Kobe Bryant and nine other athletes have been supersmart investors

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“What comes next? What is my next passion?”

Those are the two questions retired NBA star and Academy Award winner Kobe Bryant claims athletes have to ask themselves.

The answer — for Bryant, 40, and many other retired sports stars — is investing.

In mid-August, the news that Bryant’s 2014 investment of $6 million in sports drink BodyArmor had morphed into $200 million after Cola-Cola purchased the company garnered lots of attention. In 2016, the five-time NBA champion partnered with Jeff Stibel, former CEO of Web.com, to form the venture capital fund Bryant Stibel. Other investments under Bryant Stibel include online education platform VIPKid and restaurant booking company Reserve.

Bryant’s return on investment is a boon to the ideology of athletes’ soaring interests in technology investments and beyond. But he’s not the only player who has taken the savvy approach to declaring his or her next passion.

More than 30 years ago, NBA Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson, now the president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers, started Magic Johnson Enterprises and invested in technology staffing company Jopwell. For decades he has maintained ownership in movie theaters, Burger King, TGI Fridays and other franchises, teams and startups.

Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter invested in the video conference service Blue Jeans Network and the anti-bullying app StopIt. He also founded sports website The Players’ Tribune. NBA big man and Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal sat down with talk show host Ellen DeGeneres in June to discuss investing in Google. O’Neal has also invested in burger chain Five Guys, 24 Hour Fitness and Apple.

Here are nine superjocks who use their brainpower, access and finances to make their money work for them.

Serena Williams

The new mother and tennis champion took interest in the meal delivery service Daily Harvest. During a 2017 episode of talk series Kneading Dough, she also expressed to Maverick Carter some interest in investment properties.

“I have the weirdest one, it’s property,” Serena Williams said. “For me, investments are really important in terms of who are the other investors: What does their portfolio look like? Have they been successful? If they’re a new company, are they a good product? Is it something you believe in? I never do something if I don’t really believe in the product.”

Venus Williams

Venus Williams is an investor in Ellevest, a financial app that empowers women and provides tips on saving.

Kevin Durant

When the Golden State Warriors All-Star found himself leaving Oklahoma City for Silicon Valley, he’d already developed a portfolio that included stakes in delivery service PostmatesAcorns, an investment app geared to millennials; drone company Skydio; and scooter brand LimeBike. Kevin Durant usually prefers to make his investments at the early stages.

Maya Moore

Maya Moore’s desire to promote healthy eating habits encouraged her to become involved with the frozen-juice company Chloe’s Fruit and the plant-based protein meat substitute company Beyond Meat.

“I think from early on in my career, I wanted to be someone who promotes health and wellness and nutrition,” Moore told WCCO4 CBS Minnesota. “These two companies definitely fit all those things.”

Continue onto The Undefeated to read about the complete list of athletes.

Louisville International Airport To Be Renamed For Muhammad Ali

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The city where the legendary boxer and humanitarian grew up is proud to honor him, Mayor Greg Fischer said.

Legendary sports figure Muhammad Ali is being honored by his Kentucky home town.

On Wednesday, officials announced that Louisville International Airport will be renamed after the late boxer and humanitarian.

The new name will be Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, although the current three-letter code ― SDF ― will stay the same, according to the Courier-Journal.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said the name change reflects the city’s pride in a local son who has “left a legacy of athleticism, of humanitarianism that has literally inspired billions of people.”

Although the airport is already planning to spend $100,000 to promote the new name, it’s not totally set in stone: The change first needs to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to local station WDRB TV.

WDRB TV reported that a related deal also needs to be finalized with an Ali family entity. But his boxer’s widow, Lonnie Ali, seems to be onboard, judging from this statement released to the press:

I am proud that the Louisville Regional Airport Authority and the City of Louisville are supportive of changing the name of the Louisville International Airport to reflect Muhammad’s impact on the city and his love for his hometown.

I am happy that visitors from far and wide who travel to Louisville will have another touch point to Muhammad and be reminded of his open and inclusive nature, which is reflective of our city. Muhammad was a global citizen, but he never forgot the city that gave him his start. It is a fitting testament to his legacy.

Ali died in 2016 after a long battle with Parkinson’s syndrome. He was 74.

