BY DAN KETCHUM
For better or worse, celebrities are trendsetters. From Audrey Hepburn’s little black dress to Kanye’s shutter shades, that special combination of exposure and audacity magnifies their scope of influence. But if you’re more interested in cash than couture, plenty of celebrities have put their large paychecks toward diverse investment portfolios. For a little investment inspiration from the stars, just follow the money.
Total equity funding: $75 million
Celebrity investors: Jared Leto, Cash Warren, Jessica Alba, Ryan Seacrest
Between Sting’s tantric yoga practice and the selection of $956 toiletry collections from Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop company, it’s well known that celebs are fans of new-age wellness practices. Maybe that’s why Headspace, a guided meditation app and multi-day digital course in mindfulness, has attracted so many celebrities: Jared Leto, Cash Warren, Jessica Alba and Ryan Seacrest all gave undisclosed amounts during a series A funding round that totaled $34.3 million in 2014. In fairness, their bet could pay off, as numerous studies point to real benefits from meditation, ranging from heightened attention spans to greater self-compassion.
Total equity funding: $16.42 million
Celebrity investors: Aubrey “Drake” Graham, Kevin Spacey, Nasir “Nas” Jones
Rapper Nas was early to the Madefire party — his investment in a spring 2013 venture round totaling $3.5 million inspired A-listers Kevin Spacey and Drake to jump in on Series B funding for Madefire, which amounted to a much heartier $6.5 million in October of 2016. The digital motion books company announced a startup superteam that same month when they paired with Oculus to create virtual reality comic books. As an actor with a nine-figure net worth, Spacey has made several investments in startup companies.
Total equity funding: $6.33 million
Celebrity investors: John Legend, Elton John, Jared Leto, Troy Carter, Ryan Tedder
No, Gobbler is not a turkey farm for the Hollywood elite — it’s a digital subscription service for professional audio engineers, offering a rotating slate of audio software for a flat monthly fee. Given the company’s emphasis on collaboration among music makers, it’s little wonder that John Legend, Elton John, Jared Leto, Troy Carter (entrepreneurial manager to Lady Gaga) and musician-producer Ryan Tedder all jumped in early on seed funding rounds that raised over $3 million from early 2011 to late 2014.
Total equity funding: $75 million
Celebrity investors: Calvin “Snoop Dogg” Broadus, Jamie Kennedy, Jonah Hill, Lawrence Bender
Not all celeb investments involve trendy digital platforms. The third-wave coffee shop chain Philz, founded 25 years ago by Phil Jaber, got a big boost when “Pulp Fiction” producer Lawrence Bender, Jamie Kennedy, Jonah Hill and Snoop Dogg got in on a $15 million series B funding round in early 2015, prompting an expansion of 10 new stores nationwide on top of the original 18 Bay Area, Calif., locations. According to a financial advisor who spoke to Fox’s KTVU in 2015, Snoop has a “special affinity for organic ingredients” and loves the way Philz “respects the coffee bean.” The specialty coffee boom has led to a big increase in the average cost of a cup of joe.
Total equity funding: $15.2 million
Celebrity investors: Justin Bieber, Floyd Mayweather, Omar Epps, Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins
It should come as no surprise that media companies are a favorite of celebrity investors, as Floyd Mayweather, Omar Epps and Justin Bieber proved when they helped raise $2.7 million worth of seed funding for Shots Studios in late 2013. Grammy Award-winning producer Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins hopped in on series A funding, too. Shots gives social media stars a new and wide-reaching platform. The company snapped up a stable of internet-famous YouTubers and former Vine pros. According to Forbes, their eight-creator roster had more than 85 million followers on Instagram and YouTube and over 3 billion views on the latter as of August 2017. Mayweather has enough money to spend some of it on startups — he is worth $400 million.