It’s no surprise that actor, activist, and investor Ashton Kutcher could afford to build his dream eco-farmhouse from the ground up–in addition to his lucrative Hollywood residuals, he famously invested in hot tech companies like Airbnb, Uber, and Robinhood.
But recently he’s made substantial investments through his VC firm Sound Ventures in companies that are decidedly less sexy: project management companies like Airtable and the payroll software company Gusto.
While they might not be the names you’d drop at a party, these future work companies are only getting more critical to businesses–especially when it comes to picking the right tools and platforms to keep an entertainment company successful.
Other celebrity investors are making big bets in the same space. As she’s “evolving away from tennis” (don’t say she’s retired!) Serena William’s VC firm Serena Ventures raised $111 million to invest in tech like ChatDesk, a customer service outsourcing company, as well as the ticketing system Halp. After the very public $1.7 billion implosion of Quibi, Jeffrey Katzenberg’s WndrCo has pivoted to a similar string of investments, including Sparrow, a company that manages employee leave, Deel, a company that manages international payroll, and Pilot, a fractional accounting company.
These investors have decades of experience in media and entertainment and know better than anyone that while they’re on the red carpet doing an interview, the PR team at home was the one who set it all up–and the PR team really wants to have regular paychecks and a dental plan. When they’re flying to Paris to film a multi-million dollar commercial, their production company needs to figure out how to pay contractors from all over the planet. Not getting audited is the new Oscar nom, and these celebs are ready to capitalize on it.
Even the spouses of mega-celebrities are getting into this space. Mr. Serena Williams and proud girl dad, Alexis Ohanian, have invested in The Grand and Poppyseed Health, two mental health and wellness platforms employers can subscribe to.
Jay-Z invested $19 million in Flowhub, an inventory and point-of-sale software. (Ok, Flowhub does inventory and point of sale for cannabis, so it’s cool in the world of POS software. But at the end of the day, it’s still POS software.)
No news yet about what Kim Kardashian’s recently founded private equity firm, Skky Partners, is focusing on–we’ll have to tune into season 3 of The Kardashians to find out if the future of work is the future of the Kardashians. But with the family involved in everything from makeup to hot sauce to gaming to their own debit card, the future of work has to be somewhere on the list eventually.