It’s Oscar weekend. A time when Hollywood buzzes with talk of fashion faux pas, who will win big, and… tech?
The technical aspect of the 89th annual Academy Awards has come to pass and the Academy has already recognized innovations in film with its Scientific and Technical awards. However, with the continual push for technological advancements – from large-scale animation creation to pioneering high-resolution imaging sensors to drive-train mechanisms for animatronics – it’s no surprise that the wonder and merriment science and technology provides to big summer blockbusters would rub off onto celebrities.
While it may still be hip to squander cash on a decadent lifestyle, there’s a growing trend among A-list celebrities of investing in tech.
Let’s take a look at how some celebs have channeled their interest.
Dude where’s my investment?
Power investor Ashton Kutcher has staked a claim in multiple tech companies, including AirBnb, Spotify, Uber, Flipboard, Skype Pinterest, Shazam, Foursquare, Warby Parker, and Fab, to name a few.
The super-savvy investor has an innate sense for what’s hot and his A-Grade Investments is a respected and in-demand venture capital fund. As such, he’s considered a Silicon Valley insider.
More recently, Kutcher has been drumming up government support in the fight against online sex trafficking. <
As chairman of Thorn, a tech non-profit that has produced web-based tools to help police officers identify and locate victims of trafficking, the actor stated that “technology can be used to enable slavery, but it can also be used to disable slavery.”
King of the startup world
Leonardo DiCaprio is known for putting his money – and his back – where his mouth is.
As an early investor in Casper, the Oscar-winning actor was part of a $55 million Series B funding round for the mattress startup.
DiCaprio also led funding rounds for Instagram competitor Mobli, health-monitoring app Cue, the smart-home product developer Zuli, and Rubicon Global – a recycling solution company.
Can’t wait to show you my tech
Unlike his showy and flamboyant turn as the Joker in Suicide Squad, Oscar-winner Jared Leto has kept a relatively low profile in the tech world – despite making more than 40 investments.
The actor and musician has stakes in Reddit, Headspace, Meerkat, and many more.
He’s also launched three of his own companies that include social media management and digital marketing company The Hive, VIP fan experiences company Adventures in Wonderland, and online platform VyRT.
From catwalk to coding
Karlie Kloss is one of the highest-paid models in the world, but she still keeps rolling out new entrepreneurial endeavors. In addition to a well-trafficked YouTube channel, the supermodel also sponsors coding camps for high school girls.
Kloss, who says she’s always been interested in math and science, started learning to program a couple of years ago.
As comical as some of the model’s coding posts may be, if just one kid thinks it’s cool and takes a curiosity towards technology, I’m all for it.
Investing like a true super hero
It’s only appropriate that Iron Man himself take an interest in tech. In 2011, Robert Downey, Jr. founded Downey Ventures to invest in startups and consumer entertainment tech companies.
He was also an early backer of Maker Studios, a network that creates YouTube content and developed videos for Disney, which acquired Maker in 2014 for $500 million.
In addition to his investments, Downey is also well known for his philanthropic tech endeavors as well. When an Iron Man-inspired bionic limb was developed for seven year-old Alex Pring, it was personally delivered by Downey, in character as Tony Stark.
Most recently, the award-winning actor become one of numerous big-name investors in MasterClass, a site that offers interactive and video courses taught by big names including athletes, actors and singers.
Mom and Golden-globe winner Jessica Alba launched e-commerce site The Honest Company in 2011. The startup delivers eco-friendly baby and household products to your doorstep monthly.
Though awash with bad press last year, the company is worth an estimated $1 billion.
The Doggfather of investing
After heavily investing in Reddit, stock brokering app Robinhood and sports-chat app GameOn, Snoop decided to focus on a topic near and dear to the famous rapper.
The weed aficionado created Casa Verde Capital. From Spanish, the “greenhouse” invests in cannabis startups. Its first stake was for Eaze – the ‘Uber for pot’.
Since then, Snoop created the lifestyle media site Merry Jane as the hub for all things cannabis.
I.tech, therefore I.am
The former Black Eyed Peas frontman, Will.i.am was an early investor in Twitter and owned a founding stake in Beats Electronics, which Apple acquired for $3 billion.
The artist has enjoyed a plethora of tech-centric successes including collaborating with NASA to send a song to Mars, is a shareholder in Beats by Dre, and has his own tech company, i.am+. He’s also the Director of Creative Innovation for Intel.
With an interest in augmented technology, the latest innovation from Will.i.am’s i.am+ brand is AneedA – device-agnostic virtual assistant.
A tech belieber
Despite being one of the world’s most recognized pop stars, Justin Bieber has been relatively mum surrounding his investments, quietly plowing millions into tech startups.
The tween heartthrob turned venture capitalist choses companies that specifically interest him – such as messaging app Tinychat, social-curation app Stamped, and music streaming service Spotify.
The singer, who was discovered through his YouTube videos, has recently – and unsurprisingly – been drawn to social media. He recently led a $1.1 million seed round into selfie and comedy app Shots.
While celebrity investing in the US is far more common than other countries, the Netherlands is trying its hand at some famous funds. As the founder of BlockParty, soccer (or, rather, football) player Gregory van der Wiel wants to both financially – and famously – support up and coming startups.
Van der Wiel has already backed startups including the company’s namesake app – Block Party Voicey – as well as BALR, 433, OnOff Telecom, and more. The fund hopes to attract more attention to celebrity support in hopes of being the link between promising startups and influencers who can reach a large group of people through various channels.