Kevin Durant returned to the court last week after missing 23 games with a strained hamstring. He led the Brooklyn Nets to a 30-point blowout win against the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday. But the four-time NBA scoring champ nabbed a bigger win off the court Wednesday, as digital currency exchange Coinbase hit the public markets using a direct listing instead of the traditional IPO path.
The stock closed at $328 in its first day of trading, resulting in a fully diluted valuation of $86 billion. The value of KD’s 2017 investment in Coinbase is up 54-fold based on the price. The stock peaked at $429 during the day.
It is the biggest investment score yet for Durant’s company, Thirty Five Ventures, co-founded with his longtime business manager Rich Kleiman. The company has 15 full-time employees focused on Durant’s endorsements, startup investments, media properties and foundation.
Durant has invested in around 50 startups including micro-lender Acorns, stock trading platform Robinhood, esports organization Andbox, and cloud data management firm Rubric. Most of the investments have been in the $250,000 to $1 million range. A $250,000 investment in Coinbase in 2017 would be worth $13.5 million at Wednesday’s closing price.
He invested roughly $1 million in food-delivery service Postmates in 2016 at a discounted valuation in exchange for his endorsement. He used his massive social media following to grow awareness of the service, including a video in which he posed as a Postmates delivery rider. Uber Technologies bought the company in December for $2.65 billion, valuing Durant’s stake at $15 million.
Coinbase launched in 2012 and bills itself as the easiest place to buy and sell cryptocurrency. It counts 56 million verified users, along with 7,000 institutions. Companies such as Visa, PayPal and Tesla have embraced the platform. Revenue more than doubled last year to $1.1 billion—a snail’s pace compared to the first quarter of 2021 when the company announced preliminary revenue of $1.8 billion, up ninefold.
Thirty Five Ventures was part of Coinbase’s Series D funding in 2017 that raised $100 million at a $1.6 billion valuation. The valuation hit $8 billion the following year during the Series E round and has continued to move up in the private markets as the price of a bitcoin jumped from $3,700 at the end of 2018 to a recent $62,900.
Durant ramped up his startup investing when he joined the Golden State Warriors ahead of the 2016-17 season after nine seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He built relationships with execs from Apple and Google, as well as Silicon Valley power brokers Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz.
Several of Durant’s investments focus on the sports world. He joined fellow NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony in a $35 million funding round for sports highlights startup Overtime. Durant invested last year in wearable fitness tracker Whoop alongside Patrick Mahomes, Eli Manning and Rory McIlroy.
Durant’s biggest financial commitment was for a 5% stake in Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union franchise last year, with the option to purchase an additional 5%. The Union’s majority owner, Jay Sugarman, says the team’s valuation is more than $325 million. As part of the deal, KD, Kleiman and Thirty Five Ventures will work with the Union to expand its marketing opportunities.
Durant will earn $39 million salary this season with the Brooklyn Nets, plus an estimated $35 million from his media and film projects, along with sponsors Nike, Degree, YouTube and Master & Dynamic.