Up until he joined the Warriors, Kevin Durant had tunnel vision for the game of basketball. He showed no interest in anything but dominating NBA arenas. But playing for the Dubs, KD has started to look at the bigger picture, as he took advantage of his proximity to Silicon Valley. Along with his partner Rich Kleiman, Durant began building his business empire.
The two have co-founded Thirty Five Ventures – a venture capital firm investing in early-stage and start-up companies. Durant is the company’s president, but the brain behind their investment decisions is and always has been Rich Kleiman. The company incorporates the duo’s existing business entities, including Durant’s personal brand/marketing portfolio and on-court contracts; their diverse investment portfolio; the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation; and the multi-channel sports business network The Boardroom, distributed in partnership with ESPN.
To this date, Durant and Kleiman have made over 30 investments through Thirty-Five Ventures, and here's a small part of the company's portfolio:
- on-demand car care start-up called Yoshi
- an autonomous drone start-up called Skydio
- the technology venture capital firm CerraCap Ventures
- a cloud data management start-up called Rubrik
- a mobile marketplace for private charter flights called JetSmarter
- the food-delivery service Postmates
- the microlender Acorns
- chatbot startup Hugging Face
- a wearable fitness tracker Whoop
- stock trading platform Robinhood
The latter has been named as to CNBC’s ’20 disruptors list, as one of the private companies whose breakthroughs are influencing business and market competition at an accelerated pace.
High school highlights app Overtime is another of KD’s investments. He’s using it to highlight young, upcoming basketball players via his YouTube channel. We’ve seen Durant analyzing guys like Zion Williamson and LaMelo Ball, as his platform continues to be the go-to place for checking out young basketball phenoms.
Thirty Five Ventures is also getting involved with the food industry. Back in ’17, Durant became a part-owner of The Grill, the Major Food Group restart of the Four Seasons’ Grill Room. Durant and his business partner Rich Kleiman have a piece of the pie, which costed a grand total of $30 million to renovate along with sister restaurant The Pool. Thus Durant joined the other celebrities who’ve invested in NYC restaurants, such as Nas, Jay-Z, Robert De Niro, and Hugh Jackman. The duo of Durant and Kleiman has also invested in pizza company Pieology, owning both a stake in the assembly-line style, on-the-spot pizza brand, and some of its franchises.
In ’19, the company became an equity partner in New York City-based premium audio brand Master & Dynamic. In addition to having part ownership in Master & Dynamic, the full partnership includes Durant and Thirty Five Ventures working with the company on creative, design, and building out the intersection of sports and music. They’ve introduced the first special edition Studio 35 from Master & Dynamic & Kevin Durant – active Noise-Cancelling Wireless Over-Ear Headphones.
Durant and Kleiman also embarked on the route of getting involved with cannabis-related ventures. They’ve first backed-up Dutchie, as a part of $15 million round along with the likes of Snoop Dogg and several other investors. Months later, the two joined Canopy Rivers‘ strategic advisory board. collaborating with the investment company affiliated to Canopy Growth as a continuation of its global expansion and further development of its portfolio. It’s a market many NBA athletes are joining, with Durant being no exception.
Durant’s latest investment was him joining the Philadelphia Union’s ownership group as an investor and community partner. Durant has purchased a 5% ownership stake in the club, with the option to purchase an additional 5% in the near future. The deal also features a unique and expanded "partnership with Kleiman’s Thirty Five Ventures that will focus on growing the Union footprint in the sports world, working closely with the Union on marketing opportunities, and expanding the Union’s community outreach in conjunction with the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation."
In ’19 alone, Durant has earned $35 million solely from his off-court investments. Owning one of the most wide-ranging investment portfolios in the NBA, it’s only a matter of time before KD cashes out on those.
He could score $15 million on his Postmates investment alone if Uber Technologies decides to buy a food-delivery business, as the talks for the deal are still ongoing. And that's only a fraction of financial benefits arising from Thirty Five Ventures - the foundation of KD's business empire.