Olympic hero Michael Phelps looks to dip his toes in tech

Swim­ming star to en­tre­pre­neur

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

SAN JOSE: Michael Phelps wants to dive into Sil­i­con Val­ley’s in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties as he tries to make the tran­si­tion from Olympic swim­ming star and prod­uct pitch­man to en­tre­pre­neur. “I would love to get in­volved, whether it’s in a cou­ple lit­tle star­tups here and there, take a lit­tle risk, have some fun and see where it goes,” Phelps said in an in­ter­view dur­ing a re­cent visit to San Jose, Cal­i­for­nia, while ap­pear­ing at In­tuit’s Quick­Books soft­ware con­fer­ence.

For now, Phelps isn’t pro­vid­ing any de­tails about what he is go­ing to do, though he says he has been get­ting ad­vice from ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists and other ex­pe­ri­enced in­vestors in Sil­i­con Val­ley star­tups.

Get­ting into tech in­vest­ing would be a new di­rec­tion for Phelps, whose busi­ness ex­pe­ri­ence to date con­sists mostly of his own line of swimwear and en­dorse­ment deals with the likes of Un­der Ar­mour, Visa and Wheaties.

These and other big brands have paid him an es­ti­mated $75 mil­lion dur­ing his ca­reer. That’s far more than the $1.65 mil­lion that he re­ceived from the US Olympic Com­mit­tee and Speedo for win­ning a record 28 medals, in­clud­ing 23 golds, in five Olympics. He’s still pro­mot­ing prod­ucts; he is cur­rently do­ing com­mer­cials for com­puter chip­maker In­tel in a cam­paign that be­gan in Oc­to­ber.

Ready or not?

What­ever he does next, Phelps isn’t ready to start his own in­vest­ment fund, like re­tired Los Angeles Lak­ers star Kobe Bryant did ear­lier this year with en­tre­pre­neur Jeff Stibel. And if Phelps has ideas for found­ing a startup of his own, he’s keep­ing them to him­self.

Mak­ing the leap from pitch­man to busi­ness­man won’t be easy, said David Carter, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia’s Marshall Sports Busi­ness In­sti­tute. “Ath­letes come and go and many talk a big game, but they don’t fol­low through,” he said. Phelps “is re­ally go­ing to have com­mit to learn­ing about busi­ness and demon­strate his se­ri­ous­ness about it.”

Other celebri­ties have ven­tured into the tech in­dus­try in search of riches, with de­cid­edly mixed re­sults.

No­table suc­cesses in­clude rap­per and record pro­ducer Dr. Dre, who was part of the found­ing team that sold Beats to Ap­ple for $3 bil­lion 2014. Ac­tor Ash­ton Kutcher co-founded an in­vest­ment fund in 2010 that made early in­vest­ments in star­tups such as the ride­hail­ing ser­vice Uber, the home rentalser­vice Airbnb and the mu­sic stream­ing ser­vice Spo­tify. The fund’s value had soared to $250 mil­lion from $30 mil­lion, based on a re­view of its books ear­lier this year by Forbes mag­a­zine.

Among the flops: HJR Cap­i­tal, a tech­in­vest­ment firm that col­lapsed in 2009, a decade af­ter for­mer San Francisco 49er line­man Har­ris Bar­ton founded it and later en­ticed ex-team­mates Joe Mon­tana and Ron­nie Lott to join him. In Rhode Is­land, for­mer Bos­ton Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling started a video game com­pany that went bank­rupt in 2012.

Phelps is ex­plor­ing ways to ex­pand his busi­ness ven­tures be­yond a line of swimwear and other cloth­ing bear­ing his “MP” logo. Other prod­ucts are in the pipe­line for next year, though he won’t say what.

“I am get­ting my feet wet,” Phelps said with a grin. “2017 will be a big year.”—

SAN JOSE: In this Tues­day, Oct. 25, 2016, photo, for­mer Olympic swim­mer Michael Phelps poses for a por­trait while at­tend­ing the Quick­books Con­nect con­fer­ence as a fea­tured speaker. — AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.