Not only was he the first boxer to win the world heavyweight title three times, but Time magazine once described him as the “best-known person on the planet.”

Continue onto the Huffington Post to read the complete article.

NBCBLK launches Black History Month Series: ‘She Thrives’

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She Thrives Series

This February 2019, in celebration of Black History Month, NBCBLK, the African-American news vertical of NBC News Digital, presents a month-long special feature recognizing the accomplishments, power and prowess of black women.

The series, “She Thrives: Black Women Making History Today,” will highlight 10 amazing women you should know from a variety of generations, occupations and regions. These women are leaders in their communities and truly elevating the conversation around black identity, politics and culture.

NBCBLK would love to obtain submissions and suggestions. Once submissions are compiled, editorial members throughout NBC News’ broadcast and digital platforms will make the final selections.

How it works:

Tell us in the form provided how the woman you wish to nominate is breaking barriers and dismantling stereotypes about what it means to be a Black Woman in America today. Include a link, if relevant.

Selection criteria:

• Honorees are black women who are exceptional, gifted leaders in their industry and profession.

• These women are breaking barriers and smashing stereotypes about the black community/diaspora- redefining what it means to be Black in America.

Continue onto NBCBLK to read the complete article and complete the form.

How two NFL players’ sweet tooths made them hands-on business owners

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It’s an odd juxtaposition to see a 6-foot-4, 257-pound NFL player with a voice deep enough to rival Barry White’s spending his offseason selling cupcakes.

It has been an eye-opening adjustment for Tennessee Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo, the new co-owner of a Gigi’s Cupcakes store located outside Austin, Texas. He has gone from seeking tackles on the field to putting red sugar crystals on strawberry shortcake cupcakes.

“I’m so aggressive at times that you have to tone that down when you’re dealing with everyday people and customers. It’s a different way of life,” Orakpo said. “I have to tone that Rak down. I’ve been more Brian these days.”

Orakpo and one of his two business partners, former Titans safety Michael Griffin, hope their venture will encourage more players to pursue entrepreneurial interests and risks.

This all started in February 2017, when Orakpo, Griffin and their good friend Bryan Hynson were eating lunch in Nashville and plotting possible business ventures. Griffin was out of football after a 10-year NFL career and looking for something to occupy his time. Orakpo, then 30, was looking ahead, eyeing potential interests after football. Hynson worked in banking.

Orakpo and Griffin loved Gigi’s Cupcakes when they were Titans teammates. They took Hynson by a Nashville location to check it out, and he was sold. All three University of Texas graduates decided to start a plan to bring their own Gigi’s Cupcakes store to the Austin area.

“It was a different side of a world that me and Brian Orakpo didn’t know anything about. We can talk football all day. But we had to learn about business,” Griffin said. “Learning how to start up a LLC to getting someone who is going to be working with your account to financing, just a lot of things we take for granted being professional athletes.”

After a year of planning and building a store from the ground up, the three friends opened their Gigi’s Cupcakes in Bee Cave, Texas, less than a month ago.

The celebratory opening was a reward for the long journey. All three partners were hands-on throughout the process. They had their own two-a-day trainings, which involved working from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. for three consecutive weeks while learning how to open the shop, decorate, bake every cupcake they sell, be the cashier and close the shop. That didn’t even include the financial side of it.

“It was harder than playing football,” said Griffin, who noted that his wife told him she sees him less now that he is a business owner than she did when he was playing football. “This was like a completely foreign language. Being professional athletes, we’re kind of spoiled. These are things we never worried about because there were large amounts of money coming in every year. It was definitely an awakening.”

Orakpo added: “It was a grueling process. We made some mistakes, but we got the hang of it now.”

Continue onto ESPN to read the complete article.

Starting a Business? Steps every entrepreneur needs to know

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Starting a business? Confused about the planning, legal and regulatory steps you should follow?

Did you know that home-based businesses are required to hold permits to operate legally in most states? What about incorporation? Many new businesses assume they need to incorporate or become an LLC from the get-go—but the truth is, more than 70 percent of small businesses are owned by unincorporated sole proprietors (although even this group is required to register their businesses).

So, variables aside, there are still some fundamental steps that any business needs to follow to get started. Below are steps that can help you plan, prepare, and manage your business—while taking care of the startup legalities. Not all these steps will apply to all businesses, but working through them will give you a sense of what needs your attention and what you can check off.

