Americans are particular about the way their celebrities waste their own money. When Michael Jordan developed a gambling habit, he was forced to mount a spirited defense (“gambling is legal”) to justify his penchant for, say, betting $100,000 on a rock, paper, scissors game or three times that on a single putt. Public scrutiny of Jordan's habits could represent some puritanical desire to see our most sports heroes as role models. Or maybe it just rubbed people the wrong way to see the G.O.A.T. lose at basically everything he ever put money on other than animated Jumbotron races.
But Jordan's been at this for a long time now, so it makes sense that he's finally landed on the ideal way for a famous rich guy to fritter away his millions on risky wagers without inviting scorn. Michael Jordan is a venture capitalist now:
San Francisco-based startup Gigster announced today that it has raised $20 million from a group of investors that includes the six-time NBA champion and Charlotte Hornets majority owner. The three-year-old Gigster, which connects freelance web engineers and developers with companies looking for help, has raised $32.5 million. The most recent fundraising round was led by Redpoint Ventures, along with Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator, Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures, and Marc Benioff.
Jordan is the best, but not the first hoops guy to trade in the sneakers for the, uh, sneakers, and become a Silicon Valley dealmaker. Last week's Businessweek cover featured Golden State Warriors Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala wearing the kind of tie-less sports coats and brooding expressions that are mandatory on Sand Hill Road, where they and their teammates are becoming a fixture. Unsurprisingly, the team that VC built is becoming a team of VCs.
It makes sense that basketball players would be drawn to Silicon Valley as a financial pursuit. Celebrity doesn't really help if you're trying to invest in stocks. No corporate boardroom is going to open up just because you can throw a ball through a hoop. But venture capital likes big names. Big names bring attention, which brings more money and more names. The players actually have something to offer. Plus it's probably pretty cool to sit across the table from Michael Jordan.
Michael Jordan Invests in Startup Gigster [Bloomberg]