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Naomi Osaka’s Media Company, Hana Kuma, Receives Investment From The Players Fund, An Athlete-Led Firm

Naomi Osaka has scored another investment. As AFROTECH™ previously reported, the tennis athlete launched the media company Hana Kuma with Stuart Duguid in June 2022, in collaboration with LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s SpringHill Co., which serves as its financing, operations, and producing partner. In April 2023, Hana Kuma closed a $5 million funding round that included participation from SpringHill and other investors to support its team and programming and create “a more robust business plan.” The move was part of a spin-off that would give the company more independence. “We really want to see her build her own version of SpringHill,” Carter said then, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “We’ve worked really hard to get SpringHill where it is, but now we want to help others to do the same, and to do it different than as we have done at SpringHill, and to do it in their own way and their own voice.” Just over a year since its last investment, Hana Kuma has attracted...

Jun 18, 2024

Caleb Williams Scales His Presence In The Investment Space With 888 Midas Launch

Caleb Williams, rookie quarterback for the Chicago Bears, is scaling his interest in the investment space. While in college at the University of Southern California, Williams was among the first athletes to leverage name, image, and likeness (NIL) deals. He became a part- owner of the male grooming company Faculty in 2022, as AFROTECH™ previously reported. He was also the No. 1 draft pick in the 2024 NFL Draf t and was picked by the Chicago Bears . Now, Williams is scaling his interest in the investment arena by launching his own investment firm. Williams has established 888 Midas, which will “capitalize on select alternative investments in private equity, venture capital, and real estate,” according to a press release. His partners and advisors will support the firm. They include: Sherif Guirgis, former managing director of Main Street Advisors Ross Walker, co-founder and managing partner of Hawkins Way Capital, a multi-billion-dollar real estate enterprise John Terzian, co-founder...

Jun 13, 2024

Ray J Reveals Shaquille O’Neal Invested $1.5M In His Music Career

Shaquille O’Neal once invested in Ray J’s music career. During an interview on Shannon Sharpe’s podcast “Club Shay Shay,” the R&B singer-turned-entrepreneur reveals he received $1.5 million from the former Los Angeles Lakers basketball player to support “Sexy Can I,” the first single from his 2008 studio album “All I Feel.” The single featuring Yung Berg would go on to become a top 10 hit on Billboard. O’Neal saw a big return on that investment , Ray J says on the podcast. “He gave us $1.5 [million] for the ‘Sexy Can I’ project, which was the ‘All I Feel’ project, and ‘Sexy Can I’ was the record to lead off. It sold 8 million copies,” Ray J told Sharpe. “We recouped the number back for Shaq, and I don’t know five months, six months, and everything else has been profitable ever since, so shout out to Shaq.” He added, “If you look at the ‘Sexy Can I’ video, you see Shaq in the video. He’s the one with the camera.” Photo Credit: YouTube/ MNRK Music Group O’Neal has distinguished...

Jun 10, 2024

US Commits $32M To Support STEM Educational Initiatives In Kenya

Kenya will receive significant backing to support education. According to a news release, the United States signed a Framework for Cooperation with the Kenyan government to support innovation in STEM fields in partnership with its universities and the industry. During Kenyan President William Ruto’s U.S. visit, USAID Counselor Clinton White signed the “Enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education for Economic Development Framework for Cooperation” along with Kenyan Prime Cabinet Secretary Wycliffe Musalia Mudavadi at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. Enhancements to Kenya’s education infrastructure will soon be in effect, empowered by a $32 million commitment, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) also announced. This includes $850,000 earmarked for the Edtech Africa initiative — a program to promote collaboration between HBCUs, the Open University of Kenya, Mastercard, and Microsoft. The investment will also encompass a $6.5 million project to...

May 23, 2024

OpenseedVC Raises $10M To Support Operators Launching Technology Companies In Africa And Europe

OpenseedVC, run by Europe’s first Black solo general partner, has raised $10 million in its first close. Per its LinkedIn, the London, England-based firm exists to invest dollars in operators, those previously involved in daily operations of a startup, who are launching new technology companies across Africa and Europe. “We exist to back the most talented and experienced operators from day zero,” OpenseedVC Founder Maria Rotilu wrote on LinkedIn. “ As an angel-style fund, we are designed for one founder profile. Operators just as they take the leap to start their tech companies. We are driven by *pure merit* (hence the name OpenseedVC), and our goal is to back the most experienced operators and builders as first investors, especially at a time where the need to build truly groundbreaking and impactful solutions is critical.” She continued, “It is a tough fundraising climate, for funds and startups alike. However, we believe this is the best time to invest in the most visionary and...

