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The Celebrity Insider
Edited by Diane Ray & Kelly MacGillis
What if I was to tell you that Ashton Kutcher was behind over $1.4 Billion in deployed capital in the tech sector? Or, if I told you he was an early investor in some of the biggest names in tech – like Uber, Airbnb, and Square. Or, if I told you that he has invested in 88 different companies and is the co-founder of 2 Venture Capital firms in California.
You would, like the vast majority of people who hear the stats, be surprised. After all, the star of movies like “Dude, Where’s My Car?”, the MTV prank show “Punk’d”, and the sitcom “That 70’s Show” doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who’d wind up being a successful private investor in the tech space. But as it turns out, Kutcher, who kicked off his career as a model, is more than just a pretty face.
We offer you an unprecedented look into what makes the 37-year-old Iowa native arguably the most prolific celebrity tech investor of the 21st century, and certainly one of the most successful. And ultimately why the American actor shares a few more similarities to Steve Jobs – whom he just played – than you may have thought.
Failure is the Seed for Success
In a moment of reassurance for entrepreneurs, even celebrities with star power experience failure. Ashton Kutcher, like many entrepreneurs, crashed and burned in his first couple of attempts to build something that people want. He was creative director of an Internet calling service called Ooma, and remained there until 2008 – when he was thanked and excused after lackluster sales. There were reports that Ooma was going to go under around his tenure as creative director. The other foray was into an animated Web comedy show aimed at young women called the Blah girls – which failed to ever gain traction.
Amidst the flames of his first two forays into business, burst a phoenix bearing the name of Ron Conway – arguably tech’s most connected angel investor – who saw potential in Kutcher that others did not. Maybe it was a vision of star power adding a special boost to a consumer product’s marketing campaign, or maybe it was that beneath Ashton Kutcher’s chilled out exterior, Ron saw someone who had a natural ability to understand what works and what does not. Whatever the reason was, he chose to take the actor under his wing and bring him to the inside of investing in technology companies.
The Godfather Arrives on Set (Late 2008 – 2009)
If you study the history of successful people, you will find a common thread: a mentor who really buys in to helping them succeed. For Ashton Kutcher, his mentor was angel investor – Ron Conway – whom famed Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist Marc Andreesen colloquially refers to as the “human router”. You can think of it like being mentored by the Vito Corleone of the technology space if you are familiar with Francis Ford Coppola classic: The Godfather.
Photo by Charles Eshelman/Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images
It was during this period of mentorship when Ron Conway opened up his investment portfolio and techniques to Ashton. With this, Ashton effectively made the transition from outsider to insider in the tech space, and along with his mentorship from Ron was introduced to some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley. His new found connections opened the door for Ashton to connect with the biggest names in the tech space, one of which being Marc Andreessen, a founder of Netscape and now a Venture Capital juggernaut – who ultimately introduced him to his first deal.
Can You Hear Me Now (2009)
Skype – the video conferencing pioneer that brought a sci-fi fantasy to the eyeballs of millions of people around the world in the 2000s was sitting at a cozy $2.75 B valuation when Marc Andreesen introduced Ashton Kutcher to his first major opportunity to become an investor. It was not as straight forward as it may seem now – at that time Skype was fledgling – and it required convincing for Ashton to follow through with an investment. Pundits dismissed the valuation as unrealistically high, but Marc Andreessen had the persuasive strength to move Ashton to invest – it may have been that Marc had earmarked $50m in capital from his own fund for the deal.
It could hardly have been better timing. Two years later Bill Gates knocked on Skype’s door with an $8B buyout for Skype. A humble 3 fold return on investment for the investing duo.
The Floodgates Open (2010 – Present)
Following the Skype investment, you could definitively say that Kutcher’s passion for the investment space had been ignited. He since has gone on to co-found 2 Venture Capital funds that deployed tens of millions of dollars in capital and helped launch almost 90 ventures by our count. In September 2015, he appeared on the TV Show: Shark Tank on recommendation from a good friend of his: Mark Cuban.
He co-founded A-Grade Investments in 2010 with Guy Oseary and Ron Burkle to specialize in early stage investments in technology startups – companies like Airbnb, Uber, and Spotify – companies that have since gone on to become worth billions of dollars. And much more recently, Guy Oseary and Ashton Kutcher teamed up to launch Sound Ventures with a much larger pool of capital to make bigger investments at later stages in technology companies.
We have portfolio summaries below so you can compare his portfolios at a glance. If you scroll to the bottom of the article, the appendix has every company we have record of him investing in and the details for each.
How Much Money Has He Made?
Why This is a Challenging Question to Answer
Ashton Kutcher is an insider of private companies, therefore he is not required by law to report how many shares he owns and the value of those shares. And just like most of us would do in his shoes, he chooses to keep that information private.
Why This is Different for Insiders of Publicly Traded Companies
Regulators require insiders of public companies to disclose all of their holdings and transactions.
What does that mean? Let us for a moment assume that Ashton Kutcher was instead an insider of a public company. Then instead of simply knowing what companies he invested in, you would be able to see exactly how many shares he owns, at what price he purchased them, and if he is buying or selling shares. Given his private investing track record, wouldn’t you feel more comfortable knowing he is buying shares in the company you just invested in – and not selling?
How InsiderSense Helps You
Up until now, there was no easy way to understand how successful insiders were as investors. Unless of course you had months to spend reading through public disclosure forms – which would likely be more effective as a cure for insomnia.
InsiderSense makes understanding insiders easy. Within seconds you can see who the Ashton Kutcher’s of public companies are, and see where their money is going: you will know what they are buying, what they are selling, and quite possibly most exciting: how they rank against their peers. That is the power of InsiderSense.
