6 Music Stars Betting Big on Tech
A-list actors like Ashton Kutcher and Leonardo DiCaprio aren’t the only stars cashing in on tech these days. Famous rockers, rappers and pop crooners are in on the exploding celeb startup trend, too.
Here are 6 celebrity musicians singing the praises of tech -- and putting their money where their mouths are:
1. Katy Perry
Katy Perry just scored her own mobile game and she likes it. The fruity pop songstress apparently wasn’t too busy roaring between dancers dressed as giant fake sharks to ink a promising mobile gaming app deal with Glu Mobile, makers of Kim Kardashian’s smash-hit mobile game. The game will showcase, you guessed it, Perry’s likeness, personality and voice. Glu Mobile’s stock blew up like a firework on the news of the deal...because of course it did.
When it comes to high-tech gadgets, will.i.am, né William Adams, just can’t get enough. The Black Eyed Peas frontman-turned-tech entrepreneur recently released his own smartwatch. Called Puls, the fancy wrist cufflet makes calls, stores and plays music, and sends and receives texts and emails. The founding Beats Electronics investor, 3D Systems chief creative officer and Intel director of creative innovation also has an eco-friendly 3-D printer in the works. We hope it doesn’t boom boom flop like will.i.am’s i.am+ foto.sosho, a flashy $415 plastic iPhone case/keyboard/camera that hangs around your neck. It’s even weirder than the Grammy-winner’s Lexus “camera car.”
3. Lady Gaga
Stefani Germanotta, who you know as the fabulous Lady Gaga, is betting big on Backplane, a niche social network startup geared toward celebrities. Backplane’s inaugural online community was born in 2011 out of LittleMonsters.com, a popular fan site for Gaga’s devotees, also know as, you got it, “little monsters.” With her $1 million initial stake in Backplane, Lady Gaga joined the likes Silicon Valley heavies Google Ventures, Menlo Ventures and Eric Schmidt in funding the startup. The 20-percent shareholder is also an active advisor. Lady Gaga has also thrown her weight behind (and into) a high-tech Voltanis flying dress. Yes, a dress that actually lifts off and flies via six propelled booms. (Hey, it’s a step up from draping herself in dead meat.)
4. Jared Leto
Academy Award-winning TV/film/rock god Jared Leto has his guitar-shredding hands gripping a number of promising tech investments. Along with other like-minded celebs, he’s backed: Reserve, a new restaurant reservation app; Reddit, the viral news hub; Robinhood, a zero-commission stock trading app, and Zenefits, an all-in-one human resources platform. His favorite tech investment so far, reports TechCrunch, is Nest Labs, a smart home automation startup that Google scooped up for a whopping $3.2 billion.
5. Justin Bieber
Teen sensation-turned-bad-boy Justin Bieber cut his pearly white teeth on tech investing at the tender age of 18. In 2013, he led a $1.1 million seed investment into a selfie show-and-tell app called Shots of Me, which is, duh, targeted to teens. “The Biebs,” who has eaten some humble pie for his a recent rash of lawbreaking indiscretions, is wisely following in the footsteps of his “business brain” and manager Scooter Braun, whose considerable chops in tech investing include contributions to Spotify and Stamped. Bieber holds stakes in both companies as well.
6. 50 Cent
This East Coast hip hop icon founded his first tech company, SMS Audio, in 2011. Short for “studio mastered sound,” SMS was formed as a rival to Beats by Dr. Dre. The company offers a wide variety of high-end headphones and headphone accessories, including a set of heart-monitoring earbuds that launched last year, after forging a pivotal partnership with Silicon Valley titan Intel. It’s all a long way from his entrepreneurial start selling crack on the streets of his native Queens, New York, neighborhood at age 12.
Related: 6 Rappers Who Are Also Franchisees
Kim Lachance Shandrow is the former West Coast editor at Entrepreneur.com. Previously, she was a commerce columnist at Los Angeles CityBeat, a news producer at MSNBC and KNBC in Los Angeles and a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times. She has also written for Government Technology magazine, LA Yoga magazine, the Lowell Sun newspaper, HealthCentral.com, PsychCentral.com and the former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Coop. Follow her on Twitter at @Lashandrow. You can also follow her on Facebook here.