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Stephen Curry won't invest in CBD, blockchain, or gambling

Pro athletes have become powerful spokespeople for cannabidiol, or CBD, which comes directly from the hemp plant and does not cause a high.

Golfer Bubba Watson signed an endorsement deal with cbdMD (YCBD). Boxing champion Mike Tyson launched his own cannabis line. Former NBA player Lamar Odom claims CBD is a “miracle drug.”

But Stephen Curry, who formally announced his investment arm SC30 at TechCrunch Disrupt last week, is not aligning himself with CBD whatsoever. The Golden State Warrior star’s investments focus on Series A through C rounds, with a focus on both the consumer and enterprise customer. Bryant Barr, Curry’s roommate and fellow basketball teammate at Davidson College, serves as president. Barr, who has his MBA from Stanford, co-founded Slyce, the now defunct marketing platform, with Curry back in 2015.

The two have backed Guild Education, which helps corporations provide employees access to tuition reimbursement, online programs and degrees. They have also invested in SnapTravel, a hotel-booking platform via messaging, as well as the latest iteration of Palm, the self-proclaimed “best small phone for athletes.”

Curry’s investments — a ‘brand decision’

While Barr and Curry are open to exploring a wide range of industries, they are staying far away from several hot categories — including CBD and gambling.

“With CBD, that to me is more of a brand decision,” Barr told Yahoo Finance last week. “That's Stephen, he’s family first. He's got three kids, and it's not that we want to manufacture a brand. That's just who he is. While he’s playing as an athlete, we would avoid betting too. Betting would be another one that we would stay away from — from a brand perspective. Those don't help in any shape or form...but I do think gambling is super interesting.”

SC30 is also avoiding making any bets in the medical space.

Stephen Curry, Golden Gate Warriors MVP, introduces SC30 Inc. during the TechCrunch Disrupt forum in San Francisco, California, U.S. October 2, 2019. REUTERS/Kate Munsch
Stephen Curry, Golden Gate Warriors MVP, introduces SC30 Inc. during the TechCrunch Disrupt forum in San Francisco, California, U.S. October 2, 2019. REUTERS/Kate Munsch

“With life sciences, we just don't have the ability to appropriate due diligence, nor do we have the network to really dig in and understand it. Are we going to make a bet here that we can't really wrap our heads around? Anything from a medical perspective, or medtech, is expensive. You're pouring money into it. It's super capital intensive,” Barr said.

They aren’t jumping on the blockchain bandwagon anytime soon. “I love blockchain in theory, and I think the world will get there at some point. I haven't seen anything where it's like, that seems practical right now. And I think especially when you think about blockchain from a consumer perspective, you have to get the buyer or the consumer to understand what it is that they're buying. And I also haven't seen anybody that has been able to explain it in a really dumbed down layman's version. So it's like, I understand why this is better, like, great, there’s blockchain fantasy football. Okay, well, I can go on Yahoo. And like, put 20 bucks in and it's super easy. Why would I? Why would I do something differently?” posited Barr.

Curry added that he’s only backing ideas he believes in and understands, noting they have passed on the high-growth enterprise space.

In describing how he and Barr differ as investors, he said, “Probably just where [our] passions are, from a personality standpoint, like what [we’re] truly interested in. You're not going to go 100% in on things that you aren’t passionate about, but there's a reason behind it. And this is probably the only thing where [Bryan’s] like, ‘I found this really company that’s software, a SaaS [software as a service] company.’”

To that point, Barr and Curry reflected upon a few missed opportunities in recent startups that have had successful exits — they had the chance to invest in Zoom (ZM) and Pagerduty (PD) in the private market. But they don’t seem to be losing sleep over it.

“In hindsight, it would have been great. But hindsight is like crap. Yep, we would have made money on these. When we got presented with these opportunities earlier this year, we had probably made four, five investments at the time. And the conversation that we had was, ‘Hey, there are going to be opportunities all over the spectrum that are going to present themselves as good money-making opportunities.’ But because we're new, we're trying to gain experience. We're educating ourselves along the way, we're going to be much better served coming at this with a significant amount of focus versus spreading ourselves too thin,” Barr said.

“Also, we had an opportunity to invest in Lyft (LYFT) pre-IPO,” said Barr. “And I'm really thankful we passed. But we've chosen to have a very selective, focused approach to stage of company, right. And so while we would have made money on that, that's not necessarily the goal of this long term, we're investing from a long term point of view, not necessarily like how do we pick up you know, a quick win in three, six months?”

Curry’s long-term mindset applies to his performance on and off the court. He hopes to play another six seasons in the NBA, but is already crafting his narrative beyond basketball.

Melody Hahm is a senior correspondent at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and culture. She also hosts Breakouts, an interview series featuring up-close and intimate conversations with today’s most innovative business leaders. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.

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