Troy Carter, from managing Lady Gaga and tech investing to becoming a collector

Abu Mubarik October 26, 2022
Image via YouTube/ABC

Troy Carter has made a name for himself in entertainment circles. He has been in the music business for over 25 years. He is also best known for his talent company Atom Factory, which has built a portfolio of 80 companies that includes stakes in Uber, Spotify, Lyft, Warby Parker and Dropbox. 

Atom Factory also represented stars like Lady Gaga and John Legend. Carter is credited with turning Lady Gaga into a global sensation when she was dropped by her label Def Jam Records, according to Vox.

The two parted ways but Carter started deploying his capacity of spotting talents into tech. His incubator company, Smashd Labs, which is based in Los Angeles, began assisting tech startups to scale up. 

“On the artist side, we made a significant investment in very young artists from the very beginning of their careers and helped them become global superstars,” Carter told Re/code, according to Vox.

“So, on the entrepreneurs’ side, the idea of the labs was to be able to create this ecosystem to help them from the very beginning, to see them through from development and hopefully until they become large companies.”

Through Smashd Labs, he was able to invest in early-stage companies by selecting a diverse mix of firms and founders looking to explore multi-million-dollar marketplaces. Sidestep and Trakfire, two of the startups selected, seek to change the music business by offering new ways to merchandise sales and song recommendations.

Also, Carter worked with Enrou, a marketplace which allows artisans in developing communities to sell their products to customers around the world. While another startup he handpicked, Throne, is a peer-to-peer marketplace for sneakers and streetwear.

The African-American entrepreneur was born on November 14, 1972, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was raised by his mother in a tough neighborhood after his parents divorced. He defied all odds to excel in school and went to college.

He reportedly began his music business career after he completed college by first working as a DJ and then landing a job at Jive Records which gave him the opportunity to work with some of the biggest names in the music business, including Britney Spears and ‘N Sync.

He is credited with helping grow Uber into what it is today as an early investor besides investing in Dropbox and Spotify, Lyft and Warby Parker.

Carter also became a popular figure on the business show Shark Tank, where he offered business advice to up-and-coming entrepreneurs. He has since become the founder of tech and music company Q&A and has amassed a major collection of works by African-American artists to make black culture well-known to everyone. Some African-American artists in his collection are Bradford, Theaster Gates and Lauren Halsey.

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