The Top Celebrity Investors, and What We Can Learn From Them
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The Top Celebrity Investors, and What We Can Learn From Them

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The Top Celebrity Investors, and What We Can Learn From Them

Image courtesy of: CB Insights

The Top Celebrity Investors, and What We Can Learn From Them

Celebrities – they’re just like us! Except that they’re famous, and usually quite wealthy, too. So it’s perhaps not surprising that they would choose to expand their investment portfolios beyond luxury yachts and Hollywood Hills mansions.

Yet, you might be surprised to learn that celebrities have quietly been funding some of today’s fastest-growing startups. Today’s infographic from CB Insights ranks celebrity investors based on the number of private tech companies they’ve invested in over the last decade.

After delving a little deeper into the investment activities of these tech-savvy celebs, we came up with a few key takeaways.

Diversity is Key

Holding down the top spot on the list is Ashton Kutcher. The former model turned actor, once known for playing lovable stoners on screen (That 70s Show; Dude, Where’s My Car?) has since proven he’s a skilled entrepreneur and investor.

Kutcher co-founded venture fund A-Grade Investments along with Ron Burkle and Guy Oseary in 2010, building a diverse portfolio that includes Spotify, Skype, Airbnb, Foursquare, and Uber, to name a few companies.

According to Forbes, the fund has grown from $30 million to $250 million over the last six years, representing a nearly 8.5x investment multiple, and making the actor somewhat of a legend among Silicon Valley VCs. Kutcher also co-founded A Plus, a viral media site that has reportedly amassed nearly 50 million global monthly unique visitors since its soft launch in 2014, and was acquired by Chicken Soup for the Soul in September 2016.

Coming in at a close second on the list is hip-hop recording artist Nas, AKA Nasir Jones, with a total of 42 investments into 36 companies. Nas co-founded Queensbridge Venture Partners along with manager and business partner Anthony Saleh in 2014. The VC firm has made 128 investments into 118 companies spanning media, health care, retail, Bitcoin, and cyber security, with a portfolio that includes heavyweights such as Lyft and Dropbox.

Find Opportunities Within Your Network

Casper, the NYC-based online manufacturer of foldable memory foam beds, appears on this list a total of five times, having received funding from Ashton Kutcher, Nas, Scooter Braun, Steve Nash, and Leonardo DiCaprio. The startup famously generated $1 million in sales within its first 28 days of business.

The company is backed by other celebrities off the above list as well, showing that Casper has tapped into somewhat of a celebrity network effect. Tobey Maguire and Adam Levine joined the party, putting money into the Series B round for $55 million.

Casper recently surpassed $100 million in cumulative sales, has launched a line of sheets and pillows, and forayed into dog beds. The company, which is planning to expand internationally, has reportedly raised a total of $72 million, with a total valuation of $550 million.

Invest in Your Passions

Calvin Broadus Jr, the pot-loving multi-platinum hip-hop recording artist also known as Snoop Dogg, founded Casa Verde Capital in 2015. The marijuana-centric investment firm’s repertoire of weed-based ventures includes Merry Jane, an online media channel dedicated to cannabis culture; Funksac, a manufacturer of recyclable packaging for medical and recreational marijuana; and Eaze, an online medical marijuana delivery service.

Recently he partnered with Canadian medical marijuana producer Tweed, and launched his own cannabis line called Leafs by Snoop. However, the rapper is clearly diversifying his portfolio; he’s also invested in online media company Reddit along with Jared Leto, and zero-commission stock trading app Robinhood along with Leto and Nas.

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How Big Tech Revenue and Profit Breaks Down, by Company

How do the big tech giants make their money? This series of graphics shows a breakdown of big tech revenue, using Q2 2022 income statements.

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In the media and public discourse, companies like Alphabet, Apple, and Microsoft are often lumped together into the same “Big Tech” category. After all, they constitute the world’s largest companies by market capitalization.

And because of this, it’s easy to assume they’re in direct competition with each other, fiercely battling for a bigger piece of the “Big Tech” pie. But while there is certainly competition between the world’s tech giants, it’s a lot less drastic than you might imagine.

This is apparent when you look into their various revenue streams, and this series of graphics by Truman Du provides a revenue breakdown of Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft.

How Big Tech Companies Generate Revenue

So how does each big tech firm make money? Let’s explore using data from each company’s June 2022 quarterly income statements.

Alphabet

breakdown of Alphabet's revenue streams and profit

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In Q2 2022, about 72% of Alphabet’s revenue came from search advertising. This makes sense considering Google and YouTube get a lot of eyeballs. Google dominates the search market—about 90% of all internet searches are done on Google platforms.

Amazon

breakdown of amazon's revenue streams and profit

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, Amazon’s biggest revenue driver is e-commerce. However, as the graphic above shows, the costs of e-commerce are so steep, that it actually reported a net loss in Q2 2022.

