“I’m not a businessman—I’m a business, man,” Jay-Z famously rapped more than a decade ago. It’s a lesson that NBA superstars are taking to heart as they recognize their ability to call the shots on and off the court.
The biggest stars, including LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, have set up companies to manage the opportunities in media, marketing and investing that come along with being global icons.
The NBA’s top 10 earners will make an estimated $540 million this year from salaries, endorsements, appearances, royalties and media pacts.
The tally is up more than $180 million for hoops’ top earners from five years ago. James is the NBA’s highest-paid player for the fifth-straight year, with $88.7 million, including $53 million off the court. (Kobe Bryant was the last active basketball player to outearn King James.)
James, Curry and Durant are among the rare breed of players who make more off the court than on it. Endorsements provide the bulk of the off-court earnings for the trio. Shoe deals are the driving force, but these stars are increasingly pushing their personal brands into other areas.
James took control of his own marketing in 2006 when he launched what is now LRMR Ventures. A Hollywood production company, SpringHill Entertainment, followed in 2008.
It has created TV shows like The Wall and Survivor’s Remorse and is working on remakes of the films House Party and Space Jam. James expanded his business empire with his digital media firm Uninterrupted in 2015. It got a boost via a $15.8 million investment from Time Warner the same year.
James has moved past the traditional endorsement model in many cases. He eschewed a $15 million renewal of his endorsement deal with McDonald’s to double down on Blaze Pizza, where he is an investor and franchisee.
He teamed up last year with Cindy Crawford, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lindsey Vonn to launch Ladder, a health and wellness company, selling protein powders to start. James’ net worth is an estimated $450 million.
-Kurt BadenhausenForbes Staff
Hip-Hop Cash Princes And Princesses: The Class Of 2019
On a blazingly bright morning at the end of the South By Southwest music and technology conference, Rico Nasty takes the stage at the Fader Fort in Austin as part of a panel discussion—and finds another way to increase her earnings. Clad in a swirly black-and-lime-green jumpsuit, she shows off her threads as cameras flash; after the event, she spends a few moments talking up her outfit.
“I bought it a few days ago, and I’m probably going to wear it once, and there’s going to be a lot of pictures in it,” the 21-year-old rapper says before outlining her plan to sell the jumpsuit on the peer-to-peer shopping app Depop, as she does with most of the clothing she wears in public. “We’ve made like, probably $20 thousand in the past two months.”
Born Maria-Cecilia Simone Kelly in Brooklyn, Rico started rapping in high school before releasing a string of mixtapes. She signed to Atlantic Records and has yet to release her formal debut studio album, but she’s already among music’s most promising up-and-comers, earning her a spot on our list. And with more women like Rico rising up the rap charts, we’re formally changing the name of our ranking to Hip-Hop Cash Princes and Princesses.
The list, presented in full below, comprises the genre’s top ten recording artists and producers under the age of 30 in terms of future earning potential, as judged by an expert panel; no repeats are allowed. This year’s list of judges includes the late Nipsey Hussle, a 2015 Cash Prince who sent his picks just days before his tragic passing; songwriter and 30 Under 30 honoree Mickey Shiloh; and NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, who found a lot to like about Rico.
“Rico Nasty is one of the best shooting guards in hip-hop right now,” says O’Neal, whose résumé includes careers as a DJ and rapper. “Like a shooting guard, she is able to score in many ways and adapt to the style of play. She is dynamic and always working on her craft, improving her game, updating her sound.”
First, Rico had to work her way off the bench. After moving from New York to Maryland as a child, she started rapping during her teenage years and her mother started working as her manager. For Rico’s first gig, they paid $200 to rent out a performance space, figuring they could more than double that sum by charging $20 per head for tickets. Only six people showed up.
Rico remembers reorganizing her life after that: She moved out of her mother’s house and started working to build her career from the ground up. That meant churning out mixtapes and interacting with her fans on a one-on-one basis—both on social media and in person as she tried her hand at live performances once again around Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
“I’m bringing them out to the shows, and we’re getting our nails done and shit,” she says, recalling her first efforts to bring fans into her corner. “This is my opportunity to make these people lifelong friends, in a sense.”
