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Lady Gaga and Eric Schmidt Invest Over $1M in Backplane – Schmidt Invests in Rich Media Display Ad Startup ‘Spongecell’

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Lady Gaga both have invested in Backplane, a new startup founded by Lady Gaga’s business manager Troy Carter.

Schmidt’s Tomorrow Ventures and Gaga have partnered up to finance Cartier’s still in stealth startup, with Gaga being a 20% shareholder. Tomorrow Ventures is leading the angel round, which is currently at over $1 million. It is not clear yet as to whether the round has closed.

The busindess idea came through a meeting with Steve Jobs:

Soon after Apple started its music-centric social network Ping last year, Steven P. Jobs reached out to Lady Gaga and her business manager, Troy Carter, for feedback.

At the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., Lady Gaga peppered Mr. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, with questions about Ping’s design and how it would work with other social networks. The pop star and Mr. Carter voiced concerns over the lack of integration with Facebook, but they left respecting Mr. Jobs’s overall vision.

The meeting also gave Mr. Carter, a new technophile, an idea. He called his friend Matthew Michelsen, a well-connected technology investor and entrepreneur, to find a platform for entertainers that could help them manage their fan base across all major social networks.

“Backplane will provide a platform and tools for communities to socialize and communicate on a more focused level,”; Mr. Carter said. Backplane — a blend of music, celebrity and technology — was a natural evolution, says Mr. Carter, who has worked with Lady Gaga for more than four years. As traditional sales have dwindled, the Internet has become increasingly important in music management.

Gaga is an advisor as well as an investor, and apparently has incorporated elements from her music videos and tours to add “authenticity” to the site’s design.

Backplane will launch this month.

Schmidt along with Jim Pallotta, Chairman and Managing Director of Raptor Group both have invested in “Spongecell,” a startup that places rich media ads in display advertisements.

“Spongecell transforms standard banner ads into rich-media-like interactive ads that can run in display ad formats. SpongeCell’s adds include video, social media, interactive maps, carousels, and downloadable/SMS coupons, and can be created and implemented within a matter of days. The startup’s technology can be integrated with popular ad serving platforms such as DoubleClick or Atlas.

Spongecell says its ads improve engagement rates from 2.4% to 11.9%. Interactions within Spongecell ads are anywhere from twice to eight times as frequent in comparison to average display ads.”

[Source: NYT]

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