Tech startups are what’s hot these days. It’s always about the next big thing, and luckily for some of the biggest celebrities, they’ve been thrust right into the forefront of it all. That’s because if they’re smart enough, companies are dying for them to slap their face all over their brand.
I mean, what better way to get people who would otherwise not know about your business interested than by having some famous celeb repping you all over their Twitter? But some celebrities go a bit further than just that. Some get hands on with it and others go as far as to start their own.
Investing a little money here to receive equity can go a long ways, which is why more and more of these celebrities are getting involved. And if they choose wisely, they could be a part of the next big thing.
So which celebrities are looking to become real power players in today’s world? Find out who has the inside track and who has separated themselves from just another brand ambassador into a fully-fledged investor. These are the richest and savviest in the game. Meet the celebs who invested in tech startups.
Andy Samberg – Canaryhop
Andy Samberg is probably the last guy we’d ever take seriously, but when it comes to business, he knows what he’s doing. He became the spokesperson of and an investor to CanaryHop in 2011. CanaryHop is one of the most interesting startups; it connects people who are looking for a tour of a city, want to learn a new talent, or are interested in discovering new activities with incredible tour guides and activity providers. Samberg has flooded their page with original videos in his SNL style that have taken them to the next level.
T.I. – Yopima
YOPIMA, which stands for “Your Opinion Matters,” is one of the newest apps on the market that helps you find where the hottest events (with the most girls) is poppin’ off near you. Want to hit up the club, but not sure what the scene is like inside? Yopima can help. T.I. recently signed on with the company, which was started by tw0 23-year-olds, where he helped fund a healthy $600,000 for the group. Yopima does more than simply providing you with numbers before you head out. The app is tailored to help you make your decision on whether you're hitting a bar or event, based on a number of factors, like drink specials and V.I.P. lines, besides the obvious and most important factor of “who's there?”
Jessica Alba – Honest Company
Jessica Alba is one of the most fantastic MILFs in the game. Not only does she have the looks, but her maternal skills are up there, too. In fact, she went as far as to start her very own line of non-toxic diapers and cleaning products that she was inspired to make after having her two children. Honest Company is a specialty service that delivers these baby-safe items to your doorstep every month.
Bruno Mars – Chromatic, NJOY
When he’s not making bangers or touring his ass off, Bruno Mars has been making some pretty wise business moves. In 2012, the Grammy-award winning artist was an initial investor in the music startup Chromatik. Chromatik makes digital versions of sheet music for both the web and iPad. Not a bad investment, especially by a musician like him. And if that’s not enough, Bruno decided to go healthy by endorsing electronic cigarette company NJOY. “I’ve been using NJOY Kings instead of cigarettes these days and I’m sticking to it,” said Mars. “I believe in the product and the company’s mission.”
Magic Johnson – Stylecaster, Sociocast, FLUD News
Magic Johnson is a titan in the game when it comes to serial entrepreneurship and investing. This is a guy who has started specialty dropout schools throughout the country and owns stake in the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now he’s turning his attention to Detroit Venture Partners. It’s, essentially, an online shark tank (similar to Kickstarter) where people with businesses can acquire funding. This firm has invested in groups like Stylecaster, Sociocast and FLUD News.
Will Ferrell – Funny Or Die
Will Ferrell has probably the most hands-on relationships with his tech startup. That’s probably because it’s a comedy site and he’s a comedian. Now that’s outstanding business strategy. Started by Ferrell’s production company, Gary Sanchez Productions in 2006, FunnyOrDie.com is one of the most established humor sites on the web today. With high-profile athletes, celebrities and musicians appearing in nearly all of their skits, pretty much every video is sure to go viral.
Leonardo DiCaprio – Mobli
One of the most esteemed actors in the game is also a full-time startup advisor to one of the most successful social mobile sites in the market. Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the initial investors to Mobli, a photo sharing service that rivals Instagram and Viddy. In 2011, DiCaprio invested $4 million into the company. This contribution not only helped with technology development, but marketing and PR. His presence has also attracted many more celebrity figures to the site, which is great — especially for a social media hub.
Edward Norton – Crowdrise
Ever wonder what Edward Norton has been up to? Well he’s been getting into the tech life! Long before Sean Parker started Causes, Norton was backing Crowdrise. Similar to its counterpart, this site allows people to start their very own fundraisers for an array of causes and also display their growth and development of their philanthropic work. A noble startup by one of the classiest guys in Hollywood.
Nas – Mass Appeal, Rap Genius
Growing up in New York, Nas knows the value of using his connections. So when he partnered up with the urban lifestyle magazine Mass Appeal, ten years after appearing on the cover, he helped resurrect the brand that hadn’t seen an issue published in almost half a decade. Serving as an associate publisher, Nas also invested a “six-figure sum,” which undoubtedly helped inject some more life into the company. Nas also became the first rapper to fully endorse the fast-growing hip hop site Rap Genius.
William Shatner – Priceline
In 1997, William Shatner became the official spokesperson for Priceline.com. Instead of accepting money for his role in the company, he decided to accept equity. Ten years later, he cashed out making a cool $600 million. Not a bad gig!
Bono – Facebook, Yelp, Forbes, MarketShare
Bono is mostly known for his philanthropic work outside of his music; however, he is also renowned for his truly savvy business investments. His private equity firm, Elevation Partners, manages over $2 billion in assets, which include companies like Forbes, MarketShare and Yelp. But their biggest asset was acquired in 2009 when they invested $90 million for a 1.5% stake in Facebook. When Facebook went public in 2013 and sold for $100 billion, he walked away with $1.5 billion.
Justin Timberlake – Myspace, Stipple, Miso Media
Justin Timberlake is one of the busiest men in the game. After conquering music, movies and women, he has shifted his attention to the tech world — presumably after playing the role of Sean Parker in “The Social Network.” His biggest project is also his most recent one with Myspace. As an investor and brand ambassador, Justin has been a large part of their rebirth after taking a blow when Facebook got hot. The site today, which is mostly geared towards music, has one of the most comprehensive designs that pushes the social network back to prominence. But this isn’t Justin’s only project. He also invested into a site called Stipple that allows photographers to sell their images as well as Miso Media, which is a site that revolutionizes music education through apps and technology.
Jay Z & Will Smith – Viddy, Duracell Powermat
Two titans of the game who have conquered it all from NBA franchises to blockbuster films and platinum records teamed up to turn the tech world upside down. Jay Z knows that to become a billionaire, he needs to keep it moving, which is why invested big money into Duracell’s Powermat where he also serves as a spokesperson. Then he teamed up with Will Smith to help start up the popular video-sharing app Viddy. The only question is what’s next for Hov and Will?
Ashton Kutcher – Skype, Airbnb, Foursquare, Hipmunk
When it comes to celebrity angel investing, Ashton Kutcher is the best in the game. He knows how to spread his seed far and wide, which has helped him reach awesome success investing in startups such as Skype, Airbnb, Foursquare, Hipmunk and LikeALittle, to name just a very few. Just take a look at his CrunchBase recent milestones list, which shows all of his tech acquisitions. It’s safe to say that this man is addicted to investing in good ideas.
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