With NBA Finals looming, Aussies shine both on and off the court
With the 2015 NBA Finals set to tip off on Friday, three Australian natives will have large roles in an effort to lead their team to a championship.
Andrew Bogut will lead the Golden State Warriors against Kyrie Irving and Matthew Dellavedova of the Cleveland Cavaliers. While Golden State hasn’t won an NBA championship since 1975, Cleveland is looking for its first-ever title.
The championship series will feature two Aussies who were No. 1-overall draft picks coming out of college, as Bogut was the top pick out of Utah in 2004 and the first Australian ever taken first overall, while Irving was the No. 1 selection out of Duke University in 2011. As was previously written in Business Review Australia, both Bogut and Irving appeared in the list of Australia's highest-paid sporting personalities.
Meanwhile Dellavedova, a second-year reserve player, attended Saint Mary’s College in California before making the Cavaliers squad as an undrafted free agent in 2013.
Friday will mark the first time Australians played against each other in the NBA Finals, one year after Aussie teammates Patty Mills and Aron Baynes helped lead the San Antonio Spurs to the title.
But what’s just as interesting about these players' contributions on the court is their business moves off it. Bogut, a native of Melbourne, is Australia’s highest-paid athlete. He has recently signed on as an ambassador for Australian watchmaker Bausele, while he also has endorsement deals with Nike, Qantas and BodyScience. The 7-foot center raked in US$16.6 million last year alone, including a US$12 million dollar base salary. He’s also attempting to make Friday a national holiday so fans will be able to watch Game 1.
The most popular of the three is Irving, who six months ago joined LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant as the only active NBA players to have his own signature Nike shoe (which you can see at the right). In fact, the traction pattern on the front his “Kyrie I” shoe was inspired by the Sydney Opera House. Born in Melbourne, Irving also has endorsement contracts with Pepsi Max, Foot Locker, Skullcandy, EA Sports and the underwear brand PSD. He is well known for playing a fictional character “Uncle Drew” in his series of Pepsi Max commercial, the first of which you can watch above. In the summer of 2014, Irving signed a five-year contract extension with the Cavaliers worth US$90 million.
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Dellavedova, a native of Maryborough, Victoria, played at the Australian Institue of Sport (AIS) in Canberra before becoming a member of the Australian National Team, as he played in 16 games for the Boomers during the 2012 London Olympics. He signed a deal for two-years and US$1.3 million with the Cavaliers in 2013, and is a valuable contributor off the bench while becoming known for his physical style of play.
It should be an interesting championship series for Aussie basketball fans. Maybe you’ll want to call in sick on Friday, just in case Bogut’s holiday proposal doesn’t pass in your office.
Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.