by Darren Heitner (FORBES)
Kobe Bryant says the beautiful part of business is that there are no salary cap restrictions. The retired NBA superstar will get to put that theory to test as he embarks on a new journey off the court — managing a $100 million venture capital fund focused on investments in the technology, media and data space.
Bryant and former President and CEO Web.com Jeff Stibel have self-funded their new venture capital firmBryant Stibel, which already invests in a plethora of companies including The Players Tribune, Scopely and LegalZoom. Bryant Stibel is not currently seeking outside investment.
Bryant says that the creation of Bryant Stibel was four years in the making, which means that he was preparing for retirement well before he made an announcement that he would be ending his career on the court. He acknowledges that many of his athlete colleagues often find trouble when retirement hits, usually much earlier in their lives than when Bryant called it quits. His advice is not to seek money making opportunities, but for athletes to discover early in their careers where their off-court or off-field passions lie and to pursue them with vigor. That is precisely what Bryant did in quietly working on his investment arm prior to formally retiring from the NBA.
This is not the first time that a basketball player has announced a venture capital fund. In July 2014, New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony revealed M7 Tech Partners, a collaboration between Anthony and veteran executive Stuart Goldfarb. Many other athletes have shown a proclivity for investing in technology, including NFL veteran Marques Colston.
Bryant is not without help in venturing out into the investment world. Besides being able to rely on Stibel, Bryant says that he constantly bounces ideas off of Nike NKE -0.02% CEO Mark Parker. Bryant has been a long-time endorser of the Nike brand.
Bryant also revealed one of his tricks for staying on top of the trends. He says that he will constantly cold call individuals all the time and ask them what is on their reading list. Bryant has a passion for learning and growing businesses. He is following his own advice by entering the world of investing. When those companies go public, you may have an opportunity to invest alongside one of the NBA’s greatest players.