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The Uncanny Valley of the Silicon Valley Celebrity

Of course celebrities besides MC Hammer have started making moves in the startup scene, endowing hopefuls with not only money, but star power. Because if there's one thing celebrities are good at, it's spending their money on incorrectly spelled, made...

MC Hammer has been many things: rapper, reality TV star, pastor. But the godfather of pop hip-hop has found yet another calling: bringing search engines to the next level. He announced that he was working on a search site named Wiredoo at the Web 2.0 Summit 2011 in San Francisco last week.

The site will not provide average search results but rather focus on “deep search” or “relationship search,” he touted on a stage while clicking through PowerPoint slides. That means that Wiredoo won’t just spew out links, but it will also pair results with relevant data.

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Hammer proudly demonstrating Wiredoo.

The rapper-turned-Tweeter has been chilling in the uncanny valley since 2007, when when he co-founded DanceJam, a website that looks like it was designed by Russian teenagers and lets users upload videos of themselves dancing. The current top video is Can’t Touch This by MC Hammer.

Of course other celebrities have started making moves in the startup scene, endowing hopefuls with not only money, but star power. Because if there’s one thing celebrities are good at, it’s spending their money on incorrectly spelled, made up or otherwise misappropriated words based roughly around something that has nothing to do with anything.

Here’s a rundown of some celebs who’ve injected a healthy dose of capital into online ventures:

Everyone’s favorite chucklehead, Ashton Kutcher has become quite the webvestor in recent years. So much so that the New York Times dedicated an article to his investment strategies, emphasizing that he was quick to stake claim in as many as a dozen hot startups, including Foursquare, Path and Flipboard.

Kutcher on that TV show he’s on, sort of shadily rocking his own gear.

When Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp sold Myspace.com to a small ad-targeting firm called Specific Media, Justin Timberlake was among a group of wealthy investors to throw down into the pool of $35 million for the social network. Mr. Timberlake will "play a major role in developing the creative direction and strategy for the company moving forward,” the company said in a statement on their website. And this purchase was a bargain, considering that News Corp bought it for $580 million.

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Method actor, Justin Timberlake practices for his real life role as a social network guy.

Lady Gaga and Kanye West have pitched in to support Turntable.fm, a site that lets you suggest music to friends, join them in chat rooms and put together playlists through a Facebook portal. The site is rumored to have attracted more than 140,000 active users within the first month of being public.

YouTube reported on August 5th that “Lady Gaga * LadyGaga * New Song * 2012 * Turntable.fm.”

Even some of the youngest celebs have caught on to the trend. According to rumors started by Business Insider, Justin Bieber has allocated funds to what’s being described as a “good-natured Zynga.” Here’s a video of Justin Bieber talking about his new startup.

Kim Kardashian has her own startup, the aptly-named Shoedazzle. Sign up and some Hollywood stylist will choose shoes and accessories for you to purchase.

“It’s kind of like a shoe of the month club” – Kim Kardashian

Demi Moore may not follow Ashton on Twitter anymore, but it looks like she’s followed in his goose steps after investing in a little online community called Fashism, which lets people ask others for opinions on their outfits.

1 loves it.

NBA player Steve Nash (who has active Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels) is a partner in the venture-capital firm Consigliere which invests in startups, and Magic Johnson, according to Business Insider is planning to join a similar Detroit-based firm.

It goes without saying that there’s no stopping a celebrity. Just when the Silicon Valley all stars thought they were going to be the next celebrities, the celebrities waltzed in and became the next Silicon Valley all stars. Now everyone is confused and there isn’t even an app for it.

By Lam Thuy Vo

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