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From Punk’d To The $200M Man: Ashton Kutcher’s Fast Rise To Silicon Valley Mogul

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Ashton Kutcher’s lived many roles, from dim-witted Michael Kelso in That’s 70’s Show to the genius billionaire Walden Schmidt in Two And a Half Men. What might surprise many is his eye for promising startups.

Kutcher has founded a successful venture capitalist firm (which turned $30M to a whopping $250M in under six years) and is an active investor in the tech space.

A-Grade Investments

Ashton Kutcher founded A-Grade Investments in 2010 with long-time friends Ron Burkle and Guy Oseary.

The VC firm has invested a little under a million in Uber to date, an investment that’s now churning 100x its value. In 2011, A-Grade invested $2.5M in Airbnb and the investment is valued at close to $100M.

Uber and Airbnb are not one-off lucky investments—A-Grade’s portfolio includes several blockbuster start-ups such as Spotify, Skype, Pinterest, and Shazam.

Silicon Valley stalwart Marc Andreessen believes a VC is one of the best if it can generate 3x returns and considers 5x return a home-run. An 8x return, like the portfolio that turned $30M to $250M, is mighty impressive.

In 2009, Andreessen invited Kutcher to invest $1M in Skype. A little after two years, Skype was acquired by Microsoft [MSFT] and Kutcher raked in a cool $4M. He quadrupled his investment when the world was still reeling under one of the worst recessions in history.

A-Grade invested in companies that have appealing founders, a problem-solving mission statement and a solid business model.

Not all you touch will turn to gold

However, investing in tech is not easy. The disruptive nature of this industry had made seasoned investors like Warren Buffett wary of the same. Similar to other VC’s, A-Grade also had its share of investment failures.

In fact, while investing in start-ups it is normal to experience more failure than success. In 2011, Kutcher’s VC invested in online fashion start-up Fab.com and saw its valuation soar to $1B and then come crashing down to $15M.

Kutcher was also the creative director (in addition to funding) of Ooma which was an unsuccessful web-based phone service. However, A-Grade has managed to offset these investment with a slew of successful ones.

Much more than just a celebrity investor

Kutcher is not a celebrity investor who takes on equity in exchange for endorsements. He is in for the real deal. Funding in tech is more miss than hit and Kutcher invests in products that he believes in.

He extensively uses Uber for travel. Kutcher stayed in Airbnb’s (before investing in the firm) to be absolutely sure if staying in a stranger’s house is as comfortable as a hotel or your own home. He then rented out Airbnb’s for a year after his divorce with Demi Moore.

He passed on investing in Snapchat twice as Kutcher confessed that he did not get it. Though Snapchat went on to become a publicly listed company, Kutcher remains unconcerned and knows that he will pass on many such investments that will go on to be successful.

Leveraged social media influence

Ashton Kutcher knows the power of social media. He was, in fact, an early adopter and the first one to have a million followers on Twitter [TWTR] way back in 2009.

While being actively involved with start-ups, Kutcher managed to use his influence on social media to voice his support for Uber when New York City’s Mayor Bill De Blasio tried to restrict Uber’s growth via regulations.

Now what?

In 2015, Liberty Media pumped in $100M and appointed Kutcher and Oseary to run this investment vehicle looking at their impressive returns. That year, Kutcher and Guy Oseary founded another VC fund Sound Ventures targeting investments in the tech space.

Sound Ventures have made 53 investments to date and has led six rounds of funding. Its latest investment was in the electric scooter start-up Bird that has already raised up to $300M.

Sound Ventures’  hit the bulls-eye with investments in Neighborly, Gusto and Robinhood. Sound Ventures has also invested in b8ta, Cedar, Calm and Modern Fertility in the last four months.

In June, the VC announced that it is looking to raise a second fund of  $150M, to up their investment ante. A successful run here will most likely propel them into the billion dollar league.

Kutcher was paid $20M for starring in the final season of Two and a Half Men. We can see that venture funding is not his second stream of income. He is passionate about tech and believes it can make a huge difference. He is in fact, all-in.

ENTREPRENEURS

4 Types Of People To Be Around That Will Make The Hustle More Fun

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(Editor’s Note: The following article is a guest post by superstar entrepreneur and tech investor Jonathan Schultz.) 

We all know that hard work and dedication are keys to success. The more you’re willing to sacrifice and go the extra mile, the greater your chances are of reaching your personal goals and passions.

While there’s no denying that hard work does play a major role in reaching success, surrounding yourself with the right people will always help. We’ve all heard the saying, “it’s not what you know, but who you know” … In my career, whenever I push myself to be around the positive thinkers and go-getters, it’s always up-leveled me and gave me more confidence to in turn fulfill my own dreams and ambitions.