As it often is, Amazon Web Services (AWS) was the company’s main profit-earner this quarter.

Apple

breakdown of Apple's revenue streams and profit

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Apple’s biggest revenue driver is consumer electronics sales, particularly from the iPhone which accounts for nearly half of overall revenue. iPhones are particularly popular in the U.S., where they make up around 50% of smartphone sales across the country.

Besides devices, services like Apple Music, Apple Pay, and Apple TV+ also generate revenue for the company. But in Q2 2022, Apple’s services branch accounted for only 24% of the company’s overall revenue.

Microsoft

breakdown of Microsoft's revenue streams and profit

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Microsoft has a fairly even split between its various revenue sources, but similarly to Amazon its biggest revenue driver is its cloud services platform, Azure.

After AWS, Azure is the second largest cloud server in the world, capturing 21% of the global cloud infrastructure market.

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Animation: The Most Popular Websites by Web Traffic (1993-2022)

This video shows the evolution of the internet, highlighting the most popular websites from 1993 until 2022.

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ranking websites by page views 1993-2022

The Most Popular Websites Since 1993

Over the last three decades, the internet has grown at a mind-bending pace.

In 1993, there were fewer than 200 websites available on the World Wide Web. Fast forward to 2022, and that figure has grown to 2 billion.

This animated graphic by James Eagle provides a historical look at the evolution of the internet, showing the most popular websites over the years from 1993 to 2022.

The 90s to Early 2000s: Dial-Up Internet

It was possible to go on the proto-internet as early as the 1970s, but the more user-centric and widely accessible version we think of today didn’t really materialize until the early 1990s using dial-up modems.

Dial-up gave users access to the web through a modem that was connected to an active telephone line. There were several different portals in the 1990s for internet use, such as Prodigy and CompuServe, but AOL quickly became the most popular.

AOL held its top spot as the most visited website for nearly a decade. By June 2000, the online portal was getting over 400 million monthly visits. For context, there were about 413 million internet users around the world at that time.

RankWebsiteMonthly Visits (May 2000)
1AOL400,891,812
2Yahoo387,573,587
3MSN354,239,803
4eBay116,101,785
5Lycos116,064,930

But when broadband internet hit the market and made dial-up obsolete, AOL lost its footing, and a new website took the top spot—Yahoo.

The Mid 2000s: Yahoo vs. Google

Founded in 1994, Yahoo started off as a web directory that was originally called “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web.”

When the company started to pick up steam, its name changed to Yahoo, which became a backronym that stands for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.”

Yahoo grew fast and by the early 2000s, it became the most popular website on the internet. It held its top spot for several years—by April 2004, Yahoo was receiving 5.6 billion monthly visits.

RankWebsiteMonthly Visits (April 2004)
1Yahoo5,658,032,268
2MSN1,838,700,057
3Google1,318,276,780
4AOL905,009,947
5eBay805,474,705

But Google was close on its heels. Founded in 1998, Google started out as a simpler and more efficient search engine, and the website quickly gained traction.

Funny enough, Google was actually Yahoo’s default search engine in the early 2000s until Yahoo dropped Google so it could use its own search engine technology in 2004.

For the next few years, Google and Yahoo competed fiercely, and both names took turns at the top of the most popular websites list. Then, in the 2010s, Yahoo’s trajectory started to head south after a series of missed opportunities and unsuccessful moves.

This cemented Google’s place at the top, and the website is still the most popular website as of January 2022.

The Late 2000s, Early 2010s: Social Media Enters the Chat

While Google has held its spot at the top for nearly two decades, it’s worth highlighting the emergence of social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook.

YouTube and Facebook certainly weren’t the first social media platforms to gain traction. MySpace had a successful run back in 2007—at one point, it was the third most popular website on the World Wide Web.

RankWebsiteMonthly Visits (Jan 2007)
1Google7,349,521,929
2Yahoo5,169,762,311
3MySpace1,276,515,128
4MSN1,259,467,102
5eBay957,928,554

But YouTube and Facebook marked a new era for social media platforms, partly because of their ​​impeccable timing. Both platforms entered the scene around the same time that smartphone innovations were turning the mobile phone industry on its head. The iPhone’s design, and the introduction of the App store in 2008, made it easier than ever to access the internet via your mobile device.

As of January 2022, YouTube and Facebook are still the second and third most visited websites on the internet.

The 2020s: Google is Now Synonymous With the Internet

Google is the leading search engine by far, making up about 90% of all web, mobile, and in-app searches.

What will the most popular websites be in a few years? Will Google continue to hold the top spot? There are no signs of the internet giant slowing down anytime soon, but if history has taught us anything, it’s that things change. And no one should get too comfortable at the top.

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