CNN reports that 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 died Sunday in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California at the age of 41.
“For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement Sunday. “He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share with future generations of players.”
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. NBA Hall of Fame point guard Earvin “Magic” Johnson was among the first in 1987, when he founded investment firm Magic Johnson Enterprises, which invested in a number of sizable businesses, including Starbucks and New York’s LaGuardia airport.
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.
“You’ve got to have strong entrepreneurs, that’s really the key for us is looking at the people,” Bryant said in an interview with CNBC in September. “Yes, it’s important to see those returns, right? But it’s also important to have great opportunity, great relationships with our investors, great opportunities with our entrepreneurs to help them grow and put them in situations where they can be successful.”
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.
Bryant’s reputation as a star athlete and brand builder has been one of the portfolio’s keys to success.