May 22, 2024

Uncle Nearest Whiskey Purchases Vodka Brand Square One Organic Spirits

Uncle Nearest’s presence in the spirits sector continues to rise. The whiskey company, established in 2016 by Fawn Weaver to honor Nathan “Nearest” Green, a formerly enslaved man who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey, has scaled into 30,000 stores, bars, hotels, and restaurant s in 12 countries, as AFROTECH™ previously reported. In its latest report, Bloomberg notes Weaver aspires to own a larger share of the spirits market. This stance has motivated the company to purchase vodka maker Square One Organic Spirits. Additionally, she mentions a settled legal dispute between Diageo Plc and Sean “Diddy” Combs concerning his vodka brand as a contributing factor for her latest acquisition, noting a void in the market and the importance of having a Black-owned vodka occupy space. The market is heavily dominated by major players such as  Diageo PLC and LVMH, with valuations totaling nearly $79 billion and $423 billion, respectively, the outlet mentions. Uncle Nearest continues to gain a...

May 21, 2024

Viola Davis, Charlamagne Tha God, And More Among Investors In A Self-Help App Catering To The Black Community

Prominent individuals in entertainment are joining forces to provide self-help resources to the Black community. This is being made possible through the inception of ALTR, described as a motivational and self-help app, per the company’s LinkedIn. The platform was co-created by David A. Wilson, founder of TheGrio, and Brandon John-Freso, who serves as the company’s chief technology officer, and is supported through a partnership with Viola Davis and husband Julius Tennon’s JuVee Productions. ALTR serves to provide audiobook miniseries that will tend to “the distinct life obstacles faced in the Black community,” Variety reports. These audiobooks will include topics such as: Mental well-being Feelings of isolation Financial stability Spirituality Personal relationships And more “There is a yearning for solutions and knowledge from our cultural perspectives,” Wilson told Variety. “Our authentic voices are lacking in the existing self-help, wellness and educational platforms, which is...

May 15, 2024

Big3, A Pro Basketball League Founded By Ice Cube, Sells Its First Team In A Reported $10M Deal

Ice Cube is finally putting plans in motion to sell teams included in his Big3 basketball league roster. According to Bloomberg, in a deal worth $10 million, the 3-on-3 basketball league has sold its first team to an outside party. Led by investment firm DCB Sports, a group has acquired the team, with Los Angeles, CA, to serve as its home city. This also launches the league’s transition from a touring league to a city-centric model. All 12 teams on the roster have been put up for sale. “We need to plant our roots in cities so we can be more than a rolling all-star game coming through,” Ice Cube said in an interview with the outlet. “It’s really about growing the sport and the league.” Created in 2017, teams in the Big3, which include the 3 Headed Monsters, Ghost Ballers, and more, have been owned and operated by the league. Per the report, management aims to announce four new ownership groups by the start of its season, which kicks off in June.   View this post on Instagram   A post...

May 13, 2024

Alexis Ohanian Publicly Thanks Snoop Dogg For Being One Of Reddit's Earliest Investors — 'Very Few People Wanted To Invest In Us Back Then'

Snoop Dogg was one of Reddit’s earliest investors. The social news website and forum was created in 2005 by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian while they were college students at the University of Virginia. Their idea was supported through startup incubator Y Combinator, which gave them access to $12,000 in funding for their vision to build “the front page of the Internet,” The Street reports. The company would grow as users were able to create a slew of subreddits that encompass a range of topics. Six years from Reddit’s inception, it became a major player in the social media sphere, boasting 35 million visitors and 2.8 billion pageviews, Ohanian wrote in Fast Company. In 2014, the company attracted the support of Snoop Dogg, who participated in a $50 million seed round led by Sam Altman, now OpenAI co-founder and CEO. “I worked my way in. You understand me? I didn’t mean to tell everybody, but I’m a part of Reddit too,” Snoop Dogg said in a 2017 interview for “GGN News.” The...

May 7, 2024

Chris Brown Explains Why He Began Investing At Age 17, Which Led To Owning 14 Burger King Restaurants And More  — 'You Need An Exit Strategy'

Chris Brown has been in the game for a little over two decades, and making smart business moves coupled with his talent may just be the reason for his longevity in the industry. During an appearance on “The R&B Money Podcast” with hosts J. Valentine and Tank, the R&B crooner opened up about what encouraged him to make franchise investments early on in his career. “I was 17 when I started trying to invest in certain things, just ‘cause I knew… You don’t know how long you going to be successful, and it’s not like every artist can make it look like they getting money, getting money,” he told his fellow R&B comrades. “If you’re not a touring act, if you’re not doing stuff, you need an exit strategy.” As previously reported by AFROTECH™ , during a 2015 interview, Brown told US Weekly that he was the owner of 14 Burger King restaurants. This type of planning, he told the “R&B Money Podcast,” can be a game-changer for an artist. “My investments were like into Burger Kings and stuff like...