Write a Business Plan

Yeah, yeah, you know you should write a business plan whether you need to secure a business loan or not. The thing is, a business plan doesn’t have to be encyclopedic and it doesn’t have to have all the answers. A well-prepared plan—revisited often—will help you steer your business all along its growth curve. Try to think of your business plan as a living, breathing project, not a one-time document. Break it down into mini-plans—one for marketing, one for pricing, one for operations, and so on.

Get Help and Training

Starting a business can be a lonely endeavor, but there are lots of free in-person and online resources that can help advise you as you get started. Check out what’s offered at your Small Business Development Centers; SCORE (which offers free mentoring services); Women’s Business Centers, your local U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) office, or the US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®).

Choose Your Business Location

Where you locate your business may be the single most important decision you make. Many factors come into play, such as proximity to suppliers, the competition, transportation access, demographics, and zoning regulations.

Understand Your Financing Options

You may choose to bootstrap, fall back on savings, or even keep a full-time job until your business is profitable, but if you are looking for an external source of financing, these resources explain your options.

Decide on a Business Structure

Going it alone or forming a partnership? Thinking of incorporating? What about an LLC? How you structure your business can reduce your personal liability for business losses and debts. Some choices can give you tax benefits. To help you determine the right structure for your business, the SBA can provide an overview of your options, information on how to file the necessary paperwork in your state, and the tax implications of your decision.

Register Your Business Name (“Doing Business As”)

Registering a “Doing Business As” name or “trade name” is only needed if you name your business something other than your personal name, the names of your partners, or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation.

Get a Tax ID

Not every business needs a tax ID from the IRS (also known as an Employer Identification Number or EIN), but if you have employees, run a business partnership, a corporation or meet certain IRS criteria, you must obtain an EIN from the IRS. You’ll also need to start paying estimated taxes to the IRS; visit irs.gov for more about this process.

Register with Tax Authorities

Employment taxes, sales taxes, and state income taxes are handled at the state-level. Visit sba.gov to learn more about your state’s tax requirements and how to comply.

Apply for Permits and Licenses

All businesses, even home-based businesses, need a license or permit to operate. The SBA provides a guide explaining permits and licensing and includes a handy “Permit Me” tool that lets you determine what your permit and licensing needs are, based on your zip code and business type.

Source: SBA.gov

In the Dugout with Jackie Robinson: An Intimate Portrait of a Baseball Legend

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Jackie Robinson

In 1947 Jackie Robinson (1919-1972) made history when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers and became the first African-American to play Major League Baseball in the modern era.

Opening on January 31—Robinson’s 100th birthday—In the Dugout with Jackie Robinson: An Intimate Portrait of a Baseball Legend will feature 32 photographs (most of them never published), originally shot for Look magazine; rare home movies of the Robinson family; and memorabilia related to Robinson’s career.

The exhibition is presented in collaboration with the Jackie Robinson Foundation and launches the Foundation’s yearlong, national Jackie Robinson Centennial Celebration, which culminates in the opening of the Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City in December 2019. “We are honored to partner with the Jackie Robinson Museum in celebrating the legacy of a true American icon,” said Whitney Donhauser, Ronay Menschel Director and President of the Museum of the City of New York. “Robinson’s trailblazing years as a Brooklyn Dodger captivated the country and these photographs offer an intimate glimpse of a defining period in American sports history.”

Della Britton, president and CEO of the Jackie Robinson Foundation remarked, “We are thrilled to begin our year-long celebration with this showcase of photographic treasures that depict Jackie Robinson’s life and career in New York. And the beautiful Museum of the City of New York is a fitting venue, as it was in this city that our namesake paved a way for a more inclusive America.” Robinson spent only one season with the Negro Leagues’ Kansas City Monarchs before he was recruited by Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey. Looking to turn the tide of the much-maligned team, Rickey chose Robinson not only for his talent, but for his demeanor and courage. From the moment Robinson stepped onto Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947, he endured jeers and even physical threats from fellow players, ticket buyers, and a segregated American public.

