Former NBA star Shane Battier joins board of software company Yext and wants to build his business away from sports

Before extending his executive career in the National Basketball Association, former Miami Heat forward Shane Battier is positioning his business affairs away from sports.

Battier, 42, joined New York-based software firm Yext as a board member on Wednesday. Yext is an artificial intelligence search company that offers brand data management and helps companies increase their digital presence. It has agreements with companies including Verizon, Marriott, and Samsung.

Yext went public in 2017 and trades on the New York Stock Exchange. It has a market capitalization of about $1.8 billion.

"When you dive into the experience of the world of search, you go down some rabbit holes," Battier told CNBC in an interview about his latest move on Thursday. "It's really an amazing technology and opportunity to put my stamp on my first business experience."

"In the old days," he added, "the way search was down was around 'keywords.' That technology is sort of going away. It's a novel idea that Yext is developing that you actually get answers to your questions when you query something."

Battier said he'll bring "team building" experience to Yext, something he learned playing 13 seasons in the NBA. The former Duke University standout played for the Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets and Miami Heat, where he won two championships in 2012 and 2013. 

"I've been in places where I've changed cultures – from a losing culture to a winning culture," he said. "I know teams, and I know people and sometimes the technology, we get so caught up in the data and the technology we're developing, but you need people to execute."

Seeking something new?

Battier left his role as Heat vice president of analytics and basketball development in June. He's currently linked to front-office positions throughout the league, including the Utah Jazz, where former teammate Dwyane Wade is now a co-owner. 

Asked if he's looking to take another basketball operations job, Battier didn't dismiss the idea but added establishing his personal affairs away from the NBA is the primary goal. 

"I'm scratching my business itch right now," Battier said. "Basketball will always be a huge part of my life. I'm never going to say no to get back in a more official capacity … but right now, I'm trying to make my mark as a businessman."

Battier made $55 million in his career, according to Spotrac, a website the tracks sports contracts. He labeled his investment style as "conservative," adding, "I haven't had too many loses and misses that have cost me dearly."

Battier is an independent board member for BOA Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company that raised more than $200 million in February. The SPAC is trading on the NYSE under the ticker symbol "BOAS.U." He also entered a "disruptive innovation fund" that owns a minority stake in South Korean e-commerce company Coupang, and personally invested in pasta brand "Banza" and lifestyle brand, Eastside Golf.

Battier said he wants to make his mark with "impact investing" – helping minority entrepreneurs succeed. "I think this is a great time to increase diversity not only on the board level but the founder and creator levels," he added.

Asked about his predictions for the NBA Finals, which will feature the Phoenix Suns for the first time since 1993, Battier said he's supportive of the team. Another former teammate, James Jones, is the Suns' vice president of basketball operations.

"I read a stat that James Jones has been involved in eight out of the last 10 NBA Finals," Battier said, mentioning Jones' Finals appearances with the Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers. "Although, if the Hawks do make it, Grant Hill — it's going to be really tough. I'm cheering for both those guys."

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