From Ashton Kutcher to Justin Bieber, a number of celebrities have put their money - and sometimes their personal brands - into tech investments like Fab, Flipboard and Mobli. And it's not just celebrities who invest, but also their agents and managers - people like Lady Gaga's manager, Troy Carter.
The celebrity investor trend is relatively nascent, but has caught the attention of Hollywood talent and sports agency Creative Artists Agency, which is said to be developing a new 20M venture capital fund $, as well as former Mashable editor Ben Parr, who is working on the Hollywood connected # DominateFund.
Of course, not everyone is so bullish on the star-startup connection. Interestingly, however, GRP Partners has partnered with Rachel Zoe on two deals - NuORDER and dailyLook.
So after Brooklyn-based media company Mass Appeal raised funds from hip-hop artists Nas and Pusha T, www.cbinsights.com wanted to dig deeper into the trend and see which celebrities (or their investment vehicles) have backed the most tech startups, as well as which venture capital firms have most frequently co-invested with celebrities.
Actors, the most active guild
First, celebrities as we have defined them include actors, singers, rappers, etc. themselves, as well as those in their inner circle. As will be seen below, actors represent the largest number of celebrity investors with at least 11 actors owning stakes in private tech companies. Music artists followed closely behind with at least 10 singers and 8 rappers involved in tech funding since 2007.
"In Spain, one sector that could have the capacity to finance companies with potential is that of footballers. Until now, they have been looking for low-risk assets, especially real estate. The reason for this is their short professional life, which leads them to assume little risk," says Diego Gutierrez (ABRA INVEST) specialist in corporate finance for SMEs.
Internet and mobile, the most important sectors
Most celebrity high-tech investments over the past five years have gone to internet companies, but celebrities have also backed at least 28 mobile startups. Leonardo DiCaprio, for example, participated in a round in the photo-sharing app Mobli while seed investors in BlackJET, a fractional jet sharing company with a mobile app, included Ashton Kutcher, Jay-Z's Roc Nation and Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment.
Celebrities opt for A-grade investments
The following list shows the most active celebrities investing in technology since 2007. The top 10 is led by A-Grade Investments, the investment vehicle headed by Kutcher, Guy Oseary and Ron Burkle and is followed by Troy Carter and Justin Timberlake, who round out the top 3. Eight of the top 10 celebrity tech investors concentrate on seed/angel and Series A level early stage investments. Frequent celebrity co-investors include SV Angel, Menlo Ventures and CrunchFund.
"It would be interesting to know what the investment process was like for these celebrities when they chose to participate: what was their motivation, were they economic decisions, or were they motivated by their tastes or hobbies? It would make sense for celebrities to collaborate with expert investment managers and co-invest with them," says Diego Gutierrez.