Home » Russell Okung: The Athlete-Tech Serial Investor

Russell Okung: The Athlete-Tech Serial Investor

12 business ventures of ex-NFL star Russell Okung

by Victor Adetimilehin

Born to Nigerian immigrants Victor Okung and Dorothy Akpabio, Russell Okung quickly rose above the traditional idea and narrative of a sportsman’s build to become an embodiment of a persistent and pioneering spirit. Anointed “Big Daddy” in the wake of his father’s passing in 1992, Okung shouldered familial responsibilities with a constant determination that indicated his professional perseverance. His collegiate years at Oklahoma State University, where he majored in Marketing, highlighted by a unanimous All-American selection in 2009, paved the way for a remarkable NFL career with teams such as the Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers, and Carolina Panthers. Notably, his contribution was crucial in the Seahawks’ triumphant Super Bowl XLVIII campaign. This transition from a versatile high school athlete, excelling in both football and discus, to being a critical player in Oklahoma State’s offensive line, underscores his journey of relentless improvement and achievement.

Beyond the limelight of the football field, Okung has carved out a niche for himself as a philanthropist and an astute investor, particularly in the rapidly expanding realms of technology and cryptocurrency. His co-foundation of the Greater Foundation reflects a deep-seated commitment to empowering underserved youth through mentorship and leadership development. A vocal advocate for Bitcoin, Okung’s persistent attempts to blend cryptocurrency into his financial portfolio highlights a visionary approach to wealth management, further exemplified by the inauguration of Okung Ventures in 2020. In 2020, Okung became the first NFL player ever to be paid in Bitcoin, receiving half of his $13 million salary in Bitcoin. As he steps into retirement, Okung’s legacy extends beyond his athletic prowess, embodying the essence of innovation, mentorship, and an unwavering desire for societal elevation and financial empowerment.


Initiating a venture that extends his influence beyond the football field, Russell Okung introduced “Bitcoin Is _”, a novel brand and event series focusing on the fundamentals of Bitcoin for rookies to the cryptocurrency, with its inaugural event launching in Los Angeles on September 1, 2019. This move signifies Okung’s dedication to promoting the revolutionary capabilities of blockchain technology. By doing so, he aims to foster a broader understanding and acceptance of cryptocurrencies, blending his legacy in sports with a pioneering role in financial innovation.


Okung Ventures, a venture startup, launched by Russell Okung in April 2020, represents his foray into the world of entrepreneurship and investment, focusing on encouraging innovation and growth within the technology space, among others.


Okung has allocated funds to Matcherino, a Seattle-based start-up company at the forefront of esports technology that helps video game fans fund matches between their favorite players, or even raise money for a chance to play against their favorite video gamers. He was among the investors in a $1.25 million seed round led by Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group for Matcherino.


Russell Okung’s investment in Omni, an online concierge for on-demand storage and delivery, highlights his foresight in supporting technology-driven solutions that address everyday problems and challenges. By investing in Omni’s innovative storage and rental model, Okung champions the fusion of convenience, sustainability, and the sharing economy. This investment aligns with his vision of backing transformative startups aiming to redefine their industries.


Russell Okung’s investment in Fold aligns with his well-documented interest in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, reflecting his commitment to supporting innovations that make access to financial services easy and promote the adoption of digital currencies. Fold, known for its platform that enables users to earn bitcoin through shopping, represents a convergence of commerce and cryptocurrency, offering a practical application that bridges everyday transactions with the rapidly growing world of digital assets. In 2020, Fold joined Visa’s Fintech Fast Track Program to launch a Fold Visa debit card that offers Bitcoin rewards, a move that was backed and invested in by Okung who believed that it would take Bitcoin adoption to unprecedented heights.


Russell Okung’s investment in Rep The Squad, a provider of a sports jersey rental platform, highlights his flair for innovative sports-tech ventures, offering fans jersey rentals for their favorite teams. He alongside other investors invested $1.53 million in a seed round funding of the company.


Russell Okung has directed investments towards 100plus, marking his venture into the health tech sector with a platform that innovates in patient monitoring. 100Plus is the leading AI-assisted remote care platform for physician practices that enables healthcare providers to remotely manage their patients’ chronic conditions while proactively supporting practices with patient outreach, enrollment, device setup, and education, ensuring patients stay compliant.


In 2016, Russell alongside other investor angels raised $1.5 million in seed funding led by Madrona Venture Group for Shyft Technologies. By investing in Shyft Technologies, a tech company developing mobile apps for coworkers and teams, Russell Okung demonstrates his commitment to transforming the dynamics of the workplace through technology. Shyft’s platform, which simplifies shift management and exchange for employees, aligns with Okung’s vision of enhancing labor conditions and operational agility. In 2018, Shyft became the Gold Prize Winner of the Seattle Business Magazine’s Tech Impact Award for Emerging Companies.


Russell Okung’s foray into the esports arena with his investment in PlayVS highlights his skillfulness at pinpointing future trends, particularly in the evolving landscape of competitive gaming for students. Russell Okung was part of $15 million in a Series A funding round for PlayVS.  By backing PlayVS, Okung champions the integration of esports into high school and college sports, offering a legitimate platform for young gamers to showcase their skills. Today, the company is estimated to be worth $405 million and it has raised more than $106 million in venture capital in the past six years.


Russell Okung’s portfolio also features an investment in StatMuse, a company that’s revolutionizing the way sports statistics and information are accessed and engaged with. StatMuse utilizes artificial intelligence to provide instant, conversational access to sports stats, making it easier for fans and professionals alike to interact with complex data.


Russell Okung has extended his investment horizon into the health and fitness technology sector by backing Whoop, a company renowned for its wearable fitness and health monitoring devices. Okung invested in Whoop in a $25m Series C financing round led by UAE71 Capital. Whoop’s advanced technology offers users detailed insights into their physical performance, recovery, and sleep patterns, promoting an optimized approach to health and athletic performance.


Russell Okung’s investment portfolio includes Booster, an innovative energy transportation service that’s redefining the fuel delivery industry. By providing on-demand gas delivery, Booster simplifies refueling for consumers and fleet operators, merging convenience with efficiency.

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