It’s been said for some time that the tech industry struggles with a stubborn problem.
Part of that change has seen leading black sports stars enter the world of tech as entrepreneurs and investors. They have helped to develop or endorse tech products and services they believe in.
These are in industries ranging from health and property tech to digital media and artificial intelligence. Here we take a look at some of these athletes and the companies they are investing in.
Portland Trailblazers power forward Carmelo Anthony co-founded Melo7 Tech Partners LLC. The venture capital firm invests in early-stage digital media, consumer internet, and technology companies.
Since the company was founded, it has made over two dozen investments in tech companies. These include mattress e-tailer Casper, Lyft, and Hullabalu, which produce interactive storytelling apps for mobile devices.
Miami Heat star Andre Iguodala has made a name for himself away from the basketball court as a very smart tech investor. Along with business partner Rudy Cline-Thomas, he has invested in over 20 startups.
These include personal finance app Nerdwallet, and Casper, a direct-to-consumer footwear company. Iguodala also serves as an advisor to online clothing retail store Twice.
Tennis legend Serena Williams launched Serena Ventures in 2014. The company aims to give opportunities to founders who embrace diverse leadership across a range of industries.
Since the launch of Serena Ventures, Williams has invested millions into dozens of diverse-led startups. These include Mayvenn, an online marketplace for hair extensions, and Propel, a Brooklyn startup that digitizes food stamps. The tennis champion was also recently announced as one of the investors in the bitcoin rewards company Lolli.
Three-time NBA champion Stephen Curry has, in recent years, earned a reputation as a savvy investor and tech entrepreneur. Through his company SC30, he has invested in companies like SnapTravel.
The platform lets people book hotel rooms through messaging apps. The Golden State Warrior star has also invested in Palm. It allows smartphone users to take a smaller device on their travels when only a small number of functions are needed.
Not many people know that Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie has also achieved success as a blockchain pioneer. He co-founded Eonxi, a venture firm and startup studio with friend and business partner Sherrard Harrington.
Eonxi aims to transform the way athletes and influencers market themselves. The company’s service was launched when Dinwiddie put blockchain-based tokens on the market for a share of his $34.4 million NBA contract. This allowed investors to buy stakes in his success.
Arizona Cardinals offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum Jr. has described himself as someone passionate about robotics, drones, eSports, and Big Data.
As an investor, he has backed a range of tech ventures. These include video-based talent development company Yobs, Human AI Labs, and fintech company Step.
Beachum Jr. has also recently invested in venture capital firm Next Play Capital.
Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant’s reputation as a tech entrepreneur and investor has grown over the years. He and business partner Rich Kleiman have early-stage investments worth between $250,000 to $1 million in about 30 companies.
Among them are Acorns, an investing app that allows users to invest leftover change into a low-cost, exchange-traded fund. He has also invested in Propel, an online food stamp company and digital-currency platform Coinbase.
Former Carolina Panthers offensive lineman Russell Okung has a reputation as a tech nerd. He has invested in several tech startups. These include Andela, which aims to find the top tech talent in Africa, and Omni, an online concierge for on-demand storage and delivery.
Early in his career, Okung, along with his business partner Andrew McGee, established the GREATER Foundation. Through the foundation, Okung works with young people from underrepresented communities to teach them skills for 21st Century opportunities in the tech world.
Michael Jordan’s drive for excellence saw him become a six-time NBA champion. That same drive for excellence has now seen the sporting legend, make a big impact in business. Jordan, whose net worth is $.65 billion, recently invested in Gigster.
The startup matches freelance software engineers and developers with companies. He also backed Switzerland-based Sportsradar which collects and analyzes sports data. The basketball icon was also recently announced as one of the investors in Vancouver crypto company Dapper Labs.
Since becoming an investor in tech companies it’s estimated that former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal’s $300 million fortune has more than doubled. O’Neal is widely known as one of the early investors in Google. He also backed other well-known tech companies such as Apple and vehicle hiring app Lyft.
Among his other investments are eSports team NRG Esports, and video doorbell, and home security camera maker Ring. The company was recently bought by Amazon in a deal reportedly worth $1 billion.
After starting Magic Johnson Enterprises as a vehicle for his business career, former basketball star Magic Johnson has experienced significant success as a tech entrepreneur. In 2016 he invested in ShotTracker. The company makes wearable technology that helps track basketball players’ movement.
He has also invested in mitú. The digital media brand connects thousands of Latino content creators with viewers around the world. Recently Johnson joined Detroit Venture Partners, a VC firm that invests in seed and early-stage technology companies in Detroit.
Basketball player Arike Ogunbowale has won a host of plaudits for her displays for WNBA team Dallas Wings. Away from the court, the celebrated point guard has become a tech investor.
Ogunbowale joined other female athletes such as Kelley O’Hara, Elena Delle Donne, and Hilary Knight as an investor in Just Women’s Sports. The digital media platform, which exclusively covers women’s sport, recently raised $3.5 million in a seed funding round. The round was led by early-stage venture capital firm Will Ventures.
Away from the baseball field Alex Rodriguez has achieved huge business success. Through A-Rod, the investment firm he founded in 2003, Rodriguez has invested in a diverse range of industries including real estate and tech.
The former New York Yankees star recently invested in real estate tech company Apartment List. Rodriguez is part of a group that is investing $51 million into startup Density. The company makes sensors for monitoring the number of entering and leaving buildings.
Former world No.1 Venus Williams has proved she is also a winner in business. She founded successful interior design firm V Starr Interiors in 2002 and fashion-forward activewear label EleVen.
In 2019 Williams invested in health tech company Zeel. The app allows customers to book a massage often within an hour. She was also appointed to Zeel’s Board of Directors and became a key advisor to its Zeel@Sports division.
In 2018 three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade joined Drake, LeBron James, and Nas as an investor in digital sports media startup Mars Reel.
The company raised $4.7 million in its initial fundraising round. Mars Reel posts profiles of highly regarded high school athletes. It also features video diaries and short documentaries. The content is distributed on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.