Hollywood heartthrob Ashton Kutcher has done pretty well as a tech investor; his A-Grade Investments, co-founded with billionaire Ron Burkle and Madonna's manager, Guy Oseary, has invested in the pick of the Web 2.0 litter, including Airbnb, Uber, Spotify and Foursquare.
Now others want in on the act: At a tech conference Wednesday in New York, Kutcher and Oseary confirmed rumors that they're raising money from outside investors who'll get a piece of A-Grade, then share in the returns as its portfolio companies go public or are acquired.
Kutcher and Oseary would not say how much they're seeking to raise, but they said the deal values A-Grade at $100 million. That includes both its current portfolio and the potential value of future investments it may make.
Tech-investing experts said it's an unusual approach. Usually, venture capital firms raise money from outside backers without selling off a piece of the parent organization.
"I don't think I've ever heard of anybody offering to do it that way," said one attorney who's helped form hundreds of traditional venture funds. He asked not to be identified because his firm may work with some of A-Grade's portfolio companies.
Agreed Jeff Clavier of Palo Alto's SoftTech VC, which began life as Clavier's personal angel-investing portfolio before raising money from outside investors: "Typically, you would put your existing portfolio into your new fund as a component to entice investors to participate."
An A-Grade spokeswoman said the three partners couldn't comment about their plans or why they've hit on this particular arrangement, although she said more information would be forthcoming shortly when the deal is closed.
Kutcher, onstage Wednesday at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, told interviewer Michael Arrington that the three founders have committed only their personal funds in the 21/2 years since A-Grade was launched. Kutcher did not say how much the trio has invested to date.
Silicon Valley startup CEOs who've worked with Kutcher praise the smarts of an actor whose body of work includes the stoner comedy, "Dude, Where's My Car?"
"He's got a great product sense, and really clever branding and marketing ideas," Adam Goldstein, co-founder of San Francisco-based travel startup Hipmunk, told this newspaper. "I've gotten more out of the meetings with him than almost any other investor."
Contact Peter Delevett at 408-271-3638. Follow him at Twitter.com/mercwiretap.
Ashton Kutcher -- he of "Dude, Where's My Car?" -- has shown a knack for investing early in hot Internet startups. Companies his A-Grade Investments has backed include:
Source: A-Grade Investments