Percy Master P Miller, rapper and entrepreneur joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss why he and former NBA star Baron Davis are in talks to buy Reebok and break down the importance of boosting minority entrepreneurship now more than ever.
BRIAN SOZZI: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance Live. And we're still joined by Percy Miller, better known as music icon Master P, and our very own Reggie Wade. Percy, let me get back to you. So you have made a play for Reebok. Why now?
PERCY MILLER: I just feel like Reebok has a lot of equity still in that brand. You know, that company is Black-owned, I feel like these guys have tried. But if the majority of the ownership is African American, that we could do more with this brand. And also, we can give opportunities for other designers.
I feel like the brand needs to be made cool again. And I think that we have the plan to make this happen.
BRIAN SOZZI: Percy, let me run some stats by you real quick because I was shocked to find this too. So Reebok is owned by Adidas. They have been for some time. Now, Adidas has had knocks on its lack of diversity internally and even externally. You know, on their executive board is only five White males. On their supervisory board, there are 16 people, they have 11 White males and five White women.
Now that you have gotten internally inside Adidas, you've talked to them, you've looked at Reebok, you have kicked the tires, how big is that diversity problem in Reebok right now?
PERCY MILLER: I mean, not only at Reebok, but in so many brands. I mean, African Americans spend more money on tennis shoes, and I feel like it's time to add diversity as ownerships in this business. But it's also time to be able to take the control and show other African Americans that it's time to open the doors.
We're stronger together. And when you look at the African-American CEOs, just like you said, of companies, we only make up 1/10 of a percent. I want to change that narrative. I feel like we are able to give back to our community and our culture because we know where to put the money back into the community.
The more we make, the more we give. I feel like this is going to give so many opportunities for other African-American businessmen and women, an opportunity to say, if Master P can do this, we can do it. And I feel like after we open the doors with this, thousands will come, and we'll be able to solve the poverty issues.
We'll be able to go back to rebuilding our own communities through economic empowerment. I mean, you look at the riots and everything that went on. I think it's definitely time for the diversity, for us to be able to get a seat at the table. I started making smaller deals like buying houses.
You have to think bigger. I want my culture to start thinking bigger and say, we went from making million dollar deals to billion dollar deals. I took a book out of-- I took a page out of Reginald Lewis' book when-- and he did this in the 70s. He was one of the first African-American billionaires. And I feel like we need more at the table.
I'm inviting, not only-- we have Baron Davis, but even to invite Shaq a seat at the table. We can really make this happen together, all the celebrities and entrepreneurs out there in the world saying, we have to own majority of this company to make this cool again and make-- you know, Reebok need to go Black, like you said. The diversity is really needed when you talk about the tennis shoe business.
REGGIE WADE: Mr. Miller, Reggie Wade here. You're not just talking the talk, you're walking the walk with this. What do you think Reebok needs to do to compete with the likes of Nike? Nike right now has a stranglehold on the athletic shoe market. So what would you do?
PERCY MILLER: Well, like I said, we have to make the product, the technology as good as Nike. When you look at the shoes that Nike put out in basketball and even the lifestyle, being able to bring other brands and tying in, give other people opportunities, Reebok has been shelved by Adidas.
And like I said, this brand is struggling, but it definitely can be revamped if you look at-- people look at Allen Iverson the way we look at Michael Jordan for Nike. We look at Allen Iverson that way in Reebok. We need to bring him to the forefront. We need to bring in better designers. We also need to make this for the millennials. And I think that that would be a game changer.
REGGIE WADE: Last year, you came on Yahoo Finance and showed us your Moneyatti brand, just excellent craftsmanship on those shoes. If you do acquire Reebok, will you bring Moneyatti to Reebok? What would happen to that brand?
PERCY MILLER: That brand would be massive, the way Kanye brought his Yeezys to Adidas. And I think that that's what we're missing. These brands and not just about sports, even though we're going to get some of the top sports players in the world.
