It’s often said that some celebrities have so much money that they don’t know what to do with it. And while a few might squander their cash on decadent lifestyles, others seem to be better at striking a balance. They have a fab way of life, great homes, etc, but they also invest some of their cash in new ventures – often in a completely different area to the one they work in. One area that’s seen a lot of celebrity investment in the last few years is the tech industry. Let’s take a look at how some celebs have channeled their interest in tech.
Ashton Kutcher took an on-screen techy role when he played Steve Jobs in Jobs, but it’s also in real life that he’s got a real interest in all things tech. His venture fund A-Grade Investments has invested in BitPay and BitGo – payment processors that enable merchants to accept Bitcoin payments. Kutcher has long been a fan of Bitcoin – and has tweeted about the cryptocurrency’s potential a number of times.
Of course, the actor’s not alone in seeing the potential of Bitcoin. Today, you can do so much more with the digital currency than just a few years ago. The currency is accepted by a number of major retail brands like the Gap and Dell and you can use Bitcoins to pay for flights and hotel accommodation. The online gaming industry has also embraced Bitcoin payments. It’s possible to play a wide choice of casino games at a bitcoin casino such as Vegas Casino in the knowledge that transactions will be virtually immediate and secure. Other gaming platforms like Steam and Microsoft Xbox also offer Bitcoin payment options.
As well as backing Bitcoin, Kutcher has also invested in Airbnb, Foursquare, Fab, Uber and Spotify. A smart, smart investor, if you ask us.
Another actor who’s certainly used to play tech characters is Robert Downey, Jr. The Iron Man actor owns Downey Ventures, which invests in startups and consumer entertainment tech companies. He was also an early backer of Maker Studios, a network that produces YouTube content and developed videos for Disney. It wasn’t long before Disney went on to acquire Maker for $500 million – in 2014.
Comedian Ellen DeGeneres is another star with a fondness for tech. Her first investment was in Stamped, an app where users review their favourite things from music to restaurants. Yahoo purchased the startup in 2012 for $10 million. Ellen went into partnership with Warner Bros when she set up Ellen Digital Ventures, which has launched the games Psych! and Heads Up! It also runs EllenTube and Ellen’s Dance Off, that came out of a partnership with the Chosen.fm music competition app.
Jay-Z has focused his tech investment in the industry he knows most about; he acquired the music streaming service Aspiro for $56 million and then rebranded it as Tidal in 2015. He shares ownership in Tidal with other big names in the music industry – Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, his wife Beyoncé, Alicia Keys and Calvin Harris, to name just a few of them. The paid subscription service has about 3 million subscribers and is the first streaming service to be owned by the artists themselves.
The reasons why certain celebrities choose to invest in tech is down to the individual – they might be passionate about the progress of a particular type of technology or maybe they just want a good return on their investment. Whatever their reasoning, from a tech startup’s point of view, the fact that a famous name wants to get behind their idea and publicly endorse it has to be good news.