His love for soccer has ensured Riccardo Silva a career that encompasses every aspect of sport; from broadcasting to fashion to entertainment.
When and how did your journey as a businessman begin?
I guess it began because of my interest in soccer. I was always interested in sports, particularly soccer, from a very early age. One of my first jobs was working as an intern at a public relations firm that promoted marathons, and I’ve worked in sports media ever since. In 2001, I became the CEO of Milan Channel, the official TV channel of AC Milan football club, and guided the international development of the channel. I was a fan of the team since my childhood, so this was a huge privilege.
In 2004, I set up and ran MP & Silva, a sports media rights company that now has twenty offices around the world. When I sold the majority of my shares in MP & Silva in 2016, the company was a world leader in TV rights distribution. Last year, I established Silva International Investments, which manages and invests in assets across multiple sectors such as media, sports, tech, entertainment, art and real estate.
How has coming from a family business background, where your family is said to be ‘one of the most important industrial families in Italy’, shaped your business acumen?
My parents instilled in me a strong work ethic from an early age. This discipline combined with creativity have been indispensable qualities for my career.
What / who do you draw inspiration from?
From my father and his values; family, a strong work ethic and moral values.
What are / have been your biggest challenges in your business career?
When I first launched MP & Silva, I essentially needed to change the way TV rights were acquired and distributed in Italy. To avoid getting too technical, I’ll just say that the first three to four years of the company were amongst the most challenging and required much perseverance and strategic thinking.
Important lessons along the way?
Understanding that an idea is only 20 percent of the work while execution is the other 80 percent of the work.
The favorite part of your job?
I’ve been very fortunate in my career that there have been lots of highlights. My favorite aspect is probably that I’ve been able to make a profession out of working in or with the sports industry, which I’m immensely passionate about.
What is the best thing about being a businessman?
It’s rewarding to see what you’ve created. Throughout my career, I’m proud to have been able to assemble teams of talented professionals that are very focused and able to successfully work together toward a common goal of always building something valuable.
You have quite a number of varying businesses – Miami Football Club, Silva International, MP & Silva, MP Management, Mast Capital, The Riccardo Silva Collection, Musik and SportBusiness Group. What is your involvement in each of them and tell us an anecdote about each of them?
My assets now sit under the umbrella of my investment company, Silva International Investments. It invests in and helps manage companies that I’m interested in across various sectors. Its portfolio of investments includes MP & Silva, Mast Capital, MP Management, The Miami FC, Musik and SportBusiness Group. I have a selective investment criteria, so these are all companies I feel match my investment philosophy. My team and I are heavily involved in working with each of the assets to provide support where necessary to help each of the assets expand and grow.
I’m not sure I can tell you an anecdote from each of the companies but I think you can imagine that when you are working across sports, fashion, entertainment, it makes for a pretty exciting range of opportunities! I’m very lucky indeed.
You also have a philanthropic side. Tell us a bit more about that.
I’m involved with a number of charities and projects in Europe, Africa and the U.S., in particular Miami. I’m involved with Play for Change, amfAR, Mount Sinai Medical Center and the New World Symphony. I strongly believe in giving back, and I align myself with charities with causes that are important to me.
Describe yourself in three words.
Respectful, grateful, ambitious.
How do you balance your career and family life?
Spending time with my family is very important to me. I have two young boys who keep me on my toes and, even though I travel a lot because of my job, we speak every day. Like many young boys – and just like me – they are obsessed with soccer so when we are together it usually involves watching or playing soccer together.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy traveling, spending time with my children, following and playing sports. When I’m in Europe, I’ll typically go and see a team like Chelsea or Arsenal play a game. When I’m in Miami, I obviously go and see The Miami FC play.
If you hadn’t become a businessman, what would you have become?
I always thought I’d work for my family’s business in the chemical industry, until I developed an interest in the television rights industry, which was a new field in the 90’s.
Any parting words?
Be passionate about what you do. The best advice I can give is have passion, be organized and be focused.