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City & State's Brooklyn Power 100 list downgraded Joe & Clara Wu Tsai (Nets/Liberty/arena/Social Justice Fund) to #42, but their clout is increasing.

City & State NY on 7/31/23 announced the 2023 Brooklyn Power 100.

Among the obvious suspects, leading off the list are politicos like Eric Adams, Chuck Schumer, Hakeem Jeffries, and Letitia James, plus advisors/lobbyists like former mayoral Chief of Staff Frank Carone (#20), Adams campaign chief Evan Thies (#29).

Among the real-estate entrepreneurs are Jed Walentas, CEO of Two Trees (#18) and Doug Steiner, Chair of Steiner Studios (#38).

You might wonder exactly why five members of the publication's Advisory Board  (which helps advise on such lists) make this list, four of them lobbyists. After all, are these rankings are arbitrary--are lobbyists more powerful than, say, some low-profile Hasidic developers, for example?

About the Tsais

I'm not sure if it makes sense to nudge the power couple Joe and Clara Wu Tsai to #42, from #33 in 2022. The squib inadequately described them as "Co-Owners, Brooklyn Nets," since they also own the New York Liberty and Barclays Center operating company. 

The Liberty are now a playoff superteam and the arena company, while still not making money, is key to the ever-rising valuation of the Nets. So the squib seems kind of stale:
A super team with Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant looked phenomenal on paper but didn’t work once they realized they couldn’t have the ball at the same time. The Brooklyn Nets eventually traded all of them, and Joseph and Clara Wu Tsai never looked back as the team made the playoffs. Joseph Tsai is already part of another super team of sorts, having been named Alibaba’s new chair last month in an executive shuffle.
More importantly, the Tsais make news with strategic local philanthropy, notably various projects to fulfill the 2020 announcement of a new Social Justice Fund, committing $50 million over ten years. (There's no accounting of that $5 million annual spend, but they are clearly spending some of it.) 

And that spending helps elevate them in the Brooklyn consciousness, such as working with the Brooklyn Community Foundation on a new "Just Brooklyn" prize, to be awarded at a ceremony tonight.

As I wrote last December, ittle more than a month before Gov. Kathy Hochul attended a WNBA New York Liberty game last summer, posed for a photo with Liberty co-owner Clara Wu Tsai, and also honored recipients of the team owners' Social Justice Fund, Clara Wu Tsai gave Hochul's election fund the maximum contribution, $69,700. That's political clout.

Past rankings

In 2020, Joe Tsai (alone) was #20 on City & State NY's new Brooklyn Power 50.

In 2021's expanded Brooklyn Power 100 list, the publication ranked both Joe Tsai and his wife Clara Wu Tsai #37

"They also decry anti-Asian hate crimes and support Black Brooklyn leaders through the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation’s social justice fund," said the squib. I noted there was no mention of Joe Tsai's indefensible defense of the Chinese regime, because these types of lists don't include such things.

In 2022, going up

In 2022 (which I didn't write about at the time), the couple were upped to #33 on the list. From the squib:
The Brooklyn Nets barely made the NBA playoffs and the team, and the Barclays Center still hemorrhaged $50 to $100 million last year, prompting Joe and Clara Wu Tsai to replace their CEO. Despite the losses, the Tsais continued expanding their presence in the borough by acquiring the WNBA’s New York Liberty team, investing $50 million in the Social Justice Fund for Brooklyn and sending 2,400 public school kids to a Basquiat exhibit. A comedy based on Tsai’s life is coming to Hulu soon.
That was a bit odd, because they acquired the New York Liberty in 2019 and announced the $50 million for the Social Justice Fund in 2020

A comedy derailed

By the way, that "comedy based on Tsai's life" wasn't quite that, nor will it come to Hulu soon.

As Variety reported 5/4/22, the show, set to star comedian and Daily Show correspondent Ronny Chieng, was about the Brooklyn Nets' new general manager--not the owner--and thus was "inspired (but not about)" Tsai.

After all, the GM is a very tall New Zealander, Sean Marks and, as I wrote 11/3/22, it was notably bad timing to make anything inspired by the Nets, as the franchise had been unraveling in the previous week, after star guard Kyrie Irving tweeted a link in implicit endorsement of an anti-Semitic film, prompting a series of repercussions; meanwhile, the team fired Coach Steve Nash and purusued hiring scandal-tinged former Celtics coach Ime Udoka.

Well, I hadn't noticed, but as Variety reported 3/17/23, Hulu decided not to pick up the show. The producers, according to Deadline, hope to place the pilot elsewhere, but nothing more has surfaced, and I'd bet it's unlikely.

Another 2022 connection

By the way Gregg Bishop, Executive Director, Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation Social Justice Fund, was #87 on the 2022 list:
Gregg Bishop had a fulfilling role providing financial and legal resources to small businesses to help them recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic. But when Joe and Clara Tsai approached the Flatbush leader last year about tackling systemic disparities in the workforce and entrepreneurship through their foundation, Bishop leapt at the opportunity. So far, their Brooklyn EXCELerate Loan Fund has provided $1.6 million to businesses – three-quarters of which are owned by Black women.
As noted, Bishop is a member of City & State’s advisory board. If he deserved to be on the list in 2022, it's hard to see why he doesn't deserve to be on it in 2023.