courtesy of Konnect Agency
Stephen Curry is making investments while he awaits his return to the basketball court.
The Golden State Warriors guard said on Thursday he finalized an equity partnership with OXIGEN, a beverage company that makes a premium water that’s supposed to assist in muscle recovery. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but in 2017 the founder of the company, Blair Bentham, offered 20 percent of the company to investors during a $13 million Series A round.
In an interview with CNBC, Curry said the company aligns “with brands and partners that I truly believe in.”
The former National Basketball Association MVP will use his name, image and likeness to continue building brand awareness for OXIGEN. He said he wants “to make sure that people understand the benefits that the product brings to you beyond just the taste.”
Curry said the “shift in mentality in terms of being health conscious and understanding your well-being is first and foremost and should be your priority – this (OXIGEN) can be a huge catalyst in that for everybody.”
The water product, according to Bentham, specializes in helping reduce soreness “faster than the body can do so on its own.” The company was founded in 2014.
The drink is available in 45,000 retail stores, including 7-11, CVS, and Kroger grocery chains.
“They recognized that it’s a unique product,” Bentham said of the stores. Most competitors focus on pH balance and alkaline waters, Bentham explained, noting that he doesn’t expect to have similar competitors on shelves for at least 24-36 months.
Bentham will decide on a Series B funding round in the coming weeks. He said there aren’t plans to take the company public.
Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors goes up for a shot on Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors at Chase Center on March 05, 2020 in San Francisco, California.
Ezra Shaw | Getty Images
Seeking equity deals
Curry, a self-described “water snob,” said he did his homework on OXIGEN after a friend introduced him.
“There’s a lot of people who don’t know that not all water is made the same,” Curry said. He’s been seeking equity-like deals over ordinary endorsement agreements for the last three years.
“You have to be strategic about it,” Curry said of looking for equity partnerships. “You have to have the right team in place to manage the future and those relationships.”
Over the last nine months, Curry, who started the firm SC30, has made investments in San Francisco-based tech firm MOS and Denver, Colorado-based Guild Education. Guild Education helps Fortune 500 companies such as Disney, Walmart, Taco Bell, and Lowe’s offer debt-free degrees to their employees.
Curry credited former NBA stars like Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal for paving the way and opening “up our minds to what’s possible” when seeking equity in agreements. He advises other athletes to do the same — identify the value of their name, image and likeness (NIL) and determine how they can help build companies.
“We can be serious in this space,” Curry said. “The reach that you have from the court to the boardroom in terms of being thoughtful about what makes you different than the next athlete and staying true to that, you can have a seat at these types of tables.
“Basketball opens so many doors for us, and this can be opportunities that will live well beyond our playing days.”
Curry also chatted with CNBC a bit about watching basketball from the sidelines during the coronavirus pandemic.
The NBA resumed its season with a 22-team format in Orlando on July 30 without the Warriors, who weren’t eligible. Curry said the Disney bubble games have been “fun to watch as a fan” and praised his colleagues for continuing to bring awareness to “issues that still need attention and need changing.”
Curry said watching opening night was “tough “as he missed the competitiveness but added he’s “watched more games start to finish than I have in a long time.”
His brother, Seth, plays for the Dallas Mavericks. Curry said he’s rooting for them as he awaits the Warriors’ return. He even said he might join the Mavericks’ virtual seats during games.
“During the playoffs, when they get to the first round, I might be in there and wear my Dallas uniform and make everybody go crazy,” he said.