An investment from four years ago has proved to be a huge windfall for retired NBA star Kobe Bryant. In 2014, Bryant bought a 10% share of sports drink BodyArmor. Coca-Cola just purchased a minority investment in BodyArmor.
Bryant’s initial investment of $6 million turned into $200 million with the soft drink giant’s investment.
In contrast to the many cases of former professional athletes going broke in retirement, today’s crop of African American athletes is increasingly business-savvy as both entrepreneurs and investors.
In 2016, Bryant launched a $100 million venture capital fund with entrepreneur and investor Jeff Stibel. The funding was reserved for technology, media, and data startups.
Establishing the VC fund was a real move into the financial world for Bryant. Stibel said the partnership was not about having Bryant act as a famous frontman or endorser for companies that are funded.
“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,” said Bryant at the time.
Black Enterprise contributor Jared Brown, who helped coordinate a $25 million initiative at the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), said about Bryant’s fund, “Bryant is uniquely positioned to change systemic perceptions and transform how people of color navigate in the venture capitalist community. Considering that 87% of venture capitalists are white and only 4% identifies as African American and Latino, his willingness to invest in black-owned firms could propel other venture capitalists to follow suit.”
Other black athletes and celebrities have similarly stepped into the venture capital space. Recently, life insurance startup, Ethos announced an $11.5M financing round led by Sequoia Capital, to make obtaining life insurance accessible and simple for everyone. Other investors in the round included a very star-studded cast. Among the list are Stanford University; Arrive, a subsidiary of Roc Nation; Robert Downey Jr.’s Downey Ventures; Kevin Durant’s Durant Co.; Will Smith’s Smith Family Circle; and a credit facility from Silicon Valley Bank.
—Sequoia Blodgett contributed to this report.