Hollywood star George Clooney just sold Casamigos, a tequila brand he co-founded in 2013, to Diageo for $700 million, with a potential for $300 million more depending on the hitting of certain sales targets over the course of the next decade. “If you asked us four years ago if we had a billion dollar company, I don’t think we would have said yes,” Clooney said in a statement following the announcement of the sale. Diageo already owns Guinness, Johnnie Walker Scotch and Don Julio tequila, but it seems they saw this would be a worthwhile investment, especially with the United States’ growing demand for tequila. According to IWSR, sales of tequila increased by seven percent from 2015 to 2016. Furthermore, sales of “high-end” tequilas is rising rapidly, and Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes said that they view Casamigos as a “high-growth super-premium” brand.
Clooney worked with old friends Rande Gerber and Mike Meldman to build the brand. Clooney and Gerber began as just normal tequila enthusiasts enjoying “research” in the Mexican Baja Peninsula. Once they began making a house version, they were later told that they would soon need a commercial license based on how much they were planning to make, so they pulled Meldman, who had experience with real estate, in to the business, with the plans of going nationwide with their concoction. Soon, Casamigos grew to the point where they sold 120,000 cases in 2016 and is on track to sell 170,000 cases this year.
Clooney is now the most high profile of Hollywood stars turned investors in recent years. Usually though, celebrities will put money into already established brands. For example, Kevin Spacey and Leonardo diCaprio have invested money into the mattress company Casper, while Justin Bieber put money into the music streaming service Spotify. Ashton Kutcher has invested in dozens of companies, including Airbnb and Change.org.