The Rise of Athlete Communities (+ Platforms)
Everyone wants the athlete which is why communities are being built around them (investing, charity, networking, etc).
Modern-day star athletes are armed with capital, clout, and expertise.
Which is why…
A bunch of early-stage companies & funds are now creating communities/platforms around athletes.
For example, Steph Curry acts more like a businessman than a rockstar.
invests in companies
runs his own entrepreneurial ventures
and gives back to the community
It’s now about creating groups of like-minded athletes — with the thesis that a “team” is stronger than an individual.
So who’s doing it?
Surprisingly a lot of groups.
Let’s Dive In 👇
The Athlete Communities
The most common form has always been a collective or group.
And the goal is to decrease the knowledge gap by educating athletes with understandable content.
And this makes sense for two reasons:
Humans are tribal in nature
Athletes understand the “team” concept
Communities/platforms are spreading like wildfire (and have gained most of their steam over the last few years).
Let’s get into the who, what, and how.
The athlete mindset shifting from endorsements to equity has opened up a can of worms in the investment world.
Let’s take a look at them:
Provide top-tier professional athletes with opportunities in late-stage private companies and real estate.
Notable investments: SpaceX, Kodiak, RealTruck, Virgin Voyages
A Portugal-based sports, media, and entertainment venture fund joining forces with several notable European athletes.
TMRW Sports, Spalk, Xset, Versus Game, RealFevr
A syndicate of former and current pro athletes (mostly in Australia) looking to partner with high-growth tech and consumer companies.
Eucalyptus, Foodbomb, Smartabase, ZeroCo, Pet Circle
Venture firm for athletes, artists, and elite teams.
Uber, 100Theives, Beyond Meat, Salesforce, Tonal, Instacart, MoonPay
An investment club for current and former professional athletes.
They also donate 4% of their profits to nonprofit organizations.
A majority Black-owned, investment platform providing access to a community of global professional athletes by investing in early-stage Seed to Series B businesses.
Arena, Promix, Through The Lens, Myia, Super Coffee, Olipop
Early-stage investment group comprised of current and former MLB Players investing in consumer-focused companies.
Marucci, Performance Kitchen, Evoshield
A private investment platform that connects professional athletes with companies where they can make an outsized impact as an investor.
Minority owned investment platform focused on investing in top-tier venture funds and venture-backed companies — many athletes are a part of the platform as well.
Carta, StubHub, Tonal, Chime, ByteDance (TikTok)
10. Will Ventures
Announced a first-of-its-kind exclusive partnership between Will Ventures and OneTeam Partners, a sports company that represents the rights of over 4000 athletes.
TempusEx, Just Women’s Sports, StreetFC, Player’s Health
How do these communities make money?
The groups acting as venture firms are using a 2/20 model.
Meaning they’re making money for managing the money and also 20% of the profits (also known as carry).
However, most of these communities operate on the premise of having athletes as co-investors. So there’s no real product, just relationships.
They typically make their money on successful investments — owning the upside of the syndicate carry.
But we’re currently seeing the rise of software platforms and mobile apps.
Athlete Investing Platforms
The groups above act as private memberships — and while these next ones do as well, they’re built more for scale.
TPI has been around since 2017 — and while it started similar to the groups above — they’re currently in the process of building out a platform and expanding globally.
A European group that is releasing this year — focused on education within the platform and providing deal flow through their mobile app.
How do these community platforms make money?
In different ways:
membership fees to members
carry/profit sharing on the best investments
Just as athletes want assistance + access to the best venture deals, they also want to make sure they’re taken care of on the philanthropy side.
High Impact Athletes (HIA)
Groups like HIA vet the opportunities to make sure athletes feel safe about where their money is going.
Life for example…
In a recent generous move, Michael Jordan donated $10M to Make-a-Wish.
Groups like HIA will outline what goes into that, which for Make-a-Wish is one incredible day for a handful of terminally ill children.
They’ll also break down other ways that money can be spent:
$1M = reforestation of ~ 500,000 trees
$1M = save the lives of ~ 300 African kids
The Bottom Line
The internet has provided more leverage to athletes than ever before.
With just one Instagram post or TikTok video, they can help influence millions of people.
This has made them hot commodities for influencer marketing, but also for investment groups.
Bringing that down to college — for the first time in history, we’re seeing athletes far wealthier than their professors, counselors, teammates, opponents, and coaches.
All of this is why I’m a firm believer in a few things:
There’s never been a better time to be in sports
There’s never been a better time to be an athlete
The lingering question…
Will these new athlete communities disrupt the agency model?
Frankly, I don’t know (but probably not).
I talked about this in my briefing, “Is the Agency Model in Sports Dying”.
Today’s episode is all about athlete communities and their rise to prominence.
Tracy Deforge, Founder & CEO at The Player’s Impact gives us the full briefing on athlete investors + influencers and how she’s playing in the space.
she’s also a board member of the NWSL, USA Handball, and was a key employee for the NHL & MLB in the early 2000s
This is a good one!
Check out the podcast episode here.
Thanks for reading (and listening) today!