This is interesting for a number of reasons. One, smaller venture capital funds, or ‘micro-VCs,’ have gained momentum in the past few years. A Kauffman report issued in 2012 found that the best-performing venture capital funds are under $250 million, and many institutional investors want to get in early with promising startups who are wary of taking money from big firms. Secondly, many corporations are forming venture arms to capitalize on the innovation happening in the tech world. Investing in startups not only yields potential returns, but can also help businesses stay ahead of the curve.
Add these forces to the increasingly hip perspective that mainstream America is taking of Silicon Valley, Los Angeles’ emerging startup scene, and the rise of celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Jessica Alba in the tech world, and you understand why a Hollywood talent agency might want to dabble in venture capital.
Back in 2007, CAA attempted to raise a $150 to $200 million venture capital fund to invest in startups in the digital/entertainment sector. The company worked with well-known venture firm Draper Fisher Jurveston on the project, but it never came to fruition. Around the same time, talent agency William Morris partnered with Accel Partners and Venrock on a similar endeavor, to no avail.
Now, CAA is back at it again. Its clients include a Who’s Who list of Hollywood celebrities, including Will Smith, Meryl Streep, and Steven Spielberg. CAA also negotiates deals for major corporations like Coca-Cola, Dell, and Mattel. Ultimately, talent agencies and venture firms have the same goal- to find and sign the Next Big Thing.
We will see whether intuition for stardom translates into a intuition for startup success.