Celebrity Investments In Apps And Technology


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Back in 1997, William Shatner agreed to be the face of Priceline, as the “Negotiator”, when it was just a baby endeavor. We all know the Negotiator. However, did you know William Shatner didn’t sign a contract agreeing to a paycheck? No, William Shatner agreed to do the Priceline spots in exchange for quite a bit of stock in the company - a decision that turned out very profitable for him.

In this blog, Hollywood Branded looks at top celebrity tech and app investments and how the investors affect the brands they become involved with.

Even Celebrities Know That Money Isn't Infinite

Long gone are the days when the likes of Jimi Hendrix signed away the rights to his songs for $1; the celebrities of the world, for the most part, have learned the danger of selling their personal brand for pennies. (Although access to each new Kardashian lifestyle app is only $2.99 a month!). And while not all celebrity investments or ownership ventures are successful, some shine through, and end up making the difference in a brand’s success, while also being a major success for the celebrity as well. 

Low Key, But High-Tech: Start-Ups And Celebrity Investors

Many celebrity investors fly under the radar, especially investors in small technology companies or start-ups. This could be intentional, since people in the tech industry as a general rule may not trust a Hollywood face to know anything about technology. However, many of these investments have become very lucrative.

Take, for example, Jared Leto, Oscar-winning actor and lead singer of the rock band 30 Seconds to Mars, who invested in Nest Labs, which was sold to Google for $3.2 billion. Among him are investors like Nas, who has dabbled in the Bitcoin industry and invested in lyric website Genius (formerly Rap Genius) as well as DeviantArt, the largest online art gallery and community. And while Ashton Kutcher’s face may be all over Nikon ads, his wallet has contributed to such tech companies as Skype, Airbnb, Uber, Soundcloud, Shazaam, Spotify, car service Getaround, e-commerce company Fab, FourSquare, and Duolingo.



Stamped, an app for reviewing businesses and restaurants, has investors including Ellen DeGeneres, Ryan Seacrest, and Justin Bieber

And on that note, Ppop star Justin Bieber has paid cash versus taking equity trade for the ratings app Stamped, instant messaging app Tinychat, and music streaming service Spotify. He also took an equity stake in Shots, a selfie-sharing app for which he led a $1.1 million seed round - which paid off for the app developer - Shots's popularity spiked when Bieber started using it to post his own photos. Until recently,

In 2011 actor Leonardo DiCaprio came on as an advisor to assist with branding and marketing - and to help the company gain access to other celebrities - and led a $4 million investment round in Mobli, a Tel Aviv-based photo sharing app maker and competitor to Instagram. He was joined by actor Tobey Maguire and athletes Lance Armstrong and Serena Williams.

Actor Jared Leto has made more than 40 investments in companies like Blue Bottle Coffee, HR software company Zenefits, and video streaming app Meerkat, with him stating that his best investment,  both creatively and financially, was in Internet of Things company Nest Labs, which Google acquired for $3.2 billion in 2014.

Not only is Magic Johnson a major (fast) foodie investor, but he is also a general partner of Detroit Venture Partners LP which has invested in more than a dozen early-stage tech companies

Musician MC Hammer not only served to help Pandora break into the music space and, well you know, actually have the executives "talk music", he also has invested in contact-sharing app Bump Technologies, mobile payment company Square, and magazine app Flipboard.

The Kardashians took it to a new level by aligning 

U2 artist Bono's equity firm has invested heavily in YelpFacebook, and Wikipedia. In 2010 it bought $120 million in Facebook stock, giving it a 1.5 percent stake in the social media company - and had previously made a $90 million investment.  After Facebook's IPO in 2012, the firm sold 11.5 percent of its shares, netting Bono an estimated $10 million. 

Smart Or Not?

The majority of these investments are smart moves - for not only the celebrity to earn some money at often a higher amount than they make on screen or in the music or sports business - but truly for the companies.  Many of these companies would not have succeeded without these celebrity investments.

 So What Do You Do With This Information?

Trying to categorize and analyze celebrity investments is like trying to clean out a hoarder’s abode. Every investment is different, and they come in all shapes and sizes. However, it’s obvious that more and more celebrities are taking the opportunity to get involved with brands they can stand behind with actual dollars.

Are you interested in learning how to successfully partner celebrities with your brand - without spending a million?  Watch this short webinar to learn Hollywood insider tricks to create and kick-start an entertainment marketing campaign that is the perfect extension for your social media program.

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Celebrity Social Media Webinar by Hollywood Branded