The Business of ZLATAN | The Strategies & Business of Being ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC.

Business of ZLATAN


No doubt football is the biggest sport in the world. Half of the world population watched the FIFA world cup in 2018. Business of Zlatan

I don’t want to get sued for insulting his majesty, but it can be doubted if Zlatan Ibrahimovic is or was in fact ever the best player in the world?

But, he is no doubt one of the most entertaining and spectacular figures in the football business and one who earns a lot of money.

In this blog, we’ll talk about his strategies, transfers, sponsorships, and his personal investments in short THE BUSINESS OF BEING ZLATAN.

The confrontation with everything and everyone seems to inspire Zlatan.

As if the confrontation if necessary even the physical one was his way of coping with life.

He grew up in Rosengård, a poor social housing estate on the outskirts of Malmö, Sweden.

His Croatian mother married his Bosnian father mainly to obtain a residence permit for Sweden.

His parents separated when Zlatan was two years old, the mother earned her living by receiving stolen goods and suffered from paranoia and depression.

Soon the father took custody of the kids, but didn’t really care for them. Zlatan’s half-sister took drugs and the fridge was always empty.

But besides all those obstacles, Zlatan managed to embrace his situation and develop some traits that made him a highly successful athlete, in terms of performance and business.


When talking about the business of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, there is no way of getting around his agent.

At the beginning of his career Zlatan still did without the help of a consultant

Malmö’s sports director HASSE BORG took him under his wing and advised him against using an agent, not without personal motives.

When an offer from AJAX Amsterdam arrived, he first negotiated Zlatan’s salary in the Netherlands.

Only when Zlatan happily agreed to a monthly salary of 20,000 euros and a Mercedes company car did Borg turn to the AJAX bosses and got the highest transfer sum in the history of Swedish football for his club.

When Zlatan found out, how far below value he had sold himself something broke inside him and Hasse Borg had seen a father figure until then.

Now Borg had sold him like a piece of cattle and Zlatan made sure that this would never happen again to him.

When he was looking for a new consultant a friend journalist suggested two alternatives – Agency where David Beckham is or this Italian guy who manages Pavel Nedved, everyone says he’s a Mafioso.

Zlatan didn’t hesitate and arranged a meeting with the controversial MINO RAIOLA, the two immediately hit it off.

Like Zlatan, Raiola likes the bulldozer strategy to get his way.

In 2006 telephone calls between a YUVA manager and Raiola became public making it clear how Raiola forced Zlatan’s transfer from Amsterdam to Juventus.

First he made Zlatan boycott the Ajax training session. He then bullied the Amsterdam officials by letting them wait for two hours for a meeting just to enforce his point.

“Don’t worry, we’ll take him to Turin” Raiola has since succeeded in making his client one of the best paid players in the world.

Zlatan now knows his finances down to the last digit and is very much aware of his value. No one should ever rip him off again.


When he joined LA Galaxy he broke the record of best paid player in the major league soccer with over 7 million US dollars per year.

But this is still peanuts compared to the reported over 20 million he earned at Manchester United.

Not less impressive the transfer sums that clubs paid to have Zlatan in their squad.

In 2009 Barcelona spent almost 70 million euros for Zlatan making him the fourth most expensive player at that time.

Although he never broke a transfer record like Neymar or Ronaldo, the pure amount of expensive Zlatan transfers over the years is impressive.

So, far clubs have paid a total of 169 million euros for him.

Besides the numbers it is worth looking at the clubs that Zlatan has played for – Barcelona, Paris, Milan, LA all global cosmopolitan cities.

You can definitely live the good life in all of these places, so this might have been a reason but playing in these cities also increases the value that Zlatan has for brands.

To understand why you have to know that NIKE and ADIDAS have a so-called key city strategy.

Instead of pushing big national media campaigns, they focus on a small number of key cities.

Where they maximize the number of touch points with their consumers.

The theory is that, this creates strong ripple effects beyond those cities on a national and international scale by actively shaping trends as well as being relevant in the eye of influences and the media.

Nike for example expects the business in key cities to be responsible for 80% of its growth.

So, clubs and athletes from those cities are very likely to appear in brands campaigns and have a high value for sponsors and Zlatan didn’t play in just one but four key cities.


His eccentric personality further increases his value as an advertising phase.

When he signed with LA Galaxy he took out a full page from the LA times and simply wrote, “Dear LA, You’re welcome”.

His humour might be one of the reasons he is loved by many fans, combined with his ability to play with the media he attracts a lot of sponsorships.

Zlatan has done advertisements for many big companies like VISA, Volvo and Microsoft.

And in 2014 NIKE launched a big campaign called Dare to Zlatan that produced several viral videos.


