For a while there, it looked like celebrities might be left out of the dot-com boom, thereby rearranging the order of the financial and cultural elite and quite possibly tilting the world off its axis. But don’t worry: Big names like Cindy Crawford, Whoopi Goldberg, Alanis Morissette, William Shatner, and Master P are getting in on the act by trading their stardom for shares in deals with publicity-hungry Internet companies. When approaching Crawford for her image and advice, for example, online fashion retailer eStyle (www.estyle.com) not only made room for her on the site (the too-cute ”Cindy’s Corner” at subsite babystyle.com) but on the board of directors as well.
With scores of new websites competing for online dollars, Internet execs predict the celeb boom will continue. For stars, the benefits are sweet: The deal Morissette and her management company struck with MP3.com is valued at $40 million, whereas Goldberg’s work for Flooz.com (www.flooz.com) — a site that sells gift-certificate-like currency redeemable at a host of online retailers — has made her the company’s largest shareholder outside of its initial founders and major investors. But celeb loyalty varies. Morissette has begun promoting herself on a competing online music provider, whereas Goldberg has stayed true and is even helping Flooz recruit retail collaborators. ”I don’t know how you put a price on Whoopi calling one of the country’s largest retailers and saying, ‘Hey, you guys have got to be in this program,”’ says Flooz CEO Robert Levitan. Actually, it sounds like she’s just doing her share.