Kobe Bryant has invested in a company called VIPKID that aims to teach Chinese Students English via an online North American elementary school experience. Bryant is hoping to become known for leading the next generation into a better education than they would have had.
Through his venture capital firm Bryant Stibel, jointly owned by Kobe Bryant and Jeff Stibel, Bryant has given $100 million in funding to VIPKID. This is the second Chinese company to receive funds from Bryant Stibel following their funding to the online supplier Alibaba.
As Richard Chang noted for The Journal, it took Bryant only a few minutes of meeting with VIPKID to decide it was something he wanted to invest in. Bryant and Stibel both noted that if they could have, they wouldn’t have gone public with the fund.
“Their platform is changing things. It’s a no-brainer for me. We have to look for companies adding value to society, helping kids learn and grow whether through education, nutrition,” Bryant said in an interview.
VIPKID is changing things for Chinese students, but also for many English speaking people. Their website notes that they are looking for native English speakers to become part-time teachers and help in their campaign to teach Chinese students.
Cindy Mi, the founder, and CEO of VIPKID said “We value Kobe`s influence in the U.S. and around the world. With this investment, we can strengthen the bridging of resources between the U.S. and China and further improve VIPKID`s strategic plans for international development.”
Bryant isn’t the only basketball player getting into tech investing. Carmello Anthony and even NBA commissioner David Stern are investing in tech companies, though they are focusing on ventures relating to sports, note Paresh Dave and Tracey Lien writing for the Los Angeles Times. Bryant’s focus on education and general tech companies make him consider his ventures completely different from others.
Stibel noted that Bryant has been going to China since the fund realized the potential of the country. While this will only be the second investment in a Chinese company, many others could be on the way. As Michael Jay Toledo notes for Bitbag, this will mark the 15th investment for Bryant Stible in technology and media companies.
Two companies Bryant Stibel has invested in, Represent and Shift, have been acquired by other companies. Represent is a fundraising service and Shift is a marketing software developer. It is unknown how much Bryant Stibel has made from those ventures, but the success of the companies speaks to how wise the investments moves were.
Business Wire notes that Bryant Stibel and VIPKID were connected through Learn Capital. Learn Capital is a Silicon Valley VC firm which has been very successful in its own right.
VIPKID plans to spend its funding on product development and employees. VIPKID is currently growing by 1,000 teachers a month across all of North America, with the new funds being used to increase that number. VIPKID also looks to lead the online pack in standards and content quality to improve the online experience for teaching English as a second language.
The investment follows Bryant’s retirement from basketball this year.