NBA's Kevin Love is latest player in celeb-tech mashupMay 23, 2012: 12:06 PM ET
Stealth startup 12Society is adding to a roster that includes Michael Strahan and Nick Cannon.
The company,12Society, is a lifestyle site that aims to help products and services reach young, male audiences. Other co-founders of the venture include actor Nick Cannon, former New York Giant Michael Strahan and San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum.
Celebrity investing in technology companies is all the rage, with actors such as Ashton Kutcher backing Foursquare and Flipboard and Justin Timberlake joining the group that acquired MySpace from News Corp. (NWS). But 12Society CEO Sameer Mehta insists that Love and company are founders, not passive financial backers. (Mehta is not related to the writer.)
"I think when people typically look at celebrity investing, there's this stigma that they're just throwing cash at a company," says Mehta. "We wanted these guys to have a personal stake in the company, and by working with them at the co-founder level they'll have a deeper impact on the company."
Mehta is mum on exactly what the company will do. (A landing page featuring Lincecum simply says: "Dude, it's a secret, so shh!") But clearly the celebrity of the co-founders is integral to the business plan, and Mehta hints that 12Society will become a platform for the founders and others to promote themselves and their projects. "They might say, 'I can really use this with my upcoming movie, this is something I want to be part of for the rest of my life.'"
Love echos that sentiment: "I think the individual founders are going to bring their own style to this, their own brand," he tells Fortune.
For Love, 23, 12Society is an extension of an existing love-affair with technology products and services. "When I got my first cell phone it sparked my interested in everything that's going on in the digital world," he says. He adds, "I have everything Steve Jobs created." The basketball player says he already uses Twitter to reach his fans directly; it is unclear if 12Society will replace Twitter and other technology as a tool for its founders to reach its fans.
Mehta, who co-founded daily deal site JungleCents which he sold to entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, has secured investments from, among others, Groupon (GRPN) co-founders Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell, and Diego Berdakin, the co-founder of e-commerce startup BeachMint.