In 2017, Rico’s single “Poppin” took off on YouTube and was featured on HBO’s Insecure; the following year, she signed to Atlantic and released another mixtape, Nasty. Her pay for live shows started to climb in tandem. From her days struggling to top $100 per concert, she zoomed to an average of $7,000 per gig before snagging an estimated $35,000 guarantee for her performance at Coachella last weekend (she wouldn’t confirm the precise amount).
“Five figures,” she says coyly. “That shit feels amazing to say out loud.”
Rico still has ways to go before she gets to the level of the festival’s headliners, whose gigs fetch seven-figure guarantees. In the meantime, she’s working on other ways to extend her brand. In addition to her work with Depop, she recently launched a line of headphones with Skullcandy. And, with the marijuana accessory provider Hemper, she gets a per-unit cut on sales of Rico Nasty-branded bongs, rolling papers and air fresheners.
Says judge Mickey Shiloh of Rico: “Somebody that creates their own lane like this is bound to make waves for the long run.”
Hip Hop Cash Princes: Introducing The Class Of 2019
“6LACK’s tone is completely his own,” says Shiloh. “His songwriting is also what takes his artistry to an entirely new level … it’s like everything you can’t find the words to say, he says effortlessly.”
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie
The Bronx-born rapper is no stranger to the Cash Princes universe, having collaborated with list of alumni including 21 Savage and Offset of Migos. He’s becoming a star in his own right: A Boogie’s second album, Hoodie SZN, topped the chart shortly after its December 2018 release.
The trap rapper blends hip-hop with Reggaeton as seamlessly as he weaves English and Spanish lyrics into wildly popular songs like Cardi B’s “I Like It,” his first U.S. chart-topper. He now grosses more than $500,000 per tour stop.
The Cash Money Records signee rose to prominence with his smash song “Thotiana”—from his 2018 mixtape Famous Cryp—which has climbed to No. 8 on the U.S. singles charts. He was a top pick from Nipsey Hussle; both stars have crossed gang lines to record with Cash Princes alum YG.
Five questions with the Chicago-born “Lucid Dreams” hip-hop star:
Forbes: What was your first job? “Factory job creating car parts.”
What’s the app you can’t live without? “Soundcloud.”
How many hours per week do you work now? “168.”
Worst advice you’ve received? “To change my style of music in order to try and be more popular.”
What is your greatest achievement? “I haven’t reached it yet.”
The Atlanta-born emcee is already accumulating princely numbers: His 2018 debut, Harder Than Ever, earned gold certification for sales of more than 500,000 units. He now grosses over $70,000 per tour stop.
The Georgia native got started with the help of Cash Princes alum Young Thug, whose YSL label co-released Gunna’s studio debut Drip Or Drown—which soared to No. 3 on the Billboard charts—in February. His single “Drip Too Hard,” with listmate Lil Baby, earned triple-platinum certification.
Five questions with the hip-hop star who earned $15 million last year:
Forbes: What was your first job? “Busboy.”
What’s the app you can’t live without? “Uber Eats.”
How many hours per week do you work? “168.”
Worst advice you’ve ever received? “Be realistic.”
What’s your greatest achievement? “Being in a place where I can take care of my family.”Play Video
Russ: How I Maintained Control Over My Music | 30 Under 30 2019| 3:05
“I’ve never heard anything like what comes out of Rico Nasty’s mouth,” says Shiloh. “She’s trap, she’s urban, but she’s also rock with hints of screamo … somebody that creates their own lane like this is bound to make waves for the long run.”
With a quirky tone and thoughtful visuals, the Philadelphia upstart made her major-label debut last year at Interscope with the critically acclaimed Whack World. The social-media-friendly album featured 15 one-minute songs. She earned a Grammy nomination in the Best Music Video category this year for her 2017 single “Mumbo Jumbo.”
