The idea that turned Carmelo Anthony into a venture capitalist came to him during practice with the New York Knicks last season.
The basketball star became interested in the sophisticated sensors that players had recently started wearing to track their performance, said Stuart Goldfarb, a former executive at NBC and Bertelsmann who is a friend of Anthony’s. The devices, made by companies like Catapult Sports of Australia, were not broadly available to consumers.
“We started talking about how sensor-based devices available to consumers were really primitive,” Goldfarb said.
“Sensors were bound to get much better and had the ability to disrupt the whole healthcare system,” he added. “But for them to work well and become adopted, they really had to become lifestyle-type products. We wanted to participate in that.”
The result of that brainstorm was a venture capital partnership between the two that they unveiled on Monday. Their firm, M7 Tech Partners, has a broader mandate than just wearable technology, with plans to invest also in digital media and other consumer technology companies.
The first investment by M7 is in a startup called Hullabalu that makes storytelling apps for children. Goldfarb declined to say how much M7 invested in Hullabalu, but added that Anthony was drawn to the firm because he has a young son.
The partners each bring different strengths to the new firm, Goldfarb said. While Goldfarb has an operational and marketing background, Anthony could theoretically use his celebrity to help promote a startup’s product.
They are using their own money to invest, although Goldfarb declined to say how much. The capital comes equally from the two, he said. They spent the summer looking at “dozens of companies,” and they expect to announce their next investment later this week, he said.
Wearable technology has become a hot topic in Silicon Valley recently, as companies like Samsung and Pebble have released smartwatches. In a statement, Anthony emphasized his interest in the wearable technology sector.
“We are actively looking for ventures with strong leaders creating breakthrough products that resonate with consumers,” Anthony said. “I particularly have my eye on companies that are involved with wearable technology and connected devices — these will be huge areas for the future.”