MediaFile

Tinsel town turns deaf ear to Kutcher’s request to plug his start-ups

September 13, 2011

Ashton Kutcher may have more clout in Silicon Valley than in Hollywood.

The star of movies like “Dude, Where’s My Car?” and now of the hit show ‘Two and a Half Men” told conference goers at TechCrunch Disrupt that he tried to get the studio to plug some of his Internet start-up investments on the show– but they wouldn’t do it without compensation.

Kutcher, who said he majored in biochemical engineering in college, has invested in some of Silicon Valley’s hottest companies. His bets include check-in service Foursquare, bed-and-breakfast service Airbnb, and personalized magazine Flipboard.

He also said he invested in companies that he thought ultimately would contribute to greater happiness in the world– but won’t open his wallet unless he clicks with the entrepreneur. “At the end of the day it’s about the person who runs that company, and whether it’s a person I’d want to spend some time with,” he said.

While sometimes he likes to go stealth to avoid his name getting in the way of potential customers paying attention on the underlying business, he thinks he brings more than just star power to his start-ups.

“I have pretty good connectivity in marketing,” he said. “I have pretty good product savvy.” And when he draws on his network of contacts to call in a favor for one of his companies, “they generally will call me back.”

But Kutcher really brought the house down when he explained how he got to San Francisco– a seat on no-frills airline Southwest. Given the short trip from Los Angeles, “I feel bad taking a private plane from there to here,” he said. “It’s not very energy efficient.”

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