Our list of Hip-Hop’s Cash Princes and Princesses ranks the genre’s top ten recording artists and producers under age 30 in terms of future earning potential. No repeats are allowed. This year, the honorees were selected by a panel of five judges: Nipsey Hussle, the late 2015 Cash Prince who sent in his picks just days ahead of his untimely passing; 30 Under 30 honoree and songwriter Mickey Shiloh; basketball legend and professional DJ Shaquille O’Neal; and Forbes editors Zack O’Malley Greenburg and Natalie Robehmed.
-Zack O’Malley Greenburg; Forbes Staff
The 10 Most Notable New Billionaires Of 2019
They come from every corner of the world—Austria and Slovakia to Australia and Vietnam—having made their fortunes in every venture imaginable: music and makeup, software and sweaters. In all, 195 fresh faces joined the world’s billionaire ranks this year. Here are 10 of the most exceptional.
one of eight children, Steward milked cows and slopped hogs on the family farm before school every day while his dad worked as a mechanic, trash collector and janitor to make ends meet. After graduating from Central Missouri State University, he sent out 400 resumes over three years before landing his “dream” job as a salesman at Missouri Pacific Railroad Company.
He cofounded IT provider World Wide Technology in 1990, which counts companies like Citi, Verizon and the federal government among its customers. His 59% stake in the $11.2 billion (sales) company, making him one of the richest African-Americans in the country. “I hope what this represents is that all things are possible,” Steward says, a lifelong jazz lover who donated $1.3 million to the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2018 to create a jazz studies program. “We still live in the greatest country in the world, and God blesses persons of color too.”
After making his fortune in retail, Hang is now focusing on politics, too. In the run-up to Brazil’s October 2018 presidential election, he urged his 2 million Facebook followers to back far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who ultimately won by a ten-point margin. (Hang went as far as threatening to leave the country if Bolsonaro’s leftist opponent, Fernando Haddad, won the race.)
Even after the election, he has continued to post live videos of himself on social media almost daily. One recent posting showed him celebrating former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s corruption conviction by dancing poolside to fireworks.
Outside of politics, Hang’s stores are thriving. Havan, the department store chain he cofounded at 24, generated a record $1.2 billion in 2017 sales, up 40% over the prior year. One ingredient in that success: “Always hire happy people; leave the unhappy ones to the competition,” Hang says.
The dermatologists have tapped into the lucrative skin care market with their multilevel marketing firm Rodan + Fields, which boasts $1.5 billion in sales and 300,000 independent “consultants” selling anti-aging creams and more. In February, they launched a new teen acne line, a throwback to their first claim to fame, acne product Proactiv.
The brand took off when the doctors created a licensing deal with infomercial company Guthy-Renker in 1995 to sell their regimen through television advertisements featuring celebrities like Jessica Simpson. The doctors sold their royalty rights in 2016, and now their full attention is on Rodan + Fields. Their goal, Rodan says, is help as many people as possible have “life-changing skin.”
An English major who reluctantly took over his grandfather’s small outerwear company in 2001, Reiss has created the “it” coat of the decade. The Canada Goose CEO marketed his down-filled jackets by giving freebies to people who spent a lot of time in the cold: Bouncers outside of nightclubs, polar explorers and attendees of cold-weather film festivals like the ones in Sundance and Toronto.
His $1,000-plus parkas are now fashion statements, staples on the streets of London, New York and Tokyo and have a strong celebrity following, including Jennifer Lopez, Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The stock has climbed threefold since its public debut two years ago; sales rose 46% to $450 million in 2018. Reiss, 45, has kept manufacturing at home as other companies moved offshore: “Making a Canada Goose parka in Canada is like making a Swiss watch in Switzerland.”
She’s just the second woman in Russian to become a billionaire and joins the ranks of the world’s wealthiest thanks to the success of her e-commerce company, Wildberries, which had $1.9 billion in revenue last year. She started the business in 2004 at age 28 in her Moscow apartment while on maternity leave from teaching. She realized how difficult it was for her and other young mothers to shop for clothes for themselves with a newborn at home. Her husband, Vladislav, an IT technician, soon joined her to help grow the business. Today Wildberries sells 15,000 brands of clothing, household products and other items and processes roughly 400,000 orders a day from 2 million daily visitors in Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.
