Kevin Durant Could Score A $15 Million Payday If Uber Buys Postmates

The NBA is moving forward with its restart plan in Florida, but Kevin Durant will not be going to Disney World as he continues to recover from a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered during the 2019 NBA Finals. While he won’t be on the court, Durant’s business empire continues to gain momentum.

The New York Times
NYT
reported Monday night that Uber Technologies was in talks to buy food-delivery business Postmates for roughly $2.6 billion, after earlier reports Monday that the company was reviving IPO plans. It would be a huge win for Durant, who invested roughly $1 million in the startup in 2016 at a discounted entry price. The current value of his stake is up an estimated 15-fold, based on the Uber valuation, to $15 million.

Durant’s company, Thirty Five Ventures, cofounded with his business manager Rich Kleiman, has 15 full-time employees focused on Durant’s endorsements, startup investments, foundation and media properties. He’s invested more than $15 million into 40-plus startups. “I want to use the checks I get from companies to create true generational wealth,” Durant said for a Forbes cover story six months ago. Durant said his gains on paper had topped 400% as of late 2019.

The four-time NBA scoring champ has made $500 million in salary and endorsements during his 13-year career. He ranked No. 7 in Forbes’ recent look at the world’s highest-paid athletes with $64 million over the previous 12 months.

While basketball has been Durant’s meal ticket, he’s betting on another sport in his latest investment. Durant was announced as an investor in Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union franchise in June. He bought 5% of the soccer club, with the option to purchase an additional 5% in the near future. Jay Sugarman, the Union’s majority owner, says the team’s valuation is north of $325 million, indicating an eight-figure commitment by Durant. Forbes valued the team at $240 million in November.

As part of the partnership, Durant, Kleiman and Thirty Five Ventures will work with the Union to expand its marketing opportunities and overall footprint in the sports world. Durant has a massive platform to help the brands he invests in and endorses, thanks to 40 million followers on his social media channels and 800,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel.

It’s common for superstar athletes with huge reaches to get discounted rates on their startup investments. Those athletes can provide increased awareness for the brands, as Durant did with a video in which he posed as a Postmates delivery rider. Tennis icon Roger Federer made an investment in 2019 for a significant stake in Swiss running shoe On and has attracted new attention for the brand.

Durant’s startup investing ramped up when he joined the Golden State Warriors ahead of the 2016-17 season. Playing in the heart of Silicon Valley for three years allowed him to build relationships with executives from Google
GOOGL
and Apple
AAPL
, as well as power brokers like Laurene Powell Jobs, Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz. Besides Postmates, his other major investments include Acorns, Coinbase, Robinhood, Caffeine TV and Lime scooters.

Like fellow NBA stars LeBron James and Stephen Curry, Durant also has his own production arm. Thirty Five Ventures produces series and scripted shows for outlets like Apple, YouTube and ESPN. It produced last month’s Showtime documentary Basketball Country: In The Water, which highlights KD’s hometown in Prince George’s County, Maryland, an area that has supplied a steady flow of NBA players the past two decades. Swagger, a scripted series based on Durant’s early life, is backed by Hollywood heavyweight Brian Grazer and will be distributed on Apple’s new streaming service.

Durant, 31, says he wants to own an NBA team one day. The average team value is $2.1 billion, with the Memphis Grizzlies setting the floor at $1.3 billion, according to Forbes’ estimates. It will take a few more big scores like Postmates for KD to join Michael Jordan as a former player in the ownership ranks.

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