In its inaugural edition of the Players Technology Summit in 2017, hosted by Bloomberg, Andre Iguodala and Stephen Curry played hosts to a motley of stakeholders in the sports, business, and technology industries. This year’s edition, held at Bloomberg’s San Francisco office on August 14, was no different as Warriors’ player Kevin Durant and Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown made their debut at the event, which was organized as a platform to set a discourse for athletes, entrepreneurs, and investors on opportunities in the business world.
The Warriors are not new to technology given the interest of their athletes and front office personnel, which is also responsible for some of their successes in the National Basketball Association, according to Warriors insider and Forbes writer, Patrick Murray:
“This Warriors franchise has famously embraced technological innovation in recent years, harnessing the power of data and digital to help them progress from the NBA doldrums to the very pinnacle of success.
“Following the purchase of the team by a group led by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Joe Lacob in 2010, they were amongst some of the earliest adopters of player tracking software and investors in analytics capacity. They’ve continued to invest in cutting-edge technology and a new digital strategy to remain ahead of the competition and it was no surprise that they were again at the forefront of the latest digital innovation in the NBA, the e-sports movement.”
Expanding the horizon
But while the Warriors are effectively leading the way for teams to catch up with in terms of success in the NBA, one of their key players, Iguodala, has been at the forefront of the evangelism on technology investment for other athletes in the league. And true to his selfless nature in making sacrifices to enable other people succeed, a testament to the Warriors’ recipe for victory at the 2015 NBA Finals, Iguodala is opening the doors for athletes on other teams to join the sector that is the backbone of the five fastest growing industries in the world.
Almost a decade ago when Iguodala was a newbie in Silicon Valley, he relied on the mentorship of Andreessen Horowitz partner Jeff Jordan, who was responsible for connecting him with the rest of the industry and helping him understand the kind of companies to invest in. Iguodala and his business partner, Rudy Cline-Thomas, have, together, invested in about 25 different startups. Outside of startups, both have investments in popular tech brands like Facebook, Tesla, and Twitter.
— (((DanielTerdiman))) (@GreeterDan) August 14, 2018
Iguodala’s vaunted effort in tech investment and teammate Stephen Curry’s shared interest earned the two Warriors a cover on Bloomberg Businessweek as “The Silicon Valley Warriors” in 2017.
And though the sharing of success secrets in the quest for the Larry O’Brien trophy in the NBA is solely within individual franchises, where competition is on the basis of shared goals within the team, Iguodala understands that outside the NBA, players from other teams are brothers and the ultimate success of players in the league bestows a kind of value that resonates beyond their achievements on the hardwood. It is for this reason that the 34-year-old tech-savvy athlete-cum-investor provides the kind of assist that prevents those currently in their active careers from making similar mistakes that saw athletes like Antoine Walker, Latrell Sprewell, or Gilbert Arenas blow away hundred-million dollar fortunes.Sharing some advice he’s given to young athletes in the NBA at this year’s Players Tech Summit, Iguodala recalled a conversation he had with a particularly young player who complained about being “too young to have to deal with this” – a reference to considerations on his financial future. Iguodala recounted his response to the unnamed young athlete: “It’s on you. You have to cut out the Fortnite and cut out the hour browsing on social media. Before you know it, your career’s over.”
Besides merely rendering sage advice to young athletes, Iguodala has become a sort of oracle athletes within the Warriors organization and on other teams consult with regard to tips on tech investment. His tech-savvy leadership is helping the modern athlete realize that they are, indeed, more than an athlete [pun intended].
Daniel Terdiman of FASTCOMPANY recalls a conversation he had with Stephen Curry on how Iguodala has become the beacon of leadership in tech investment for athletes in the NBA:
“Curry told me that, for Iguodala, ‘the normal locker room talk is about positive things in the world of tech. You can pretty much ask him any question, and he’ll have a pretty educated answer.”
Iguodala admitted that fact in an interview in April when he told CNBC’s Kathleen Elkins that the kind of conversations in the Warriors’ locker room is strictly about business.
“We have free agents come to our team, and the first day the guy is walking in like, ‘What do you know about this business?’,” he said.
But beyond the locker room talk, Iguodala and his partner Cline-Thomas are beginning to take his fellow NBA athletes through the tech-investing maze and showing them where the treasures are to be found. Cline-Thomas provides a hypothesis at the 2018 Players Technology Summit in San Francisco on how they empower other athletes to be tech-savvy:
“Let’s say we invest in a company and they give us an allocation of $10, rather than us taking the whole $10, we’re splitting it up from amongst other athletes, so we’d do $2, and the other guys can do $8.”
While that might appear to the tech-naiveté as a crowd-funding strategy to get players to part with their monies for companies Iguodala and Cline-Thomas are interested in, that is not the case. Rather, they ensure that athletes within their tech-investment circle are provided a pathway to meet with chief executives of companies they have identified and for the [athletes] to make assessment as to the viability of such investments. Nothing could be more empowering for the modern athlete in taking control of their financial future.