Hip Hop Culture and the Startup Tech Scene – Matches Made in Heaven?

TechCrunch published an awesome article talking about the massive tech portfolios some hip hop stars have accumulated through their involvement with the Silicon Valley scene.


In a change from previous generations of superstars, hip hop artists are particularly keen to become involved in a myriad of tech firms, from food delivery startups to medical services apps.


One prominent example is commission-free stock trading app Robin Hood which counts Jay Z, Nas, and Snoop Dogg among its early funding partners.


TechCrunch looked at 21 hip hop artists to see how they were faring in the tech startup worlds and the early conclusion is not only are they faring well but they are making a real impact on the companies in which they choose to invest.



For example, Jay Z and his entertainment firm Roc Nation have funded companies like Jet Smarter and Promise in addtion to Robin Hood. As of press, Jet Smarter had a $1.5 billion valuation while Promise is a different kind of company. As a startup that aims to assist low income people make bail through alternative measures, Promise not only shows Jay Z’s acumen with finance and investing but also his humanitarian outlook on the process.


A venture capital fund co-founded by hip hop superstar Nas, QueensBridge Venture Partners, was an early funding partner in the recently Amazon-acquired Ring. Ring is a company that makes video doorbells for homes and sold to the massive ecommerce company for $1.1 billion. Nas is also an investor in popular file-sharing service DropBox as well as cryptocurrency trading app Coinbase.


Not one to be left out, Snoop Dogg’s Casa Verde Capital has made big moves in the nascent legalized marijuana industry and recently closed a $45 million round. Companies that Casa Verde has invested in include marijuana vape manufacturer Green Tank.


Like any investor, hip hop luminaries are not immune to market failures and whims. Two prominent failures include laundry delivery startup Washio and Viddy, a video sharing platform.


TechCrunch wonders aloud what would make hip hop stars attracted to startup culture and one of the things the website highlights is the raw ambition and self promotion is often takes to succeed in either realm. Hip hop culture celebrates risk and success. Similarly, startup culture in Silicon Valley and abroad thrives off of the tale of the small upstart that makes it big.


Concomitant with this is a business acumen that develops as a hip hop star’s career proceeds. This kind of do-it-yourself approach to stardom has tangible benefits in other areas, business being among them. While unabashed self-confidence and hype work wonders, true grit and hardwork are what distinguishes successes from failures. Perhaps hip hop artists, always keen to stay on top of their game, are uniquely attuned to sniffing out who has what it takes to succeed in the often cutthroat world of business.


Or maybe, like the rest of us, hip hop artists like to make money and simply take advantage of the opportunities offered to them. Either way, the explanation fits in with hip hop’s modus operandi as a genre for the striving and the newly successful.

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