Ashton Kutcher talks 'Two and a Half Men' and tech investing
Ashton Kutcher probably gets more pitches in Silicon Valley than Hollywood these days.
The movie actor and technology investor turned up the star power at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference this week in San Francisco, where start-up companies competed for his attention. Michael Arrington, fresh off his own Hollywood worthy drama, interviewed Kutcher on stage Tuesday.
Kutcher plays a tech investor in real life and in CBS' top-rated "Two and a Half Men" on TV. His character, Walden Schmidt, is an Internet billonaire who sold his company to Microsoft and now backs other entrepreneurs.
"There are some parallels to my actual life," Kutcher said.
On the show, Kutcher said he covered his character's laptop with stickers of his "dream portfolio" companies but CBS balked at giving exposure to companies that hadn't paid for the privilege.
Kutcher told Arrington that his investments were a "witch hunt" for the next big thing "that is so magic you can't understand how it works."
"I wonder what would happen if a pilgrim would have seen a computer back in Massachusetts 200 years ago. They would have killed the person as a witch because the computer would look like magic. That's the essence of being a good investor, they're on witch hunts," he said. "That's what I’m trying to do."
Kutcher is not your typical celebrity investor. He was a biochemical engineering major in college so he gets technology but, because he was a model at 19, he says it's nice to be appreciated for "something substantial."
On TV Kutcher is in the funny business. But in technology he's hunting for happiness. Kutcher says he picks technologies that have the greatest potential to create more love, friendship and connectivity in the world.
He has made 40 investments in companies such as AirBNB, Path and Skype but does not disclose many of them.
"I think sometimes for the early-stage companies that I've invested in, disclosing that I'm an investor can be detrimental to the story of the company," Kutcher said.
-- Jessica Guynn
Photo: Hollywood actor and Silicon Valley investor Ashton Kutcher and TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington at TechCrunch Disrupt. Credit: Araya Diaz / Getty Images