Become a member at InsiderSense today and be the first to trade like a celebrity insider.
BECOME A MEMBER
Appendix: Ashton Kutcher’s Investments
We have added markers on the top right corner of companies to help you get a quicker snapshot of his portfolio performance. If nothing is in the upper right corner, you can assume it is business as usual for the company.
Initial Public Offering
You can think of this as the storybook of his investing history. Every company that we have record of him investing in is listed below, personally and through his venture capital firms. Some have been massive successes: Such as Uber, Airbnb, and Skype. Others have an interesting backstory that is worth a read: Such as Fab. And others did not pan out as expected: Such as Fashism.
How to use: Hover over each company for more information (Company Name – Portfolio – Financing), and click on any company for a more detailed rundown: hover over the company after click. Links to company websites are available after clicking the image if you would like to learn more about the company.
Fundbox – Sound Ventures – $50m Series C
GoButler – Sound Ventures – $8m Series A
Pager – Sound Ventures / Personal – $14m Series A
GitLab – Sound Ventures / Personal – $1.5m Seed
EquipmentShare – Sound Ventures – $2.1m Seed
Zenefits – Sound Ventures – $500m Series C
Acorns – Sound Ventures – $23m Series C
Handy – Sound Ventures – $15m Series B
Pocket – Sound Ventures – $7m Series B
Airtable – Personal – $1.5m Seed
Duolingo – Personal – $45m Series D
Change.org – Personal – $25m Series C
Vicarious – Personal – $40m Series B
Secret – Personal – $8.6m Series A
BloomThat – Personal / A-Grade – $2.1m seed
Wash.io – Personal – $2.3m Seed
Flexport – Personal – $6.9m Seed
The Hunt – Personal / A-Grade – $5.5m Series A
Airbnb – Personal / A-Grade – $200m Series C
Panorama Education – Personal – $4m Seed
InteraXon – Personal / A-Grade – $6m Series A
Citymaps – Personal / A-Grade – $1.5m Venture
Propeller – Personal – $1.3m Seed
Invi – Personal / A-Grade – $2.3m Seed
Pickwick and Weller – Personal – $2m Venture
Balanced – Personal – $2m Seed
Bitpay – Personal – $510k Seed
Blackjet – Personal – $2.1m Venture
Clever – Personal – $3m Seed
Summly – Personal – $1.2m Venture
YourMechanic – Personal – $1.8m Seed
SocialCam – Personal – Undisclosed
Votizen – Personal – $750k Venture
Gidsy – Personal – $1.2m Seed
Fab – Personal / A-Grade – $7.7m Series A
MemSQL – Personal – $5m Seed
StyleSeat – Personal – $700k Seed
Goatapp – Personal – $1.6m Angel
Flipboard – Personal – $50m Series B
Milk – Personal – $1.5m Angel
Zaarly – Personal – $1m Seed
SeetGeek – Personal – Undisclosed
Tinychat – Personal / A-Grade – $1.5m Debt
Circle Inc – Personal – $1m Angel
Chloe and Isabel – Personal – $3.3m Seed
Path – Personal – $2.5m Seed
Hipmunk – Personal – $1m Seed
Blekko – Personal – $1.2m Series C
Nowbox – Personal – Undisclosed
Optimizely – Personal – $1.2m Angel
Wit.Ai – A-Grade – $3m Seed
Product Hunt – A-Grade – $880k Seed
Casper – A-Grade – $13.1m Series A
Resy Network – A-Grade – $2m Seed
BitGo – A-Grade – $12m Series A
Timeful – A-Grade – $7m Series A
Casetext – A-Grade – $1.8m Seed
Taptalk – A-Grade – Undisclosed
YPlan – A-Grade – $12m Series A
SmartThings – A-Grade – $3m Seed
Getaround – A-Grade – $13.9m Series A
Signal 360 – A-Grade – $4.3m Series A
Couple – A-Grade – $4.2m Seed
Amen. – A-Grade – $2m Seed
Fashism – A-Grade – $1m Series A
Skype – Personal or A-Grade – Undisclosed
Foursquare – Personal or A-Grade – Undisclosed
Spotify – Personal or A-Grade – Undisclosed
Square – Personal or A-Grade – Undisclosed
Soundcloud – Personal or A-Grade – Undisclosed
Chegg – Personal or A-Grade – Undisclosed
Dailybooth – Personal or A-Grade – Undisclosed
Delight – Personal or A-Grade – Undisclosed
Heyzap – Personal or A-Grade – Undisclosed
Houzz – Personal or A-Grade – Undisclosed
Nextdoor – Personal or A-Grade – Undisclosed
Poshmark – Personal or A-Grade – Undisclosed
Stockpile – Personal or A-Grade – Undisclosed
Ubermedia – Personal or A-Grade – Undisclosed
Etacts – Personal or A-Grade – Undisclosed
Uber – Personal or A-Grade – Undisclosed
Citzennet – Personal or A-Grade – Undisclosed
Neighborly – Sound Ventures – $5.5m Seed
Gyft – A-Grade – Undisclosed
Nest – A-Grade – Undisclosed
Mailgun – A-Grade – Undisclosed
Dwolla – A-Grade – Undisclosed
Box – A-Grade – Undisclosed
Thank you to Crunchbase, Techcrunch, Angellist, Fortune, Dailymail, Time, A Plus, CNN Money, VentureBeat, Mashable, Business Insider, and Investopedia for providing much of the raw data for the analysis.
Broad street alerts has not been compensated for the mention of any publicly traded companies in this article nor do we own positions in any of the companies in this article.
Broad Street Alerts was previously compensated eighteen thousand five hundred dollars by star media llc for the mention of FNJN however, that contract has expired.
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