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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.

Go deeper

Clubhouse teams up with Stripe for payments feature

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Clubhouse is rolling out the ability to send payments directly to other users, partnering with digital payment company Stripe to facilitate the feature.

Why it matters: Clubhouse has touted plans to help conversation hosts generate revenue on the app amid a growing push for creators of digital and social media content be better compensated. Hosts receiving money will get to keep the entire amount for now.

Exclusive: Texas nonprofit got massive border contract after hiring Biden official

Migrants attempting to enter the United States from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Photo: David Peinado/Xinhua via Getty Images

A Texas nonprofit that recently hired a Biden transition official got a contract worth as much as $530 million to help manage the influx of migrant children at the southern border, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The contract is by far the largest ever awarded to Family Endeavors. It's potentially worth more than 12 times the group's most recently reported annual budget — a sign of the demand the new work will place on its operations.