Foot: John Textor, the virtual pioneer wants to make OL a reality

A wealthy American, on his way to becoming the majority shareholder of Olympique Lyonnais, is a pioneer in virtual reality.

Holograms, special effects, artificial intelligence… Wealthy American John Textor, about to become the biggest contributor to Olympique Lyonnais, is a pioneer in virtual reality. In 2016, Forbes magazine painted John Textor as “Hollywood virtual reality teacher”, the nickname that came after that to dedicate the activity of the American businessman in this market.

But in the 2000s, a former computer programmer was baffling moviegoers. From 2006 to 2012, the entrepreneur chaired the board of directors of Digital Domain, a big-screen special effects studio created by Canadian director James Cameron.

In addition to being involved in special effects for films like Transformers and Tron: Legacy and part of the Pirates of the Caribbean saga, the studio has made a name for itself by ageing in a very realistic way Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). But the company is subject to US bankruptcy in 2012. Then John Textor launched Pulse Evolution, which develops holograms, in particular, of deceased stars.

In 2012, she managed to bring the American rapper Tupac Shakur, who died in 1996, to the Coachella Festival (California), under the amazing eyes of the public. In 2014, the role of Michael Jackson was to be reborn at the Billboard Music Awards. These two shows are viewed millions of times on Youtube, which contributes to the development of this technology.

After his quest to recreate the stars, the Missouri-born entrepreneur takes it a step further by embarking on artificial intelligence. He created EvolutionAI and advertised on his website to dedicate his career to “Creating digital humans who help improve humanity“.

Strong presence in football

The 56-year-old American, a former professional skater, co-founded FuboTv, a streaming service focused on broadcasting live sports, before turning to football.

In July 2021, he first tried to take control of Benfica, but to no avail. The following month, he took refuge in England, taking 18% of the shares of Crystal Palace, a club in the southern suburbs of London that plays in the Premier League.

Then John Textor took over FC Botafogo, a historic Brazilian club, taking 90% of its capital, then returned to Europe, acquiring 80% of the shares of RWD Molenbeek, which aims to return to the elite of Belgian football. “John Textor is a football fan and also wants to invest in our youth‘,” explained Thierry Delle, the club’s president, recently.

His fiery tweets on the Botafogo website testify to this, even if the American is above all a businessman. “Football is no different than any other business. You have to win to be profitable,” he told CNN in March.

Poised to become Olympique Lyonnais’ majority shareholder, John Textor has taken over a club whose glorious past appears to have been just a hologram in recent seasons as OL’s sporting results have proven disappointing. His new mission will be to make it a reality.


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