Fortnite

Kobe Bryant is investing in Epic Games, but not because of Fortnite

by Scott Robertson

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Kobe Bryant’s investment firm Bryant Stibel has made huge investments into Epic Games, and other game companies. But in an interview on CNBC at the Stock Exchange, he revealed that it’s not just because of the popularity of Fortnite.

If there’s one thing in common between Fortnite and Kobe, it’s that they don’t let off the gas when they want to takeover. Since retiring from the NBA in 2016, Kobe Bryant has been more productive and active in retirement than most people are in their entire lives.

His investment firm Bryant Stibel, founded in 2013 with entrepreneur Jeff Stibel, has invested millions of dollars into numerous venture businesses and companies, including a couple of gaming companies.

Bryant and Stibel were on CNBC on the morning of September 19th, and Kobe was asked about the growth of gaming in America. Due to an issue with his earpiece, Kobe wasn’t able to answer the question, but Stibel jumped in to answer, and revealed the bigger reason for investing in Epic Games, apart from Fortnite.

“Gaming is critically important to the cultural ecos, but it’s not just about the games, ...we’re actually trying to invest in the platforms. Fortnite is owned by Epic, and their Epic engine is building hundreds of games for themselves and the businesses that are using it.”

By “Epic engine,” Stibel is of course referring to the Unreal Engine, one of the most well-known and widely used game engines that is available for a relatively low cost to aspiring and professional game devs. Some recent releases that run on Unreal Engine 4 are Borderlands 3, Gears 5, Sea of Thieves, and many more.

Stibel also called attention to another one of their ventures, Scopely, a mobile games company that’s received over $250 million in raised venture capital in a short history. They make games such as Star Trek: Fleet Command, WWE Champions, and Walking Dead: Road to Survival. But Stibel praised them for more than just their games:

Bryant Stibel
Bryant Stibel
Bryant and Stibel with Scopely CEO Walter Driver

“Their Star Trek game has been a huge hit, but behind that is the revenue engine. And they’ve done that for games other than what they own.”

“That’s what we’re really looking for, the fundamentals behind what everyone is seeing on the consumer side.”

By choosing to invest in companies that make the foundations for games rather than just the games themselves, Bryant Stibel is setting themselves up for big success. As Kobe demonstrated during his NBA player career, he’s never satisfied with the amount of success he currently he has. Mamba wants more.