Zlatan’s relationship with NIKE got some cracks in 2016, during the Euro cup he still played in Nike but trained in Adidas boots.

Later, he even switched from Nike to Adidas boots during the half time of a match.

Clearly showing that he didn’t care about getting a sponsorship deal.

It later turned out that he didn’t want to endorse a brand anymore because he was about to launch his own label.

Despite solid growth of his own brand A-Z Clothing brand (Amateur to Zlatan) in 2017, the brand had to shut down one year later and was no success, but this wasn’t Zlatan’s only venture.

In December 2011 his book I am Zlatan was published. It sold so well, that he published another one in 2018.

In 2019, he bought a quarter of the shares of Swedish Football club Hammarby IF (Hammarby Fotboll). To an outsider it may not seem like an obvious choice.

On closer inspection Zlatan’s move looks incredibly savvy and suggests he or whoever is advising him has been paying attention.

Insiders have praised the club to have the greatest potential to become the biggest in Scandinavia.

Even six-year old Zlatan knew how to make money although back then he focused on stealing bicycles.

Today he says that if he hadn’t become a professional football player he would probably have become a crook.

Luckily he didn’t have to pursue that path and managed to get on pretty well with his actual career.

In 2020, Zlatan’s net worth is estimated to be around 200 million euros.

While he is an extraordinary footballer his appeal for teams brand partnerships and his personal ventures is also strongly related to his unique character.

He always stays true to himself, even if that sometimes drives away sponsors and leads to unwise investments.

But most of his decisions turn out to be right and so Zlatan’s fridge will probably never be empty again.


LEBRON JAMES Business Model – Owning the Value Chain.

Lebron James Business Model

At the age of 18, Lebron James turned down a life-changing check of 10 million US dollars to sign with Reebok and returned to high school the next day.

As for who he signed for? Lebron James Business Model

The company that offered significantly less, NIKE.

The deal Lebron later would call, “THE BEST BUSINESS DECISION I’VE EVER MADE”.

Though only 18 this decision would act as a precedent for Lebron James future business ventures to put long-term legacy over short-term gains.

A strategy that would lead him to a business portfolio of some of the fastest growing companies in the world and reshape the way sports media work.

This is the story of how Lebron James went from the projects of AKRON OHIO to developing the strongest athlete value chain in all of sports.

LEBRON JAMES’ HIGH SCHOOL DAYS Lebron James Business Model

As a high school student Lebron was one of the most highly anticipated NBA prospects in history.

Celebrities, sports stars, and even Nike co-founder Phil Knight all came to watch his games.

It was not uncommon for his hometown high school team to have games moved from their small gymnasium to larger arenas to meet demand, no matter the size all games would sell out.

In fact one game in his senior year sold out the 20,000 seat gunned arena, Home of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The state’s NBA team who could only average an attendance of less than 12000 per game.

Yet whilst it seemed everyone else was profiting from the hype surrounding the chosen, one from ADIDAS paying only $15,000 to supply the high school with their products to ESPN showcasing Lebron to a national audience on his first televised game in December 2002.

Lebron as an amateur was making no financial return on these deals.

When the first opportunity to make serious money arose for Lebron in the form of a shoe war between NIKE, ADIDAS, and REEBOK he made the most of the media circus surrounding him.

As a senior Lebron started varying his brand choice, where all eyes were on his upcoming business decision.

For Adidas basketball camps, he would wear Nike. At Nike events, he would wear Adidas.

Continually toying with the brands as meetings approached.

However in a sport, where business negotiations can be much like an early scene from Jerry Maguire.

In Lebron’s case money was not the main deciding factor for his business choices Lebron received offers incomparable to any other rookie in sports history.

When reebok offered him a 10 million dollars upfront check and over 100 million dollars in guarantees, Lebron was lost for words.

To put this into perspective, Kobe Bryant coming off a winning three successive NBA championships only received a 40 million dollars four year deal from Nike that same year.

Yet despite the huge offer from Reebok unlike other athletes, Lebron realized something – “I was going to be making a deal for life. You don’t think about the first check, you think about all of them”.

This was the initial sign of the business mind-set that would shape Lebron into the man he is today.

He would end up signing with Nike on a 7-year 90 million dollar deal.

The temptations to follow in the footsteps of his idol MICHAEL JORDAN whose number 23 he’d worn on his jersey throughout high school and follow a similar branding and partnership deal with Nike in the future was an offer he felt he couldn’t turn down.

The long-term vision paid off.

In 2015, Lebron signed a lifetime deal with Nike with an estimated value of 1 billion dollars. The first of its kind in the company’s history.


Upon joining the league Lebron’s marketability continued to rise.

Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Nike, they all wanted to get involved with Lebron and were willing to pay big.

By the end of 2003, he was the fourth highest endorsed athlete in the world.

Only Tiger Woods, Michael Schumacher, and David Beckham were being paid more of the field.

Yet despite this continued wealth sitting on a heap of cash just wasn’t Lebron’s style.

So, at the end of his second season in the league, Lebron took his biggest business risk yet.

Leaving his agent to go his own way creating a marketing agency with three of his hometown friends Rich Paul, Maverick Carter & Randy Mims, they called it LRMR.

By doing this, Lebron was taking control of his own business decisions allowing him to shape the narrative he portrayed to the public.

Despite this the league’s elite businessmen thought this was a terrible idea.

Yet it wasn’t, until Maverick carter was put in contact with Paul Wachter, the man who’d managed Arnold Schwarzenegger in becoming one of the most recognizable men on the planet that the connections of the group came into play.

Wachter began advising Lebron, demonstrating that partnerships are significantly more rewarding than simply taking a pay check on an endorsement.

Shaping the increased involvement in his advertising value chain.

This advice became an initial test for Lebron. If the company wasn’t one he wanted to partner with, he simply wouldn’t work with them.

So, when Lebron was introduced to the co-founder of beats electronics who showed him their new styles of earphones, Lebron was sold.

He supplied every member of team USA with a pair on their 21-hour flight from the states to Beijing.

When the team faced the cameras upon touching down in china, the discussion had been generated.

What the hell are these headphones all these stars are wearing? In terms of influential people.

Few attract more attention from fashion than NBA superstars.

Lebron helped to provide beats with the crucial organic launch they needed.

Lebron would later become a partner with beats and following their three billion dollar sale to apple in 2014 he took home over 30 million dollars proving long-term equity provides greater benefits than an endorsement pay check.

This increased involvement in the value chain also came into play when Lebron, Maverick carter and Paul Wachter met with Fenway Sports Group, who had just taken over Liverpool FC.

With the ambition to diversify the company’s marketing capabilities, carter tried selling the idea that Lebron was a franchise himself.

Fenway Sports Group would receive the rights to market Lebron for endorsement deals, in return Lebron would receive two percent of FSG’s new acquisition Liverpool fc.

Upon agreement this two percent was worth an estimated seven million dollars.

As of Forbes 2019 evaluations, following Liverpool’s on-field successes this same 2 percent stake is worth over 43 million dollars.


Upon joining the Lakers in 2018, it was clear that Lebron’s motivation behind the move could be put down to his off the court business.

It’s no secret that LA is the media capital of the world.

The glitz and glamour of Hollywood movie studios resonates with people all over the globe, Lebron included.

In 2007 he and maverick carter founded SPRING HILL ENTERTAINMENT with the ambition to create the most culturally inspired brands, entertainment, and products.

The company has since had success in TV, film and audio projects including smash hit TOP BOY in partnership with music star Drake.

Yet the biggest success in the media industry for Lebron has been the creation of uninterrupted.

A digital media platform allowing athletes to share their message on their own terms.

Lebron learned from his past experience with TV projects and wanted to provide athletes with the ability to speak freely without the restrictions major sports networks may provide.

But athlete empowerment is not the only goal Lebron pursued with uninterrupted.

The ability to own, control, and distribute your content is incredibly important in a world, where consumers spend most of the day watching, reading, or listening to media on their phones.

Lebron took inspiration from similar media companies founded by athletes such as THE PLAYERS TRIBUNE.

Those athletes leverage the opportunities given to them by social media and the internet and capitalize on a revolution that completely eliminates the middleman.

From a business perspective what Lebron does is classical vertical integration.

Instead of selling his image, stories, and voice his intellectual property to ESPN or other companies, and have them produce a documentary that brings in millions of dollars, he keeps control of his intellectual property and capitalizes it himself.

In 2012, it was announced that the sequel to the iconic space gym was being planned with Lebron as the star.

Yet Lebron waited on the film, establishing business partnerships with the production company Warner brothers first.

In 2015, uninterrupted received over 16 million dollars in investment led by Warner brothers as well as other partners before a script was finally agreed on in 2018.

As Lebron’s incredible career on the court is reaching its final years, it can be argued his business career is still in its early stages.

The question is what’s next?


There has been talk of potentially owning a team one day.

Likewise, his ambition to continue the outstanding work of his Lebron James foundation empowering children in his hometown.

But one thing is for certain, once the sneakers have been hung up and the final game has been played, it won’t be the last time we see Lebron.

The Business of Kobe Bryant – Athlete, Investor & Film-Maker.

