Carmelo Anthony: All-Star, Olympian, venture capitalist?
The New York Knicks' newly re-signed star has started a fund to invest in technology startups with partner Stuart Goldfarb, a former NBC and Bertelsmann executive. M7 Tech Partners -- that's 'Melo No. 7, his jersey number -- will focus on "early-stage digital media, consumer internet, and opportunistic technology startups," TechCrunch reports.
M7 has already invested an undisclosed amount to Hullabaloo, which makes kids entertainment tailored for tablets. Last year, Hullabaloo raised $1.8 million from investors including SV Angel, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, "Godfather of AdSense" Gokul Rajaram and Sugar founder Brian Sugar.
In announcing the partnership, 'Melo states that he's long "been interested in technology," and will be looking to raise capital for companies that specialize in wearable tech. With the increasing push to incorporate Google Glass in professional sports, it seems these two areas of 'Melo's life might be destined to collide.
Having just signed an extension with the Knicks for about $125 million over five years, 'Melo is just the latest NBA star to parlay his fortune into investment firms. Steve Nash's Consigliere Brand Capital counts BirchBox and Contently among its success stories, while Michael Redd and Jamal Mashburn are finding life after basketball in venture capitalism. Hall of Famer David Robinson is perhaps the most well-known example, having co-founded Admiral Capital Group, a private equity firm specializing in real estate.
The trend of NBA players starting investment firms is part of the broader trend of athletes establishing business endeavors in preparation for their post-retirement careers. Last month, Michael Jordan became second billionaire athlete and the first from the NBA, thanks in large part to his ownership stake in the Charlotte Hornets, his endless endorsement partnership with Nike, and ancillary businesses including restaurants and car dealerships.
These players seem to be heeding the warning provided by the bevy of retired players gone bankrupt, an issue that gained national prominence in the 2009 ESPN 30 for 30 film, "Broke." According to Mint.com, 60 percent of NBA players file for bankruptcy within five years of retirement. From Latrell Sprewell to even a multiple champion such as Scottie Pippen, NBA history is riddled with cautionary tales, none with a higher fall from grace than Allen Iverson. In 2012, it was revealed that The Answer had blown through $200 million in career earnings, save for a $32 million "Reebok fund" that will give him $1 million a year until he's 55.
Iverson's an extreme case, a tragedy unique in the stark, swift demise of its protagonist but not unique in its course. In addition to the reckless spending and vulturistic entourage that so often accompany the sudden windfall of an NBA contract, basketball players often go broke because of poor asset management and financial illiteracy. The league and players' union are trying to combat this, promoting a financial education program and a rookie transition program to help players manage their money during and after their playing days. Robinson, Nash and now 'Melo are facing that aspect head on to ensure that history doesn't repeat itself.
'Melo in particular might want to tread lightly, however. As much as misunderstanding finances contributes to players' insolvency, so, too, do poor investment choices. Sure, Antoine Walker gambled away millions, but he also sunk more than $10 million in investment properties in Chicago's South Side, owing to the spectacular incompetence of his financial adviser.
Let's hope 'Melo is more savvy with his wallet, but if anything, at least he has an experienced partner in Goldfarb. 'Melo can say he's in good hands with his venture capital endeavor. Not as much could be said about this luxury watch magazine you didn't know he part-owned.
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