As Kobe Bryant set out campaigns for the championship every season of his 20-year career, he was simultaneously embarking on his off-court business empire. Through these endeavors, he turned his “Mamba Mentality” into something far more than just a way to win basketball games.
Just like his career as a player, Kobe’s entrepreneurial campaigns were impressive and well-rounded, ranging from investments in tech startups and sports equipment companies to media production companies and venture capital funds.
So, do you want to take a closer look at one of the most revered Laker’s off-court legacy? Well, no worries, we’ll guide you through every major business in which the Black Mamba dabbled.
What was Kobe Bryant Known For?
More than the five championships he won with the Lakers, Bryant was known for his competitive spirit. And to players and basketball fans, this trait made him stand out even in the middle of an already star-studded league.
He even created an alter-ego to help compartmentalize his fierce basketball persona and business mindset, called “Mamba Mentality.” As a player, the Mamba Mentality took him to the top of his game. However, as an entrepreneur, it motivated him to go on deep dives into many different businesses to make winning decisions as well.
What Business Did Kobe Bryant Start?
Bryant’s business ventures go through Kobe Inc., which he started in 2014. He made it a mission to invest in growing brands and ideas that “challenge and redefine the sports industry while inspiring,” he said in a 2014 statement.
However, before he was a savvy venture capitalist, he was a sportswear endorser, like most of his peers, which was technically his first business deal beyond the basketball court. He first signed with Adidas in 2000 for $8 million per year.
However, because of the lousy shoe design of the Kobe II and after a tumultuous sexual assault allegation against the Laker legend, he and Adidas parted ways. This would turn out to be a good thing for Bryant as it led to his $10 million per year deal with Nike.
Bryant’s signature shoes with Nike were marketed under his “Kobe” name. The company has produced over 18 shoes, with Bryant helping with the design process.
Even as an endorser, Bryant showed flashes of brilliance in storytelling as the evolution of his shoes told a story about his basketball season and personal life.
Bryant initially got into Venture Capital investing when he set aside some of his earnings with Jeff Stibel in 2013. The basketball superstar instantly got hooked on the VC industry, so he founded a company with Stibel named Bryant Stibel.
The fund’s objective was to invest in tech and media companies, focusing on the sports industry. It has since partnered with leading venture capital firms like Relay Ventures and Global Founders Capital and invested in over 20 disruptive startups. Some notable investments include LegalZoom, Epic Games UFC, and Zwift.
In addition to investments, Bryant started his own media production company known as Granity Studios in 2016 with the mission of creating entertaining and educational content.
Granity Studios has since produced several notable works, including Kobe’s Academy Award-winning short film Dear Basketball and the podcast series The Punies. In addition, the studio became one of Bryant’s passion projects as he was extremely hands-on with all its endeavors.
He wrote books, produced podcasts, and managed the studio’s day-to-day operations. Bryant also had plans to break into television with his works, which would have aligned with his message of inspiring the next generation.
How Many Businesses Does Kobe Own?
We could easily say that Kobe at least partly owns all the businesses he has invested in and a total of four companies that he started on his own. This includes the Nike shoe endorsement, Granity Studios, the Mamba Sports Academy, and venture capital firm Bryant Stibel.
He also started The Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation in 2011, which seeks to help young people in need by providing educational and cultural opportunities.
What Businesses Kobe Left Behind?
Kobe’s death in a fiery helicopter crash in 2020 left behind a legacy and businesses that will live on for generations to come.
His film and production company Granity Studios, venture capital firm Bryant Stibel, and Sports Academy, formerly known as the Mamba Sports Academy, are still active today. In addition, his shoe line from Nike just got renewed by his wife, Vanessa Bryant.
Granity Studios is among the most active in the businesses that Kobe left behind. The studio has produced several works that explore Kobe’s life, such as the podcast called The Punies, and of course, the Academy Award-Winning Dear Basketball.