Despite adversity, Robinson ended his first season as the winner of Major League Baseball’s inaugural “Rookie of the Year” award. He was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player two years later and went on to win six pennants in his 10 seasons with the Dodgers. Following his retirement in 1957, Robinson continued to break barriers as a vice president of Chock full o’Nuts, becoming the first African American officer of a major national corporation. He remained dedicated to civil rights and the advancement of African Americans in industry and commerce, serving on the board of the NAACP and co-founding the Freedom National Bank in Harlem, which became one of the largest black-owned banks in the country.The exhibition features photographs taken on assignment by Look staff photographers Kenneth Eide and Frank Bauman. Robinson was a frequent face in Look, where he contributed three autobiographical essays (including 1955’s “Now I Know Why They Boo Me!”) and announced his retirement.

Continue on to the AssociatedPress to read the complete article

Siemens Celebrates Diverse Small Business Partners

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Throughout the United States, Siemens partners with more than 20,000 small business suppliers to drive innovation, achieve greater success, and play an active role in the growth of the U.S. market. As an integral part of our supply chain, we continue to celebrate these strategic partnerships like we did recently during our annual Small Business Awards Luncheon, which recognizes small business partners owned by minorities, women, veterans, and other diverse suppliers across Siemens U.S. businesses.

With the theme of “Small Business – Big Impact,” the ceremony took place in Atlanta and honored nine small business partners, selected based their performance, innovation and sustainability. All the winning suppliers contributed to Siemens’ success in fiscal year 2018 and are powerful examples of how partnering with small and diverse suppliers adds value to not only Siemens, but to our customers, the economy and the supplier themselves.

Here’s a look at the award winners.

Congratulations to the USA Small Business Award 2018 Winners

Quick-Way Manufacturing

Located in Euless, Texas, Quick-Way Manufacturing is a small business manufacturer of custom fabricated parts and stampings. Quick-Way is the “go-to” vendor when Siemens has an expedited need and is well known for its fast turnaround and great customer service.

BBM-CPG Technology, Inc.

South Carolina-based BBM-CPG Technology is a small business founded in 2004 and has fabrication, offices and warehouses with 34 employees and a main-production facility in Mexicana, Toluca, Mexico with 155 employees.

Shur-Kut Corporation

Located in Aston, Pennsylvania, Shur-Kut is a small business that serves many industries including Power Generation, Aerospace, Medical, Commercial Transportation and Automotive. The company maintains 99 percent on-time delivery and 100 percent quality metrics.

Cynthia Kay & Company

With 8 employees, Cynthia Kay & Company is a woman owned small business based in Michigan that has flown over 250,000 miles this year for Siemens to produce digital communications, developed a capability for 360 video and had two employees certified as pilots to fly drone missions for Siemens.

Logisticus Group

Logisticus Group is a small disadvantaged business specializing in Innovative Transportation, Project Management, and Technology Solutions. They constantly exhibit superb quality of service and work, strong work ethic, professionalism, transparency and reliability.

Siemens executives and City of Roswell Mayor pose togethersmall business awardees posing for picture
From left to right is Nichelle Grant, Siemens USA Chief Diversity Officer, Patric Stadtfeld, Siemens Corporation – VP & Supply Chain Head & Regions AM, City of Roswell Mayor Pro Tem Marie Willsey and Robert Suchy, Head of Pooling Siemens AG.

Axxis Building Systems, Inc.

Founded in 2011, Axxis is a woman owned and disadvantaged small business that has been committed to providing quality work and true customer service. Axxis’ performance and service was instrumental in achieving Siemen’s strategic objectives.

Alaska Imaging Solutions

Founded by Brian Niver, a veteran and former Siemens Healthineers employee, Alaska Imaging Solutions is a critical business partner for meeting high customer expectations.

OEM Fabricators, Inc.

OEM is a small business manufacturer of custom, high-performance parts. Its high level of welding and metal fabrication competence has established them as a preferred supplier of complex assemblies.

PROLIM

Classified as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), PROLIM is a MindSphere IoT partner and leading provider of end-to-end PLM and Engineering Solutions to Global Fortune 1000 companies, with a focus on business processes and technology.

The Siemens small business and supplier diversity program is committed to developing strategic supplier sourcing with small and diverse businesses and businesses located in historically underutilized business zones. To learn more, visit siemens.com/about/supplier-at-siemens.

