Top Athletes in the Tech Space


1. Steph Curry: co-owner of Slyce, CoachUp, Gather
2. Kevin Durant; Postmates, JetsMarter, Tigerbeat Media
3. Andre Iguodala; Walker and Company, Twice, Thriive Global
4. Serena Williams; Mayvenn, Mobli
5. Maria Sharapova
6. Kevin Seraphin: Thorolgraffix
7. Carmelo Anthony; Venture Funds, Capital Firm M7 Tech Partners, Hullabalu; Draft Kings; Lyft; SeatGeek; WhistleSports
8. Harrison Barnes; Walker and Company
9. Andrew Bogut; ONE financial and mortgage services; teamgage
10. Randy Flores
11. Isaiah Kacyvenski
12. Chris Paul; Innovision Labs, Muzik One, Fusionetics
13. Shawntae Spencer: Six seed investments;, Mayvenn, and MoviePass.
14. Peyton Manning; SeatGeek, Whistle Sports, Weplay
15. Eli Manning; SeatGeek
16. Shane Battier; SeatGeek
17. Mike Dunleavy Jr.; SeatGeek
18. Steve Nash; Venture Funds, Casper, Contently, Birchbox
19. MLB; Shots selfie app
20. Under Armour; $560 million to acquire fitness trackers MyFitnessPal and Endomondo
21. Reggie Howard; United Athletes Foundation, uNite, iDiversicon,
22. Alex Bernstein ; Echo Network, co-founder North Social acquired in 2011 for $25 million by Vocus, North Venture Partners and inoak
23. Jeb Terry; StraightCast Media (formerly Gridiron Ventures) Gridiron Grunts app in 2011
24. Ryan Nece; StraightCast Media (formerly Gridiron Ventures) Gridiron Grunts app in 2011
25. Joe Montana; participated in a $2million seed round for BloomThat, Weave, GameON, Secret, Nerdwallet
26. Baron Davis; participated in a $2million seed round for BloomThat
27. James Mashburn; partnered to form Justice Mashburn Capital Partners, LevelEleven
28. Winston Justice; partnered to form Justice Mashburn Capital Partners, LevelEleven
29. Michael Phelps
30. Kobe Bryant; $100 million venture capital fund looking to invest in tech media and data focused companies, The Players Tribune, Represent, Shift
31. Lebron James; Beats by Dre headphones early investor $30 million made after the headphone $3 billion sale to Apple, Uninterrupted, weplay
32. Derek Jeter; The Players Tribune, BlueJeans, Weplay
33. Magic Johnson; JopWell, SodexoMagic, Marxent
34. Ronnie Lot; Yammer, WGTmedia, Yardbarker
35. Curt Schilling; lost $50 million in failed video game venture called 38 Studios
36. Shaquille O’Neal; Google, Loyal3, Muscle Milk, NRG

Sources: TechCrunch, SportTechie, Forbes and CBInsights

A strong majority of the players (12 out of the 18) came from the NBA where (unlike the NFL) player contracts are guaranteed and where recently even middle of the road players are getting league-max contracts. I could only find one female athlete investing in tech and she happens to be the highest earning female athlete of all time.

Even adjusting for my own sampling bias in the companies above, a significant number of investments made by the athletes were understandably in sports technology or digital media with an overwhelming majority being in consumer-facing tech. Current players like Chris Paul and Steph Curry more actively invested in wearable or performance-enhancing technologies more so than retired players.

The last and most important thing is that all of these players (with the exception of Steph Curry, who will complete the trend in 2017) have received successively higher contracts and/or multi million dollar endorsement deals over their long and lucrative careers.

Interesting: Let’s do some back of the napkin math. Assuming you have a:

  •  $25M seed fund
  • Setting aside $15M for first checks / keeping $10M for follow-ons
  • Average check-size of $0.5M for first checks / $2M for follow-ons

You can invest in 30 companies and follow-on for 5 of them. Just to get your money back i.e. return the fund, you need:

  • One company (where you invested $2.5M) to return 10.0x
  • Two companies to return an average of 5.0x
  •  And so on…