A new Silicon Valley fund is investing cash from celebrities and Hollywood insiders — including skateboarder Omar Salazar and Lil Wayne's manager Cortez Bryant — with the aim of helping them connect with the hottest tech start-ups while leveraging their fame to build those companies, TheWrap has learned.
The new fund, called #DominateFund, is positioning itself as the middleman between infant companies and star investors, taking angel-sized positions from $25,000 to $250,000 in Silicon Valley startups.
The fund, which has not yet officially launched, is being run by Ben Parr, a former editor at Mashable, and Matt Schlicht and Mazy Kazerooni, co-founders of the digital-music marketing company Tracks.by.
They already have gotten some deep-pocketed executives to invest, an individual with knowledge of the company told TheWrap. Bryant, the manager of Lil Wayne and Drake, Britney Spears' manager Adam Leber and Salazar are among the fund's early investors.
The person said #DominateFund has so far invested in eight companies.
"Celebrities are only a minor component," the person told TheWrap. "It's about great companies first."
Celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Justin Timberlake are savvy investors in Silicon Valley's wellspring of nascent companies — Kutcher sits on the advisory board to Vox Media and four other companies; Timberlake invested in Miso Media. But with #DominateFund, investors can dip into the trio's list of tech-industry contacts.
Startups, in turn, can access money and collect celebrity endorsements that build their early brands. And Parr, a former publicity executive, makes the fund more attractive as tech companies try to access larger audiences for their services.
One of the companies they've invested in is Virool, a YouTube company that helps firms create targeted advertising on videos.
"The reason we decided to take them on as investors, besides their relationships with a lot of celebrities, is that Ben’s a great guy from a PR standpoint," Alex Debelov, the CEO of Virool, told Forbes.
At Tracks.by, Schlicht and Kazerooni handled social media for musicians, thus connecting with industry executives.
The company declined to comment for this story.