Shaquille O’Neal Explains Investment Strategy Into Ring, Esports Team NRG & ‘Shaq Fu’ Video Game

You’ve had your investments with pre-IPO Google, Five Guys, 24 Hour Fitness. Why did you get into esports? Why was that important for you?

I took my son to a tournament one time at Staples Center one time. He’s like, ‘dad, I want to go watch some kids play games.’ I’m like, ‘what are you talking about?’ So I took him to the Staples Center and it’s packed. So I dug into a little bit and found out what was going on and got with some partners. My partner was Sacramento Kings [owner] Vivek Ranadive. He got me involved in esports and we help start NRG. And we’ve been very, very successful.

There are people from traditional sports like Rick Fox and Mark Cuban who are in esports as owners as well. Why do you consider it a viable business plan and alternative?

The older I got, I realized that investments wise, if it’s going to change someone’s life and make them happy, it’s probably a good thing to invest in. Everytime I go to these shows, they are similar to NFL and NBA games. The amount of people in attendance at these functions is here to stay. I like how they rotate between shooting, fighting and racing games. It’s beautiful. You watch the passion that these kids play with. Esports is here to stay.

What are you hoping to learn from someone like Andy Miller, who brings vision and background from a traditional company?  

Dwight Eisenhower said, ‘the greatest leaders are the ones who are happy to have people who are smarter around them.’ Andy Miller is a brilliant guy. A lot of times he’s the one that can foresee the vision, and we as partners we just either go with or not. Whenever Andy does something, I’m always in.

Esports is catered to a digital native audience. How are you going to use your personal brand and platform to market your presence in the space?

Anytime I can promote the sport, I will. I have a large social media following. Anytime I can let people know what’s going on in the esports culture, I’m happy to do that

You’ve played in some tournaments as well like Street Fighter and League of Legends.

I got killed by the beautiful WWE diva Natalie. But I beat her before too.

You’ve had your own video game in the past. What kind of presence do you want to play in video games moving forward.

My Shaq Fu 2 is coming out. Shaq Fu 1 was so terrible it became a cult classic.

Your famous for your personality and character and that also helps you broker deals as a businessman, too. How are you looking to evolve in emerging spaces moving forward?

I just look for companies who want to change people’s lives, better people’s lives and that’s how I’ve been investing for the last 10-to-15 years, and it’s been damn near perfect. Every time I go in and try to make a quick buck, it never happens like that. For example, Ring. Everybody needs home security. A digital doorbell for your phone. I think that was a great investment for me.

You work with a lot of brands. Kobe, for example, when I had a conversation with him, he’s talking about going into the Nike boardroom and talking to the marketers and creatives. How do you heighten the marketing?

I’ve always been the marketer and creator. I’ve always had the ability and access to create all of my own spots. When you deal with the Shaq brand, you’re dealing with a brand that’s promoting fun. Every spot that I do has a fun aspect to it.

If you can give one advice to brands and marketers, what would it be?

I wouldn’t give them any advice. To each his own. I just know that my formula has always worked for me. With so much going on in the world today, at the end of the spot, I want to see somebody laugh.