramento partner, developer Mark Friedman.
Ranadive, who would be managing partner of the team, doesn't plan to travel to New York for the NBA board of governors meeting.
The NBA's meeting kicks off Wednesday, a day ahead of schedule, with a special session of the committee vetting the Sacramento and Seattle proposals. Neither city has been invited to speak to the owners this week, but Ranadive said he would be ready to answer questions.
"I'll be available at the beck and call of the commissioner (David Stern) and the NBA," he said.
Ranadive's company, Tibco Software Inc. of Palo Alto, has revolutionized the use of data at such companies as eBay and Southwest Airlines. Since 2010, he has brought data-driven expertise to the NBA as vice chairman of the Golden State Warriors.
"I'm a big numbers guy," he said. "I look at the business side and the basketball side and ... I think there's a lot of answers in the data."
That means new ways of selling tickets and merchandise to fans on their smartphones, tailoring sales pitches to individual preferences.
"The Sacramento Kings should be the most innovative franchise in the NBA," said Kelly, a former Facebook senior executive.
The data focus would extend to what happens on the court as well. Ranadive wants the Kings to use a bit of "Moneyball" sensibility - finding talent by sifting through overlooked statistics. For instance, he'd like to increase pay for bench players - those who play 40 percent of the game but generally earn only one-fifth as much as the starters.
"This is a playbook that we have used before," he said, referring to the turnaround enjoyed by the Warriors since 2010. "It's not going to be overnight, it's going to take a couple of years. ... I feel very comfortable that we can make (the Kings) a winning franchise."
The newest investors, Gupta and Miller, join Ranadive; Kelly; Friedman; Mastrov; and the Jacobs family of San Diego, founders of wireless giant Qualcomm Inc.
Four of the investors weren't publicly revealed until the past week, and one of the original investors had to quit a week ago because of a conflict of interest: Beverly Hills financier Ron Burkle. He will remain involved in developing real estate surrounding the proposed $448 million Downtown Plaza arena.
Ranadive said he believes the group is now set, although additional investors "are calling me, even as we speak, wanting to be part of the deal."
While the past week has been outwardly frantic, Ranadive said he's been quietly and methodically building the group for weeks. Ranadive's participation wasn't made public until March 21, but other investors have said they've been speaking to Ranadive since January.
He said each member brings a different strength, whether it's real estate, social media or the ability to tap into vast Asian markets.
"My vision is that there are a number of forces shaping the 21st century and the group that I have brought together ... reflects my thinking in terms of what those forces are," Ranadive said.
The goal is to create something Ranadive has begun calling "NBA 3.0," which refers to making basketball as popular worldwide as soccer. Much of the focus would be on China, where the NBA is already quite popular, and India, where cricket is considerably more popular.
Basketball "is a sport that lends itself to that," Ranadive said of the globalization effort. "It can be played in cities, it can be played in villages. Rich countries, poor countries - you don't need a lot of space like you do with cricket or soccer."
While in New York on April 3, when he led a presentation to a group of NBA owners, Ranadive said his ownership of the Kings would help the NBA sell tickets to some of the 3 million India natives living in America. As a limited partner in the Warriors, Ranadive is the NBA's first Indian-born owner.
The two newest investors hail from diverse backgrounds, but both reside in the intersection of technology and business.
Gupta is co-founder of Nexus Venture Partners, which has an office in Menlo Park but calls itself India's leading venture capital firm. It has bankrolled firms on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.
Miller is president and chief operating officer of Leap Motion, a motion-control hardware and software company. He also is co-owner of the Modesto Nuts minor league baseball team.
Call The Bee's Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.