Kobe Bryant Just Started a Venture Capital Fund
Kobe Bryant might be the name behind the next unicorn.
The basketball player, who retired earlier this year, has opened a $100 million venture capital fund alongside brain scientist and tech entrepreneur, Jeff Stibel, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The fund, named Bryant Stibel, will invest in tech, media, and data companies over the next few years, and it will be doing so, at least initially, primarily with Bryant’s money. Bryant Stibel is not seeking outside investors quite yet. Stibel has contributed some money to the fund as well.
Bryant and Stibel were introduced through a mutual friend. They began investing together in 2013—a total of 15 companies, including sports media website, The Players Triune, legal-services company, LegalZoom, home-juicing company, Juicero, and videogame designer, Scopely.
It’s not clear how well those investments have done. LegalZoom called off an IPO in 2014, and doesn’t appear to have raised new money since. The joint fund represents Bryant’s and Stibel’s decision to formalize that relationship.
Bryant, who turns 38 on Tuesday, has long been segueing into his next role as businessman. In 2014, the basketball star started Kobe Inc., a company focused on investing in the sports industry. A year later, the company invested millions in sports drink maker, BodyArmor.
The former basketball player also seems enthralled with the startup scene. Earlier this year, during an interview on Bill Simmons’s podcast, billionaire investor Chris Sacca revealed that he’d been speaking with Bryant.
The former NBA star sought Sacca’s advice regarding the startup scene, according to Vanity Fair. And Bryant was “obsessive” with the research, Sacca said.
“I don’t think [Bryant’s] a pretender about that stuff . . . I think he can be great at this,” Sacca said.