For Steph Curry, Other Athletes, It’s Game Time on the Court and in the Boardroom

July 16, 2016 GMT

SAN FRANCISCO -- For a growing number of sports stars, the game isn’t over once they sink that last-second three-pointer or hit that walk-off home run.

As the tech industry booms, more cash-flush professional athletes are turning their attention to Silicon Valley. The Warriors’ Stephen Curry and former New York Yankees player Derek Jeter have founded their own startups, while Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks launched a venture capital fund focused on finding the next big thing.

In the NBA, tech has become such a hot topic that the players union is hosting its first technology summit in San Francisco this week -- giving basketball stars a chance to mingle with A-list VCs and tech executives. Warriors forward Andre Iguodala, an experienced tech investor, is spearheading the event.

“Increasingly our players have shown an interest in technology and venture capital and sports wearables and that whole world, and so we wanted to provide them with an opportunity to get educated,” said Roger Mason Jr., deputy executive director of the National Basketball Players Association.

The connections players make at the summit may help them forge a second income or start a new, post-NBA career, which experts say could keep them from joining the scores of athletes who spend excessively, invest poorly and end up broke after hanging up their jerseys.

Still, financial advisers and players with tech experience add a note of caution, saying that investing is risky for athletes who are new to Silicon Valley.

Retired NFL player Lawyer Milloy, who helped the New England Patriots win the 2002 Super Bowl, found that out the hard way with his first foray into tech. In what he dubbed a failed investment, he put money into Pirq, an app that gives customers access to retail stores’ loyalty programs.

“It is very humbling,” he said of the learning curve. “I could teach you and show you how to cover Jerry Rice or intercept a pass from Joe Montana ... The tech world is something new.”

So when Milloy, a self-described “gadget guy” who owns both an iPhone and an Android, invested in San Francisco-based social platform GameOn, he changed his approach. Milloy says he took more time getting to know the company, and now is involved in drumming up publicity for the app. GameOn, which connects sports fans to each other and their favorite athletes, also lists Montana, rapper Snoop Dogg and retired NBA player and Oakland native Gary Payton among its investors.

For basketball players, the three-day summit in San Francisco kicks off Tuesday with talks on how venture funding works and how a startup gets off the ground. Speakers include representatives from Sand Hill Road VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, wearable products maker Jawbone and angel investment firm SV Angel. More than 50 players expressed interest, Mason said, but due to scheduling conflicts and the association’s desire to keep its inaugural summit small, only about a dozen are expected to attend. Mason declined to disclose the RSVP list, but said Curry is a maybe.

The Warriors, with Silicon Valley in their backyard, are among the teams leading the charge from the court into tech. Curry, the team’s three-point shooter extraordinaire, founded a startup called Slyce last summer that helps pro athletes manage their social media presence. The company initially ran live Q&A sessions between players and their fans, but recently pivoted to focus on helping athletes post content related to brands they’re promoting.

While Curry invested in Slyce, sits on the board and owns founding shares, don’t expect to see him donning a hoodie and playing ping-pong at the startup’s Palo Alto office. Curry helps promote Slyce and gives product feedback, said co-founder and CEO Bryant Barr, but “he’s certainly not involved on a day-to-day basis.”

Meanwhile Curry’s wife, Ayesha Curry, is getting ready to launch her own startup -- a food-delivery service called Gather.

Warriors’ forward Iguodala is an investor in Twice, a San Francisco-based online marketplace for secondhand clothing, which was acquired by eBay last year.

Harrison Barnes, who played for the Warriors before joining the Dallas Mavericks this month, spent part of the 2014 summer interning at Facebook and told fans during a November Q&A session on that if he weren’t playing basketball, he would be working in Silicon Valley.

Ed Butowsky. a financial adviser for professional athletes, warned becoming involved with startups could get players into financial trouble.

“One of the number-one reasons that athletes go broke is because they put money in private, ill-liquid investments,” he said.

But other players make the investing game look easy.

Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, who promotes Beats headphones, reportedly cashed out with $30 million when Apple bought the company in 2014. Jeter invested in Mountain View-based video conference company Blue Jeans Network and founded the Players’ Tribune, a media platform that publishes athletes’ stories. Anthony, of the Knicks, invested in Silicon Valley tech companies including Lyft via his VC firm, Melo7 Tech Partners.

“The tech world is booming and there’s a lot of opportunity,” Milloy said. “Can you fail at it? Yes. Can you win? Hell yeah.” Marisa Kendall covers startups and venture capital. Contact her at 408-920-5009 and follow her at . Sports stars and startups Professional athletes are becoming more interested in tech, and many are founding and investing in startups. Among the key players: Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors -- Founded Palo Alto-based Slyce, which helps professional athletes manage their social media presence. Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors -- Invested in Twice, a San Francisco-based online marketplace for secondhand clothing, which was acquired by eBay last year. Derek Jeter, retired, New York Yankees -- Invested in Mountain View-based video conference company Bluejeans Network and founded The Players’ Tribune, a media platform that publishes athletes’ stories. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks -- Launched venture capital firm Melo7 Tech Partners, which invests in Silicon Valley companies, including Lyft. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers -- Reportedly made $30 million off his Beats endorsement deal when Apple bought the company in 2014.