Hollywood Buzzing About What Celebrities are Investing In

PALM BEACH, Florida, August 29, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --

FinancialNewsMedia.com News Commentary 

The buzz in Hollywood used to be what celebrities were starring in, but now people are taking notice of what celebrities are investing in. Because of their star power, celebrities are getting first crack at the Street's best investments. According to CB Insights, from 2007 to 2016 the top 75 celebrity investors by number of deals participated in more than 350 funding rounds, pouring an estimated $4.6 billion into private companies. In 2015, the most active investment year on record for these stars, they contributed to roughly $2 billion across 101 deals to private tech companies. The following year, celebrity investors backed approximately 42 deals totaling nearly $500 million. Companies mentioned in today's commentary positioned to benefit from their added star power include: Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX), Generation Next Franchise Brands (OTC:VEND), Booking Holdings (NASDAQ: BKNG), Yelp (NYSE: YELP) and Diageo (NYSE: DEO).

Magic Johnson - Magic Johnson, the current Lakers president of basketball operations, is so committed to the task of winning a championship that he recently said he would resign from his position with the team if he "can't deliver" by next summer. Having already "delivered" LeBron James, if the turn of events leads to Johnson stepping down from the front office, Starbucks executives might want to take advantage of the situation and invite him to sit for a cup of coffee. In 1998, Magic Johnson Enterprises entered into a 50/50 partnership with Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) to build more than 100 franchises in minority neighborhoods. Starbucks, like the Lakers, has had a tough go of things lately. Just-retired executive chairman Howard Schultz and chief executive officer Kevin Johnson have been leading the company through damage control on Wall Street, where shares of its stock have been underperforming the market over the past few years, and Main Street, where it faced protests and boycotts after the controversial arrests of two black men at one of its coffeehouses in Philadelphia a few months ago. Schultz, Johnson, and other decision-makers have been working up a game plan to make the company robust again. So, how might basketball Hall of Famer Johnson fit into the mix?

Phil Mickelson - Known to millions as "Lefty," the beloved golf legend is gearing up to play Tiger Woods in a winner-take-all match for $9 million. Just recently on June 20, Mickelson became an investor and franchisee of Generation NEXT Franchise Brands, Inc. (OTC: VEND). The company has begun rolling out patented unattended frozen yogurt kiosks operated only by a robot attendant. Already having $170 million in presale revenues, Generation NEXT will begin recognizing their presale revenue this quarter. Additionally, the company recently filed new patent applications that will extend to other food and beverage products.

William Shatner - In the late '90s, executives at Priceline.com were so thrilled with the radio commercials that William Shatner recorded for the then-little-known travel company that they asked the former captain of the USS Enterprise to record some TV commercials. Shatner decided that there was commercial potential in the company's idea of bidding on hotel rooms, airplane tickets and rental cars online. He went back to Priceline.com and said that he would do the commercials in exchange for stock. The company agreed and gave him shares when they were worth around a dollar apiece. The company, which became Booking Holdings (NASDAQ: BKNG) in February 2018 is now closing in on $2,000 per share. The online travel industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.8% and reach a market size of $1.14 trillion by 2023. In regards to hotel bookings, according to research from Credit Suisse, only around 35% of global hotel bookings are currently done online, and BKNG accounts for only 10% of those bookings presenting large market growth potential.

Bono - The U2 singer with fans around the world has long been a fan of investing in companies, from Facebook to Forbes Media, through his private equity firm Elevation Partners to fund social causes. Bloomberg reports that as of 2018, Elevation has invested a total of $1.76 billion. Elevation's 2.3% stake in Facebook, acquired in 2009 for $90 million, returned $1.4 billion in 2015-more than U2 earned from all of their music over the past four decades. In 2010, the firm purchased a $100 million stake in the crowd-sourced review site Yelp (NYSE: YELP). In recent quarters, Yelp's management has also taken a hard look at its business mix and reshuffled its priorities. It sold the eat24 ordering platform to GrubHub for a whopping $287.5 million and completely exited the transaction space. Then, management decided to completely overhaul its advertising business and focus on "non-term" ads. This strategy has worked, and despite no longer having eat24's revenues in the mix, Yelp is still growing on the top line while seeing massive profitability boosts.

George Clooney - In 2013, three friends who dabbled in tequila making started a small label called Casamigos. One of the amigos happened to be actor-director-producer George Clooney, and soon it became the fastest-growing line of premium tequila. Just four years later, the British liquor giant Diageo (NYSE: DEO) bought out Casamigos for $1 billion. With cannabis expected to generate $75 billion in international sales by 2030, and decreased binge drinking in states where it's been legalized, Diageo has been in talks with at least three Canadian cannabis producers about a deal for a pot-infused drink, according to BNN Bloomberg.

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