Former ABC President Channing Dungey joins Netflix

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In a move anticipated within the industry, Dungey is headed to the new home of two other former powerhouse ABCers: Shonda Rhimes and Kenya Barris.

Channing Dungey, the former head of ABC Entertainment who stepped down in November, is joining Netflix, where she will oversee original TV series alongside Cindy Holland, the company’s longtime head of originals.

The move was anticipated within the industry and reunites Dungey with two of her former showrunners, Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s AnatomyScandal) and Kenya Barris (Black-ish), both of whom decamped from ABC to Netflix earlier this year. At Netflix, Channing will also oversee other high-profile producers, such as the Obamas, who have a producing deal at the company; Jenji Kohan (Orange is the New BlackGlow) and Marti Noxon; as well half of the originals executive team. The other half will report to Holland.

Interestingly, sources told The Hollywood Reporter that Dungey, a TV veteran who had been at ABC since 2004, will also have a direct line of communication with Netflix’s content chief Ted Sarandos. Like other executives whom Netflix has poached from traditional entertainment companies, such as Scott Stuber, who heads Netflix’s original film division, Dungey brings experience working with talent and nurturing projects as the company invests more heavily in its own content–and begins to operate more like a traditional studio. In contrast, Holland was promoted to oversee originals in 2012, when Netflix first began making its own shows. She started at the company in DVD acquisitions and then took over domestic TV licensing.

Dungey’s exit from ABC came as its parent company, the Walt Disney Company, was preparing to merge with 21st Century Fox. The new arrangement would have united Dungey with her formal rival at Fox, Dana Walden, who was named in October as incoming Disney TV Studios chairman. Her departure also marked the end of a dramatic year at ABC. After green-lighting a remake of Roseanne that became one of the network’s biggest hits, Dungey swiftly fired the show’s star, Roseanne Barr, after she made a racist slur on Twitter. The show continued production as a spin-off (The Conners) without Barr, but has faired less spectacularly in the ratings.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

KPMG Names Michele Meyer-Shipp Chief Diversity Officer

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KPMG LLP has appointed Michele Meyer-Shipp, an accomplished executive and attorney with significant experience in inclusion strategy and employment law, as Chief Diversity Officer. She succeeds Sue Townsen, who returns full-time to the firm’s Advisory practice.

Meyer-Shipp, who joins as a principal, will lead the national Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) team and oversee its strategy and objectives, including growing diverse leaders and collaboration; inspiring broad perspectives and innovative client solutions; and fostering an inclusive, accessible, and vibrant workplace. She will work closely with KPMG’s leadership teams to advance its inclusive and diverse culture, which has earned the firm recognition as a top workplace by FORTUNE magazine, DiversityInc, Working Mother, and The Human Rights Campaign.

“Companies with inclusive and diverse cultures are better positioned to adapt, grow, and thrive – and we take great pride in embedding these values into our programs and actions,” said Darren Burton, KPMG’s Vice Chair of Human Resources. “Our national diversity networks engage nearly half of our 30,000 people in professional development, mentoring relationships, and community service activities. Michele’s skills and experience will help us continue to enhance our efforts to recruit, develop, and retain diverse talent.”

Meyer-Shipp comes to KPMG from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, where she served as Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. She led the deployment of a firmwide diversity strategy, including building out infrastructure and ensuring that the firm’s foundational principles of inclusiveness and diversity were reflected in all of its policies, work, and practices.
She also previously worked at Prudential Financial, initially as Vice President and Counsel and then as Chief Diversity Officer.

Continue onto PR Newswire to read the complete article.

Jay-Z Scores Diversity Commitment from American Arbitration Association

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Although Iconix Brand Group attacked the hip-hop mogul’s move as a “charade,” his attorney says the AAA is now pledging to expand its roster of black arbitrators.

Jay-Z is no longer demanding a halt to an arbitration with Iconix Brand Group because of a lack of available black arbitrators at the American Arbitration Association. On Sunday, an attorney for the hip-hop mogul informed a New York judge via letter that AAA had made a newfound commitment on the diversity front.

According to the letter from Quinn Emanuel litigator Alex Spiro, who represents Jay-Z (Shawn Carter), “While the information AAA provided has confirmed that AAA lacks an appreciable number of minority (and particularly, African-American) arbitrators, AAA has indicated an openness both to an arbitrator selection process in this Arbitration that will allow for meaningful consideration of African-American arbitrators and to broader remedial measures intended to improve the diversity of the arbitrator roster for future arbitrations.”

