Celebrities – they’re just like us! Except that they’re famous, and usually quite wealthy, too. So it’s perhaps not surprising that they would choose to expand their investment portfolios beyond luxury yachts and Hollywood Hills mansions.
Yet, you might be surprised to learn that celebrities have quietly been funding some of today’s fastest-growing startups. Today’s infographic from CB Insights ranks celebrity investors based on the number of private tech companies they’ve invested in over the last decade.
After delving a little deeper into the investment activities of these tech-savvy celebs, we came up with a few key takeaways.
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Top Celebrity Investors
Celebrity Investors – Diversity is Key
Holding down the top spot on the list is Ashton Kutcher. The former model turned actor, once known for playing lovable stoners on screen (That 70s Show; Dude, Where’s My Car?) has since proven he’s a skilled entrepreneur and investor.
Kutcher co-founded venture fund A-Grade Investments along with Ron Burkle and Guy Oseary in 2010, building a diverse portfolio that includes Spotify, Skype, Airbnb, Foursquare, and Uber, to name a few companies.
According to Forbes, the fund has grown from $30 million to $250 million over the last six years, representing a nearly 8.5x investment multiple, and making the actor somewhat of a legend among Silicon Valley VCs. Kutcher also co-founded A Plus, a viral media site that has reportedly amassed nearly 50 million global monthly unique visitors since its soft launch in 2014, and was acquired by Chicken Soup for the Soul in September 2016.
Coming in at a close second on the list is hip-hop recording artist Nas, AKA Nasir Jones, with a total of 42 investments into 36 companies. Nas co-founded Queensbridge Venture Partners along with manager and business partner Anthony Saleh in 2014. The VC firm has made 128 investments into 118 companies spanning media, health care, retail, Bitcoin, and cyber security, with a portfolio that includes heavyweights such as Lyft and Dropbox.
Celebrity Investors – Find Opportunities Within Your Network
Casper, the NYC-based online manufacturer of foldable memory foam beds, appears on this list a total of five times, having received funding from Ashton Kutcher, Nas, Scooter Braun, Steve Nash, and Leonardo DiCaprio. The startup famously generated $1 million in sales within its first 28 days of business.
The company is backed by other celebrities off the above list as well, showing that Casper has tapped into somewhat of a celebrity network effect. Tobey Maguire and Adam Levine joined the party, putting money into the Series B round for $55 million.
Casper recently surpassed $100 million in cumulative sales, has launched a line of sheets and pillows, and forayed into dog beds. The company, which is planning to expand internationally, has reportedly raised a total of $72 million, with a total valuation of $550 million.
Celebrity Investors – Invest in Your Passions
Calvin Broadus Jr, the pot-loving multi-platinum hip-hop recording artist also known as Snoop Dogg, founded Casa Verde Capital in 2015. The marijuana-centric investment firm’s repertoire of weed-based ventures includes Merry Jane, an online media channel dedicated to cannabis culture; Funksac, a manufacturer of recyclable packaging for medical and recreational marijuana; and Eaze, an online medical marijuana delivery service.
Recently he partnered with Canadian medical marijuana producer Tweed, and launched his own cannabis line called Leafs by Snoop. However, the rapper is clearly diversifying his portfolio; he’s also invested in online media company Reddit along with Jared Leto, and zero-commission stock trading app Robinhood along with Leto and Nas.
By Caitlin Cheadle, Visual Capitalist