Category Archives: Kobe Bryant

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Serena Williams Reveals VC Firm on Instagram After Five Years in Stealth Mode

Tennis superstar Serena Williams has been quietly building a venture capital portfolio since 2014, amassing investments in more than 30 startups with an accumulated market cap of $12 billion. On Wednesday, she finally announced her business to the public.
Williams chose to reveal five-year-old Serena Ventures on Instagram, where she has 11 million followers. In a post, she admits “Yes, I know I can keep a secret.”
The winner of an Open Era record 23 grand slam singles titles, Williams, who serves as president of Serena Ventures, said she launched the investment company with the mission of giving opportunity to founders across an array of industries that embrace diverse leadership, individual empowerment, creativity, and opportunity.
She focuses on early stage companies that have a difficult time cracking into that initial round of funding. One of the pillars of the organization is to give those startups an opportunity to be heard.

 

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In 2014, (yes I know I can keep a secret) I launched Serena Ventures with the mission of giving opportunities to founders across an array of industries. Serena Ventures invests in companies that embrace diverse leadership, individual empowerment, creativity and opportunity. Slide right to see a few brands in our portfolio. We have so many exciting things coming up! Learn more at serenaventures.com. Link in bio.
A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on Apr 17, 2019 at 5:59am PDT

“As we grow, we hope to mentor young founders and take burgeoning entrepreneurs to the next level,” she writes on her website. “We have so many exciting things coming up!”
Her VC firm helps forge relationships for founders, encourages collaboration among portfolio companies, and expands partnership opportunities across her network. Among its portfolio companies are blockchain exchange Coinbase, education platform MasterClass, on-demand fitness training platform Tonal and nutrition company Olly.
SportTechie Takeaway
Powerhouse athletes continue to break new ground in technology and investment. Williams is among many top-tier athletes that have partnered with VCs, launched their own investment companies, or individually invested and/or founded technology startups. A staunch advocate of women’s empowerment—Williams appeared in a Super Bowl spot for dating app Bumble earlier this year in which she encouraged girls to “make the first move … in work, in love, in life”—she joins such athletic greats as Kobe Bryant, via Bryant Stibel, and Magic Johnson, via Magic Johnson Enterprises, that own and operate their own venture capital firms.


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Kobe Bryant Participates in $30 Million Funding Round for RingDNA

RingDNA, an enterprise sales management platform, has raised $30 million in a new funding round that was led by Goldman Sachs with participation from five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant.
The round included participation from previous investors Palisades Growth Capital and Bryant Stibel, a venture capital firm jointly run by Bryant and Jeff Stibel.
The company, which uses “conversation data” powered by artificial intelligence to help sales teams manage their relationships with clients, said it has been cashflow positive for two years and plans to use the cash influx to power a new growth stage.
In a joint statement, Bryant and Stibel said they originally invested in ringDNA in 2014 because they believed in founder Howard Brown, his team, and saw a large and untapped market opportunity.

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“With this latest growth equity round from Goldman Sachs, RingDNA has added another world-class partner aligned with its goal of helping enterprise sales organizations analyze and learn from their game film to become smarter and more effective,” they said.
Brown said the company is focused on “augmenting, contextualizing, and training” sales reps to be better by guiding them through sales conversations. RingDNA analyzes millions of calls with deep learning, AI and psychological principles to surface patterns in calls so that reps can optimize conversations.
“Conversations are not as unique as we all assume,” he said. “There are patterns to how prospects and customers communicate with sales and support reps.”
Some of RingDNA’s existing customers include Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Amazon Web Services, Autodesk, SAP Concur, Cvent, Lyft, and Twilio.
SportTechie Takeaway
Kobe is among the former and current professional athletes who are making a post-athletic career investing in startups. His investments have taken him in and outside the world of sports. In 2015, for example, Bryant Stibel led an early investment in the Player’s Tribune. Bryant also made a lucrative $6 million investment in the athletic drink BodyArmor. The former Lakers all-star saw his investment in the brand, which is marketed as a healthier alternative to Gatorade, rocket in value to roughly $200 million after Coca-Cola scooped up a minority stake in the company earlier this year, according to ESPN.
SportTechie selected Bryant Stibel as a nominee in the Outstanding Investor category for the 2017 SportTechie Awards.


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