Basketball great Kobe Bryant today became the latest celebrity to try a new life as a venture capitalist.
The former Los Angeles Laker has partnered with former Web.com Chief Executive Jeff Stibel to form Bryant Stibel, a fund that will focus on the convergence of technology, media and data along with sports and wellness. They’ll reportedly invest $100 million in the firm over the next few years and aren’t seeking outside backers as of yet.
Based in Los Angeles, the pair has invested in 15 companies since 2013 but decided to formalize their relationship after Bryant retired from the NBA earlier this year. Their portfolio includes the sports media website The Players Tribune, which was founded by ex-New York Yankee Derek Jeter; legal services firm LegalZoom, which was co-founded by former O.J. Simpson lawyer Robert Shapiro; Juicero, which sells a home cold-pressed-juicing system; and Reserve.com, a website that lets people make restaurant reservations.
“They have $100 million of their own money,” wrote Alastair Goldfisher, venture capital editor at Buyouts Insider, in an email. “They’re not going to have a tough time to source deals. They’ve already proven they can get in some rounds. And by Bryant partnering with a finance guy, well, that will just help move things along. It will help legitimize him.”
Bryant, an 18-time NBA all-star, designed the company’s logo and brings “creative, if obsessive, flair around marketing, branding and storytelling” to the partnership, while Stibel contributes his background in building companies, according to the The Wall Street Journal. They didn’t respond to an email requesting comment for this story.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that Bryant’s success on the court will translate to the world of venture capital. During the second quarter, VCs invested $15.3 billion in 961 deals, a dollar decrease of 12 percent and 22 percent fewer deals compared with a year earlier.
Even so, this is the 10th consecutive quarter with more than $10 billion in venture capital invested in a single quarter, and that streak is plenty appealing to many celebrities.
Bryant’s longtime nemesis and one-time teammate Shaquille O’Neal has made a number of tech investments including Loyal3Holdings, a San Francisco brokerage firm that helps companies sell a piece of their initial public offerings to small investors. He also was an early investor in Alphabet’s Google (GOOG).
Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks launched his venture capital firm Melo7Tech Partners with media executive Stuart Goldfarb in 2013. It focuses on early-stage tech companies. Former NFL quaterback Steve Young is co-founder and managing director of HGCC, a fund with $2.4 billion in investments, while former NBA Star David Robinson co-founded Admiral Capital Group, which has more than $50 million in real estate investments.
U2 lead singer Bono and actor Ashton Kutcher have dabbled in venture capital for years. Ireland-born Bono is a managing director of Elevation Partners, an early backer of Facebook (FB) and Yelp (YELP) among others. Although some media reports have proclaimed that the rocker is a billionaire, Forbes magazine said last year that his fortune is below 10 figures, though his band remains among the world’s wealthiest acts
As for Kutcher, the former “Two and a Half Men” star co-founded A-Grade Investment in 2011, which has investments in Uber, Airbnb and Spotify among other tech companies.