Jessica Alba to Mentor Startups in Apple's 'Planet of the Apps'

Mike Rosenthal
Jessica Alba

Silicon Valley venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners also has committed at least $10 million to fund apps that emerge from the show.

Another celebrity founder is joining the roster of mentors for Apple's forthcoming unscripted series, Planet of the Apps

The Honest Co. co-founder Jessica Alba will act as a mentor and adviser to the app developers participating in the show. Alba, who will serve as an executive producer, joins previously announced mentors Gwyneth Paltrow, will.i.am and Gary Vaynerchuk. 

For Alba, participating in Planet of the Apps will give her the opportunity to identify and work with entrepreneurs who have a mission, much like the one she had when she started Honest Co., which sells nontoxic baby products and other goods. "As a mentor on Planet of the Apps, I'm looking forward to meeting entrepreneurs looking to address a problem with an innovative solution, and to help them realize their vision," she said. "I can't wait to see the ideas the app developers bring to the table." 

Meanwhile, Apple and co-producer Propagate, the production company from Ben Silverman and Howard T. Owens, are ensuring that the apps developed on Planet of the Apps will be well funded. Silicon Valley venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners, one of the early investors in Alba's Honest Co., has agreed to invest a minimum of $10 million in the apps that are developed on the show. 

Owens said that Propagate "searched far and wide" for a VC partner before ultimately settling on Lightspeed, an early- stage firm that was the first investor in Snapchat and also has invested in Nest, Bonobos and TaskRabbit. Partner Jeremy Liew, who leads the firm's consumer investments, will be heavily involved in the series. "We are very fortunate to have Lightspeed join the series in this capacity," Owens added, noting that the firm and Liew "are recognized as top investors who can identify and help nurture some of the most lasting and meaningful tech companies in the world. Our partnership ensures that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for new business creators and that this show is truly the first of its kind." 

Liew tells The Hollywood Reporter that he was intrigued by the idea of working with Apple and Propagate to help influence the future of pop culture through apps. He points to apps like Musical.ly or Pokemon Go as an example of how such products can instantly become a hit.

Liew notes that the size of Lightspeed's commitment to the show will give the firm flexibility to invest the right amount, depending on the stage each company is in. For Lightspeed, he says, it's all about identifying apps or products that have the potential to become a habit that "should become an integral part of the lives of its users." 

He adds: "The objective here is to showcase some of the fantastic work that entrepreneurs have been doing, building the next generation of mobile that can become pop culture. We'll help them continue to pursue their dreams and make it an entertaining show all the while. Everybody ends up getting excited about that." 

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