Ashton Kutcher does not play a tech savvy entrepreneur on TV, but he is one in real life. The former star of That 70’s Show and current star of the revamped Two-and-a-Half Men has spent the last decade, not only starring in hit movies and television shows, but making wise investments in successful tech companies like Skype, Foursquare and Zaarly.
A-Grade Investments is a successful tech firm owned by Ashton Kutcher, Guy Oseary, best known for being singer Madonna’s manager and billionaire supermarket magnate Ron Burkle. The firm has invested in 40 tech startups and is making a name for itself in Silicon Valley and throughout the tech world. Kutcher has earned a reputation as an insightful investor with innovative ideas and a knack for recognizing new technologies that will attract users.
Latest Tech Investment Dwolla Set to Take Off
Ashton Kutcher’s latest tech investment, Dwolla, is a new payment system which allows the user to buy goods and services by transferring money via its website or mobile application. By using the system, merchants can avoid credit card fees as the system only charges 25 cents for any transaction over $10. Based in Kutcher’s home state of Iowa, the Des Moines tech startup already has 20 employees. Kutcher said he hopes the company will help Iowa’s economy stating, “I think this company could employ hundreds of people within the next couple of years.”
The Emergence of Dwolla
Dwolla officials have managed to raise $5 million from investors including A-Grade Investments, Union Square Ventures and Village Ventures, both in New York City, Thrive Capitol, Betterworks out of Los Angeles, and Artists and Instigators from Pennsylvania. Speaking of the new and unique payment system, Kutcher said, “The potential for Dwolla is to be the backbone for the global financial exchange. Because it’s built to do that. It’s built better than any system that currently exists.”
Meeting of the Minds
Ashton Kutcher communicates regularly with Dwolla’s founder Ben Milne via Skype and has helped shape the system’s app design. He has also met with the company’s current employees to provide feedback. Kutcher and Milne met through mutual friend Bo Fishback, CEO of Zaarly. During their initial meeting, Milne explained his vision to Kutcher and how it could change the way the financial system currently works. From there, Kutcher became actively involved by not only providing financial backing, but by offering creative ideas as well.
Kutcher’s Built in Following
One of the advantages of involving Kutcher in a tech startup is his extensive fan following. With 10 million followers on Twitter and 12.2 million likes on Facebook, Kutcher has a built in base where he can promote his tech business ventures. On top of that, Kutcher has already launched his own app and social media production company connecting with other young and savvy “techies.”
Ashton Kutcher has told reporters that as soon as Dwolla’s success becomes widespread, he is prepared to cut up his credit cards and use the new payment system exclusively. If others follow suit, Kutcher’s new venture could turn the financial world on its head.