Apr 7, 2021 - Technology

VCs plow money into creator economy companies

Illustration of two hands releasing origami butterflies made of money into the air.

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Venture capitalists are plowing money into startups that help content creators to directly monetize their work.

Driving the news: Patreon, a platform that connects creators with fans, today will announce $155 million in fresh funding at a $4 billion valuation.

  • Audio platform Clubhouse, which just launched a payments feature for creators, reportedly is raising new money at a $4 billion valuation.
  • Last week: Newsletter platform Substack snared $65 million at a $650 million valuation, celeb messaging app Cameo added $100 million at a valuation north of $1 billion and music distribution startup UnitedMasters secured $50 million in an Apple-led round.
  • Roblox, which paid more than $300 million to game creators last year, in January raised $520 million from VCs before going public.

Many of these platforms are seeking to both disintermediate and become the new intermediaries.

  • One loser in this new paradigm is the digital advertising model.
  • Marc Andreessen, whose venture capital firm has backed both Clubhouse and Substack, has argued that the internet is in a "third wave" of content monetization, where direct-to-creator spend will dominate.

The bottom line: This trend is only accelerating, including into burgeoning areas like NFTs. The more money that goes in, the more that may go out to creators.

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