Lady Gaga, Eric Schmidt team up on social start-up

The pop star and the Google honcho have invested in Backplane, a startup run by Gaga's manager that focuses on musical artists and sports teams, according to The New York Times.

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
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Lady Gaga owns a major stake in Backplane.
Lady Gaga owns a major stake in Backplane. Greg Sandoval/CNET

An unlikely pairing has emerged in the online space.

A new start-up called Backplane has raised over $1 million in venture funding, The New York Times is reporting. The company's investment is led by Tomorrow Ventures, the venture firm that Google Executive Chairman (and former CEO) Eric Schmidt founded.

By investing in Backplane, Schmidt has a new partner: Lady Gaga. The pop artist owns 20 percent of Backplane, according to The New York Times.

Backplane, which has yet to launch, is designed to build and expand online communities around musicians and sports teams. According to the Times, the service also integrates updates from Facebook and Twitter, among other sites. Backplane is co-founded by Lady Gaga's manager, Troy Carter.

According to the Times, Carter came up with the idea for Backplane after sitting in a meeting last year with Lady Gaga and Apple CEO Steve Jobs to discuss Ping. After hearing Jobs' explanation of Apple's music social network, Carter thought he might be able to do something a bit better.

Backplane is surfacing at a time when online communities are becoming increasingly important to the success of musical artists. Social media has become so important to artists, in fact, that in December, Billboard launched a new chart it calls the Social 50 to rank the social-media popularity of bands or individuals. Billboard analyzes fan activity on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other prominent social sites to rank artists.

Lady Gaga, who recently tallied 10 million followers on Twitter, leads the way on the Social 50. Justin Bieber, Akon, Rihanna, and Shakira round out the top five.