It's a good time to be New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony. While re-upping with the team has likely robbed the seven-time All-Star of the chance to win a championship in his prime, Anthony can take considerable solace in earning more than $122 million over the next five seasons. That kind of money doesn't just set a player and his family up for life — it can turn him into a legitimately powerful businessman.
Carmelo apparently sees himself as just that, because he has announced a new business venture. This time, though, he's looking to invest in many projects, not just a single one. From Jonathan Shieber for TechCrunch (via Valleywag):
Anthony and longtime NBC and Bertelsmann executive Stuart Goldfarb are launching their new investment firm, M7 Tech Partners, with an inaugural investment in the children’s media company Hullabalu. Goldfarb previously served as the president and chief executive of Bertelsmann direct media group responsible for the Book-of-the-Month Club and Columbia House brands (kids, ask your parents).
Anthony, the two-time Olympic gold medalist, seven-time NBA All-Star, is hoping to leverage a social media presence of over 5 million followers and his Melo brand into success in tech investment. The New York-based firm will invest in early stage digital media, consumer internet and opportunistic technology startups.
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in technology,” Anthony said in a statement. “We are actively looking for ventures with strong leaders creating breakthrough products that resonate with consumers. I particularly have my eye on companies that are involved with wearable technology and connected devices. These will be huge areas for the future.”
It's an open question as to how effectively a large social media presence can turn relatively new businesses into strong companies, but actor and venture capitalist Ashton Kutcher has had reasonable success in a similar role by leveraging his public image, including more than 16 million followers on Twitter. Melo isn't at that level, of course, though it's arguable that Kutcher only grew that much once he earned a reputation as a tech influencer. Perhaps Melo could do the same if he plays an industry pioneer in a hagiographic film project.
From a basketball perspective, the points of interest here relate to a superstar's ability to carry his fame and fortune into areas away from the court. After the success of Michael Jordan, it's standard for the best-paid players to consider themselves not just athletes, but full-scale brands with the ability to become pillars of the business world. LeBron James reportedly made $30 million from his investment in Beats by Dre headphones, and it seems likely that Anthony wants to achieve something similar with his firm.
Whether he can do it is a crapshoot. Venture capital is not an efficiency-minded game — a success rate in the region of Melo's much-criticized shooting percentages would lead to a historically unprecedented financial windfall. All M7 needs to succeed, really, is a few massive returns, and then they'll stand a good chance at becoming a widely recognized firm that nurtures entrepreneurs and their businesses. As in basketball, it only takes one victory on the biggest stage to convince the world that you had a champion's mettle all along.
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