Hip-hop artist and technology investor will.i.am owns a large digital rolldex of business leaders, which he frequently uses for advice on various businesses.
These mentors include names like Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Oprah Winfrey, music legend MC Hammer, venture capitalist Ron Conway, and Beats investor Jimmy Iovine.
“Marc Benioff is my brother and mentor,” will.i.am told Yahoo Finance Live at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland this week (video above). “I love Marc.”
According to will.i.am, Oprah has proven to have a positive impact on the lives of music artists. Because her legendary talk show is part of how he launched his solo career and introduced I Am his scholarship.
“I love her,” Will.i.am said. “I just started my foundation on her show. She pushed me to bring out the best in myself. I am blessed to have a wonderful network of people who keep me straight and narrow and push me to solve problems.”
Other coverage from Yahoo Finance on Davos 2023:
“The man who really saw the spark in me”
Fame, fortune and a natural curiosity have led will.i.am into the world of business and investing. Prior to that, however, William was born Adams in 1975 in Los Angeles and was raised in modest means.
Will.i.am eventually rose to fame as a member of the Black Eyed Peas, a band that sold over 58 million singles worldwide in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
He was an early investor in headphone maker Beats, received an undisclosed amount when Apple (AAPL) acquired the company for $3 billion in 2014, and invested in Intel ( INTC) signed a partnership agreement.
Many of these adventures have been made possible thanks to the connections will.i.am has built over the years.
“MC Hammer is the one who connected me to Ron Conway,” said will.i.am. “Jimmy Iovine are the guys who really saw the spark in me. They’re my go-tos.”
Oprah’s best friend and journalist Gayle King, who is also Will.i.am’s mentor, loves her “like an aunt.”
Will.i.am is now a regular at the WEF, discussing the future of technology, especially artificial intelligence, at this year’s event. He is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Industrial Revolution Advisory Board and the Global Artificial Intelligence Action Alliance.
On Thursday, he had a group lunch with his mentor Benioff and esteemed guests, including Williams-Sonoma CEO Lara Alber.
Brian Sotzi general editor, Yahoo Finance anchorFollow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and LinkedIn.
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