Kobe jumps into $100 million investment project

8:55 PM ET

Kobe Bryant announced Monday that he was starting a $100 million media, technology and data fund.

Bryant will partner with investor Jeff Stibel, the vice chairman of Dun Bradstreet, chairman of brain implant system BrainGate and former president of Web.com. Bryant has been privately investing with Stibel.

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The venture, which is not open to outside investors, has already invested in 13 companies, according to The Wall Street Journal, including The Players’ Tribune, video game designer Scopely, LegalZoom, apparel T-shirt company Represent, Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba and VIPKid, a company that provides a North American school experience to children in China.

“This is one of my passions,” Bryant said on CNBC after he rang the opening bell Monday on the New York Stock Exchange. “We are one gear, 100 percent laser-focused, and here we go.”

The fund does not include Bryant’s personal investments that he makes through Kobe Inc., a company he started in 2014. His first investment was in sports drink company BodyArmor, which partnered with the Los Angeles Lakers for his final game merchandise. The $1.2 million in merchandise sold at the Staples Center on April 14 set an industry record for merchandise sales at a stadium and arena in a single day.

That didn’t include apparel sold just by Kobe Inc., which offered T-shirts with the words “Mamba Out,” the last words Bryant said before walking off the court for the final time after he scored 60 points in his career finale. His company recently filed to trademark that phrase, though it will be second in line behind two men who filed a trademark a couple days after Bryant said it.

Other NBA players have made a dent in the investing world, including former Lakers great Magic Johnson. His personal business, Magic Johnson Enterprises, made investments in urban-area real estate, and he has had several real estate funds, with Canyon Capital, Yucaipa and JLC Loop Capital, that raised more than $3 billion.

Former San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson has also been part of the investing world. His Admiral Capital has acquired and sold real estate reportedly worth more than $350 million. Admiral Capital also invested in sports highlight capture company Krossover and discount ticketing company ScoreBig.

In 2014, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony started his M7 Tech fund, which has since invested in 20 companies, including ride-sharing company Lyft, ticketing company SeatGeek and Whistle, a pet activity monitor that the fund cashed in on when it was sold a few months ago.



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