While Klay Thompson and Steph Curry are the Splash Brothers on the court, they are SV entrepreneurs off
There is no bigger story in Silicon Valley right now — not Twitter's Wall Street woes, not Google's European tango, not even the latest bad behavior by an Uber driver — than the current NBA World Championship run that the Golden State Warriors are on right now.
It's THE only news that matters in the Bay Area right now.
And what could be more Silicon Valley than rooting for the team playing at the Oracle Arena --which counts The Social+Capital founder Chamath Palihapitiya as a partial owner -- and has two of its biggest stars also occasionally dabble in the startup world?
The Splash Brothers, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, aren't just making assists on the court. They are also playing key roles in early stage companies, helping them grow through capital investments, marketing, and product insight.
In late March, just before the playoffs started, it was announced that Curry, this year's most valuable player in the NBA, would be joining Boston-based CoachUp as an advisor and part owner. The investment he made in the platform, which connects private coaches with athletes, was not disclosed at the time of the announcement. And neither were details of what Curry's full role in the company would entail.
He's obviously been somewhat busy for the past couple of months -- you know, with helping to lead the Warriors to the NBA Finals and all -- but he's still taken some time to shoot a video for CoachUp with his parents. According to an email from CoachUp founder and president Jordan Fliegel, Curry also helped the company create an ebook called The Secrets of Steph Curry about his training regimen. And once the season is over, he will work on even more video and other content with the company.
Not to be outdone, Curry's backcourt partner Klay Thompson has also jumped into the tech space with a hardware startup called ShotTracker. The Kansas-based company has developed a wearable sensor which connects to a second device attached to the netting of a basketball hoop. As the name implies, ShotTracker keeps track of a player's made and missed shots.
For Thompson, the idea of working with a company that can improve his shooting ability was a huge draw. "It’s obviously a shooting device, and that’s one of the things I love most about my game. I love shooting," Thompson said in an email. "To have the ability to measure my shooting proficiency is very intriguing to me. I also like being involved in a product that helps players at all levels improve their shooting, because shooting is such an important element of the game."
Once the playoffs conclude, Thompson is going to participate in a unique "virtual camp" with ShotTracker. From June 21 to 28, he will play a role in a free online camp that provides workouts for participants to complete each day using ShotTracker's device and its app. Throughout the week, Thompson will be interacting with "campers" on social media, through the app, and via online forums, giving them tips and advice and sometimes doing so on an individual basis.
"I like that this technology gives me new ways to personally interact with the fans," Thompson said of the virtual camp.
In our email interview, I asked Thompson if playing in the San Francisco/Oakland area naturally led him to become involved in entrepreneurship.
"Being in the Bay Area I feel all of the high tech energy," he said. "So when this ShotTracker opportunity came up and it combined technology and basketball, it was immediately interesting to me."
He also said he May play a more active role in technology startups down the road.
"Right now all of my focus is on being a professional basketball player," Thompson said. "But over time I want to become more in tune with what’s going on in Silicon Valley."
Right now, Silicon Valley is mostly tuned into what the Splash Brothers are doing on the court. A few more wins and Thompson and Curry might cement themselves in the company of all-time great Bay Area sports heroes like Ricky Henderson and Dave Stewart; Montana, Rice, and Young; and Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner.
Before long, we may be able to add the likes of Page and Brin, Zuckerberg, and Jobs to that list.