Celebrity Net Worth: Beyonce backs Lemon Perfect in $31m funding round

In our fortnightly celebrity investment and wealth round-up, Leonardo DiCaprio invests in a UK vegan burger brand and Kevin Hart banks $100m from an equity sale in his new venture

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Beyonce

Lemonade singer Beyonce invested in a citrus-based beverage last week. The award-winning artist and entrepreneur headlined a recent $31 million Series A funding round in enhanced water brand Lemon Perfect, the company said.

“I don’t typically enjoy drinks without added sugar, but Lemon Perfect is delicious,” said Beyonce. “It was an easy decision to invest in something that not only tastes great and is healthy but also and, most importantly, allows choosing a healthier lifestyle to be affordable and accessible to everyone.”

The beverage has no sugar, artificial flavours or sweeteners.

Lemon Perfect will use the funds to help scale the brand to more than 40,000 points of distribution by the end of the year, founder and chief executive Yanni Hufnagel said.

The financing takes the brand’s total funding to $42.2m, with a valuation of more than $100m less than three years since the sale of its first bottle.

The singer was joined by a network of investors across the food and beverage, media, music, sports and entertainment industries.

Beyonce, 40, has a net worth of $440m, as calculated by Forbes magazine, which features her on its list of America’s self-made women. The 28-time Grammy winner is one of the world’s best-selling recording artists with digital and album sales estimated in excess of 200 million.

Although she has made her name with music, Beyonce is also a businesswoman and investor. Following her first endorsement deal with Pepsi in 2002, she signed agreements with L’Oréal, Samsung, Ford and American Express.

In 2009, she signed a perfume deal worth up to $20m with the global beauty brand Coty and has since released several fragrances, including the core brands Heat, Pulse and Rise.

Although House of Dereon, the fashion line she founded with her mother Tina Lawson, was a commercial failure, Beyonce subsequently partnered with TopShop and later Adidas on the athleisure line Ivy Park.

In 2018, the singer signed a $60m, three-project deal with Netflix. Her company, Parkwood Entertainment, produces music, movies and apparel.

Beyonce and her husband, rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z, were pop music’s first billionaire couple, with Forbes last year estimating their combined worth at $1.8 billion. The pair perform together and have joint investments. Together, they grossed a total of $264m from their two On the Run tours in 2014 and 2018.

Beyonce has previously taken the unusual step of receiving payment in company equity. In lieu of a performance at an Uber corporate event in 2015, she reportedly asked for $6m worth of restricted stock units in the ride-sharing company.

Lemon Perfect is Beyonce’s second investment in enhanced water after she participated in a seed round for watermelon-flavoured beverage WTRMLN WTR in 2016. Her other investments include the concert merchandise app Sidestep.

Last month, she joined Rihanna in an all-female group of investors into Paris-based accessories brand Destree. Co-founder Géraldine Guyot told WWD the round’s investors include venture capital firm Sequoia Capital China, at the behest of Angelica Cheung, as well as Reese Witherspoon, Gisele Bündchen and Gabriela Hearst.

Ms Guyot expects to launch her first free-standing Destree boutique in Paris this June. She also hopes to expand her current network of e-store and wholesale partners into China, Japan and the Middle East.

Beyonce was among the first big celebrities to carry a Destree bag during New York Fashion Week in February.

US actor Leonardo DiCaprio recently invested in vegan burger chain Neat Food and cultivated leather start-up VitroLabs. AFP

Leonardo DiCaprio

Actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio has added to his portfolio of meat alternatives with investments in vegan burger chain Neat Food and cultivated leather start-up VitroLabs.

DiCaprio joined Neat as a strategic investor as the London-headquartered company embarks on an ambitious global expansion into the US and the Middle East.

“Disrupting our food system with sustainable alternatives is one of the key ways we can make a real difference in reducing global emissions,” he said. “Neat Burger’s pioneering approach to alternative proteins is a great example of the type of solutions we need moving forward.”

Neat is a vertically integrated food technology company with a restaurant and alternative proteins consumer packaged goods (CPG) business. Its vegan burgers are dairy, egg, gluten and GMO-free.

Established in 2019, the brand has an aggressive target of 1,000 units by 2030 globally. It is launching in the Middle East, Italy and the US this year, with corporate-owned online and offline restaurants and franchise partnerships.

The company expects to have 42 sites by the end of the year, including 12 in the US, growing to 231 by the end of 2024.