May 3, 2024

After Missing Out On Investing In Facebook, Airbnb, And Google, Serena Williams Went On To Invest In 16 Billion-Dollar Companies

Not having a chance to invest in major players in tech ultimately catapulted Serena Williams into the investment ring. During an interview on Bloomberg’s “The Deal,” Williams recalls a time in her tennis journey when she could have faced less pressure to win on the court if she had placed dollars in companies such as Facebook, Airbnb and Google — all companies valued at more than $100 billion today. “Tennis is all sponsor based, and I would see like some of these sponsors come up, but I’m like, ‘Well I have some little cash, like how did I not invest in Facebook? How can I invest in Airbnb or how did I miss Google? Or like, you know, all these companies,'” Williams said on “The Deal.” “ And I started to ask these questions like, ‘Why am I out here breaking my neck and sweating when I could have invested in these companies and I could still be doing the same thing, but it wouldn’t have to be such dire needs, ‘I’ve gotta win this U.S. Open this year. I’ve gotta pay these bills.’ So, I...

May 3, 2024

Kubik Reportedly Becomes First Ethiopian Company To Earn A Multi-Million-Dollar Investment In Climate And Sustainability Solutions

Ethiopian sustainable tech startup Kubik has scored a first for the country. According to a press release sent to AFROTECH™, it has raised $5.2 million in a seed round. Investors include East African venture capital firm African Renaissance Partners, Endgame Capital, and King Philanthropies. It will now further its work in using plastic waste to make affordable buildings and removing waste from the environment. “Kubik’s vision to build safe and affordable living for all speaks directly to King Philanthropies’ mission to catalyze solutions at the intersection of climate and livelihoods,” Kartick Kumar, managing director at King Philanthropies, said in a press release. “Kubik is at the forefront of innovation in Ethiopia and across the African market, and we’re proud to support the tremendous impact they’re making combatting plastic waste and providing safe, durable, and affordable housing.” The funding round makes Kubik the first Ethiopian country to earn a multi-million-dollar...

May 2, 2024

East Chop Capital Closes Second Fund Valued At $11M To Expand Minority Investors’ Access To Alternative Investments

East Chop Capital has closed its funding and will deploy capital to Black investors. According to a press release provided to AFROTECH™, the private equity firm’s founders and HBCU graduates Calvin L. Butts Jr. and Carrington Carter have closed an $11 million fund, which draws equity investments from 93 limited partnerships, including Liberty Financial Services. This brings East Chop Capital’s total raise to $15 million. As previously reported by AFROTECH™, $4 million in 2021 had been raised to support its presence in the global vacation market, which is projected to reach $132.7 billion in 2033, as reported by Future Market Insight. East Chop Capital is poised to achieve a 25% return, taking into consideration the fees or expenses involved in overseeing the fund. With additional capital at its disposal, East Chop Capital is poised to amplify its efforts in the initial round, with plans already set in motion to invest in Florida and Texas. “Fund II is about scale and pattern...

Apr 30, 2024

Robert F. Smith's Vista Equity Partners Raises $20B In Its Largest Fund To Date

Robert F. Smith’s Vista Equity Partners has marked off a new milestone. Axios reports that the private equity firm has raised over $20 billion for its new fund — making the fund its largest to date. As a platform that invests in technology companies, Vista Equity Partners is set to focus on artificial intelligence (AI). According to the outlet, Smith wrote to investors ahead of Vista Equity Partners’ annual general meeting in April about what they can expect soon. “You will also hear more about how we have adopted generative artificial intelligence not just as a tool but as a pivotal component of our value creation and underwriting processes,” Smith wrote, per the outlet. He added, “This has enabled us to identify and capitalize on opportunities, including dramatically expanding TAM [total available market], product innovation, GTM [go-to-market] strategies, with greater precision and speed, ensuring that we stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly evolving market landscape.” Before its...

Apr 23, 2024

First Black-Owned Private Rocket Company Emerges To Create More Opportunities For Inclusion In Space Exploration

Founder Mateus Chipa wants the Black community to be more involved in space exploration. According to a Scripps News report of the 360 astronauts enlisted with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), just 18 had been Black astronauts as of Feb 5, 2024. For Chipa, he believed that to increase representation and empowerment it would be necessary for an influential Black entrepreneur to launch a company to break down barriers. According to his website, he waited eight years for Black leaders to step forward. In frustration after that time had passed, he decided to take matters into his own hands and established Theby Space Services (TSS) , a Black-owned private rocket company. “TSS came in a place of a lot of frustration, a lot of accountability and responsibility…For the last 10 years, I’ve been frustrated because I haven’t seen any Black nation or individual talking about going in a space,” Chipa said in a video shared on YouTube. “I’ve been asking myself why? Why...

Apr 16, 2024