Hollywood star Gwyneth Paltrow has joined the advisory board of Bitcoin money-transfer startup Abra, after both appeared on the mobile app reality show Planet of the Apps.
Abra Chooses Paltrow From Panel of Four
Planet of the Apps, a creation of Apple’s Apple Music division, is a kind of Shark Tank for iOS apps. A company representative has 60 seconds to impress a four-judge panel with their app’s elevator pitch. The show’s “prize” is to have an interested celebrity judges join as advisor for a number of weeks, to prepare for a final pitch to Lightspeed Ventures for a round of actual funding.
Abra CEO Bill Barhydt pitched to a panel of Paltrow, Will.i.am, Jessica Alba and Gary Vaynerchuk. All four judges said they’d be happy to work with Abra, but Barhydt chose Paltrow — reportedly to Vaynerchuk’s disappointment.
The main advantage of having such an advisor is star association — and the doors that subsequently opens. The program, actually filmed over three months in late 2016 and early 2017, then follows the partners through their advisory period. It featured a segment where Paltrow sets up a FaceTime conversation with Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky — who told Barhydt to focus on making a quality app before worrying about scaling.
In the final scene, Abra pitched to Lightspeed’s Jeremy Liew. According to Forbes, Liew commented “wow, that is the biggest idea I think we’ve seen so far,” but agreed to invest only if Abra is able to build its user base with the investment it already has.
P2P Money Exchange With Bitcoin Backend
Launched in 2014, Abra works by connecting a global network of P2P money exchangers it called “tellers”. Tellers, who may be individuals or businesses, exchange both fiat and digital currencies, and transfers are handled using Bitcoin.
Unlike some remittance apps using cryptocurrency as a transfer mechanism, Abra is out-and-proud about Bitcoin — mentioning it prominently on its front page.
Users in the U.S. and Philippines, a large corridor for remittances, can connect their Abra wallets to local bank accounts. The company is seeking regulatory approval to do the same in other markets, though anyone in the world may exchange fiat currencies for bitcoin.
Users must sign up and be approved by Abra before becoming tellers.
While not a tech investor, Paltrow — star of the Iron Man series and The Royal Tenenbaums — recently stepped back from acting to focus on entrepreneurship. She’s the owner of women’s wellbeing and lifestyle company Goop, which she expanded after founding in 2008 as a newsletter. Though popular, the company is regularly mocked for some of the unusual products it sells.
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Images via Abra, Apple Music