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NBA star Kobe Bryant launches VC fund

Bryant has partnered with tech entrepreneur Jeff Stibel to form Bryant Stibel, which will seek investments in the tech, media and data sectors.

Retired basketball player Kobe Bryant has officially launched venture capital firm Bryant Stibel to invest in technology, media and data companies, he  said in an interview with CNBC on Monday.

The former Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard partnered with tech entrepreneur Jeff Stibel, founder of search and marketing company Simpli. The firm focuses on tech, sports and wellness, according to the website for the joint venture.

“Jeff and I have been quietly building this for four years and getting a chance to learn each other but also learn the business,” he said during the interview. 

“Specifically we're focused on the convergence of technology, media and data,” Stibel added. “We're looking to go not just for evolutionary shifts but revolutions and we're seeing a revolution right now in those spaces as they collide together”.

The duo have raised $100 million of their own capital for their first fund, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal, and not raising capital from outside investors at the time.

According to the website, Bryant Stibel has invested in 15 companies since 2013, while Bryant and Stibel themselves have individually made 50 transactions. Bryant Stibel's investments include touchscreen mobile entertainment network Scopely, do-it-yourself legal services Legalzoom, and Chinese marketplace Alibaba, they said on CNBC.

This isn't the first time a professional athlete has dabbled in investing. 

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony launched Melo7 Tech Partners in collaboration with Stuart Goldfarb earlier this year. Andre Iguodala, an NBA player for the Golden State Warriors, didn't have to go far from his Oakland, California-base to delve into venture capital. He has invested in Facebook, Twitter and Tesla, and has a working relationship with venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, he said in a separate interview with CNBC.

Bryant Stibel's official launch follows Bryant's retirement announcement in November.

Stibel is vice chairman of commercial data provider Dun & Bradstreet and has been president and chief executive of The Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corporation and Web.com Inc, according to the Bryant Stibel website. He also received a brain and behaviour fellowship at Brown University and written two books on brain science.

Bryant Stibel was not available to comment.