But being able to bring high fashion to brands like that, to accent, to be able to say, if we took a Moneyatti and brought the right design, has the right team with this, that now we have a fashion brand at the same time. So you're touching every area of the business. And also, I just feel like we could make it cool again. We could make Reebok cool again.
And I just-- I think it's a blessing for us to be able to get into a position like that. If you look at Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben's, when you talk about diversity, we're talking about product. Me and my partner, James Lindsay, we was able to get rice into stores, noodles, cereal. I mean, the game is changing.
So I think that a lot of these companies are opening up, and we're able to sit down at the table with a lot of these owners and say, bring some diversity in. Let's get some African American-owned product on the shelves. You know, this is major for our culture if we're going to turn this around.
And I'm just saying that this is not about a Black thing, it's about empowering people. Because it's not going to just be an African-American business. But I'm just saying, the majority ownership should be African American. I think that we could turn this company around.
BRIAN SOZZI: Percy, Adidas has set a deadline by, I believe it's March 10, to figure out what they want to do with Reebok. But just hearing you talk, are you nearing a deal now? Do you anticipate them carrying this out until March 10?
PERCY MILLER: Well, even if they don't want to do the deal with us, I'm saying that this would open the doors for so many other opportunities where our culture, the millennials know that we can do deals like this, they just need to be educated. I feel like this deal would be educating our culture, you know, be opening the doors for so many deals. Because this is not the only deal we have on the table. This is just one of many.
And I'm saying, next thing, we want to be able to open up banks, we want to be able to purchase commercial buildings. There's so much stuff that we want to be able to do. To put other people's products on, I think this is just the beginning. So I hope that Adidas come to the table and say, we want to do business with you guys.
If not, then guess what? We're going to make something bigger happen after this. And so this is a blessing. I feel like this is an educational process for our culture, letting them know that we can do this.
REGGIE WADE: Mr. Miller, I know that last year you had your MasterClass and you have restaurants and so many different businesses. How have they fared during the pandemic, and how have you had to kind of change your business model during these difficult times?
PERCY MILLER: Yeah, these difficult times make you think when you are uncomfortable and you have to figure out other kind of ways. And like I said, you've got to put your trust and faith in God. But our restaurant is holding up, Big Poppa's in Louisiana is holding up. And we will be franchising that soon.
I think that you have to get creative, and a lot of restaurant owners are really getting creative. Being able to help the community is not just about making money during a pandemic. We was able to feed so many people, feed the elderly in New Orleans. So I think that's a blessing. But it also made entrepreneurs think outside the box.
I watched a lot of restaurants, they turned into making hand sanitizers, they opened up their doors, they realized that we have to come up with ways to be able to do other things inside of our business. So, I mean, it made me get creative. And it was a blessing and a curse, 2020. I'm glad it's over. 2021, we off to bigger and better things.
REGGIE WADE: Mr. Miller, I know you grew up in the projects, as did I. What advice would you have for a young Black man growing up in the projects that wants to do something with his life? What would you say?
PERCY MILLER: I would tell that person, no, never give up on your dreams and your goals. Don't be afraid to take a swing. That's the only way you're going to hit a home run. Consistency, be passionate about what you do, and don't be afraid to change. Don't be afraid to get better. Don't be afraid to grow. Believe in yourself and others will believe in you.
I tell people all the time, you know, when I was in the project, most people only see the mustard seed, they didn't see the tree. They didn't know my vision, they didn't know, you know, that I could turn into who I am now. And when you're living in poverty, be thankful that you have life. I mean, a lot of people didn't make it.
This is a time that little things-- and I feel like success is just temporary. Don't get caught up into the money, have some integrity. A temporary success is about what you do with what you have. And I feel like God will bless you with a lot if he could trust you with a little.
BRIAN SOZZI: Well said. And I'll say this, Percy, I've been covering for retail for some time. Reebok needs your help, and they need what you guys are in fact offering. So I hope you do certainly win out on this Reebok deal. Percy Miller, great to speak with you today, but really throughout this year-- through this challenging year. We really appreciated all your insights. Happy New Year, and we'll talk to you soon.
PERCY MILLER: Happy New Year.