Kobe Bryant’s legacy extends beyond his time on the basketball court. He was also known to the business world as a brand-builder; an investor; and a coach to other athletes and company founders.
Bryant diversified his career by breaking into the investing world even before leaving the NBA. In 2013, he co-founded venture capital firm Bryant Stibel along with Web.com founder Jeff Stibel.
In creating the company, Bryant followed the model of a select number of other sports legends who have been able to transform skills developed on the court into business success.
Bryant’s firm now has more than $2 billion in assets, with investments in dozens of technology, media and data companies. Bryant Stibel claims at least 10 successful exits, including Dell and Alibaba. It also has investments in Fortnite creator Epic Games, digital payment company Klarna and household products firm The Honest Company.
Bryant’s reputation as a star athlete and brand builder has been one of the portfolio’s keys to success.
Separate from the firm, Bryant also made millions of dollars on his investment in sports drink Body Armor, which in 2018 boosted its valuation by selling a stake to Coca Cola.
And other athletes took note of Bryant’s experience as an investor.
In 2016, Bryant founded Granity Studios, a media company that focuses on creative storytelling around sports.
Through this company, the basketball star wrote and narrated a short film called “Dear Basketball,” which won the Academy Award for best animated short film in 2018. Granity has also released a set of books for young adults, along with Bryant’s autobiography, “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play.”
Bryant, known in basketball as “Black Mamba,” began to build his brand as an athlete early in his career as a Nike (NKE) endorser.
Bryant first signed a deal with Nike in 2003. He was one of an elite group of NBA players who signed with the brand that year, including LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. That helped the shoe company solidify its position in the basketball world for the next couple of decades following Michael Jordan’s 2003 retirement.
As Bryant’s success on the court grew, so too did his Nike partnership. The brand put out multiple lines of Kobe shoes and gear. In 2017, the company brought Bryant on stage with then-CEO Mark Parker at its annual investor meeting to celebrate the launch of Nike’s new business strategy.
Nike partnered with Bryant and the Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club to launch a youth basketball league, called the Mamba League, in 2017, to give hundreds of kids free access to the sport. Bryant later created the Mamba Sports Academy to provide broader athletic and lifestyle training to competitors at all levels in a number of sports.
Bryant was on his way to a Mamba Sports Academy game Sunday when the helicopter crashed
Bryant also had endorsement deals with a number of other brands throughout his career, including McDonald’s (MCD), Sprite, Nintendo (NTDOF) and Turkish Airlines.
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