Kobe Bryant Leaves Behind a Business Empire that Stretched Beyond the Basketball Court
By Gerry W. Beyer
The sudden death of basketball star Kobe Bryant sent shockwaves not only through the realm of sports, but through the world. Bryant, 41, was killed yesterday when the helicopter he was on crashed near Calabasas, California, along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven other individuals. But the man was more than a basketball player as he was showcasing his business mind with investments and other ventures.
In 2013, before he retired from the NBA, Bryant co-founded venture capital firm Bryant Stibel along with Web.com founder Jeff Stibel. The firm now has more than $2 billion in assets, with investments in dozens of technology, media and data companies, including Fortnite creator Epic Games, digital payment company Klarna and household products firm The Honest Company. Outside of Bryant Stibel, he had seen a return of millions of dollars with his investment in the sports drink Body Armor, which sold a stake to Coca Cola in 2018.
In 2016, Bryant founded Granity Studios, a media company that focuses on creative storytelling around sports. He wrote and narrated the short story Dear Basketball through the company, winning the Academy Award for best animated short film in 2018, and also released a series of books for young adults.
Bryant, along with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, signed a deal with Nike in 2003 when Michael Jordan retired. Nike 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. Bryant then began to grow his own brand, “Black Mamba,” which was his nickname on the court. In a partnership with Nike, Bryant launched the “Mamba League” in 2017, a youth basketball league that allows hundreds of kids free access to the sport.
See Clare Duffy and Alexis Benveniste, Kobe Bryant Leaves Behind a Business Empire that Stretched Beyond the Basketball Court, CNN, January 26, 2020.