When Life Imitates Art: 'Silicon Valley' Stars Are Now Startup Investors, Too

Courtesy of HBO

No longer just talking the talk, several castmembers and the showrunners are financially backing tech companies.

As one of Silicon Valley’s only female castmembers, Amanda Crew too often found herself in the position of having to answer questions about the tech industry’s “woman problem” without having any firsthand knowledge. But over the past few years, Crew has been busy lining up meetings and, in a handful of cases, financially backing female-led companies. Among her investments: NetworkBe (a media company) and Darling magazine (a women’s mag with a “no retouching” policy).

Thomas Middleditch has become an increasingly active investor, too, taking regular trips to Northern California to expand his portfolio, which is focused in two areas of personal interest: aviation and the environment. To date, his investments include plant-based meat-substitute company Beyond Meat, electric aviation startup Wright Electric and solar desalination company WaterFX.

And though Middleditch says his experiences haven’t impacted the way he plays his character, he jokes that he now understands what his character is saying “half the time.” (With Middleditch’s encouragement, Martin Starr has begun to dabble, too, putting money into WaterFX.)

The series’ showrunners suggest they’re considerably more risk-averse. Despite Judge’s prior stint in the tech world (he worked for a startup in the late ’80s), he’s kept his money largely out of the sector, with one recent exception. Though he declines to name the company, he says he invested in a New York-based startup in the live video space, and he’s enjoyed being privy to the inner workings of a startup for reasons other than research: “It’s a little different to have a bit of skin in the game.”

As for Berg, he’s steered clear of startups, but reveals he’s followed in the footsteps of his brother, a Microsoft exec and “ginormous Bitcoin guy,” and put some money in the cryptocurrency. Spoiler alert: The latter also will be featured in a storyline this season.

This story first appeared in the March 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.