A-List money savvy celebrities who invest their cash in startups
Celebrities are often perceived as the annoyingly fortunate amongst us who earn money for nothing. Whether that’s the case or not is another debate, however, it’s what they do with their cash which is important. Celebrities can buy anything they desire, from cards and clothes to houses and jewellery. However, what do they do once they have bought all of the above in every colour and model?
Last year ex-NBA superstar, Kobe Bryant, announced that in partnership with Jeff Stibel, he will be starting a $100 million fund to invest in media and tech companies. He told CNBC last year that he would rather be known for jump starting tech companies versus his skills on the court.
Kobe, you, me and the next investor all have one thing in common - the hope that you find the next Facebook, Airbnb or Snapchat. Not just pump money into them, but be one of the first investors to the table so you have bragging rights for backing the next unicorn!
**Jargon Buster** What is a unicorn in this case?
A startup company which has a valuation of over $1bn. In Canada, tech unicorns are known as Narwhals!
As I am about to prove, our favourite celebs are no strangers to Silicon Valley and are happy to dive into the deep end - many invest in passion projects or companies they believe will make a difference in the world. However, before I portray them as oh so righteous - let's not forget those who are simply ordered by their wealth manager to invest in the hottest new startup to boost their brand, earn them more money and even reduce tax liabilities! Maybe we could learn a thing or two from these 3 celebrity angel investors…
You may remember him from ‘Dude Where’s My Car’, ‘That 70’s Show’ or as MTV’s funny boy from the programme ‘Punk’d’. However, Ashton Kutcher has added investing to his long list of skill-sets and is a serious venture capitalist. When he first took the plunge, he said he largely relied on his gut instinct and invested in companies where he was wowed by founders and their products. In 2009, he invested an undisclosed sum of cash in Skype (who were bought in 2011 by Microsoft for $8.5bn), whilst has invested in over 30 companies through his fund A-Grade Investments. Co-founders of the VC include Madonna's manager Guy Oseary and billionaire investor Ron Burkle. Kutcher's portfolio has included the likes of Spotify, Uber, Foursquare and Fab.com. Interestingly, the actor shunned Snapchat on 2 occasions and decided not to invest - given Snap Inc's floatation on the US stock market earlier this year, i'm sure their millennial co-founders aren't too upset!
Despite being a serious public figure in the world of entertainment and money, he has been trying to use his status to tackle human/sex trafficking. Earlier this year he gave an extremely emotional speech on child sexual abuse to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and his software was commended for identifying 6,000 child victims of trafficking worldwide. His fight against modern slavery is not a new one, with ‘Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children’ having been setup as early as 2009 with then-wife Demi Moore.
Who knew that the MC Hammer was secretly a tech geek!? The ‘U can’t touch this’ star, whose real name is Stanley Kirk Burrell, has been an advisor and investor in Silicon Valley for more than 12 years. Investments that the hip hop legend has made include contact-sharing app Bump, mobile payments company Square, and the magazine app Flipboard. Supposedly, the serial entrepreneur has even founded two companies himself!
The man is leveraging his status in a money savvy way, with his lecture at Stanford University in 2010 proving just that (Click here for the speech). He is open about using his celebrity profile and social media presence as a marketing machine for new opportunities. Okay fine, if we compare his 143k Instagram followers to the 101 million that support Kim Kardashian.....yes, it doesn't sound that great, however, i'm not a hater! Even though he made and lost his $30 million fortune quicker than you can say 'hammer time', he seems to be back on the gravy train.
Arguably one of the biggest stars in the world right now - nope not Money Savvy Ravi, I’m talking about Justin Bieber. Forgetting the millions rolling in from his music career, Forbes believes his biopic, ‘Never Say Never’ raked in $30 million on its opening weekend and his fragrance ‘Someday’ pulled in $60 million in sales during its first 6 months. Clearly the Bieber brand knows how to make money, but what does he actually do with the cash? Besides the fancy cars and trips abroad with an array of beauties, Beliebers across the world are left in the dark about his investments in the startup world.
Justin poured cash into Spotify in 2012 and supposedly has a stake in instant messaging app Tinychat. Along with Ryan Seacrest and Ellen DeGeneres, the star also financed ratings app Stamped which was bought by Yahoo in October 2012. Let's not forget the selfie sharing app 'Shots of Me’ which caught his eye - Bieber not only invested in them, but endorsed the company by posting selfies of himself to boost new user stats. In 2014, Twitter were rumoured to be in talks with the company to buy them for $150 million, however, it’s peak of 8 million users worldwide couldn't compete with the heavyweights of Instagram and Snapchat. Even the Biebs couldn’t push Shots into unicorn status, with the startup having since rebranded themselves as Shots Studios and shifting their focus to content creation.