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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 Decentralized Finance Could Make Investing More Accessible

Under the current global financial system, billions of people do not have access to quality assets. Here’s how decentralized finance is changing that.

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Infographic: How Decentralized Finance Could Make Investing More Accessible

Did you know that a majority of the global population doesn’t have access to quality financial assets?

In advanced economies, we are lucky to have simple options to grow and protect our wealth. Banks are all over the place, markets are robust, and we can invest our money into assets like stocks or bonds at the drop of a hat.

In the United States, roughly 52% of people are invested in the stock market – but in a place like India, for example, this portion drops to a paltry 2%. How can we make it possible for people on the “outside” of the financial system to gain access?

Breaking Down Barriers

Today’s infographic comes to us from Abra, and it shows how decentralized finance could make investing a more universal phenomenon, especially for those that don’t have access to the modern financial system.

It lays out four key obstacles that prevent people in developing markets from investing in quality financial assets in the first place:

  1. The Geographic Lottery
    Where you live plays a massive role in determining your ability to build wealth. In advanced Western economies, the average person is much more likely to be invested in financial markets that can help compound wealth.
  2. Financial Literacy and Complexity
    Roughly 3.5 billion adults globally lack an understanding of basic financial concepts, which creates an impenetrable barrier to investing.
  3. Local Market Turmoil
    Even if a person is mentally prepared to invest, local market turmoil (hyperinflation, political crises, closed borders, etc.) can make it difficult to get access to stable assets.
  4. The Cost of Investing in Foreign Markets
    Foreign assets can be pricey. One share of Amazon is $1,800, which is realistically more money than many people around the world can afford.

In other words, there are billions of people globally that can’t take advantage of some of the most effective wealth-building tactics.

This is just one flaw in the current financial system, a paradigm that has created massive amounts of wealth but only for a specific and well-connected group of people.

Enter Decentralized Finance

Could decentralized finance be the alternative to open up access to financial markets?

By combining apps with blockchain technology – specifically through public blockchains such as Bitcoin or Ethereum – decentralized finance makes it possible to get around some of the barriers that are created by more traditional systems.

Here are some of the innovations that are making this possible:

Smart contracts could automate transactions and remove intermediaries, making investing cheaper, faster, and more accessible.

Fractional investing could allow partial or shared ownership of financial assets by using tokenization. This would make expensive stocks like Amazon ($1,800 per share) available to a much wider segment of the population.

Location independent investing is possible through smartphones. This would make it possible for people in remote parts of the developing world to invest, even without access to nearby financial institutions or local markets.

Like the internet with knowledge, decentralized finance could reshape the world by making financial access universal. Who’s ready?

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Decentralized Finance: An Emerging Alternative to the Global Financial System

What is decentralized finance? Learn how technology is changing the rules of the game, creating the potential for a new financial system to emerge.

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Decentralized Finance: An Emerging Alternative

The global financial system has created massive wealth, but its centralized nature means the spoils have gone to the people who are best connected to the financial centers of the world.

As global inequality continues to rise, how can wealth building tools become more accessible to the rest of the global population?

Luckily, technological developments and their rapid adoption make this the right time for a new decentralized financial system to emerge:

  • The Internet: 3.9 billion users by the end of 2018
  • The proliferation of smartphones: Two-thirds of the unbanked have mobile phones
  • Digital banking: over 2 billion users by end of 2018
  • Bitcoin and Blockchain: the emergence of new public blockchains

Today’s infographic comes to us from investment app Abra, and it highlights how public blockchains could help to enable a decentralized finance system.

What is Decentralized Finance?

Decentralized finance describes a new decentralized financial system that is built on public blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum. After all, Bitcoin and Ethereum aren’t just digital currencies — they’re foundational open source networks that could be used to change how the global economy works.

There are six primary features that differentiate public blockchains from the private networks used by governments and traditional financial institutions:

  • Permissionless: Anyone in the world can connect to the network
  • Decentralized: Records are kept simultaneously across thousands of computers
  • Trustless: A central party isn’t required to ensure transactions are valid
  • Transparent: All transactions are publicly auditable
  • Censorship Resistant: A central party cannot invalidate user transactions
  • Programmable: Developers can program business logic into low-cost financial services

In such a financial system, users will have access to apps that use public blockchains to participate in new open global markets – but how would this shape the global financial system for the better?

The Potential Impact of Decentralized Finance

Here are five ways that decentralized finance will have an impact on the world:

1. Wider Global Access to Financial Services

With decentralized finance, anyone with an internet connection and a smartphone could access financial services. There are a variety of barriers that prevent access in the current system:

  • Status: Lack of citizenship, documentation, credentials, etc.
  • Wealth: High entry-level funds required to access financial services
  • Location: Vast distance from functioning economies and financial service providers

In a decentralized financial system, a top trader at a financial firm would have the same level of access as a farmer in a remote region of India.

2. Affordable Cross-Border Payments

Decentralized finance removes costly intermediaries to make remittance services more affordable for the global population.

In the current system, it’s prohibitively expensive for people to send money across borders: the average global remittance fee is 7%. Through decentralized financial services, remittance fees could be below 3%.

3. Improved Privacy and Security

In decentralized finance, users have custody of their wealth and can transact securely without validation from a central party. Meanwhile, in the current system, custodial institutions put people’s wealth and information at risk if they fail to secure it.

4. Censorship-Resistant Transactions

In a decentralized financial system, transactions are immutable and blockchains can’t be shut off by central institutions like governments, central banks, or big corporations.

In places with poor governance and authoritarianism, users can divest to the decentralized financial system to protect their wealth. For example, Venezuelans are already adopting Bitcoin to protect their wealth from government manipulation and hyperinflation.

5. Simple Use

Plug and play apps will allow people to intuitively use decentralized financial services without the complexity of the centralized system.

With a decentralized system, a woman in the Philippines could receive a loan from the U.S., invest in a business in Colombia, and then pay off her debt and purchase a home – all through interoperable apps.

The Potential Blue Sky

Unless governments and central banks suddenly cease to exist, it’s difficult to imagine a world where decentralized finance completely replaces their centralized counterparts.

But what if they can co-exist?

Public blockchains can interact with the traditional financial system to create a new hybrid model:

  • Users could conduct economic activity on public blockchains and exchange their new wealth into the centralized system.
  • Users could hedge against systemic risk by diversifying their wealth holdings in both the central and decentralized system.

Like the internet with knowledge, decentralized finance could help democratize the financial system.

But will we allow it?

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