Business of Kobe Bryant

The city of Los Angeles glowed in gold and purple. The colours of the LA Lakers that Kobe wore for 20 years in the NBA. Business of Kobe Bryant

The colours in which he won five championships and inspired more than one generation of sports fans.

Kobe the 18-time NBA ulster was not only a gifted almost obsessive athlete who achieved just about every goal in his sport.

Kobe Bryant’s legacy extends beyond his time on the basketball court.

The relentless work ethic that drove Kobe’s two decades in the NBA also propelled his transformation into a business mogul, author and Oscar-winning filmmaker.

We tried our best to tell the story of Kobe’s business adventures. So, if you’re reading this article, then please read till the end and share if you find it useful.


Already during his active time Kobe developed into a commercial driving force of the NBA.

Kobe had a lasting impact on the success of NBA stars expanding their global brands into the extremely fast growing and lucrative Chinese market.

The Chinese basketball fans view many of today’s NBA superstars as demigods.

In large part Lebron James, Stephen Curry, and James Harden have to thank David stern, Yao Ming and Kobe Bryant for paving the way for the big pay checks they received for their engagement in China.

NBA hat DAVID STERN had already discovered China in the 80’s as a promising and lucrative market and had made deals with China state television.

In the early 2000s Yao Ming became the first Chinese star in the NBA which gave its popularity in China an immense boost.

The timing was perfect, Kobe’s career really took off and he became the most popular American star in China, even before Michael Jordan. He even sold more jerseys than Yao Ming.

Diligently Kobe travelled the country regularly to build his own brand with the Chinese people.


In his 20-year NBA career Kobe earned an estimated 328 million dollars and possibly just as much in his various businesses.

He diversified his career by entering into the investment world even before leaving the NBA.

Kobe made his first investment in the sports drink BODY ARMOUR.

He invested around 6 million dollars over the time for about 10 percent of the company.

Only four years later, the move turned out to be a jackpot.

Coca-Cola bought into BODY ARMOR, based on the valuation of the COCA-COLA deal, Kobe’s stake was then worth approximately 200 million dollars.

That deal was the biggest in the sports drink industry since PEPSI had acquired GATORADE in the year 2000.

Kobe got back 30 times the amount he invested.

This was the biggest return for a modern day athlete in the business world in a while.

To put it into perspective, Lebron James made 30 million dollars from a small stake in Beats by Dre, when it sold to apple.

Another pillar on which he built his investment activities is the venture capital firm BRYANT-STIBEL.

Kobe co-founded the firm along with Jeff Stibel the founder.

Kobe’s firm specialized in investments in several technology, media and data companies successfully.

The firm now has more than two billion dollars in assets.

BRYANT-STIBEL’s portfolio includes Dell and Alibaba.

It also has investments in EPIC GAMES the company behind Fortnite, KLARNA the digital payment company and THE HONEST COMPANY, Jessica Alba’s wellness brand.

With the juice press start up JUICERO, however it was reported that there was already at least one real flop among the investments.

Of course Kobe’s reputation as a superstar athlete and the brand builder has been one of the investment firm’s keys to success.

But he wasn’t just slapping his name on things for vanity.

According to the LA times, the venture capitalist and billionaire CHRIS SACCA was mentoring Kobe’s entry into the world of investment.

Sacca provided him with a bunch of books, videos, TED talks, and podcasts to study start-ups and investing.

Sacca recalled “literally at 3 am he would be on his treadmill and call me, his obsession with learning this stuff was so 24/7”.


Kobe was also a storyteller himself as a media and film producer.

In 2013 he founded KOBE STUDIOS, a company that produced podcasts, books, television and film projects.

The greatest success of the company, the short film “Dear Basketball” a love confession to Kobe’s sport.

He won an Oscar for it in 2018.

The epic story is accompanied by “music by Hollywood legend John Williams”, the music guy from Star Wars.

Kobe also found time to write, his book

THE MAMBA MENTALITY using the nickname he gave himself during his basketball career was released in late 2018.

In the book Kobe gives a deep insight into his mind set.

He describes how he was able to reach his monumental achievements.

5 NBA Championship titles, 2 Olympic Gold medals, 81 points in a single game, 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers.

And then, there is the MAMBA SPORTS academy, with this company he dedicated himself to a subject that must have been close to his heart, that sports is for everyone.

The academy offers training and coaching not only in basketball but also many other sports.

To us Kobe’s legacy is team work and the unconditional desire to win to be successful in life.

He applied the skills he learned on the basketball court to business and investing

When asked by USA Today, if he thought hitting the winning shot in the playoffs or finding a winning company was more exciting, Kobe quickly answered, “it’s finding that winning company as an investor. Because I always expected to hit a game-winning shot growing up” Kobe’s 5-minute Oscar Winning short film: