Since retiring from the NBA, Kobe Bryant has started a new career as a venture capitalist. Along with his partner, Jeff Stibel, a longtime entrepreneur and investor, they have established a $100 million venture-capital fund for investing in technology, media and data companies. They have named their company Bryant Stibel, which is based in the Los Angeles area. They have been invested in 15 companies since 2013, and have formalized their business relationship and fund since Kobe’s retirement from the NBA.
Bryant and Stibel have contributed the $100 million themselves and aren’t seeking outside investors yet. They are currently invested in sports media website The Players Tribune, video game designer Scopely, legal-services company LegalZoom, a telemarketing-software firm called RingDNA and a juicing company called Juicero. Bryant and Stibel said their skills complement each other because Stibel brings experience building companies, while Bryant brings a creative edge for marketing, branding and storytelling. Mr. Stibel made it quite clear that, “We don’t want to be in the business of investing in companies so someone can use Kobe as an endorser. That’s not interesting, the point is to add real value.” Kobe, who is known for his painstaking preparation and training, said he brings the ability to identify entrepreneurs with an intense work ethic. When asked what makes a good entrepreneur, Mr. Stibel said, “The most important things are grit and intelligence. You have to have that passion that you can succeed. The business and idea will change over and over again. But the entrepreneur persists.”
Kobe Bryant joins a growing list of athletes and entertainers who have jumped into the world of venture capital. Some on that list are Shaquille O’Neal, Carmelo Anthony, Andre Iguodala, Ashton Kutcher, Robert Downey Jr., Lupe Fiasco, Nas, Tyra Banks, and Ellen Degeneres.