Bloomberg Businessweek

BALLERS

FORGET CAR DEALERSHIPS AND REAL ESTATE. THE NEW OFF-COURT PLAY FOR NBA STARS IS STARTUP EQUITY
Cline-Thomas

ABOUT three years ago, in February 2014, Andre Iguodala spent a day during the NBA offseason at the offices of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz in Menlo Park, Calif. Over the course of four hours in a conference room, the Golden State Warriors small forward heard pitches from a handful of startups in Andreessen’s portfolio. One shared its plan to disrupt the hair extensions business by selling directly to salons. Another explained how a mobile platform could help the secondhand clothing market move upscale. A third showed how an on-demand business model could transform the phone-screen-repair business. “We just banged them out in one day,” Iguodala says.

On a late July afternoon, he’s sitting on a patio at the St. Regis Deer Valley resort in Park City, Utah. Iguodala has come to this ski town for the NextGen Software CEO Summit hosted by Morgan Stanley. A couple of hours earlier, he sat in front of roughly 100 founders, venture capitalists, and tech bankers and talked about leadership (“I’ve learned to speak when necessary, not just speak to speak”), free agency negotiations (he read Chris Voss’s Never Split the Difference to prepare), and his approach to tech investing (“Where are we going to be in 20 years, and how can we do something no one ever thought of?”). At dinner that evening, he’ll sit at the head table with Adobe Systems Inc. Chief Executive Officer Shantanu Narayen.

For the moment, he’s folded his 6-foot-6 superhero frame into a white-pillowed love seat and is leaning over a small plate of chips and guacamole. “Ten or 15 years ago, what did all athletes invest in? Car dealerships, franchising, and real estate,” he says. “They couldn’t get outside that scope.”

Since joining the Warriors in 2013, Iguodala, 33, has quickly become part of the vanguard of NBA players and other

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