Top 5 Celebrity Start Up Investors
Celebrities may get a bad rep for jumping on any endorsement or sponsorship they can get their hands on, but there are a handful of A-listers proving that they have more to offer than just a pretty face. Some choose to make multi-million dollar investments, while others nurture projects through a series of strategic deals. But no matter what approach they take, all have one thing in common – they absolutely nailed it.
To prove our point, here’s our pick of the top five celebrity start-up investors that know how to turn a profit.
More than just U2’s painfully hip, slightly off-centre frontman, Bono is also a bad ass business man. In 2004 he founded Elevation Partners, a boutique firm that’s now worth a cool US$1.9 billion in assets. It specialises in media, entertainment and technology, and made one of its smartest moves back in 2010 when it purchased US$120 million in Facebook shares. Following Facebook’s IPO in 2012, Elevation Partners sold off 11.5% of its shares, and earned a modest US$10 million in the process. No doubt it was a ‘beautiful day’ for Bono.
Leo’s snapped his fair share of selfies, and in 2011 he made it very clear just how tech savvy he is. The Oscar winning actor pioneered a US$4 million investment in a Tel Aviv-based photo sharing app developer called Mobli. He fronted the company’s branding and marketing strategy, and also rustled up other celebrity investors like Serena Williams, Toby Maguire and Lance Armstrong. Now, Mobli is giving Instagram a run for its money, and proving that even the smallest fish can score bigtime celebrity endorsements.
Former 30 Seconds to Mars frontman makes our list because he knows the value of putting your eggs in different baskets. To date he’s made more than 40 investments in start-up companies, with many earning him the kind of cash that not even a Golden Globe Award winner could dismiss. Notable investments include Blue Bottle Coffee, video streaming app Meerkat and HR software firm Zenefits. According to Leto himself, his absolute best investment was in internet tech company Nest Labs, which was acquired by Google for an eye-watering $3.2 billion in 2014.
Proving that slam dunks aren’t his only talent, NBA star Earvin “Magic” Johnson has definitely made the most of his retirement. He’s opened a chain of cinemas, a handful of fitness clubs and multiple Burger King franchises. He’s also got big sums of cash in Detroit Venture Partners LP, a firm that specialises in investing in early-stage tech start-up companies.
No doubt about it, MC Hammer knows how to spot a success story when he sees one. He’s been playing Silicon Valley for over a decade, and has quietly funded a handful of start-ups that have gone on to become household names. Some of his biggest investments include mobile payment company Square, magazine app Flipboard and contact-sharing app Bump Technologies.