NBA stars and the tech world – a slam dunk!
The 2017 NBA Finals featured some of pro basketball’s transcendent superstars: LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving, Andre Iquodala, Kevin Durant. And though they wore different colors, they have many things in common, i.e. their mind-boggling talent, immense wealth, and off the court, a sizeable footprint in the tech world.
Professional athletes have never been shy about investing their money, but in times past many of these ventures were simply product endorsements–the athlete allowed their name to be put on products ranging from razors to restaurants, or in George Foreman’s case, a best-selling grill. However, today’s mega-rich sports stars, like James and Curry, look to silicon valley for investment opportunities.
LeBron James takes in 31 million dollars a year playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and his lifetime contract with Nike will be worth over 1 billion dollars. On the tech side, he’s invested in WePlay, a sports-focused networking site.
Curry partnered with his Davidson University roommate, Bryant Barr to form Slyce, an automated marketing service that works with brands to publish content and reach targeted audiences. It was a natural, and necessary move, said Barr to CNBC, “when you’re a start-up, without a lot of cash, and trying to figure out your way, and find a product market fit, having a guy like Steph to excite people to potentially join the team or join Steph’s company is something we try to play up.”
Curry teammate Andre Iguodala is an investor in Arianna Huffington’s wellness company, Thrive Global, and Irving, the Cav’s mercurial point guard, has an equity stake in Skullcandy, which sells high end headphones.
Finally, Kevin Durant, a future Hall of Famer, has put his money into the micro investing app Acorns as well as food delivery start-up Postmates.
And while he hasn’t yet to play in a championship series, one of basketball’s most prolific investors is Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks. This past spring he formed his own tech investment company, Melo 7 Tech partners, which has invested in over 20 companies, including Casper, which sells direct-to-consumer mattresses.
Why tech? Why not? As Anthony told USA Today, it’s all about being cutting edge. “The money is enticing, but it’s also the thrill of being involved with businesses and companies that are changing the world today…in everything we do–whether it’s sports, fashion or music.”