How Kevin Durant Became Silicon Valley’s Hottest Start-up


Once the conversation did start, however, Mr. Durant sounded pensive, introspective. Unlike many M.V.P.-caliber athletes who seem to field every question seemingly looking for the quickest exit strategy, Mr. Durant paused to consider each question, and he seemed unafraid to open up, despite his natural shyness.

“I didn’t really have friends,” Mr. Durant said of his childhood in Seat Pleasant, Md., which neighbors Washington. “I was quiet. I was awkward-sized.”

Raised by a single mother in a rough neighborhood, Mr. Durant said he “didn’t look the part” of a cool kid, adding that, “It made it easy for me to not worry about the social life and just play basketball.”

“That’s the gift and the curse of being an athlete that is so dedicated at an early age, you forget about real life sometimes,” he said. “So I’m just in the last few years starting to feel comfortable to meet new people, going out in groups, meeting new girls, hanging out. That stuff was foreign to me until a few years back.”

Near the end of the lunch, a petite woman in a Warriors jersey trailing two eager children approached the booth. “Excuse me, Kevin?” she asked diffidently. But a man in his security detail whisked her away before he could respond.

Upon leaving the booth, however, Mr. Durant demonstrated his growing ease with fame among his adopted family of Warriors fans, making a beeline toward the woman’s table to graciously pose for selfies with the family.

“They can feel how much heat that I got from coming here,” he said of his controversial move to Bay Area. “They’re trying to make me feel at peace.”

Calling the Geek Squad

Fifteen minutes later, the Escalade pulled into a parking garage beneath the sprawling YouTube campus. Mr. Durant had no time for a plunge down the office’s 45-foot-long red slide, sink a 10-footer on the indoor putting green or grab a quick snooze in a Kubrickian, white-plastic “nap pod.” After all, he was the employee perk that day.

He proceeded to an auditorium that was filled to capacity with YouTube employees, some of them looking barely old enough to vote, let alone drink, and took a seat onstage across from Neal Mohan, YouTube’s chief product officer, who was moderating an employees-only question-and-answer session that was live-streamed to YouTube and Google offices around the world.

Flashing a $59,000 Vacheron Constantin watch, Mr. Durant did not exactly fit the profile of the skinny-armed tech programmer. But he cast himself as just another member of the YouTube generation, talking about his obsession with Grand Theft Auto V, hip-hop and, of course, YouTube. “I’m sure you guys know, you want to look at one quick video and it turns into four or five hours,” he said. “It’s pretty dangerous, that app.”

Photo

Mr. Durant’s T-shirt collection includes one of Nascar’s Jeff Gordon.

Credit
Jake Michaels for The New York Times

When an audience member asked if he planned to try acting, like the Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin or the Cavaliers’ LeBron James, Mr. Durant snorted sarcastically, “If anybody could do it, it’s Blake Griffin and LeBron.” The audience erupted in laughter, since both players are considered Oscar-worthy on-court floppers. Mr. Durant, holding back a chuckle, insisted that he was talking about their impressive work in commercials and movies.

Then the talk took a more serious turn. Asked if he is plugging himself into the Bay Area tech scene, Mr. Durant responded that he is eagerly following the lead of a Warriors teammate, Andre Iguodala, who is a noted investor in companies like Twitter, Facebook and Tesla.

Last summer, in fact, Mr. Durant and Mr. Kleiman unveiled a start-up of their own, the Durant Company, with a swelling portfolio of investments in tech companies like Postmates and Acorns, in addition to hotels and restaurants and film and television development. They are also investing with Ronald Conway, one of Silicon Valley’s “super angel” investors and a front-row fixture at Oracle Arena (the Warriors’ current home in Oakland), and consulting with Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve Jobs’s widow, on his own charity foundation.

In a sense, Mr. Durant is not wholly unlike the legions of ambitious 20-somethings in hoodies and cool sneakers who descend on Silicon Valley to make hundreds of millions.

The only difference is, he has already made hundreds of millions.

Adopting a Silicon Valley Wardrobe

The next day, Mr. Durant was piloting his black Tesla Model S up a windy road in the Oakland Hills, after the Warriors’ morning shootaround. It was around noon on game day, the second meeting of the season with his former team, the Thunder. He seemed more distant that day, his voice quieter, raspier.

Continue reading the main story



Source link

About admin

Check Also

The Gay Architects of Classic Rock

That understanding played out in memorable Rolling Stone images like David Cassidy showing off his ...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *