Justin Bieber, Venture Capitalist: The Forbes Cover Story - Forbes
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Some compare this blueprint with that of another Justin—Timberlake, a crossover former boy-band star with venture capitalist proclivities. Similarly Bieber is taking acting more seriously, planning to costar with Mark Wahlberg in a basketball flick next year. But Bieber maintains there’s only one role model: Michael Jackson, who converted child stardom to icon status. Inspired by the King of Pop’s largesse, he says he includes a charitable component in every deal. “People were fine with buying 20 CDs from Michael Jackson because he went and did good things.”
It’s no coincidence that Bieber went with AEG’s Phillips, a longtime Jackson partner, to promote his tour. The same goes for his choice of Jerkins as an album producer. The first day Bieber went to the studio, Jerkins played him footage of Jackson in the recording booth; Bieber watched it twice. “There’s something about Justin, he has this effect that reminds me of Michael,” says Jerkins. “It’s not just music, it’s everything—it’s his spirit, his personality.”
And why not? Jackson was the genre-defining star of his generation’s media breakthrough, MTV. Bieber has a legitimate claim on the social media crown (regarding Lady Gaga, Bieber is dismissive: “She didn’t have online fans before she had mainstream fans”). And just as Jackson’s bankruptcy-staving investment was the thing he understood best—the Beatles catalog—perhaps someday Bieber will live well not from the songs he sings but the assets they let him buy into.