Last Saturday afternoon in his penthouse suite at the London West Hollywood, two-time NBA all-star Baron Davis was providing assists in a different kind of court.
In front of a gathering of entrepreneurs, athletes, artists, designers, musicians and members of the Los Angeles investment community and business elite, Davis was putting on a show designed to encourage, educate and inspire collaboration among the attendees.
The Business Inside the Game (BIG) Power Summit, which took place during the NBA All-Star Game weekend extravaganza in Los Angeles, saw Ice Cube and Lyft co-founder John Zimmer talk about disruption with Upfront Ventures board partner and MoviePass co-founder Hamet Watt; basketball stars Chris Paul and David Robinson and mega-producer Chris Budnick (the producer of “The Hangover” and “Old School”) shared insights on making an impact beyond sports and entertainment; and a panel of rising startup stars discussed how new technology trends are changing things for sports, entertainment and culture at large.
“I wanted to start BIG to give athletes, artist, musicians, creatives, and business minds a platform and network they can trust and make change with,” Davis wrote in an email. “I feel sports has an enormous opportunity to be the next great industry to realize its true value in connection and bringing different people and backgrounds together. Athletes learn how to fight through adversity and develop unparalleled work ethics along with their ability to learn on the fly and create. This is a unique combination of skills that prepares them specifically and to greater advantage for the world of business.”
John Zimmer and Ice Cube kicked off the conference with a spirited conversation about the nature of disruption and the breadth of challenges that innovators face in any field — especially if those innovators are minorities.
“I think when you’re black, the word ‘status quo’ is a bad word. We can’t accept the status quo,” said O’Shea Jackson Sr. (better known as Ice Cube).
Zimmer, the co-founder of Lyft, talked about receiving threats and the pushback the company dealt with from the taxi industry and governments as his company was getting off the ground.
And while Ice Cube has already reaped the rewards of a fruitful career as a musician, entrepreneur and actor, challenging the status quo in each field — Zimmer says the changes that Lyft and Uber will bring are still mostly unrealized.
“Most people believe it’s going to happen and most people underestimate what’s about to happen,” Zimmer said of the changes that ridesharing will bring to the world. In the U.S. alone, Lyft and Uber only represent one half of one percent of all miles traveled. In 10 to 20 years, Zimmer said that ridesharing would be the majority of all rides.
Zimmer also articulated Lyft’s mission in a not-so-subtle jab at its biggest competitor. “Our mission is to improve people’s lives with the world’s best transportation,” Zimmer said. “Not to create the world’s best transportation, because that would lack soul.”
Impact was key to what Chris Paul, David Robinson and Scott Budnick had to say about their work. Paul, taking a page from Robinson’s playbook, was focusing his efforts on philanthropies and investments that had a personal significance. Robinson himself was using his wealth and prestige to continue funding his educational activities, while Budnick turned from a lucrative career producing comedies to producing socially meaningful films.
Finally, the day came to end with a collection of startup founders and investors sharing some of the things that were on the horizon for technology, sports and media.
Two Bit Circus founder Brent Bushnell talked about his company’s vision for a new kind of live event space that could leverage the latest technology to be a proving ground and test bed for the latest and greatest in experiential entertainment. Bushnell’s vision of a test bed for the latest and greatest entrepreneurs had to offer around everything from robotics and virtual reality to new food and drink brands was matched by the revolutionary approach to storytelling from companies like Ryot (a sister company to TechCrunch owned by our corporate overlords at Oath) and Blavity — which is tapping into the power of the African American cultural capital to create a new platform for those voices to be heard (by consumers and brands).
Ultimately, the conversations revolved around the hustle and determination that make for great athletes, entertainers and entrepreneurs.
Against the backdrop of a Hollywood hills sunset, the interconnection between commerce, art, athletics and culture were laid bare.
“BIG is all about giving a platform to utilize those strengths, building greater connections between both worlds, and taking advantage of great opportunities to support great people,” Davis wrote in an email.
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