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Rise of the celebrity tech entrepreneur

Mike Elgan | Nov. 18, 2014
Suddenly, Hollywood stars want to play the role of software mogul and hardware creator.

The watch functions as a stand-alone mobile phone (it doesn't need to wirelessly connect to a separate device), and also can be used for texting, reading and writing email, playing music and checking social media via the touchscreen, a voice interface or a tiny qwerty keyboard. It even has fitness apps.

One lesser known fact is that is a founding investor in Beats Electronics, which was sold to Apple this year for $3 billion. He's also consulted for BlackBerry and Intel.

Kevin Jonas
The pop group The Jonas Brothers formed in 2005 and broke up about a year ago. Since then, the oldest brother, Kevin, has been thinking and talking tech.

He unveiled a new app called Yood last month, and he's thinking about seeking additional investment to grow his company.

Yood is a hypersimplified way to find food using the Yelp database of restaurants. Overly simple buttons showing styles of food, such as Mexican or Italian or Sushi, can be pressed to reveal the nearest place serving that kind of food, as well as the Yelp rating and phone number.

Tom Hanks
Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks launched an iPad app a few months ago called Hanx Writer.

The app is a feature-limited word processor that mimics the sights and sounds of old typewriters. It will also print documents in typefaces that look like old typewriter fonts.

Hanks worked with the software developer Hitcents to reproduce software-based versions of three typewriters from his own personal collection of vintage typewriters.

Of course, there's no shortage of phony baloney celebrity involvement with technology, such as when Jennifer Lopez lent her image to the ill-conceived Viva Movil brand for Spanish-speaking Americans in partnership with Verizon. Or when singer Alicia Keys was named (and later fired) as global creative director for BlackBerry (she was caught tweeting with an iPhone).

Celebrity tech entrepreneurs didn't exist a few years ago. It's a new phenomenon.

I think we're going to see a lot more celebrity tech moguls coming on the scene. That's because they often have money to invest, they're creative, and they have the ability to leverage their celebrity and their social media followings to get eyeballs on their products.


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