Neat has simultaneously launched a Series B funding round, primarily with US investors, to fund its growth plans and underpin its new product development and CPG pipeline. It completed a $7m funding round in October, led by SoftBank’s Rajeev Misra.

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton was an early backer, alongside Beyond Meat’s Tommaso Chiabra and Cirque le Soir nightclub impresario Ryan Bishti.

DiCaprio’s investments span 18 portfolio companies, according to investor intelligence site Crunchbase. These include Aleph Farms and Mosa Meat, two early cultivated meat start-ups, as well as start-ups in recycling, cultivated diamonds and technology.

Earlier this month, he joined a $46m Series A funding round into VitroLabs. Led by venture capital company Agronomics, the round included investments from luxury fashion maker Kering, which owns Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Alexander McQueen and Yves Saint Laurent, and Khosla Ventures, the early stage technology investment firm owned by Sun Microsystems founder Vinod Khosla.

Founded in 2016, Vitrolabs will use the capital to build and scale the world’s first pilot production of cell-cultivated leather and to fast-track commercialisation. The global leather industry is estimated to be worth $400bn.

DiCaprio is thought to have a net worth estimated between $280m and $300m. Besides investments in alternatives to meat and meat products, he is also a property investor.

Stand-up comedian and Hollywood actor Kevin Hart launched a new media company, HARTBEAT, in April with a $100 million investment from private equity company Abry Partners. Photo: Reuters

Kevin Hart

Comedian Kevin Hart is laughing all the way to the bank after a recent merger and investment in his media company.

In April, the stand-up comedian and Hollywood actor launched media company HARTBEAT with a $100m investment from private equity company Abry Partners.

Abry’s minority stake is estimated at 15 per cent, The Wall Street Journal reported. The company is valued at more than $650m.

The new venture has been created by merging Hart’s existing entertainment businesses — TV and film production company HartBeat Productions and the sales and distribution network Laugh Out Loud.

The entertainer will serve as chairman of HARTBEAT, while Thai Randolph, who has held senior executive positions at both businesses, will be its chief executive.

Nicolas Massard, a partner at Abry, will join the company’s board, while NBCUniversal's streaming service Peacock will remain a shareholder, the company said.

HARTBEAT has more than 60 projects with 15 entertainment partners in various stages of development or production. It has strategic partnerships with Peacock, Netflix and Audible, among others.

“The creation of HARTBEAT and our capital raise with Abry represent a new era in comedy. This all started out with a mission to keep the world laughing together and I’m so proud our teams have delivered on that, putting in the hard work to build the most innovative and inclusive comedic storytelling company,” Hart said.

“With this merger and funding, we’re taking the new blueprint we’ve built in entertainment to the next level and creating opportunities for a new generation of comedic talent. I can’t wait to bring the world more comedians, experiences, and stories with humour and heart.”

Hart’s movies have earned more than $3.3bn. He is the star of films such as Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Ride Along and The Upside.

Hart, 42, has also put out music under the name Chocolate Droppa and endorsed brands such as the retailer Macy’s. He revealed last year he has partnered with Yas Island.

The new deal will see his net worth increase to an estimated $400m, according to wealth tracking website Celebrity Net Worth. As one of the world’s highest-earning comedians, Hart took home $39m in 2019, Forbes magazine reported.

Bayern Munich's Thomas Muller has invested in food technology start-up Greenforce. Reuters

Thomas Müller

Bayern Munich forward Thomas Müller is the latest celebrity to back vegan meat products, with an investment in food technology start-up Greenforce, the company said.

He joins several prominent local investors in the company since the end of last year, following the successful placement of a capital increase of €15m ($15.92m). The investments will go towards research and development and business growth.

“I’m excited to become part of the Greenforce success story,” Müller said.

“Greenforce gives each of us the opportunity to make our nutrition more sustainable, healthier and yet incredibly delicious. My involvement is to help Greenforce become a leader in this future-oriented market as quickly as possible.”

The size of his investment was not disclosed.

Also last week, the German national player agreed to a two-year extension of his contract with Bayern Munich to the summer of 2024, the club confirmed.

The 32 year old is one of the club’s best-paid players, with an annual salary of up to €20m. He has been with Bayern since the age of 10.

Müller’s net worth is estimated at $55m, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Updated: May 09, 2022, 4:45 AM
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