Guayusa-powered natural energy drink Runa confirmed today the long-rumored addition of Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio as an investor, joining a new wave of high-profile individual investors including fellow thespians Marlon Wayans and Adam Rodriguez.
Tennis players Steve Johnson and John Isner had already been announced as investors.
The investment was long an object of speculation, and Runa co-founder and CEO Tyler Gage had even taken time from the Expo West floor to head to a meeting with DiCaprio during the March event.
DiCaprio’s stake in the company wasn’t revealed, but he wasn’t making the deal to make a profit: according to an announcement from the company, the actor will eventually donate his shares to indigenous community groups in the Amazon rainforest, the source of Runa’s key ingredient, guayusa leaf.
DiCaprio is also joining the company’s advisory board.
Meanwhile, Runa also revealed another key hire, adding former Smartwater senior brand manager Kavita Patel as brand director. Patel had worked in a similar role, most recently, at chocolate brand Barkthins.
BevNET had a brief, informal interview with Gage about the announcement, which is transcribed below:
BevNET: How’d you hook up with Mr. DiCaprio?
Gage: Leo discovered Runa as he was looking for sustainable investment opportunities that support the planet and are creating new value for the rainforest.
BevNET: What’s he really like in person? Did you guys make Runa cocktails?
Gage: Leo’s committed to the causes that he champions is palpable, and you can feel the rigor and intelligence with which he approaches his work.
BevNET: How big an ownership stake does he have in the company?
Gage: No comment.
BevNET: Are his shares being turned over to the nonprofit side at Runa? How is that working?
Gage: He is donating all of his shares to the indigenous Amazonian communities.
BevNET: Will he be taking an active, appearance and publicity-centric role like Channing Tatum, or is the plan for him to be more of a silent investor?
Gage: We’re grateful that Leo believes in both the products and of course the mission and is therefore excited to help us spread the word for sure.