The Rise of Athlete Platforms

Have you ever seen the direct messages of a popular athlete, celebrity, or entrepreneur?

Well if not, let me tell you…

They’re crowded (and that’s an understatement).

And what’s crazy…

Is that a lot of money is left on the table in the social media accounts of these people.

social media DM's

We’re talking about brands willing to drop thousands on a campaign or multi-million dollar companies willing to give an athlete equity — and it still getting lost in the shuffle.

And right now…

EVERYONE wants the athlete.

Let’s Dive in 👇

The Great Social Experiment

One of the strangest things we’re seeing play out in real-time is the shift the internet has provided.

Never before have so many young people become extremely wealthy (and at such a quick pace).

It was always the older generations.

And as explained in, Private Equity and Sports, athletes are entering the strange position of having more power and influence than the owners of the team they play for.

Giannis Antetokounmpo Brewers ownership

Bringing that down to college — for the first time in history, we’re seeing athletes far wealthier than their professors, counselors, teammates, opponents, and coaches.

All of this is why I’m a firm believer in a few things:

  1. There’s never been a better time to be in sports
  2. There’s never been a better time to be an athlete

We’ll look back in a decade and be amazed at how big sports really are (and how influential athletes have become).

It’s one of humanity’s most unique experiments.

Why The Athlete?

The rise of social media took athletes to the top of the food chain.

It made them more valuable in every sense of the imagination.

The only proof you need…

Christiano Ronaldo just signed a $200 MILLION PER SEASON deal with a Saudi Arabian soccer team. 💰

Cristiano Ronaldo $200M al-nassr

Are they paying him for his talent?

Soft of — but he’s not worth $120 million more than Kylian Mbappe, the 23-year-old French star taking the World Cup by storm.

They’re paying for his name, his brand, his 500 million social media following, and everything that comes along with it.

While all of this is great, I’ve only focused on the most elite athletes up until now.

Let’s take it a step further…

The Value of An Athlete

Every company, investment fund, collective, team, and league should be thinking about how to use athletes to propel them forward.

Traditionally it’s always been around:

  • restaurants
  • car dealerships
  • nutrient products
  • physical performance

But social media has opened up a whole new can of worms.

james harden bodyarmor

We’re now able to see what athletes are interested in outside of their sport — you just have to keep your eyes open.

I’ll throw out two random examples:

  • Artificial intelligence software — you might target NFL player Kelvin Beachum who has a great interest in that area
  • College recruiting appJa Morant would be a good option as he was massively underrecruited basketball player

For startups, you’ll have to offer athletes equity, but their name stamped on your stuff is massive social proof and an incentive for them to promote the company.

The larger the company, the more you’ll prioritize endorsements over equity (although the more popular athletes may demand some ownership stake).

So what can be done to build better systems between athletes and everyone that wants to get a hold of them?

Building an Easier Connection

I think Elon Musk has the right idea with his Twitter Blue verification system.

Elon Musk twitter blue

As of now, all messages on Twitter go to the requests tab. Which even for me, is filled with a lot of spam.

Being able to separate accounts by regular, verified, and official would help a lot.

But I think it goes deeper than this, especially with athletics.

The Landscape

Right now we have a few different options that are trying to connect everyone in one spot.


The traditional path of human gatekeepers is still alive and well.

Brands negotiate with the agents and athletes just chill on the sideline and hope the agent knows what he/she is doing.

But then NIL happened…


Technology came along and said we need more of a direct connection + the ability to do deals at scale.

Marketplaces seemed like the logical solution.

The problem…

Monetization is tough — as brands go around it, athletes aren’t as engaged as predicted, and agents don’t want to be left out.

So the space is entering its next evolution…


A bunch of early-stage companies are creating platforms with an array of tools available to everyone (athletes, brands, agents, fans, organizations, etc).

I believe the next sports unicorn (a private company worth over $1B) is in this genre.

Most of these platforms are starting with one niche but have plans to be in all of them:

  • athlete
  • creator
  • celebrity
  • musician
  • influencer

They’re taking all the problems that athletes, brands, and agents faced in the process and building something tailored towards it.

The question becomes…

Who’s going to gain mass adoption from it? (building it is actually the easiest part).


There are also companies trying to skip the web2.5 phase and jump right to web3.

I think that we’ll be tough in current conditions as people are still trying to figure out how to maximize audiences in web2.

But in due time, it will become a component of everything.

Going Forward

Athletes will continue to be a massive influence.

But it’s not just active athletes…

Look at Deion Sanders — the hall of fame running back who just signed a $30M contract to be the head football coach at the University of Colorado.

Deion Sanders' arrival swipes buzz from bungling Broncos | AP News

He will turn the Buffaloes into a powerhouse…mark my words on that.

Hundreds of top players have entered the portal and are trying to go play for Sanders.


  • Fun coach to play for.
  • NIL collective payments.
  • His brand will help elevate theirs.
  • He knows how to manage fame, money, etc

Expect to see more “entertainment-focused” coaches get hired across college football and basketball.

The floodgates are really starting to explode…

Everyone wants the athlete (and rightfully so)…

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