Kobe Bryant, The Basketball Legend and Venture Capitalist
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Kobe Bryant was a basketball legend. In his 20-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, he won five championships, was an All-Star 18 times, and was selected to be on the All-NBA team 15 times. On Sunday, he — along with eight people — died in a helicopter crash. His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, was one of the victims.
While Bryant was best-known for his career on the court, many are unaware of his deep involvement in the tech scene in LA. He was an active entrepreneur who found a talent in “storytelling for brands” — Bryant said, while talking investments with USA TODAY.
He began his VC career before he retired from basketball as the co-founder of Bryant Stibel & Co. According to their website: “Bryant Stibel was founded in 2013 to provide strategy, capital, and operational support to businesses with a focus across technology, media, and data.”
Here are some of the legend’s off-court successes:
ringDNA is a “sales engagement platform that helps businesses scale revenue growth through AI.” Bryant Stibel led the initial investment in ringDNA in 2014 and invested again in 2018.
Bryant invested $6 million in BodyArmor, a “premium sports drink that provides superior hydration,” that aims to compete with Gatorade. ESPN reported that, in 2014, Bryant had purchased ten percent of the company for $6 million. The report also stated that, by mid-2018, the investment was worth $200 million when Coca-Cola acquired a minority stake in the company.
Bryant also invested in Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce behemoth. In fact, Bryant’s close relationship with Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, had been the subject of intense media fascination. As a basketball player, Bryant was wildly popular in China. According to the Red Card Report by The Mailman Group, Kobe Bryant was the most popular NBA legend online in China in 2019. He also had “the most followed Weibo account of any basketball player online in China, surpassing NBA Red Card winner Jeremy Lin.”
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Bryant Stibel also invested in the online legal-services platform, LegalZoom, in 2014.
These are just a few of Bryant’s business successes. He brought his passion and work ethic from the court to his business ventures. At one point, Bryant told CNBC that, in 20 years, he wanted to be remembered more for investing than for basketball.
“Now, championships come and go. Right? There’s going to be another team that wins an NBA Championship, another player that wins another MVP award. But if you really want to create something that lasts generations, you have to help inspire the next generation,” Bryant said.
Learn more about Bryant Stibel’s portfolio of companies on their website.