Celebrities Who Invest In Tech: Ne-Yo Wants To Help Solve Silicon Valley Inequality

Celebrities Who Invest In Tech: Ne-Yo Wants To Help Solve Silicon Valley Inequality

Black celebrities are investing in tech and some are using their art and their platform to talk about it. This is part 1 in a Moguldom series where we shine a light on celebrities who are investing in tech and in the process, helping turn Silicon Valley stereotypes on their head.

The Grammy-winning artist Ne-Yo isn’t the first musician to invest in Silicon Valley, but he is one who wants to put his money and talent to use helping to solve diversity challenges facing the tech industry.


Famous for songs like “Miss Independent,” R&B artist Ne-Yo this year invested in a Silicon Valley coding school that doesn’t charge tuition the usual way. Instead of paying tuition up front, graduates pay after graduation, giving about 17 percent of their salaries or internship earnings to the school for three years.

It’s a model that is giving people access to jobs in Silicon Valley from populations notoriously underrepresented in tech — black people and women.

This is the first tech investment for Ne-Yo, TechCrunch reported. The artist has produced hit after hit and is a judge on NBC’s “World of Dance” along with Jennifer Lopez and Derek Hough.

He has a net worth of $16 million, according to The Richest. In addition to singing, recording and producing music, he’s made money acting and through dance. Born in Arkansas, Ne-Yo’s full name is Shaffer Chimere Smith.

The San Francisco-based Holberton School for Computer Science and Software Engineering describes itself as an alternative to college that trains students to become highly skilled full-stack software engineers. In February, the school announced that it had raised $2.3 million in funding.

Ne-Yo was one of the investors in the funding round and he has joined the school’s board of trustees.

Paris-based venture capital firm Daphni, which usually invests in European startups, led the funding with private equity and venture capital from firms including Reach Capital, Trinity Ventures,