NBA players have been cozying up to the tech world in recent years, though mainly through investments or, in the case of New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony's M7 Tech Partners, actually creating VC firms. But some players aren’t just flirting with Silicon Valley, they’re ready to commit—and the National Basketball Players Association is more than happy to be the matchmaker.
The National Basketball Players' Association (NBPA) is announcing today the inaugural NBPA Technology Summit, a three-day event in San Francisco that aims to integrate NBA players with tech and media companies for post-career opportunities beyond just backing them—a shift in thinking that’s found Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala as a model student.
Iguodala, 2015 NBA Finals MVP and co-vice president of the NBPA, has been an integral part in helping to build out the NBPA Technology Summit. Like most athletes who can understand the importance of tech companies but aren’t exactly sure where they would belong within them, Iguodala started out dabbling in investments but was soon digging his heels in shaping startups like Twice, where he became the menswear director before the company was sold to eBay last year. Making moves within companies as opposed to behind them is precisely what NBPA’s chief marketing officer Jordan Schlachter is hoping for with the summit.
"Our players told us they wanted to understand more about how they can take advantage of emerging technology and the media space to learn more about post-career opportunities and about growing their brand," Schlachter says. "This program isn’t about investment opportunities for players—it’s about education. It’s about learning what the businesses really are."
The NBPA Technology Summit will incorporate site visits to media and tech companies, as well as lectures, presentations, and workshops from executives and influencers. Jawbone, Pinterest, Andreessen Horowitz, and SV Angel are just a few companies on deck to help NBA players find their place in Silicon Valley—and one place that Schlachter feels is particularly apt for athletes is wearable technology.
"Athletes are kind of the benchmark for wearables—their input into how these companies work, how they market themselves, what they’re trying to capture could be useful on both sides of the fence because it’s really important that these companies get feedback from the best athletes in the world," Schlachter says. "It’s an emerging space, so I think this is something that can be mutually beneficial for both the companies and our athletes."
The NBPA Technology Summit will be held July 19-21. For more information, check out NBPA.com.