Jay-Z is fighting with Iconix over the scope of a $200 million deal signed a decade back governing the use of the “Roc Nation” trademark on baseball caps and other merchandise.

In late November, Jay-Z brought his diversity concerns to New York Supreme Court. He said AAA was only able to provide three neutrals it identified as African-American — and one had a conflict.

“This blatant failure of the AAA to ensure a diverse slate of arbitrators for complex commercial cases is particularly shocking given the prevalence of mandatory arbitration provisions in commercial contracts across nearly all industries, which undoubtedly include minority owned and operated businesses,” wrote Spiro at the time.

Jay-Z’s motion for a temporary restraining order to halt the arbitration was granted, but it may have had as much — or even more — to do with the absence of the assigned judge than the merits of an argument that an arbitration process without African-Americans violated New York’s public policy on discrimination. (See the transcript of the Nov. 30 hearing.)

The parties were due in court on Tuesday to discuss whether the TRO would be further extended.

In the meantime, Iconix appeared in the case to attack Jay-Z’s gambit as a “charade.”

“Contrary to the Carter Parties’ tale of ‘token’ representation, the current ‘Strike List’ of AAA-presented arbitrators is composed of 25% (3 of 12) African-American candidates, selected from a National Roster consisting of at least 150 African-American arbitrators and the Carter Parties voluntarily waived participation in nominating any additional candidates by ignoring AAA deadlines and self-imposing arbitrary standards of ‘qualification,'” wrote Iconix attorney Samuel Levy at Blank Rome.

Levy said that Jay-Z had no problem arbitrating other matters in the past without raising similar race objections, and also argued against the proposition that a lack of diversity could void an arbitration provision in a contract.

Continue on to the Hollywood Reporter to read the complete article.

Meet the 26-year-old entrepreneur turning high-school gamers into varsity athletes

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With his PlayVS e-sports platform, Delane Parnell is creating a valuable scouting grounds for new tech talent.

Sporting a pair of black Jordan 11 Cap and Gowns that look like they were just unboxed and a dark baseball cap that casts a slight shadow over his baby-cheeked face, Delane Parnell fields questions from the audience at this September’s TechCrunch Disrupt, the annual San Francisco assembly that has become a startup kingmaker of sorts. He shares the stage with Jason Citron, founder and CEO of Discord, a messaging app for video gamers with more than 150 million users, and—after a $50 million fundraising round in April—a valuation of $1.65 billion. Parnell’s PlayVS (pronounced play versus), an e-sports platform for high schools, has yet to even launch. But the 26-year-old Detroit native exudes confidence. “Investors are starting to realize that gaming is the next social paradigm,” says Parnell, answering a question about e-sports’ mainstream popularity. “And they want a piece of it.”

You don’t have to look far for evidence of gaming’s influence. It’s all over YouTube and Twitch in how-to videos and live-streamed sessions of FIFA 19 and Assassin’s Creed. A robust ecosystem of e-sports competitions is rising as well, with game publishers, entertainment companies, and even colleges and universities creating leagues and events for pro gamers and amateurs alike. The largest tournaments, for titles such as Dota 2 and Call of Duty, can fill stadiums and dangle purses of millions of dollars. According to research firm NewZoo, revenue from e-sports-related media, sponsorships, merchandise, tickets, and publisher fees is expected to nearly double from 2014 to reach $1 billion this year. Goldman Sachs projects e-sports viewership to reach 300 million by 2022, putting it on par with the NFL.

For all the organizations rushing into e-sports, a hole remains: high school competitions that engage the estimated 75% of American teens who already play video games. Parnell is filling that void with PlayVS, which lets schools create leagues and host virtual and live competitions. Though he’s diving into an industry full of well-funded sharks, including Amazon (Twitch’s parent company) and Discord, Parnell has an edge. In January, PlayVS signed an exclusive, five-year e-sports partnership with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the organization that oversees varsity sports and activities at nearly 19,500 public and private high schools across the country. The first test season of a PlayVS-powered competition, for the popular multiplayer game League of Legends, commenced this October at high schools across five states, and the company is gearing up for its official inaugural season in February.

