Kobe Bryant and nine other athletes have been supersmart investors
Nine superjocks who use their brainpower, access and finances to make their money work for them
“What comes next? What is my next passion?”
Those are the two questions retired NBA star and Academy Award winner Kobe Bryant claims athletes have to ask themselves.
The answer — for Bryant, 40, and many other retired sports stars — is investing.
In mid-August, the news that Bryant’s 2014 investment of $6 million in sports drink BodyArmor had morphed into $200 million after Cola-Cola purchased the company garnered lots of attention. In 2016, the five-time NBA champion partnered with Jeff Stibel, former CEO of Web.com, to form the venture capital fund Bryant Stibel. Other investments under Bryant Stibel include online education platform VIPKid and restaurant booking company Reserve.
Bryant’s return on investment is a boon to the ideology of athletes’ soaring interests in technology investments and beyond. But he’s not the only player who has taken the savvy approach to declaring his or her next passion.
More than 30 years ago, NBA Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson, now the president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers, started Magic Johnson Enterprises and invested in technology staffing company Jopwell. For decades he has maintained ownership in movie theaters, Burger King, TGI Fridays and other franchises, teams and startups.
Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter invested in the video conference service Blue Jeans Network and the anti-bullying app StopIt. He also founded sports website The Players’ Tribune. NBA big man and Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal sat down with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres in June to discuss investing in Google. O’Neal has also invested in burger chain Five Guys, 24 Hour Fitness and Apple.
Here are nine superjocks who use their brainpower, access and finances to make their money work for them.
The new mother and tennis champion took interest in the meal delivery service Daily Harvest. During a 2017 episode of talk series Kneading Dough, she also expressed to Maverick Carter some interest in investment properties.
“I have the weirdest one, it’s property,” Serena Williams said. “For me, investments are really important in terms of who are the other investors: What does their portfolio look like? Have they been successful? If they’re a new company, are they a good product? Is it something you believe in? I never do something if I don’t really believe in the product.”
Venus Williams is an investor in Ellevest, a financial app that empowers women and provides tips on saving.
When the Golden State Warriors All-Star found himself leaving Oklahoma City for Silicon Valley, he’d already developed a portfolio that included stakes in delivery service Postmates; Acorns, an investment app geared to millennials; drone company Skydio; and scooter brand LimeBike. Kevin Durant usually prefers to make his investments at the early stages.
Maya Moore’s desire to promote healthy eating habits encouraged her to become involved with the frozen-juice company Chloe’s Fruit and the plant-based protein meat substitute company Beyond Meat.
“I think from early on in my career, I wanted to be someone who promotes health and wellness and nutrition,” Moore told WCCO4 CBS Minnesota. “These two companies definitely fit all those things.”
When Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul said in a press release that he wants to “help shape the way Americans choose their sports drinks,” he was serious. He placed some of his coins into the juice industry, investing in sports drink and cold-pressed watermelon juice WTRMLN WTR.
The basketball megaman was $30 million richer after an investment in Beats by Dre. His involvement included exclusive branding and promotion of the company’s headphones line, which was purchased by Apple in May 2014.
In 2012, James also made a $1 million investment in the Blaze Pizza chain that’s now worth $40 million, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell.
The Golden State Warriors standout Andre Iguodala shed light on the importance of investing during the recent second annual Players Technology Summit at Bloomberg offices in San Francisco. He and Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown participated in the panel “From Athlete to Entrepreneur.” Iguodala’s portfolio includes The Players’ Tribune, Apple, and apps Trumid and Thrive Global.
“I started an E-Trade account,” Iguodala told The Undefeated’s Marc Spears. “Learn how your money works in different investment gigs. I made some investment in startups with my E-Trade account. You do some research on those companies because you are watching where your money is going and how it’s growing or how it’s being lost. A lot of companies were in this area. One of them was a mobile gaming company that had a lot of success in Zynga.”
In July, the founder and CEO of esports company Team SoloMid announced that its parent company, Swift, received $37 million in Series A funding, and one of the investors was the two-time NBA MVP. Stephen Curry has also invested in the private coaching app CoachUp, and he co-founded the app Slyce.
In May, Anthony joined Somerset Hospitality Group, investing in South Bronx-based restaurant Nobody’s Pizza in New York, whose founders are forming a partnership with national pub chain The Ainsworth.
“I am excited about the prospects of partnering with The Ainsworth and Nobody’s Pizza — combining food, entertainment, sports and real estate,” Anthony said in a statement.
According to the New York Post, Anthony’s $5 million investment will help open a chain of pubs and pizza shops.
In 2015, Anthony launched M7 Tech Partners with former executive vice president Stuart Goldfarb. The company invests in early-stage consumer technology and digital media companies, starting with Hullabalu and Techstars.