Hip-hop stars take their fame on Wall Street and Sand Hill Road.
Unlike their rock star brothers, who have always been disinterested in startups, many hip hop artists have accumulated good-sized portfolios. They also had some big successes, the latest of which was the Robinhood commissionless equity trading platform, which included Jay-Z, Nas and Snoop Dogg among its top contributors.
But how deep is the hip hop-startup relationship and where is it going? To shed light on this issue, we have collected a review of Crunchbase data on the startup investment activity of famous musicians. We watched both hip-hop and pop stars, selecting a list of 21 artists who are active investors or have participated in one or more tournaments in recent years.
The overall conclusion: artists are doing more business, amassing more funds and supporting more companies coming out tours and outings. Here are some examples:
- In addition to getting a share of Robinhood, Jay-Z and his entertainment business, Roc Nation, also saw a holding company, the start-up JetSmarter, continue funding it ago one year to more than a year. $ 1.5 billion. Roc Nation also made headlines this week for investing in Promise, a start-up offering alternatives to incarceration for people who can not afford to pay bail.
- QueensBridge Venture Partners, the investment fund co-founded by Nas, was an early-stage investor in the video ring builder, which Amazon has just bought for $ 1.1 billion. dollars. The company could also see paper earnings this week in the much-anticipated debut on the Dropbox market, which it supported in a C Series of 2014. In addition, QueensBridge participated in a B Series ride of 25 Millions of dollars for the coinbase cryptocurrency trading platform in 2013. The latest valuation released by Coinbase was about $ 1.6 billion.
- Casa Verde Capital, a cannabis-focused venture capital fund co-founded by Snoop Dogg, closed its first fund with $ 45 million. Just this week, he supported a $ 3.5 million tour for vape maker Green Tank.
This does not mean that everything that a star touches becomes multi-platinum. We found a lot of flops in their portfolios and we put together a list of 10 start-ups who closed their doors and counted among them a hip-hop or a pop-star.
Becoming and staying famous requires a lot of the same skills and qualities as running a business, including an exceptional degree of tenacity.
Of course, flops are part of the life of early-stage investors, so there is no reason to expect celebrities to be an exception. In addition, most private companies were not heavily capitalized by venture capital standards.
However, there are companies of higher profile or more heavily funded on the flop list. One is Washio, a linen delivery service, which raised $ 17 million from Nas and 20 other investors before drying out in 2016. Viddy, an application for shooting and sharing video clips supported by Roc Nation.
Why the rich, trendy and famous startups like
A number of adventure gurus and mavens of pop culture have already pontificated why celebrities, and hip-hop stars in particular, are attracted to startups.
One possibility is that rap music and startups look alike in the early stages, postulates Cam Houser, CEO of the 3-day starter program. Rap music starts with a rapper and a producer. This duality, he says, is similar to the early stages of a start-up, which usually brings together two people, a company and a technical co-founder.
Rap and start-up entrepreneurship are also career paths that celebrate a raw ambition and a flawless self-promotion. To do so, however, both require an excellent understanding of what is selling in the real world.
Branding is perhaps the most common justification provided for the celebrity-startup connection. With their massive fan bases, faded coverage and millions of social media followers, celebrities can certainly help spread the word about a new product or app. That said, attention usually only works if the product also has convincing attributes.
One of the least controversial explanations is that becoming and staying famous requires a lot of the same skills and qualities as running a business, including an exceptional degree of tenacity.
It is also true that in venture capital and the music industry, success matters. It helps us to see a lot.