Andrew Eckert is Collectable’s Head of Analytics.
While most will remember and adore Kobe Bryant for his achievements on the basketball court, it’s hard to not be equally as impressed by his success as an NBA retiree. Before his untimely passing, Bryant attacked his post-basketball life with the same kind of ferocity (and Mamba Mentality) that made him one of the game’s greats. Here are three of his most notable post-Lakers ventures.
By the time Kobe retired, he realized what an important role a multi-faced media approach would have on the next phase of his career. In Kobe’s own words, perhaps more important than telling his own story was leaving a legacy, “…as a person that was able to create stories that inspired children and families to bond together, and for their children to dream.” To pursue these dreams, in 2016 he founded Granity Studios, a multi-pronged production company.
In typical Bryant fashion, pursuit of perfection was the top goal—also in typical Bryant fashion, the goal was achieved. In 2017, “Dear Basketball”—a short written and voiced by Bryant, based on the letter Bryant wrote announcing his retirement from the sport—won the Oscar for best animated short film.
Granity also dived into the book world, and their titles included The Wizenard Series: Training Camp and The Wizenard Series: Season One, both of which reached No. 1 on The New York Times’ middle-grade hardcover list. While commercial and critical success was important, Kobe’s goal with these titles was equally emotional: “With this stuff, if one person touches that book and is impacted deeply, then that’s success.”
Kobe turned to investing in his post-playing days, but he wasn’t one of those athletes who merely put his name on a product and called it a day. When he invested in something, he wanted to be a true partner and understand how he could help the business grow.
Bryant found the perfect opportunity when he purchased a roughly 10% stake in the upstart sports drink company, Bodyarmor, for $6 million in 2014. True to Kobe form, he found ways to add value like negotiating with purchasers at the annual trade show for the National Association of Convenience Stores and crafting the concept for the company’s first-ever national television campaign.
The Mamba Mentality was ever present in this investment as Kobe’s stated goal was to, “…be the number one sports drink. Come hell or high water, we’re going to be. Period.” In 2018, Bodyarmor sold a stake in the company to Coca-Cola at a $2 billion dollar valuation; this made Kobe’s stake worth an estimated $200 million.
Eventually, he and partner Jeff Stibel created their own VC firm. Starting in 2016 with $100 million in assets under management (AUM) and a focus on investments in technology, media, and data companies, Bryant Stibel quickly took off and now has amassed over $2 billion in AUM. The firm has had at least ten successful exits, including the IPOs of Dell and Alibaba, while maintaining an impressive cadre of active investments like Epic Games, The Players’ Tribune, Cholula Hot Sauce, The Honest Company, and Legal Zoom.
As mentioned in his “Dear Basketball” retirement letter, Kobe thought he was done with hoops. He claimed to have zero interest in leading a team, tweeting, “I coach with content.” But with your little girls, it’s hard to say no to anything, thus the legend of Coach Kobe was born.
Bryant took up the clipboard in 2018 for his daughter Gigi’s AAU team. As is the theme with all these ventures, Kobe was in business of chasing greatness. In an interview with SLAM he laid out his goals: “Just wait until you see us in six years. I have a year-by-year plan for them. We are going to keep adding pieces on a schedule I’ve already mapped out.”