Investors are increasingly eyeing the creator economy — the huge, largely unexplored market of providing digital tools to influencers and helping them run their businesses.
The venture capital firm SignalFire estimates that 50 million people around the world consider themselves content creators, while the technology news site The Information estimates that venture capital firms have invested $2 billion into 50 creator-focused start-ups so far this year.
Last month, for example, the venture firm Founders Fund took the lead in a $15 million investment round for Pietra, a start-up aimed at helping influencers launch product lines. In April, Seven Seven Six, a venture firm run by Alexis Ohanian, a Reddit co-founder, and Bessemer Venture Partners announced a $16 million investment in PearPop, a platform that helps creators monetize their collaborations and social media interactions.
The list goes on. In February, the high-profile venture firm Andreessen Horowitz led an investment in Stir, a platform that helps creators manage how they make money, valuing the company at $100 million, Taylor Lorenz and Erin Woo report for The New York Times.
And then there is Clubhouse, the heavyweight of this young market, generating plenty of buzz from Silicon Valley and the media and entertainment world. Clubhouse, which requires an invitation to join, is a social network built around audio-only chat rooms. In April, it raised $200 million in a funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz, putting its valuation at roughly $4 billion.
Major platforms like Spotify, Twitter and Facebook are rushing to catch up to start-ups, particularly Clubhouse. Spotify recently announced its new live audio app, Greenroom, a Clubhouse competitor that Spotify built after acquiring the live audio start-up Locker Room. Twitter has already added its own Clubhouse rival, Twitter Spaces, and both Twitter and Facebook are starting newsletter services to compete with the success of Substack, which allows users to easily set up subscriptions for their writing.