10 celebrities who successfully made the transition from actor to CEO
Clearly, tech is the future across industries. We’ve seen people use technology to innovate everything from education to fashion; from music to distilling — and it looks like even the rich and famous want a piece of it.
There’s been an interesting trend over the past few years of celebrities scaling back their role in Hollywood to start their own companies, adding “entrepreneur” to their portfolios and millions of dollars to their bank accounts. Here’s a look at the ten Hollywood stars who’ve successfully made the transition to celebrity CEO.
1) Jessica Alba, The Honest Co.
Jessica Alba has made a name for herself in Hollywood as a Golden Globe-nominated actress, starring in movies such as Fantastic Four, Little Fockers and Sin City. But like most people, her priorities shifted after having children. Partnering with Christopher Gavigan, former CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World – a national nonprofit empowering parents to protect their children from toxic risks – they launched The Honest Co. The Honest Co. is a line of all-natural, high-quality, sustainable baby, home, personal care and now beauty products, delivered to your door.
Born out of a desire to create a safe, toxic-free environment for their kids through the products they use, the company is now valued at almost $1 billion and preparing for its IPO. Partnering with brands like Target to make their products more accessible and with State Bags for a line of kids bags, Alba and team have built a mini-empire, of which she owns between 15 and 20%, according to Forbes. And if you take a look at her Twitter bio, it doesn’t say much about being an actress…
Mom of 2, Founder of The Honest Company, amateur chef, terrible speller, loyal friend, hilarious at times… I play make believe for a living
She’s truly made the shift from actress to entrepreneur.
2) Ashton Kutcher, Sound Ventures
Not only did he do a brilliant job of playing Steve Jobs in Jobs, Ashton Kutcher has made a name for himself in the IRL tech world as the co-founder of venture fund, A-Grade Investments, now called Sound Ventures along with Ron Burkle and Guy Oseary.
He’s invested in 51 big-name tech companies including Spotify, Airbnb, Foursquare, Fab, Uber, Dwolla and Path. A-Grade has invested in 27 companies such as Product Hunt and mattress startup Casper, nine of which have been acquired. He even recently did a Product Hunt AMA on his investment strategy.
He also worked with Lenova on an app as product engineer last year. Prior to entering VC and tech-land, Kutcher co-founded Katalyst – a media company creating original content for digital media, television and film – which raised a Series A of $10 million in 2008. Needless to say, he’s come along way from his beloved and goofy character, Kelso in That ‘70s Show and the film Dude, Where’s My Car.
3) Reese Witherspoon, Draper James
Hollywood’s girl next store, Reese Witherspoon started Draper James, a fashion company inspired by her romance with the south and named after her grandparents. Focused on producing everyday, quality clothing, the brand works closely with southern artisans and produces proprietary items in southern factories.
They also have plans to open a flagship store in Nashville. Draper James has already proved its popularity, seeing key items sell out just hours after launching the online store back in May 2015. And Reese Witherspoon has nailed the art of promoting a lifestyle brand, often caught wearing and carrying her own line.
4) Lena Dunham, Lenny
Famed feminist Lena Dunham, known as the mastermind behind HBO hit series Girls and author of New York Times best-seller, Not That Kind Of Girl has launched a newsletter named Lenny along with Jenni Konner. Lenny is intended to be “contemporary feminism in an inbox, in all of its contradictions and complexities.” Think of it as a big sister to Rookie.
However, Lenny is more than just a newsletter, it’s a community for “like-minded intellectually curious women and the people who love them, who want to bring change but also want to know, like, where to buy the best tube top for summer that isn’t going to cost your entire paycheck,” as stated in BuzzFeed.
5) Gwyneth Paltrow, goop
Launched in 2008 out of Gwyneth Paltrow’s kitchen, goop – a childhood nickname of hers – was originally conceived as a weekly email newsletter (now with nearly a million subscribers) for her to find and share answers about health, wellness, travel and more.
Today, it’s a place on the web where food, shopping and mindfulness collide. There’s a collective of people behind the brand managing daily content and a roster of collaborations with designers, evolving goop into a fully shoppable, lifestyle brand. The company has raised an undisclosed Series A round, launched pop-up concept stores in various cities and will be launching a beauty line next year.
6) The Kardashians, Kardashian Apps
Oh, Kardashians, how you’ve capitalized on society’s need for drama and escape from reality. Known for first a sex tape, then the wildly popular E! reality show Keeping Up with the Kardashians, a line of high-end boutique stores, a mobile game (that raked in $43.4 million this year) and being married to Kanye West, Kim Kardashian has added app owner to the list. The family recently announce Kardashian Apps – allowing fans even greater access into the Kardashian and Jenner World.
Because of a security breach and hacker access we know that within 24 hours, 900,000 people had already downloaded the app. At that rate, costing $2.99/month, that means an extra $32 million a year for the family, before growth, Crazy.
7) Blake Lively, Preserve
Actress Blake Lively – best known for her role as Sereena van der Woodsen on the teen hit tv show, Gossip Girl – launched Preserve to showcase the artisans behind the goods we love. Preserve is an online marketplace sharing the stories behind makers. The site has been subject to some criticism, but continues to make headlines. Lively herself admits it’s a work in progress, and keeps at it with the hopes of long-term success.
8) Adrian Grenier, SHFT and Churchkey Brewery
Adrian Grenier, known for his role on HBO’s series (and now movie) Entourage – and let’s not forget his role in Drive Me Crazy – isn’t just a pretty face. He’s also an environmental activist and co-founder of SHFT – a lifestyle platform conveying a more sustainable approach to the way we live through film, design, art and food.
Grenier also recently opened a brewery with Nike designer Justin Hawkins in Portland, called Churchkey. Added to his resume are the roles of filmmaker and percussion player in the “Appalachian glamrock” outfit the Honey Brothers.
9) Jared Leto, Vyrt
Oscar-winner, Dallas Buyers Club star and 30 Seconds to Mars frontman, Jared Leto has been plugged into the venture capital world for some time. He’s invested in Silicon Valley startups Airbnb, Spotify, Surf Air, Wish and Nest — the last of which was acquired by Google for $3.2 billion. Naturally, he’s also launched his own startups — three of them.
And like any good entrepreneur, they’ve all come out of personal needs or pain points. The Hive, which runs social-media management and digital marketing for his band and others; the One and Only Golden Tickets, which arranges fan VIP experiences such as backstage or recording-studio access to the likes of Rob Zombie and Demi Lovato; and Vyrt, which sells digital tickets to live-stream concerts for up to $14.99.
10) Dr. Dre, Beats by Dre
Making his name as a mega hip hop artist in the late 80s and through the 90s, Andre Romelle Young aka Dr. Dre is now the CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and Beats Electronics. Beats was acquired by Apple for $3.2 billion in 2014 — the most expensive acquisition in Apple’s 38-year history — $603 million of which was paid to Dre.
In addition to running his businesses, Dr. Dre also produced the new film (and accompanying soundtrack) Straight Outta Compton, which made $60.2 million in its opening weekend. With a net worth of $700 million, Dr. Dre is considered hip hop’s most successful entrepreneur.
What they all have in common
Being a successful actor means being comfortable with rejection and being determined, driven, adaptable and flexible, with an “I’ll do whatever it takes” attitude. You can see how this translates to becoming a successful CEO. Everyone on this list has had to treat themselves as a business in a way. It only makes sense for them to shift that focus to a company that they can leave behind as a legacy for their families and fans.
Who’s your favorite celebrity-to-entrepreneur inspiration? Leave them in the comments below!
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