Granity Studios also had a hand at releasing the acclaimed docu-series, The Last Dance about the Chicago Bull’s historic final season with Michael Jordan and the highly-praised ESPN series called Detail in which Bryant broke down and distilled his basketball insights into a 5-part series for the network.
These days, however, Granity Studios is focusing more on book releases. Some of the 2022 releases were even penned by Bryant before he died in 2020. All of Granity Studio’s works such as the Legacy and the Queen, Geese are Never Swans, and the Epoca and Wizenard series are categorized as YA works which was in line with Bryant’s objective of inspiring the youth through sport.
The Kobe Brand
In 2022, Kobe Bryant’s estate, headed by Vanessa Bryant, just renewed its deal with Nike. This means there will still be a Kobe shoe line, with each design reflecting the former basketball superstar’s life and career.
The shoes are designed to last and inspire everyone regardless of how experienced they are in sports. Kobe’s message of hard work, resilience, passion, and courage is shared with each pair.
While there isn’t any tangible evidence, there is a rumor that Kobe Bryant’s estate is planning something with the Black Mamba and his daughter Gianna Bryant’s Bambacita brand.
Bryant’s VC firm will continue to operate with the direction of his partners. In addition, the firm continues to fund disruptive startups and help entrepreneurs create meaningful businesses in sports.
Some of its notable ventures include Epic Games and UFC. Both of these are hot startups that are changing the landscape of sports and technology.
Epic Games, for example, is an online gaming platform with over 350 million users worldwide. On the other hand, UFC is a world-renowned mixed martial arts promotion that continues to gain popularity each year.
What Companies Did Kobe Bryant Invest in?
While the Bryant Stibel venture capital firm has a ton of business ventures under its portfolio, Kobe Bryant himself had an interest in personally investing more of his wealth in specific brands and companies. Here are some of the most notable ones:
One of the major investments linked to Bryant was his 2014 $6 million investment in BodyArmor. The sports drink company became the number 3 sports drink in the United States next to Gatorade and Powerade and is now valued at over $5.8 billion.
The deal has seen Kobe Bryant’s investment in BodyArmor grow into an $800 million fortune and is expected to grow even further in the years to come.
Mamba Sports Academy
With Nike having the rights to sell merchandise under his “Kobe” name, Bryant needed to create a new brand for his other, more personal, projects. So, he invested in the Mamba Sports Academy, a sports training business that aimed to help players become better at their sport, no matter what it was. It featured camps and clinics for athletes from middle school and adults looking to get into the pros.
The business venture was called the Mamba Sports Academy when Bryant signed on but was later renamed simply to Sports Academy upon his death to honor the wishes of Kobe’s estate. In addition to basketball, the academy also offered programs for various other sports, including football and volleyball.
Although the dollar value of Bryant’s investment deal with the Sports Academy remains unexplored, it’s easy to say that Bryant brought on a lot of new business to the academy.
Wrapping Things Up: What Businesses Does Kobe Bryant Own?
Kobe’s legacy will continue to shine as a beacon of success, hard work, and determination for others to follow. It is clear from the businesses he left behind that his off-court presence was just as powerful and influential as his on-court play.
And much like his playing career, his business life was focused and driven, which were the guiding principles of his Black Mamba persona. As a result, Kobe Bryant left behind an impressive value-driven portfolio of businesses and investments that will continue to thrive for years to come.
From the Kobe brand deal with Nike to his venture capital firm Bryant Stibel, production company Granity Studios, and Sports Academy, Bryant showed that he was purely focused on raising the level of sport in the United States and beyond while inspiring the next generation. His legacy will live on through these businesses, as well as his family foundation.
These investments show that Kobe was not just a fantastic basketball player but an astute businessman as well. We can all learn a little from how he handled his off-court business empire.
Kobe Bryant was an inspiration to many, a proper business mogul who took advantage of his success on the basketball court and parlayed it into several successful businesses. His legacy will continue to inspire people for years to come.
If you’re interested in learning Kobe Bryant’s story, check out this basketball biography book.
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