Celebrity businesses have always been…entertaining. We’ve seen business made entertainment, like Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice. Last year saw entertainment turned business-gone-wrong, as Ja Rule’s Fyre Fest failed in flaming glory while racking up criminal charges along the way. No matter what, entertainers do just that – entertain. Some of the biggest stars, however, invest and in some cases personally work in successful startups. It’s impressive to see somebody save the day on the screen and actively invest time, money, or expertise in a business in the real world. So impressive that we dedicated this week to counting down our five favorite startup celebrities.
1. Jared Leto
The Thirty Seconds to Mars frontman may have struggled to follow Heath Ledger’s incomparable Joker performance, but one thing he did get right: investing in over 40 startups. While he’s invested in companies like Meerkat and Blue Bottle Coffee, Leto claims his best creative and financial work came with IoT company Nest Labs, whom Google acquired in 2014 for $3.2 billion dollars. Not bad, Joker.
2. MC Hammer
MC Hammer didn’t always make the best business decisions in his musical hayday. The untouchable rapper was known for frequently flying two planes worth of entourage with him on tour. One thing he got right? Pandora. When Pandora was still called Savage Beast in the early 2000’s, Hammer guided founder Tim Westergren through his music executive meetings. Hammer didn’t stop there, investing in Flipboard, Bump Technologies, and Square.
Nasty Nas is more than one of the greatest rappers of all time. The Queensbridge native has invested in dozens of startups, including Coinbase, Rap Genius (now called Genius), and DeviantArt. After meeting Silicon Valley VC Ben Horowitz, Nas and his manager pledged to dedicate more than half of his portfolio to startup investment. Thanks Nas.
The pop icon loved Vita Coco so much, she almost bought it. Madonna invested $1.5 million in 2010 after drinking the stuff every day on tour. Coconut water has since skyrocketed in popularity, and Vita Coco has an estimated 40% market share in the United States with $421.1 million in global retail sales in 2017.
5. Lady Gaga
Known for her poker face and grammy winning pipes, Lady Gaga is breaking into the beauty game. VC Lightspeed Venture Partners just funded Haus Beauty’s first round, and the company currently sits in stealth mode. If successful, Lady Gaga looks to join celebrities like Rihanna and Kylie Jenner with successful beauty product companies.