Kobe Bryant has officially traded the court for the boardroom with the unveiling of his new US$100 million venture capital fund.
Bryant Stibel will be the new firm headed by the retired NBA star alongside his business partner Jeff Stibel, a seasoned entrepreneur and investor whom Bryant met through a mutual friend.
The company which will be based in Los Angeles isn’t exactly new by any means. Both Bryant and Stibel have invested in 15 companies since 2013 but it was only after Bryant’s retirement from the sport that the pair decided to go public and formalise their business partnership.
The move will see Bryant following in the footsteps of other business savvy celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher whose company, A-Grade Investments, has shares in multiple tech companies including Spotify, Airbnb, Foursquare and Uber.
Bryant’s role at the firm will revolve around creative direction where he will use his obsessive attention to detail and decades of marketing expertise to drive branding and storytelling. The company’s logo was even designed by Bryant himself with inspiration taken from piano keys.
Stibel meanwhile will focus on the ground work necessary to building a successful company.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the NBA star said that he’ll also bring his keen eye for spotting talented entrepreneurs with a strong work ethic.
“Sometimes you can spot it right away, other times not so much. It’s the inner belief that a person has that he will endure no matter what the obstacle may be. It’s that persistence, the entrepreneur doing what he or she truly believes in and truly loves to do.”
The firm’s current investment portfolio includes a rather diverse list of tech startups such as sports media website The Players Tribune, video game designer Scopely, legal services company LegalZoom, telemarketing software developer RingDNA and a home juicing company called Juicero.
Bryant’s motives for muscling into the high stakes industry is simple. The soon-to-be 38-year-old has been running 6a.m one-on-one workouts to help develop the next generation of young NBA players. He told WSJ that this same motivation to help others with basketball also flows into his business acumen.
“If you would have asked me 10 years ago, I would say I need to win now,” said. “Age tends to give you perspective. The most important thing I enjoy now is helping others be successful. I enjoy doing that much much more, that’s something that lasts forever, and hope they do that for the next generation.”