In twenty years at Oracle, Catz, a former investment banker and now the company’s co-CEO, is often credited with leading Oracle’s aggressive acquisition strategy, including two hostile takeovers. In January 2005, Oracle acquired competitor PeopleSoft after an 18-month pursuit for $11 billion, more than double its original unsolicited bid.Three years later in April 2008, it acquired BEA Systems for $8.5 billion, a deal that also involved Carl Icahn, the billionaire corporate raider who was a BEA shareholder and pushed BEA to do the deal with Oracle. “I can’t really speak about [working with Icahn] in open session,” Catz said at a May 2019 commencement speech at the Wharton School. “It would be unladylike.”
Born to two Iraqi parents who came to Israel as refugees, Fattal began working in hotels at age 23 as a receptionist. He toiled in other jobs—bellhop, security guard, salesman—before founding his own hotel company in 1999. “From the day I went into the hotel industry, I fell in love with it,” he says. “There is a glamour to it.”
Starting a business just then in Israel would prove exceptionally tough, especially for a tourism-based one like Fattal’s. The Second Intifada conflict with the Palenstinains began in 2000 and lasted for several years. Fattal, however, thrived by targeting local, rather than international, tourists and by persuading hotel owners to switch from global brands to his more affordable one.
Today, Fattal Hotels, which went public in February 2019, owns and operates 40 locations in Israel and the Leonardo Hotels in Europe. “When you’re approaching the guests, it’s like you are on a stage. You have to be courteous, and I just always felt it was my job to maintain the atmosphere for happy people.”
At 21, Jenner is the youngest-ever self-made billionaire, earning a ten-figure fortune even earlier than Mark Zuckerberg (who joined the billionaires list at 23 in 2008). “I didn’t expect anything—I did not foresee the future,” Jenner says. “But [the recognition] feels really good. That’s a nice pat on the back.” She owns 100% of Kylie Cosmetics, the three-year-old beauty business that did an estimated $360 million in sales last year. Most of the company’s revenue comes from e-commerce. But Kylie Cosmetics also has a new deal with Ulta that put its goods in all the makeup retailer’s 1,163 U.S. stores, “so people that would never buy my products—or that aren’t my fans—can see them in person.”
A successful IPO last year was music to Ek’s ears. Spotify, the music-streaming service he founded 13 years ago, now has a $24 billion market cap. It still hasn’t had a profitable year, though; its focus is squarely on funneling cash into acquisitions. In February it announced a $340 million purchase of podcast companies Gimlet Media and Anchor FM. Ek founded Spotify in 2006 but before that, he found himself adrift as a self-made millionaire in his 20s—clubbing, driving a cherry-red Ferrari Modena—after an early stint at another Swedish tech company. “I was deeply uncertain of who I was and who I wanted to be,” Ek said in 2012. “I really thought I wanted to be a much cooler guy than what I was.”
I never intended to get this far,” said Kenny Park, whose father owned a fishing company. But he has stitched together a fortune making handbags and accessories for U.S. brands such as Michael Kors, Coach, Mark Jacobs and Alexander Wang. His Simone Accessories, named after his wife and 62% owned by Park and his family, makes some 30 million handbags, purses and wallets a year in its factories in Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and China.
His big break came in 1987 after he flew from Seoul to New York City with a sample bag. He pitched Donna Karan executives an offer to supply bags for almost 30% less than what they were paying their European suppliers, but with one caveat: a “Made in Korea” label. Reluctant at first, Donna Karan agreed to a trial order and by the next year was a key customer, one he still supplies today.
-Luisa Kroll; Forbes Staff
The Highest-Earning Hedge Fund Managers And Traders
The computer geeks are taking over Wall Street. During a disappointing year that saw the average hedge fund manager lose money, elite quantitative traders stood out in 2018 from the rest of the trading crowd. More than half of the 20 highest-earning hedge fund managers and traders in 2018 were associated with computer-driven algorithmic trading.
