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11 celebrities you’ll be surprised are also tech investors

celebrity startup investments celebrity startup investments
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LiLJaiiY

These 11 stars are adding their status and pulling power to the tech startups of their choice, but aren't necessarily doing so on everyone's radar. Hot Topics found out more...

Most of us now know that there are a certain number of celebrities who have dipped more than a toe in the vast pool of tech startups and investment. Some have swam, some merely stayed afloat and others, well, haven’t.

However there are more celebrity startup investments out there that you may not have heard about.

Musician Jared Leto, former basketball player Shaquille O’Neil and USA based rapper Nas all make our list of 10 (and an extra one) celebrities in tech investment you weren’t aware of.

And they aren’t all vanity projects either.

Investors, marketers, CEOs and celebrities themselves all recognise the latter’s fan base can be accessible by following their favourite star. Whether they use that to sell their own startup or raise appreciation for one they have invested in is up to them.

Despite the clear value celebrities can bring to a startup, it is no guarantee to a startup’s continued success. As a result, there are a lot of celebrity startup investments that have gone awry – and publicly so.

Read on though to get more insight to each celebrities’ investment moves – plus an extra entry who’s looking into a controversial industry.

 

Lady Gaga

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The creative director for Polaroid is probably better known for her new-age music videos and outrageous sartorial choices. In terms of celebrity startup investments however, the self-styled Mummy Monster (to her fans) has backed Place (formerly Backplane), a platform that allows like-minded people to connect through their shared interests.

Gaga has also started her own social network project Little Monster – with a million strong followers – which was one of the first communities to be added to Place. So far the company has received over $18 million in three rounds of funding from 14 investors, including Google Ventures and Sequoia Capital.

Leonardo DiCaprio

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Leonardo added his star power to Mobli, the much feted real-time visual media sharing platform, helping its Series A funding to reach $4 million back in 2011.

Celebrity startup investments don’t get much more promising when Serena Williams and Tobey Maguire also initially invest. As of 2013 and after four rounds, $86 million dollars has been raised.

Bono

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Bono went several steps further than investing: he has set up his own venture capital firm Elevation Partners. Although not alone in such a move, his company is one of the most successful.

Elevation Partners focuses on niches such as media, technology and entertainment and after investing early in Dropbox and Facebook, Bono had reportedly made $600 million in the growth from both companies. He has also put money behind Forbes and MarketShare in the past.

Justin Bieber

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Bieber has been busy in tech, believe it or not: investing in Spotify, TinyChat, Stamped and Shots. For the latter, Bieber teamed up with heavyweight Floyd Mayweather and other investors to help a $2.7m seed funding round in 2013.

Nas

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Celebrity startup investments don’t come as prolific as Nas. The New York born rapper and actor has invested in over 40 startups including Coinbase, Rap Genius and deviantART.

Late last year though he also contributed to a Series A funding round of $16 million for Robinhood, which utilizes the idea that tech-drive brokerage can operate much more efficiently with fellow investors Jared Leto and Snoop Dogg.

Ryan Seacrest

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Seacrest hosts American Idol by day and secures tech deals by night it would seem. After co-founding and investing $1 million in Typo, a keyboard device for iPhones (and subsequently in the process of getting sued by Blackberry) Ryan Seacrest Production Company was also created.

It produces shows for certain USA TV networks like MTV and E! and has since joined with the largest radio company in the US, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment – committing $300 million to work with Seacrest. The partnership has grown making Seacrest a serious media and tech heavyweight in recent years.

Jared Leto

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No less than 11 investments have been made by this long locked musician and actor. His celebrity startup investments include Meerkat, Reserve and reddit but we only found out about his Nest investment after the smart thermostat startup was bought by Google for $3.2 billion last year. A finger in many a pie it would seem.

Zooey Deschanel

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Zooey’s ‘adorkable’ on-screen personality has won her a sizable online following – which has probably helped her entrepreneurial pursuits.

She has founded website hellogiggles.com with two friends with the aim of attracting the modern, intelligent female (and males) to stimulate positive online discussions. It drew some interest and in September last year Pritzker Group Venture Capital invested an undisclosed amount.

From mid-December 2014, the company stated $1.5m of total funding received.

Stephen Fry

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Celebrity startup investments in the UK can be just as healthy. Long known for being a Twitter enthusiast, actor Stephen Fry has also spent time funding the likes of tickle, sumly – invested in $1.2 million venture round with 18 others in 2012 (now purchased by Yahoo) as well Pushnote – but that folded after 18 months of operation.

Shaquille O’Neil

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Shaq is impressive. Having a successful basketball career is enough for a lot of people, having that and a master’s degree in business administration is a lot for a few, but having both and being successful within the startup world is rare to say the least.

As well as owning equity stakes in Vitamin Water and Muscle Milk, Shaq has similar stakes in social media startup Tout, of which he is now also an adviser.

He also invested in Google stock in 2004 when each share was a bit over $100. At its current price, Shaq is six times richer, off that stock alone.

 

And an extra one to check out:

Calvin Broadus Jr aka Snoop Lion aka Snoop Dogg

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Snoop Dogg isn’t new to startups (think reddit and RobinHood) and not, we imagine, to cannabis either. So it is unsurprising to learn that he is trying to rally around some investors and get them interested in cannabis startups; according to insiders his ball park figure is around $25 million.

In terms of celebrity startup investments it’s a pretty nascent market at the moment, but it’s a pretty savvy move: the industry is in is its early growth phase and CrunchBase lists 29 venture investments in cannabis last year – amounting to over $90 million.

Snoop Dogg also recently invested in Eaze, a Californian cannabis delivery startup that has gained around $10 million of interest since its conception.

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