Finding your network through all the different stages of your life and career is not only helpful in progressing your career, but it also creates amazing relationships and opportunities.

So, what type of people should you be surrounding yourself with?

THE PUZZLE PIECES

Find the network that is your perfect complement —the people that have the skills and abilities you strive for. Not only will this give you more confidence, it will help you learn the skills and abilities you may be lacking.

THE POSITIVE PEOPLE

Who doesn’t want to be around someone who’s happy and optimistic? Even though that doesn’t have to be all the time.

Surrounding yourself with positive and grateful people can have an incredible impact on your life, making you feel happier and more confident. Also, positive people are more likely to encourage you to take smart risks or move up the business ladder.

THE INNOVATORS

Dreamers and innovators are the people pushing society forward. They are the people interested in coming up with new and improved ways to solve problems and achieve success. Regardless of what field they’re working in, it’s never a bad idea to have a few outside-the-box thinkers in your social circle to help you look at things from a different perspective.

THE ANSWER SEEKERS

Just like innovators, people who constantly ask questions are the reason why we challenge old ways and come up with new ideas. When you’re surrounded by people who constantly ask questions, you’re more likely to come across the answers that you never knew you needed.

Ultimately, the people you keep in your inner circle can influence you in a number of different ways, including how you approach problems or whether you’re motivated to achieve greater things or not. Of course, this isn’t to say that everyone around you needs to be someone who’s working those extra-long hours to get to the next phase in life.

However, when you have a few business-minded people in your life, you’re more likely to inherit some of their drive, benefit from their knowledge, and even network in some of the same circles. For that reason, it’s always important to make friends who have the same goals and aspirations as yourself. It might just help you get to the top quicker.

Jonathan Schultz is an entrepreneur, real estate tech investor and influencer. He’s the co-founder of Onyx Equities, a leading private equity real estate firm, and has been voted one of the most powerful people in real estate. Follow Jon’s blog here

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ENTREPRENEURS

Law Of Attraction: 7 EPIC Conor McGregor Quotes On Success

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In less than three years, Conor McGregor has risen from an unknown entity to a global icon, smashing every financial record in the UFC — a huge reason the fight organization sold for $4.2 billion in 2016.

In November of 2016, McGregor completed what he, in his own words, had visualized throughout the whole year — hoisting two belts high atop the UFC cage in Madison Square Garden as the only two-belt world champion in the organization’s history.

Less than a year later, McGregor pocketed another $100 million as he, somehow, landed a mega-fight with undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather (despite no boxing experience) in what was projected as the first billion-dollar fight in human history.

His secret? Well, The Secret — the law of attraction.

“If you have a clear picture in your head that something is going to happen and a clear belief that it will happen no matter what then nothing can stop it. It is destined to happen. It’s perfect.”

Offering a window into Conor’s mind, we put together 7 epic quotes on the law of attraction.

1. On visualization

“This is the law of attraction. In this struggle, when things are going good and you visualize good things happening , that’s easy. What’s not easy is to do is when things are going bad and you’re visualizing the good stuff. And that’s what I was able to do. Visualizing good things in times of struggle, when you can do that, that really makes the law of attraction work.”

2. Appreciating surroundings

“You need to appreciate your surroundings and be grateful for it, and that’s when good things happen. To have that bitterness and negativity, that’s when things go bad. I think the fact that I appreciate everything and that I’m grateful for the things around me, that’s why it’s going so good for me.”

3. Manifesting

“If you can see it here,” he said at the UFC 194 press conference in December 2015. “And have the courage enough to speak it, it will happen. If you put out what you truly believe in, it will create the law of attraction and it becomes reality.”

4. Self belief

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. The power of choice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Manifesting a Bentley

“Even though I was having trouble at home, even though I had no job, I was still able to feel like it was. Basically using my imagination, like a kid, using my imagination. I was driving my girlfriend’s car, shaking down the road. And I swear to God, I was sitting in traffic and visualized — holding the steering wheel, visualizing — driving a brand new car, visualizing good things.”

7. “I done everything I said I was going to do.”

“I done everything I said I was gonna do. I was LAUGHED at when I was gonna win my second world title. ‘That’s not going to happen.’ An Irishman winning a UFC [world title] — I was laughed at when I said that. And I done. It’s only January 2017 and I’m already the face of the UFC. The face of boxing. The face of the WWE. And the face of Hollywood!

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ENTREPRENEURS

VIDEO: Richard Branson Thinks We’ll Be In Space This Year

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Two or three more flights later, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic can get you to space. It’s almost touched the halfway mark and is now working at its testing program to be absolutely certain everything is in place before taking humans to space. Here’s Branson’s plan on how his company plans to do that.

 

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