Parnell is now on a roll. Last week, just five months after PlayVS closed its $15.5 million Series A, the company announced a $30.5 million round from investors that include Adidas, Samsung, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and the VC arm of the Los Angeles Dodgers“I don’t care if you’re gaming on your phone, on a console, or through a cloud service,” Parnell says. “Gaming in high school, even if it’s tic-tac-toe, will run through us.”

If he succeeds, he could effectively control a pipeline that would feed into the burgeoning pro leagues. It took the NBA two decades after its first draft to start recruiting players from high schools, but e-sports leagues are already tapping young talent. A 13-year-old recently signed with a European pro Fortnite team. Given the venture capital and startups flooding into e-sports today, Parnell could create another, equally valuable conduit: one that enables high schoolers—particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds—to parlay their interest in gaming into lucrative tech jobs. All he has to do is convince schools that e-sports deserves to be taken as seriously as football and basketball.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

Tristan Walker announces acquisition by Procter & Gamble, will remain as CEO and move company to Atlanta

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Once a beacon for more minorities to join him in Silicon Valley, the former tech and media darling enters a deal that will help to secure his legacy—and P&G’s.

Procter & Gamble, the consumer packaged goods conglomerate known for such household staples as Tide and Old Spice, will acquire Walker & Company Brands, the health and beauty startup launched by entrepreneur Tristan Walker just five years ago.

While the financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, other details were: Within the first half of 2019, Walker and his current team of 15 employees will relocate to Atlanta—not Cincinnati, the home of P&G headquarters—and will continue working on its brands, Bevel and Form, as a wholly owned subsidiary with Walker at the reins as CEO. He’ll report directly to Alex Keith, president of P&G’s global haircare and beauty business.

“We’ve always had the vision to make health and beauty simple for people of color,” Walker says. “But now we get to accelerate that vision with the many capabilities Procter & Gamble has to offer. I’m not going anywhere. We’re not going anywhere.”

For those who’ve followed the career of Walker, the merger with P&G might read as the conclusion of a storied journey. Walker, who has cultivated for himself an image as a beacon for more racial diversity in Silicon Valley, is one of the most visible African-American executives in tech, counting among his funders Andreessen Horowitz, in addition to cofounding Code2040, a not-for-profit that connects young minorities to coding jobs. While it’s true that he professed his ambitions to become the “Procter and Gamble for people of color” in my profile of him four years ago, he has largely carved that path guided by Silicon Valley sensibilities, from ingratiating himself with the Bay Area elite to employing a direct-to-consumer model for Bevel—Walker’s flagship brand, a suite of shaving products that reduces skin irritation, common among men of color—just as glitzy startups like Warby Parker, Casper Sleep, and Glossier had done.

“Yes, we happen to be in Silicon Valley and, yes, we happen to do things from a technology perspective to help us accelerate our vision, but we’ve always been a forward-looking consumer packaged goods company,” says Walker. “Our moving from Silicon Valley doesn’t change that.”

The truth is, Walker has only in recent years begun eschewing the label of “tech startup.” He turned a few heads at Recode‘s Code Commerce conference in March of last year when he told Kara Swisher, “When I started, I said we’re a tech company. That’s bullshit.”

He’s moved deeper into the CPG world, inking a deal in 2015 to sell Bevel products in Target stores a la carte—a model which came to comprise nearly half the company’s revenue—and last year launched Form, a 10-product haircare line that Walker & Co. recommends to consumers based on an online survey about hair-affecting factors like geography and exercise habits. Form received rave reviews, but Walker lacked the resources to properly promote the product. Meanwhile, competitors such as Harry’s—which bought a $100 million razor factory less than a year after its founding—delivered on the type of fast-growth metrics that venture capitalists crave, zipping to a nine-figure valuation. (Soon Harry’s even installed giant displays that bookended the very Target aisles where Bevel products were sold.)

While some might consider the deal as simply the latest in a string of black-owned health and beauty companies getting snatched up by non-black-owned multinationals—see Sundial Brands’ sale to Unilever last year—the move means that resources like marketing and distribution are unlikely to be a worry for Walker going forward as a subsidiary of P&G, which today has a $93 billion market cap, and which AdAge recently ranked second (to Samsung) in global ad spend.

