Movie Stars, Musicians and Sports Personalities Are Investing Big Bucks To Fuel The Next, Big Tech Startup
Joe Montana, Football Legend
Since 2015, former NLF quarterback Joe Montana has been a board member of Liquid 2 Ventures, a seed stage fund.
His partners include Mike Miller, who co-founded Cloudant – a database service that eventually sold to IBM in 2014 – and Michael Ma, who co-founded TalkBin – a customer feedback platform that sold to Alphabet subsidiary Google in 2011.
One thing Montana stays away from; he has said in interviews to press, is putting his name on the company.
Jay – Z, Musician
While Beyonce has been all over the news lately, Jay-Z has been silently working his magic. He was one of the early investors in Uber. Jay Z invested in its 2011 Series B when it was valued at just $300 million. The company is now estimated to be valued at $62.5 billion.
The rapper music and entertainment venture Roc Nation, launched a new business arm called Arrive to lift smaller startups at the bud phase. Arrive supports young startups with capital and advice.
Jay-Z owns the New York 40/40 Club sports bar and is the co-creator of the clothing line Rocawear. He is the former president of Def Jam Recordings, co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records, and the founder of the entertainment company Roc Nation. He also founded the sports agency Roc Nation Sports and is a certified NBA and MLB sports agent. Jay-Z married singer Beyoncé in 2008. As a couple, they have an estimated combined net worth of $1.16 Billion.
Ellen DeGeneres, Actor
The comedian, host, actor and entrepreneur has always been on the ball about tracking new trends and startups. Through her Ellen Digital Ventures joint venture with Warner Bros, the talk show host invested in music app Chosen, launched the Heads Up app and started a digital network for programming from web stars like Tyler Oakley. Ellen Digital Ventures functions as an umbrella brand to extend her TV franchise to digital, social and gaming audiences. Ellen Digital Ventures has created EllenTube, and Ellen’s Dance Off.
According to reports, in 2011, a group of ex-Googlers launched Stamped, an app that evolved into a tool for tracking all of your favorite things. Yahoo bought the company in 2012 for $10 million, but not before talk show host Ellen DeGeneres invested an undisclosed amount.
Kobe Bryant, Basketball Player
The former Lakers player retired from the NBA at age 37 after a 20-year career with the Los Angeles team. That’s when he kicked off his second career as a venture capitalist.
Bryant teamed up with investor Jeff Stibel to launch a $100 million fund for tech companies. The duo invested together informally — having made deals with 15 companies since 2013.
The $100 Million is focused on tech, media and data companies and it is expected to last “the next few years,” according to a news report.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Actor
DiCaprio’s list of investments is as long and equally impressive as the number of films he has worked on. He is also one actor who likes to stay abreast with the latest technologies. DiCaprio’s investment in MindMaze is the latest in the actor’s portfolio of companies he’s put money into. His other investments include the garbage startup Rubicon Global, data analytics company Qloo, mattress maker Casper, and sustainable food company LoveTheWild.
MindMaze is a five-year-old Swiss startup that specializes in virtual reality technology that’s primarily been used in the healthcare industry. In February 2016, the startup scored a $100 million funding round that put its valuation at roughly $1 billion, qualifying it a so-called startup unicorn.
BITTEN BY THE BITCOIN
Gwyneth Paltrow, actor — Abra
Paris Hilton, heiress — LydianCoin Pte Ltd
Jamie Foxx, Actor — Cobinhood
Bono wears many hats. The singer-songwriter, philanthropist and now entrepreneur founded something called The Rise Fund. It is a private investment firm.
Bono helped start the Rise Fund last year with private equity firm TPG, raising $2 billion to focus on commercial projects capable of having a social or environmental impact.
Rapper Nas, Musician
Nas – the New York-bred artist who first hit the charts more than 20 years ago has turned into a prolific angel investor — founding the venture capital firm QueensBridge Venture Partners. The firm (not to be confused with the hip-hop supergroup Jones fronted back in the ’90s) funnels cash into start-ups as varied as healthcare, financial technology and Bitcoin.
QueensBridge, based in Los Angeles, has invested in more than 40 start-ups across a range of sectors like financial technology, healthcare and music production. His Queensbridge Venture Partners was an early investor in tech company Ring, which manufactures WiFi cameras and doorbells, and has now potentially earned him a pretty substantial amount of money.
It was announced earlier this week that Ring had been acquired by Amazon for $1 billion, therefore creating a windfall for Nas’ VC firm, who, alongside Richard Branson and Upfront Ventures, were early investors in the company.
The multi-faceted entertainer and creative innovator, and a seven-time Grammy Award winner founded I.am+, the tech startup which raised $117m (£89m) in venture funding as recently as last year in 2012. While the company initially focused on consumer electronics devices such as headphones, it has lately branched out into looking for artificial intelligence products with voice recognition.
Since July 2017, the company has been using Omega to power an AI customer support chatbot and it plans to add a voice phone system soon.
9. Elton John, Musician
Qloo, which bills itself as “the cultural artificial intelligence data platform,” has raised $6.5 million in additional funding from AXA Strategic Ventures and Elton John. Qloo examines publicly available and open source data to try to understand patterns in consumer taste in categories like music, film, TV, books, podcasts, consumer products, fashion, dining, and travel.
According to Tech Crunch, while the company has built a cultural recommendation app that anyone can download, it’s currently focused on selling this data to other businesses.
10. Ashton Kutcher, Actor
Ashton Kutcher has been investing in companies since before it became a fad. He has backed Foursquare and Skype in 2009, and tripling his $1 million investment in Skype when Microsoft bought the video chat platform.
In 2011, Kutcher created a venture fund, A-Grade Investments, with Ron Burkle and Guy Oseary. A-Grade has invested in multiple tech companies including Spotify, Airbnb, Foursquare, Fab, Uber, Dwolla, and Path. Kutcher is also co-founder of Katalyst, a media company creating original content for digital media, television, and film.