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Leonardo DiCaprio joins celebrity tech start-up investors

Michelle Hammond /

Celebrities look set to continue to invest in tech start-ups as the industry enters a second dotcom boom, after Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio invested in Israeli start-up Mobli.

 

It’s been revealed DiCaprio has joined the growing list of celebrities pouring their money into promising start-ups, namely in the tech sector.

 

The first start-up to benefit from DiCaprio’s star power is real-time visual media platform Mobli, which has confirmed the actor participated in a $4 million seed round led by “high profile investors”.

 

After Mobli users take photos and videos, the app automatically tags each image with a location or major event in the city. Users can also write tags such as “sports” or “football”.

 

This tagging system makes it possible to follow specific users, locations and topics. Images for any keyword or place can also be located through search.

 

DiCaprio users the platform but only sparingly, posting just seven times. However, he has collected more than 8,000 followers in the process.

 

The actor, who will take on an advisory position at Mobli, said the app “allows people from all over the world to share moments”.

 

Mobli chief Moshiko Hogeg said while DiCaprio has “zero tech background”, he understands branding and marketing, and will inevitably use his celebrity status to promote the company.

 

In DiCaprio’s advisory role, Mobli wants the actor to enhance the company’s image.

 

“[There are] obvious reasons [to work with DiCaprio], such as he’s a major high profile celebrity, which can open a lot of doors,” Hogeg told VentureBeat.

 

“These people are businesspeople too. They invest in real estate and the stock market and no one says anything.”

 

DiCaprio joins an increasingly long line of young celebrities investing in start-ups, including Ashton Kutcher, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga and even Justin Bieber.

 

Local entrepreneur Domenic Carosa, who heads up Future Capital Development Fund, says DiCaprio’s investment in Mobli indicates two things start-ups need to be aware of.

 

“First and foremost, it signals a second version of the internet boom is upon us. Secondly, celebrities getting involved with [start-up] brands is something we will continue to see,” he says.

 

“A lot of companies are looking for leverage in their model and their marketing. Celebrities are a way that companies can leverage their existing brand… so [they] get cost-effective exposure.”

 

Carosa says other than mining and technology, the overall economy isn’t performing very well, pinpointing traditional retail as an obvious victim of local and global economic conditions.

 

“From our perspective, the deals we’re now starting to see, and the valuations starting to occur, shows it is definitely the start of what we believe will be the next dotcom boom,” Carosa says.

 

According to Carosa, celebrity-backed start-ups are no different to start-ups that attach themselves to a bigger brand – because celebrities are a brand in themselves.

 

“If there’s an alignment with the celebrity and the company, it makes sense,” he says.

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