“When you consider growth percentages and metrics and that sort of thing, while it’s a good signal for the health of the business, it’s not necessarily the greatest signal for one’s belief that you’re building a beloved brand with staying power,” says Walker. “We’re six years old; Procter & Gamble is 180. There’s so much we can learn from them. We haven’t even scratched the surface yet.”

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

Pat Manuel will make history as the first transgender male to fight professionally in the U.S.

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When Patricio Manuel steps through the ropes and into the boxing ring just after 6 p.m. Saturday, few in the crowd at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio will know what a long and torturous trek he made to get there.

They won’t know about the resistance overcome or the months of physical rehab endured. They won’t know how hard it was to get those chiseled biceps atop a super featherweight’s thin frame. They may not even know that, at 33, an age when undefeated champions Rocky Marciano and Andre Ward had already retired, Manuel will be making his pro debut.

And if they don’t know any of that, they surely won’t know that Patricio used to be Patricia — he was a she — and in the four-round bout against Hugo Aguilar, a journeyman boxer from Mexico, Manuel will make history as the first transgender male to fight professionally in the U.S.

“It feels like a long time coming,” said Manuel, who fought for the last time as a female in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. “But I’m still like, ‘Wow, we’re finally here. Finally at this point.’

“I just feel incredibly fortunate to be in this position. To be able to enjoy all the sacrifice, all the work, all the doubt that came through over the years to really be here in this moment.”

If you feel like you’ve read this story before, it may be because you have. Fifteen months ago, after losing his coach, getting kicked out of a gym and seeing his dream of fighting as a man stymied by bureaucracy — no one was quite sure how to license a transgender boxer — Manuel split two amateur bouts and was set to turn pro before suffering a broken bone and torn ligament in his right thumb.

Eric Gomez also read that story and as president of Golden Boy, Oscar de la Hoya’s boxing promotion company, he was uniquely positioned to help.

“It really inspired me,” he said. “This is a story that is bigger than boxing. It’s a very tough sport. You compound that with what Pat went through. The inner struggles, the process of transition and to keep wanting to fight?

“Just that drive is impressive. It’s very different than any athlete I’ve met. And I’ve been doing this for 20 years.”

So Gomez — along with a number of politicians, including state assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Dean Grafilo, director of the California Department of Consumer Affairs — cut through the red tape to help get Manuel licensed. Golden Boy then arranged a bout, matching Manuel against the winless Aguilar (0-5) on an eight-fight card topped by a super featherweight world championship elimination bout matching Rene Alvarado of Nicaragua against Carlos Morales of Los Angeles.

“We haven’t talked about doing any more fights,” Gomez said. “His dream was to debut as a professional fighter. Everybody has a right to follow their dreams. Just to be part of this is special for me.”

Manuel, whose ancestry is Irish, Mexican and black, never really knew his father. But his mother, Loretta Butler, and grandmother Patricia Jean Butler were never far away, supporting Manuel through childhood in Gardena and a boxing career that included almost as many injuries as bouts.

And all the while, they sensed something was different about young Patricia, who was named for her grandmother. She preferred boys’ clothes to dresses, kept her hair short and played with action figures rather than Barbie dolls.

“Every Christmas I would be buying toys at Toys ‘R’ Us and everybody would say, ‘Boys at home, huh?’” Loretta Butler remembered.

So one winter Manuel’s grandmother got creative with her gift-giving, buying Patricia a boxing club membership. Although female fighters were rare, Manuel took to the sport and its hyper-masculine ambience quickly, moving to the Commerce Boxing Club and spending long hours working with Roberto Luna, who trained three Olympians.

Manuel was to be his fourth. But in the 2012 women’s Olympic Trials, Manuel had to withdraw after one bout — a one-sided lightweight loss to Florida’s Tiara Brown — because of a shoulder injury.

Even before the trials, Manuel had thought of transitioning to male, but the hope of representing the U.S. in the first Olympic boxing tournament for women held him back. After the trials, there was no reason to wait. On the trip home, Manuel told Butler that her daughter would soon become her son — then waited for the response.

It was one not of surprise but relief.

“Pat has always been a male,” his mother says. “It’s just Pat was not assigned properly at birth.”

Continue onto the Los Angeles Times to read the complete article.

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