Jay Z, known legally as Shawn Carter, has sold drugs, spit rhymes, steered Def Jam Records, and started restaurants, clothing lines, sports agencies, and streaming music services. Now he's going after the big bucks. The rapper/entrepreneur is launching his own venture capital firm, aimed at funding seed-stage companies.
It's not Jay Z's first foray into investing, but it might be his biggest.
According to Dan Primack at Axios, Jay Z will be partnering with longtime business partner and president of Roc Nation (the "Jays"), with whom he invested in Uber's Series B, at a $300m pre-money. The two have also been investors in quite a few startups, and Primack describes the nascent firm as "the institutionalization of Jay Z and Jay Brown's previous angel investing activities."
The Jays are also partnering with Sherpa Capital, although Primack points out that existing Sherpa staff won't be leading investments and it won't be a Sherpa-branded effort. Beyond that, the details remain fuzzy. Primack says the team is "scouring the venture market for a full-time investment partner" and the fund size target has not been announced.
Digital Music Trends breaks down Jay Z's startup investment history, and it's not too shabby:
He was in the first round of seed-fund investors for high-tech luggage manufacturer Away. The company went on to raise an impressive $8.5 million in a Series A financing round last summer. Their fundraising total went up to $11 million. Jay Z also invested in nail-parlor company Julep in 2013. Julep raised $10.3 million in a Series B financing round, led by top Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Other investors included Lady Gaga along with Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith. Jane Park, a former Starbucks and Boston Consulting Group executive, founded the company in 2007.
Most lucrative, potentially, was the money Jay put into JetSmarter, a travel startup dubbed "Uber for private jets." Hova helped the company raise over $105 million in Series C funding last year, and the outfit is currently valued at $1.5 billion.