With 18 All-Star nods and five NBA championships, Kobe Bryant firmly established himself as one of the best to ever play the game of basketball.
The retired NBA star will today unveil his venture-capital fund, a $100 million vehicle for investing in technology, media and data companies.
Bryant has teamed up with investor Jeff Stibel, a longtime entrepreneur and investor, who was introduced to Mr. Bryant by a mutual friend. They have named their firm Bryant Stibel and will be based in the Los Angeles area.
The two have been invested in 15 companies since 2013, but only after Mr. Bryant’s retirement from basketball have they decided to formalize their relationship and fund.
The $100 million is focused on tech, media and data companies and it is expected to last “the next few years,” the Journal reported.
Bryant and Stibel are providing the fund in full themselves, and “aren’t seeking outside investors yet,” according to the report.
Bryant, who is known for his skillful use of social media to connect with fans directly, told the Journal that he believes he has a flair for identifying promising entrepreneurs.
In an interview, the two men said their skills complement each other, with Mr. Stibel bringing experience building companies and Mr. Bryant contributing a creative, if obsessive, flair for details around marketing, branding and storytelling. He, in fact, designed the company’s new logo with inspiration from piano keys.
Bryant, who is known for his painstaking preparation and training, said he also brings the ability to identify entrepreneurs with a robust work ethic.
“Sometimes you can spot it right away, other times not so much,” said Mr. Bryant.
“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.”
Bryant’s fund may be the highest profile example of a sportsman going into the VC world to date, but it is certainly not a one-off case.
Shaquille O’Neal, and current players Carmelo Anthony and Steph Curry are among those who are involved in financing or managing startups.