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Photo courtesy of Snap Inc.

Snapchat on Tuesday will launch "523," a new content accelerator program for small, minority-owned content companies.

Why it matters: Many accelerators at social media companies are designed to bolster individual creators. The 523 program is focused on media companies creating premium shows for Snapchat's content arm, Discover.

  • "I hope that this will encourage a larger range of diverse storytelling on the platform, particularly serving some of the most underrepresented groups in the media," said Benjamin Cohen, chief executive of PinkNews, an LGBT+ news company that's been on Discover since 2018.

Details: The program will award 20 minority-owned media upstarts $10,000 per month for six months to help them create content for Discover.

  • Snapchat defines minority-owned businesses as those that are 51% owned and operated by individuals who identify as Black, Hispanic, Asian, Indigenous, Middle Eastern, non-binary, LGBTQ+, women, veterans, or having a disability. Eligible businesses must also employ fewer than 20 people and have gross revenue in 2021 — or in the last 12 months — that's less than $5 million.
  • Selected businesses will receive hands-on guidance from Snapchat's content partnerships team and access to workshops to learn what works best on Discover.
  • The company has landed a handful of sponsors, including Nissan, McDonalds, AT&T, State Farm, Unilever, Target and Uber Eats.
  • The program, named after the address of Snap's former beachfront headquarters in Venice, Calif., is meant to support content companies that uphold Snapchat's original values of creativity and individuality, the company said.

The big picture: Research conducted by Snapchat last year suggests that the company's U.S. Discover audience, relative to the broader U.S. population, is more diverse.

  • The company found that "25% of Discover viewers do not identify as heterosexual, 13% identify as bisexual, nearly 8% identify outside the gender binary, and overall these Snapchatters are more likely to be Black than white or Asian."
  • The company says that more than half of its Snap Originals featured leads or hosts who are BIPOC or LGBTQ+ in 2020 and 2021.
  • “The voices of underrepresented groups have long helped shape mainstream culture, yet these creative minds often don’t see the equitable benefits from their impact," said Starr Nathan, 523 program manager at Snap Inc.

What's next: Applicants have until February to apply. The 20 program winners will be announced in March.

Go deeper

Jan 12, 2022 - Economy & Business

D.C. journalists launch media startup called "Grid"

Grid

A group of D.C.-based journalists on Wednesday launched a new media company called "Grid" that focuses on hard news analysis and investigative reporting.

Why it matters: Grid debuts amid a flurry of new media companies looking to reach a similar audience of wealthy, elite professionals.

Updated 13 mins ago - Economy & Business

Tax season nightmare ahead for understaffed IRS

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The IRS will start accepting 2021 tax returns in less than a week, and the filing delays and administrative headaches to come might eclipse last year — which was “one of the worst filing seasons," according to an independent advocacy agency within the IRS.

Why it matters: For taxpayers, especially with complex or paper filings, this means headaches, delayed refunds, and mistakes.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.

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