Kobe Bryant, the athlete who became NBA legend, was much more than a basketball star. Because when he wasn’t running on the playing fields, he was leading another life, that of an entrepreneur and investor. Between one basket and another, and especially after saying goodbye to a sport he loved so much, the Los Angeles Lakers star has built a business empire, which includes a venture capital fund, books, athletics centers and a company multimedia content production.
It is certainly not the only one. Several basketball players like him have decided to diversify earnings and careers, launching themselves into various types of entrepreneurial initiatives: from Michael Jordan to Shaquille O’Neal, up to LeBron James, there is no shortage of examples. Black Mamba, even so he was nicknamed Kobe, had decided to focus on hi-tech startups, co-founding the venture capital firm “Bryant Stibel” together with Jeff Stibel, the creator of Web.com.
It was 2013, the announcement of his retirement from the NBA would come only three years later, and Bryant laid the foundations for a new business project that was then officially unveiled in 2016: it was a 100 million dollar fund created to provide financial, operational and strategic support to companies specialized in the high technology, data and media sectors. A platform that, as stated on the company’s website, combines the “creative vision of a sports icon” like Kobe Bryant with the skills and experience of “serial entrepreneur” Jeff Stibel. The company has invested in several tech giants, from Alibaba to Dell, to Epic Games, developer and producer of Fortnite. And his portfolio counts on the whole, between old and new investments, at least 28 different companies.
Kobe’s passion for business does not end with this initiative. In March 2014, he had invested $ 6 million in BodyArmor, a US energy drink advertised as a healthier alternative to Gatorade, to buy 10 percent of the company. A deal in which Coca cola also wanted to enter 4 years later, acquiring a majority stake in the brand: an operation that had increased the value of the athlete’s investment, which had risen to 200 million dollars.
In 2016 it was time to found Granity Studios, a media company that produces multimedia content or, as we read on the company’s website, specializes in “creating new ways to tell stories focused on sports. Stories designed to entertain, combining the educational and teaching component with that of being a source of inspiration “. Thanks to it, Kobe Bryant wrote and produced a short film called “Dear Basketball“, which was awarded an Academy Award for best animated short film in 2018. The same company has also published several books, including the basketball player’s autobiography. : “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play.”
Meanwhile Bryant, like other basketball stars, signed commercial agreements with Nike: the first dates back to 2003 and since then the collaboration has continued, going from shoes to the launch in 2017 together with the Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club of a youth basketball league called Mamba League, to give young people free and open access to the world of sport. At the same time, it has also developed athletics and training centers, which form the Mamba Sports Academy: a structure designed to offer various sports programs to athletes of all ages and categories.
As reported by the media, a few weeks before the crash with the helicopter (exactly on 30 December 2019), the champion had begun the procedures to register the “Mambacita” trademark, the nickname of his daughter Gianna who lost her life with him together with other people. The intent was to use the brand for a sportswear line, from shirts to shorts, to sweatshirts and hats, recalls the Tmz newspaper who was able to view the documents of the operation.