Dec 15, 2021
Kevin Durant signs deal to promote crypto platform Coinbase
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Basketball star Kevin Durant and his company Thirty Five Ventures have signed a multiyear deal with Coinbase Global Inc. to promote the cryptocurrency platform across his businesses.
As part of the arrangement, Durant will appear in advertising as a face of the brand. Coinbase will also link up with his sports site, Boardroom, for digital ads and sponsored content about crypto, and put money into Durant’s foundation to support his youth programs. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
“Kevin does very, very few brand deals and that was by design,” Rich Kleiman, Durant’s longtime manager and co-founder of his firm, said in an interview. “They’re this new model of brand partner for us, where they do integrate in all different parts of our business.”
Crypto companies have spent hundreds of millions this year on sponsorship deals with sports leagues, teams, athletes and celebrities in a scramble to lure new users as digital currencies become more popular. FTX, another crypto exchange, has signed on top teams like the NBA’s Golden State Warriors and will have a commercial in the NFL’s Super Bowl. Crypto.com is taking over the naming rights of Los Angeles’s NBA arena and has deals with Formula 1 and the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Actor Matt Damon has taken an equity stake in Crypto.com, while NFL quarterback Tom Brady has one in FTX. Each is promoting the platforms to the public.
Coinbase has also been active. In October, it came aboard as the NBA’s first crypto partner in a multiyear sponsorship agreement across pro basketball. It also sponsors e-sports teams, including Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses.
The first ad with Durant will be released on Thursday. Coinbase Chief Marketing Officer Kate Rouch said she’s looking at other segments of the economy beyond sports in search of people interested in taking the leap into crypto. The company has started partnering with the likes of entertainment promoter Live Nation and Art Basel, the international art fair.
Durant’s firm first invested in Coinbase in 2017, joining a US$100 million funding round, and the two sides built their relationship from there. The former Most Valuable Player, who has won two NBA championships with the Golden State Warriors, started meeting with founders and investors in Silicon Valley’s tech sector in 2016, during the early days of their business.
“Even when I was younger, I was always curious about the business side of things and always trying to learn from the people I've gotten to meet along the way,” Durant said in an email. “Basketball was always number one for me, but it was clear that there was a lot more that I could accomplish if I had the right team around me.”
Now on the Brooklyn Nets, Durant’s investments over the years include companies such as Postmates, Therabody and OpenSea.
Coinbase shares have risen 2.3 per cent since its April listing through Tuesday’s close.