We believe that a new wave of great venture capital franchises are being formed today, and it’s a group that’s very fundamental to our investment thesis.



In sports, successful teams always think about the “next play” when competing.  Over the past decade, a dominant theme has emerged as the sports and media verticals have represented enormous growth drivers for technology start-ups and their investors The Next Play platform is designed to accelerate growth within this sector for our partners.


  1. Strong, long-standing, established industry  relationships.

  2. Differentiated and value added investor who can create impact for portfolio companies and venture managers.

  3. Constructing well-balanced investment vehicles with positions in the most access constrained venture funds for a stable return base and co-investments in their companies for opportunities at outperformance.

OUR Starting Lineup

Ryan Nece

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Co-Founder, Managing Partner

Having been an elite professional athlete, successful entrepreneur and disciplined investor over the past two decades, Ryan’s remarkable background put him in a unique position to be able to start Next Play Capital,  which sits at the intersection of sports and tech and leverages those relationships into a world-class investment platform. 

Beginning with a distinguished 7 year NFL career that included a  Super Bowl ring with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ryan went on to learn the investment side first in real estate as a Principal at Arenda Capital, before moving on to debt and tech with Provident Investment Advisors.

He then moved on to the start-up world,  co-founding StraighCast Media, a mobile app designed to empower athletes to create their own HD content which sold to FOX Sports in 2014, freeing him to pursue the idea of starting Next Play Capital.

Eric Valle

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General Partner, COO

With 20 years of experience in Silicon Valley across the entire venture ecosystem of start-ups, funds, fund-of-funds and asset management, Eric brings a diverse skill set tailor-made for Next Play Capital.

At Next Play, Eric serves as the administrative parter overseeing the day-to-day activities of the firm and funds, including monitoring of portfolios, investor relations, and working with GPs and their portfolio companies to connect to the Next Play network.

Prior to Next Play, Eric was the Operating Partner helping to launch an early-stage venture fund started by partners spinning out of Lightspeed Venture Partners and General Catalyst, respectively. 

Before then, Eric was Director of Client Relations and Head of the Menlo Park office for Capital Dynamics, a Swiss private equity firm who acquired HRJ Capital where he led Investor Relations for the firm.

Ronnie Lott


Co-Founder, Architect

After a 14 year NFL career that included 5 Super Bowl rings & entry into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2000, Ronnie went on to found Champion Ventures, the fund of fund predecessor firm to Next Play Capital. 

Champion Ventures started in 1999 with a $40m venture fund of fund and grew to include strategies in Real Estate, Buyout, Distress and Hedge under the HRJ Capital brand. With 2.3b AUM, HRJ Capital was acquired by Capital Dynamics in 2009.

Ronnie continues to remain heavily involved in Silicon Valley as an investor in a number of start-ups and as a Board Member to several tech companies.  

In addition, Ronnie remains committed to a number of philanthropic causes starting with his own All Stars Helping Kids, which has provided underprivileged  youth programs targeting academics, health & fitness and life skills for over 25 years.

John Ailanjian



John Ailanjian, CFA founded Aspen Highland Management in 2016, an entity that provides investment advisory services to several high net worth families. The firm sources and analyzes investments across various capital structures, growth stages, and industries. The firm also specializes in raising capital for various direct investments.

Prior to founding Aspen Highland Management, John joined Aspen Highland Partners in 2012 and served as the CIO before becoming Partner in 2015. John was instrumental in developing and implementing a disciplined and structured approach to analyzing investment opportunities. He reconstructed and diversified the portfolio to include many direct venture and private equity investments.

Prior to Aspen Highland Partners, John served as Vice President of International Sales at Goldman Sachs from 2000-2005 and then Vice President of Institutional Equity Sales from 2008 to 2012. He also served as a Portfolio Manager for Lumen Advisers LLC, a multi-strategy macro hedge fund from 2005-2008.  John is a graduate of University of California, Los Angeles with a B.A. in Economics. John is also a graduate of the Stanford Executive Program and a Chartered Financial Analyst.

If you can believe it, the mind can achieve it.
— Ronnie Lott