Practice English Speaking&Listening with: How Ashton Kutcher Became a Silicon Valley Mogul

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When you hear the name Ashton Kutcher, what comes to mind?

Punkd? That 70s Show? Demi Moore? Mila Kunis?

One thing that may not come to mind if you havent been paying too close attention istech mogul,”

but Ashton has been making big moves in Silicon Valley over the past decade and has become one of the big venture capital players in the tech sector.

Despite thedumb guypersona, hes taken on in several of his roles, Kutcher is smart and savvy with a mind for business.

Today were telling the fascinating story of how Ashton Kutcher became a Silicon Valley Mogul, but first some background.

Christopher Ashton Kutcher is an actor, producer, investor, and entrepreneur with a net worth of $200 million.

His career started with a successful stint in modeling, and then he rose to fame playing Michael Kelso in eight seasons of That 70s Show.

This is also where he met his wife, Mila Kunis.

He also produced and starred in his own series called Punkd and replaced Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men,

making $750,000 per episode from 2011 to 2015.

He most recently starred on the Netflix show The Ranch.

His many movies include The Butterfly Effect, Valentines Day, No Strings Attached, and Jobs.

He runs a production company with his partner Jason Goldberg,

and he also co-founded two venture capital firms called A-Grade Investments and Sound Ventures.

Kutcher has been involved in the tech sector for several years now, but lets go back to the beginning.

Believe it or not, this story begins with rapper 50 Cent.

One day Ashton heard that 50 Cent made an equity deal with Vitaminwaters parent company rather than simply being paid to represent the brand,

and he became intrigued by the deal.

Especially when he found out 50 got paid $100 million when Coca-Cola bought the company.

He knew then that he wanted to get in the equity game.

He asked the digital chief of his production company Katalyst if she could introduce him to some venture capitalists he could learn from.

She hooked him up with some notable Silicon Valley investors, and he eagerly listened to everything they had to share with him.

He also learned absolutely everything he could about tech startups.

And he soon developed a vision for this new path in his career.

t first he wanted to explore equity investments because it made financial sense,

but he soon realized that there were many emerging companies that were offering better solutions to everyday problems,

and he wanted to become part of making those solutions available to the masses.

He had a vision that if he could just invest in the right companies,

he could help improve the quality of life of millions of people while also seeing huge monetary returns on his end.

And it wasnt too long before he was able to do just that.

Ashtons first major investment came in 2009 when he decided to trust Skype with one million dollars of his money.

Just 18 months later, Microsoft bought the company, and Ashton saw a return of four million dollars.

From that point on, he was all in.

He formed a company called A-Grade Investments in 2010 with two of his friends, Guy Oseary, and Ron Burkle,

so that they could invest in tech start-ups as a group.

Burkle, who is a billionaire, contributed $8 million initially, while Ashton and Guy both contributed one million dollars.

They were looking for start-ups with three traits:

Even after forming the company and making several successful investments,

many people in the tech world and especially outside the tech world did not take Ashton seriously as an investor.

The New York Times even called him ahandsome ditzwhen they wrote about his new interest in investing.

But Ashton took himself and his new business seriously.

When he wasnt busy with an acting role, he would be in the office from 8 in the morning to 7 at night working on securing that next big investment.

A-Grade investments soon developed an incredible reputation for success as investment after investment had significant returns.

In 2011, Ashton and his company invested $2.5 million into Airbnb, and by 2016 their equity was worth $90 million.

He got in at the seed stage of Uber with a $500,000 investment that is now worth over 60 million.

A 3 million dollar investment in Spotify saw three times the returns in five years.

Ashton invested $300,000 in the prescription glasses company Warby Parker in 2012, an investment that is worth around $2.5 million today.

A-Grade also put 1.5 million dollars into the interior design company Houzz in 2014, an investment that was worth 9 million just two years later.

There were some failures as well, including passing on Snapchat and losing major money on BlackJet, a so-calledUber for planesapp.

In 2012, they raised additional capital with investments from several billionaires, including Mark Cuban and David Geffen.

Kutcher became the first Hollywood celebrity to not only invest his own money but also manage money for other investors.

By 2013, the fund was valued at over $100 million.

By 2016, that valuation went up to 250 million.

With such a record for success, Kutcher is now one of the most sought-after investors in Silicon Valley and has reached true mogul status.

Rather than taking a more cautiouswait and see’’ approach,

Ashton prefers to use his intuition and get in on the ground floor with first-round funding opportunities.

He is also known for his personal approach.

Kutcher has mentioned that every single person in his portfolio has his cell phone number and is welcome to call him 24 hours a day.

In 2015, Kutcher announced that he would be starting a new investment firm called Sound Ventures.

In this new company, he and Guy Oseary are managing a fund backed by institutional funding.

With this move, Ashton is aiming to make bigger investments and explore some later-stage startup investment opportunities

in addition to Series A investments.

In 2017, after a year of interviewing candidates,

he hired Effie Epstein as the COO to help manage the company when hes busy acting or Oseary is busy managing Madonna or his other celebrity clients.

In 2017, the firm quietly made 25 new investments and recently has been looking to expand into a variety of markets,

including insurance, Medtech, and gov tech.

Kutchers recent investments include Neighborly, Kopari Beauty, Zenreach, ResearchGate, and Lemonade.

In Total, he has made investments in over 60 companies, and the number keeps growing.

There are a few different lessons that can be drawn from Kutchers story.

For one, he teaches us the value of having many irons in the fire.

Hes not afraid to work hard on multiple ventures to increase his overall chances of success.

Ashton has said that he believes opportunity looks a lot like hard work.

Many people try to figure out how to get rich with the least amount of work involved

and theres certainly value in working smarter, not harder

but if you want the best results in any endeavor, you have to be willing to put in the necessary effort.

We did a great video about the difference between working smart vs working hard in our motivational weekend last week.

Check it out after this one!

And if youre working to build a brand or business, learn how to use your time most effectively by checking out

Engage! The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web.

This helpful guide is written by award-winning author and analyst Brian Polis with a foreword by Ashton Kutcher.

And if you'd like to listen to this book on Audible while saving 25 dollars?

Go to and sign up, to get the audiobook version for free, if it's your first time signing up.

Thanks to our partnership with Audible!

While researching his story, weve come across this inspiring quote from Kutcher wed like to share with you that goes like this:

So dont just sit around hoping things get better in your life or waiting for the right opportunity to come along.

Be proactive, pursue your passions, and make things happen.

Now that were coming to the end of this story about Ashton Kutcher, wed like to know:

Let us know what you think in the comments.

And, of course, for watching this video with us until the end, here's your bonus.

Back in the early days of Twitter, Ash was the first celebrity to reach over one million followers on the platform.

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