Jim Simons, the most famous quantitative trader ever, naturally led the way, earning $1.6 billion. He founded Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund firm that now manages $60 billion, and still plays an important role there even though he retired from day-to-day operations in 2010.
The hedge funds Renaissance manages for outside investors performed well in 2018. For example, the Renaissance Institutional Equities fund last year returned 8.5% and the Renaissance Institutional Diversified Global Equities fund returned 10.3%. Simons’ earnings were further driven by Renaissance’s Medallion fund, a $10 billion black-box strategy that only invests money belonging to Simons and his Renaissance partners and employees.
The hedge fund industry had a miserable year in 2018. The average hedge fund manager returned -4.07%, according to HFR. That is slightly better than the U.S. stock market, which returned -4.38% last year. In total, the 20 highest-earning hedge fund managers and traders made a combined $10.3 billion in 2018.
That’s a big number, but it is still the lowest such earnings figure since the financial crisis. In 2015, another weak hedge fund year, Forbes reported that the 20 highest-earning hedge fund managers and traders made $11.4 billion, and in 2011 they made $11.7 billion.
Forbes includes in its analysis hedge fund managers and traders who now mostly or even exclusively manage their own money, and some of them can be found in the top 20 highest earners of 2018. Michael Platt’s BlueCrest Capital Management, for example, returned all outside capital to its clients in 2015. Since then, BlueCrest’s trading activities have performed very well, and in 2018 the firm returned 25% net of all expenses. Platt earned an estimated $1.2 billion last year.
Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates, the world’s biggest hedge fund firm, with $160 billion under management, posted mixed results in 2018. Bridgewater’s investment process is data-driven, searching for economic and other signals. The firm does perform traditional fundamental analysis before turning its research into trading algorithms.
Its big Pure Alpha hedge fund returned 14.6% net of fees in 2018. But Dalio’s important All Weather Fund, in which he is heavily invested, was down by about 6%. Dalio earned an estimated $1 billion in 2018.
Ken Griffin used quantitative and fundamental trading techniques to help build Citadel into a $30 billion hedge fund firm. He had a solid year in 2018, continuing a terrific run that has gone on ever since the financial crisis almost destroyed his him.
Citadel’s flagship hedge fund returned 9.1% last year. Its other hedge funds returned between 6% and 9% net of fees. Griffin earned an estimated $870 million last year.
John Overdeck and David Siegel have built their quantitative trading firm, Two Sigma Investments, into one of the world’s biggest hedge funds. Its funds did well in 2018. For example, Two Sigma’s Absolute Return fund returned 11% and its Compass fund returned 14% net of fees. Overdeck and Siegel each earned an estimated $700 million in 2018.
Overdeck and Siegel met when they both worked at D.E. Shaw early in their careers. The quantitative trading firm was founded by David Shaw, a former computer science professor at Columbia University.
He took a step back from managing the firm’s operations, but remains involved in its success. D.E. Shaw now manages some $50 billion. It’s big Composite Fund returned 11% net of fees last year. Shaw earned an estimated $500 million in 2018.
Israel Englander is not known as a quant. He founded Millennium Management, a $35 billion hedge fund firm known for its multi-manager strategy that includes dozens of teams using various styles to trade all sorts of assets. Still, a big part of Millennium’s success has been is its WorldQuant unit, a quantitative trading outfit. Last year Millennium’s hedge fund returned 4.8% net of fees and Englander earned an estimated $500 million.
To determine the highest-earning hedge fund managers and traders of 2018, Forbes examined hedge fund returns and worked to understand the fee and ownership structure of a wide array of money management firms. Hedge fund firms generally charge management fees of 2% and performance fees that give them 20% of the trading profits, but we found all sorts of variations on this theme.
In addition, our earnings figures include the personal gain or loss of each manager’s interest in their funds. Our figures are pretax, account for firm expenses and profit-sharing arrangements, and exclude gains or losses stemming from ownership in the investment firms themselves or from investments held outside of the managed investment pools.
-Nathan Vardi Forbes Staff
– Antoine Gara Forbes Staff
– Additional reporting by Jennifer Wang
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