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Investor Highlight: Celebrity VCs

Investor Highlight: Celebrity VCs
September 21, 2021

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Reviewing the deal sheets of each day’s investments makes all the deals start to look the same to me. “Tiger Global invests in another software company doing X, making it worth Y.” So to mix it up, there's nothing like stirring up traditional VC like throwing in a celebrity name such as Ashton Kutcher, Serena Williams, or Katy Perry onto the cap table. It’s a bit of a thrill to see two seemingly incompatible industries -- celebrity and VC -- come together. But then again, celebrities are masters at participating in the cultural economy and carry their own clout, making them ideal investors. Today we’re looking at the increasingly commonplace celebrity-turned-investor.

                       Serena Williams celebrating one of her VC investments through Serena Ventures

Heartthrob VC
I was first introduced to Ashton Kutcher as a bell-bottom jean-wearing lovable fool on That Seventies Show. US Weekly images of him wearing Von Dutch trucker hats and his marriage to Demi Moore were frequent tabloid fodder. Now we're more likely to see him on the cover of Forbes. Since 2010, he has been a regular venture capitalist with his own firm, A-Grade Investments, turning $30MM into $250MM in early investments in Airbnb and Uber. He now primarily invests as an angel investor and has participated in rounds totaling $3.1BN overall. Check out his latest investments here.


Celebrity Causes...like Canada
Roping a celebrity into a deal can mean appealing to that celebrity personally. For celebrities Drake, Ryan Reynolds, and Kelly Olynyck of the Houston Rockets, that cause was their motherland, Canada. Wealthsimple reached out for the company's May round of $750MM in funding. The company tapped homegrown celebs who would want to contribute to growing large brands in Canada. 


Changing the landscape
For many celebs, the demographics of VC investing are reason enough to bring their hard-earned cash to the table. Jay-Z, Serena Williams, and Pharrell all seek to invest in Black entrepreneurs, who as a group currently capture only 1% of all VC investments. Jay-Z takes a particular interest in investing in black-owned cannabis companies. As he told the WSJ, ​​“We were the ones most negatively affected by the war on drugs, and America has turned around and created a business from it that’s worth billions.” Serena Williams recently invested in Black-owned Esusu, which uses rental payments as markers of creditworthiness for people to build better credit, faster.

 

Where have all the (Series A) investors gone?
Investors are moving to the start or finish line, changing the expectations for Series A fundraising.
Twitter pays for misleading investors
The 140-character social media company will pay $810MM to settle a 2015 lawsuit about misleading user engagement reports.
Since last week, PrivCo has added:

898 Companies | 135 Funding Activities | 73 M&A Deals

Funding & Deal Highlights:

 

 

Roboflow raises $20MM from Craft Ventures

Computer Vision • Round B • Des Moines, IA
 

Ketch Kloud raises $20MM from Acrew Capital

Data Privacy • Round A-1 • San Francisco, CA
 

Grailed raises $60MM from GOAT Group

Apparel Marketplace • Round B • New York, NY
 

Mynd raises $57.3MM from QED Investors

Real Estate Investing • Equity • Oakland, CA
 

Elevian raises $40MM from Prime Movers Lab

Biotechnology • Round A • Boston, MA
 

Self Financial raises $50MM from Altos Ventures 

Fintech • Round E • Austin, TX
 

strongDM raises $54MM from Tiger Global Management

Privacy • Round B • New York, NY
 

Pyxis One raises $17MM from Celesta Capital

Marketing • Round B • Burlingame, CA
 

Custructor.io raises $55MM from Silversmith Capital

SaaS • Round A • San Francisco, CA
 

Finarvedi acquires ThyssenKrupp’s Italian Stainless Steel Unit

Industrial Products • Acquisition • Milano, Italy
 

6Sense acquires Fortella

Revenue Intelligence • Acquisition • Redwood City, CA
 

Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Company acquires Acino Holding

Chemicals & Plastics • Acquisition • Basle, Switzerland
 

Dometic Group acquires Igloo Products Corp for $677MM

Consumer Products • Acquisition • Katy, TX
 

Grifols acquires Biotest AG for $1.9BN

Chemicals & Plastics • Acquisition • Dreieich, Germany

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