Home » Shaquille O’Neal talks about investing in edtech and startups that are going to ‘change people’s lives

Shaquille O’Neal talks about investing in edtech and startups that are going to ‘change people’s lives

by Alex Turner

The 15-time NBA All-Star, four-time NBA champion, and three-time NBA Finals MVP Shaquille O’Neal addressed TechCrunch Disrupt to discuss his love of investing in edtech and supporting initiatives to improve people’s lives. He talked about his background in investing, the process of creating his strategy, and the value he places on education.

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O’Neal is the main investor in Edsoma, a reading, educational, and communication platform for kids powered by artificial intelligence. The CEO of Edsoma, Kyle Wallgren, joined the NBA player on stage. According to Wallgren, the firm wants to teach a million children to read. O’Neal discussed how he came up with his investing plan after hearing Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, claim that investing in the right things can alter people’s lives.

“I went to a conference in ’97 or ’98, and I heard a beautiful bald man named Jeff Bezos say if you invest in things, it’s going to change people’s lives,” O’Neal recalled. Therefore, I knew it would be a fantastic fit when Kyle entered the office and began talking about kids, education, and his love for kids. I started investing in things that will alter people’s lives after hearing Jeff Bezos say that. Although I don’t like to appear to be an authority from up here, that has always been my manner; it has worked well for me.

The software allows parents to read with their children from any place, which is useful for parents who live apart or frequently travel for business, and it also helps youngsters learn proper pronunciation as they read aloud. Wallgren revealed that Edsoma boarded 300 students in its first month of operation. Nine thousand students have already joined the organization, whose long-term goal is to impact one million lives.

According to Wallgren and O’Neal, we want to ensure that kids from all environments have access to education. The two also wanted to ensure that students who couldn’t afford tutors would still have access to education in the event of another pandemic.

O’Neal feels that his good nature and sense of humor have opened up many doors for him, even if he lacks a set formula for success in the VC sector. O’Neal stated he doesn’t want to be remembered for his stardom but for being kind. He brought that conviction on stage when he welcomed a fan to sit next to him.

O’Neal stated, “Me being pleasant has gained me a lot of opportunity. “I wish there were a formula for how I generate all of my deal flows, but I’ve been extremely fortunate. It’s just me being me and having a sense of humor. I was told by [Wallgren] that he was inspired to establish Edsoma by me because of our shared affinity for kids.

O’Neal, who received his MBA in 2005, claims that he attributes much of his belief in the value of education to the fact that his parents pressured him to pursue it. When he thinks about his road toward earning his Master’s degree, he says he did it to show the children who look up to him the value of knowledge.

I just wanted them to realize that education is extremely, very essential. Therefore, he said I did it for my children and those who come after me. “I’m wealthy, well-known, and have a sizable following, but I wanted to show them there’s more to that,” I said.

O’Neal thinks that literacy can lead to positive transformation for youngsters and those behind bars.

According to research according to Wallgren, if you can educate a prisoner to read and help them get to grade level, their likelihood of reoffending drops from 87% to 18%. Therefore, economies that can change everything can be driven by literacy.

Wallgren said that O’Neal’s investment philosophy aligned with the team’s goals when Edsoma was founded: to make a difference in education rather than make money.

According to research, when it comes to schooling, “how many prison cells are going to be needed are actually designed or selected based off third-grade literacy levels 10 years out,” said Wallgren. We can truly transform how the entire country runs just by teaching kids to read, but you need to convey that story and have it resonate with the people investing in it. And [O’Neal] truly understood that.

When questioned about how he chooses between the hundreds of businesses that reach out to him each week, O’Neal replies that he follows his instincts before bringing it up to his panel. Because he only invests in firms that have the potential to alter lives, he claims that the process takes time. In response to the current AI boom, O’Neal stated that if he were to invest in an AI business, it would be one that was altering lives.

O’Neal discussed his early investments. O’Neal has invested in well-known firms, including Google, Apple, and Ring.

When he added, “I was at the Four Seasons, I was eating lunch and there were four distinguished gentleman sitting there playing with their kids, the kids recognize me and they’re playing with me,” he referred to the lunchtime scene. I’m watching a baby when a man approaches me and says, “I want to talk about this company called Google. Just talking about search engines and ‘you’ll be able to type in anything,’ I was like, ‘That sounds good.'” We met with them, and everything seemed good. I put some money in, but I promptly forgot about it. I couldn’t believe how much I made after the newspaper revealed my earnings.

He claimed he might as well give it another shot after his investment in Google turned out well. O’Neal acknowledges that after making a few errors in his quest for rapid wealth, he now has a plan that he thinks will succeed.

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