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Andre Iguodala speaking at the Players Technology Summit in San Francisco. Photo: Gene X Hwang/Orange Photography

There's no question that technology is transforming professional sports, but less obvious are the ways in which star athletes are changing the tech industry through their involvement and dollars.

The bottom line: Sports players have a big pull and can bring more than dollars when they back a company. And both athletes and startups are finding new ways to take advantage of such star power.

What's happening: A number of athlete-investors gathered in San Francisco last week for Bloomberg's Players Technology Summit, rubbing elbows with VCs and startup executives.

  • The crowd at the daylong event was more racially diverse — and a lot taller — than your typical tech conference. However, the topics were familiar ones, including how to invest in the right startups, making sense of cryptocurrencies, and the opportunities and pitfalls of social media.

Who was there: NBA athletes were far more prevalent than those from other sports, but also on hand were Joe Montana and son Nate, along with pro volleyball legend Kerri Walsh Jennings.

  • While many of the moderators were Bloomberg journalists, also taking a turn as interviewer was Golden State Warriors star Andre Iguodala, who's a prolific tech investor in addition to three-time NBA champ.

Be smart: Interviewed by Iguodala, Andreessen Horowitz partner Jeff Jordan told the athletes to start small as they are learning the ins and outs.

  • "Early on, only invest money you can stand to lose," Jordan said.
  • ”Say that again," Iguodala said, wanting to make sure the crowd had caught the point.

Iguodala shared his own ups and downs as an investor, in an interview with Axios.

  • Highlight: Pulling out his iPhone, Iguodala pulls up info on Trumid, a fintech startup that focuses on bond trading. "That's one of my favorite ones," he said. "It wasn’t crazy sexy that people would have jumped on, but something I understood."
  • Lowlight: Investing in a gas delivery service seemed like a good idea, Iguodala said, noting how much he hates waiting at the pump. But the entrenched players turned out to wield a significant home court advantage.

Celtics guard/forward Jaylen Brown also shared his advice. Brown, who attended Cal, has more financial industry experience than most NBA players, having spent a summer interning at Base Ventures in Berkeley.

  • The biggest thing Brown learned: "You don't get paid for ideas. You get paid for execution," he told Axios.
  • Brown said his main objective is trying to win a championship and make the most of his basketball playing days. At the same time, he wants to use the opportunities he has now to "build a brand and also, you know, build a paper trail, so when I do step back from the game, it's not like I've got to start over from the start."

Iguodala had similar advice for the younger players:

"You've got to grow up really fast, and you know, you've got to cut out the Fortnite. You've got to cut out the — the hour you might spend on social media just browsing and, you know, you've got to make the most of your time, because before you know it, it's all over."

Correction: An earlier version of the story said Jaylen Brown graduated from Cal. He played for Cal in 2015, but joined the NBA after his freshman season.

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 6 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker

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