Ashton Kutcher's Surprisingly Successful Tech Investments

From Skype to Foursquare, the entertainer's smart decisions in the startup space make most venture capitalists look like amateurs

KutcherReuters-Post.jpg

After a couple of failed investments, Ashton Kutcher (previously known for, what, a starring role on That '70s Show? His part in the stoner comedy Dude, Where's My Car?) was convinced by Silicon Valley heavyweight Marc Andreessen to risk some of his money on Skype. He hasn't looked back since, quickly building a portfolio that would make the most successful investors jealous.

But he doesn't get a lot of coverage. At least not as much, in the tech press that is, as Peter Thiel or Ron Conway or Paul Graham. And that's probably because he still describes himself as an actor. In a recent profile in the New York Times, Jenna Wortham, a technology reporter for the paper, calls Kutcher "the most prominent entertainment figure in the high-tech venture capital game," but it might be time to switch those associations. Kutcher has invested in so many -- and had so much success with -- startup companies, that he might be called a venture capitalist first and an actor second.

Even with the Times, Kutcher would not disclose the amount of money he puts into his new investments, but Wortham's sources in the venture capital sphere estimated the range to be between $50,000 and $200,000 per property, which is a typical amount for many early-stage buy-ins. What he gets back could be many times that amount. That Skype investment? It was made in 2009 when the Internet calling service was valued at $2.75, a figure many dismissed at outrageously high. Earlier this year, Microsoft purchased Skype for more than $8 billion.

It's just one of several success stories. Here, we've collected fifteen properties that Kutcher has invested in. (He's made at least a dozen undisclosed investments in addition to these.) With many of his early investments, the venture capitalist/entertainer reached out to the founders and put his own money down. Today, he makes most of his decisions with his partners at A Grade Investments, Guy Oseary, also known as Madonna's manager, and billionaire Ron Burkle.

Image: Paulo Whitaker/Reuters.

Presented by

Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Technology

Just In