Startups, Celebrities, And The Deadpool

Entrepreneurs who have had successful exits find it easier to raise capital for their next ventures. They come with the sort of record the money people want: A past littered with big, profitable liquidity events.

So, sell your company or take it public, count to 10 and start again. I doubt you’ll have much trouble raising the cash for another go.

That sort of resonance, or pattern seeking, is built into venture capital and startup culture more broadly. But what if you are a celebrity of whatever flavor, and you get behind a tech company?

I now pretty much just expect the company involved with the celebrity to die. Having celebrity cash, or having a celebrity executive can bring a certain glow to a company, and certainly greater press attention, but the impacts appear to be fleeting.

Today ValleyWag covered an application called Just Sing It. As it turns out, Lindsay Lohan’s brother is working with the company, so she’s tweeted about it. She’s also now hosting a party to promote it. Come party with Lohan, and then use this app? Something like that.

And the application could use the help, given its low ranking. According to AppAnnie, Just Sing It is in the top 100 music apps on iOS in one country. So, it’s seeing about as many downloads as you had cups of coffee today.

Back in August, Soleil Moon Frye — or Punky Brewster — launched an app called Moonfrye, which is “designed to inspire children’s creativity.” TechCrunch covered it. Punky Brewster! I’ve heard that name! The app? It’s dead. Moonfrye is in the top 500 ranks of the iOS app store in a grand total of 10 countries. Its best ranking country? Chad, where it tips the charts at 151st.

Justin Bieber recently dropped dollars and pictures of his face into an application called Shots Of Me. Despite Bieber’s obvious popularity and the application’s direct aim at his fans’ demographics, it’s been a complete flop.

Remember that Myspace reboot (the one with Justin Timberlake)? Yeah here’s the Alexa chart of its traffic:


So that didn’t go so well.

Remember Airtime? Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning count as celebrities, right? Well, despite raising more than $30 million, it seems that Airtime is roughly as viral and beloved as a dead skunk on your doorstep.

Oh right, remember when Ashton Kutcher built and launched a Twitter client? Yeah, I had forgotten, too. He also worked for Ooma, and launched Blah Girls (last tweet: 2011). Guess that deal with Myspace for distribution didn’t work out. Ashton (this guy, seriously) also put money into Path, which has seen its download rates collapse since a summer high.

MC Hammer launched Wiredoo. Its website doesn’t even load any more.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see if the $1 million that Ryan Seacrest invested into an iPhone keyboard company bears fruit.

However, I will say that having a celebrity on board doesn’t always mean the startup will die. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Honest Company, whose president and co-founder is Jessica Alba.

The list goes on and on. Having a celebrity on board means that picking up initial coverage from the media is easier. But that is at most what it means.

Are companies with celebrity backing less focused on their fundamentals, or perhaps more focused on how they appear?

I could be wrong on this, but I feel a negative correlation between celebrity interaction, and a startup’s future health. Maybe it’s just the economy.

Top Image Credit: Flickr