The top investors funding the creator economy and influencer industry

Alexis Ohanian and Katelin Holloway of investment firm Seven Seven Six.
Alexis Ohanian and Katelin Holloway. Seven Seven Six.

Hi, this is Amanda Perelli and welcome back to Insider Influencers, our weekly rundown on the business of influencers, creators, and social-media platforms. Sign up for the newsletter here.

In this week’s edition:


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Headshots of Marlon Nichols, Li Jin, John Smothers, and Katelin Holloway on a blue background with dollar signs and the logos of TikTok, Youtube, and Instagram
Marlon Nichols, Li Jin, John Smothers, and Katelin Holloway MaCVC; Atelier Ventures; Acrew Capital; SevenSevenSix; Marianne Ayala/Insider

18 investors and VC firms funding innovative startups in the creator economy and influencer industry

Interest in creator startups is on the rise, and some investors and VCs have taken note.

Startups are popping up left and right to help creators make money and turn digital content into a viable business.

Dan Whateley, Sydney Bradley, Margaux MacColl, and I compiled our second annual list of the top venture capital and investment players who are funding startups that are shaping the creator economy.

Here are a few of the investors highlighted:

  • Atelier Ventures: Li Jin (founder and general partner) is supporting companies that are building products for creators who may not be famous – what she’s referred to as the creator “middle class.”
  • Ludlow Ventures: Blake Robbins (partner) has invested in the gaming organization and lifestyle brand 100 Thieves and the collectible figures company YouTooz.
  • Night Ventures: Focuses on early stage investments and is part of Night Media, a talent management firm for creators across YouTube, Twitch, and TikTok.

“It’s just evolved as this massive new industry and new form of gig economy, particularly for content creators,” said Caroline Jacobs, an executive at UTA Ventures, the investing division of United Talent Agency.

Check out the investors and VC firms helping to shape the future of the creator economy, here.

TikTok

It’s really easy to find videos that promote eating disorders on TikTok, though the company says it’s cracking down

Molly Innes found videos and hashtags on TikTok with millions of views promoting harmful eating-disorder content.

TikTok said it has banned certain search terms and removed some videos that Insider identified.

The number of videos on certain eating-disorder hashtags was up 253% from last year, an analysis found.

Here are some takeaways from the investigation:

  • Some of the videos Insider discovered had hashtags with misspelled words and other related keywords such as “ed” and “ana.”
  • Insider presented TikTok with 44 videos discovered by entering 17 eating-disorder-related hashtags into its search function.
  • Searches by Insider found that looking up hashtags such as “anorexia,” “eating disorder tips,” and “bulimia” diverted users to support resources.

“The safety and well-being of our community is a top priority,” a TikTok spokesperson said. “Our community guidelines make clear that we do not allow content depicting, promoting, normalizing, or glorifying eating disorders. If someone tries to search for content related to eating disorders, we do not show results in search.”

Read the full investigation inside Tiktok’s harmful content, here.

Captiv8

College athletes could soon make money as influencers. The University of Arkansas partnered with a marketing firm to teach its students about the creator economy.

Captiv8 created an influencer-marketing playbook to help college athletes work with brands.

The guide outlines topics including best practices for negotiating brand deals and future trends.

The University of Arkansas is the first institution to partner with Captiv8 to help its student-athletes manage their brands and personal partnerships.

I broke down key takeaways from the guide for student-athletes entering the creator economy.

Here are some of them:

  • Captiv8 broke down five different campaign types: sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, competitions and giveaways, long-term ambassador, and product collaborations.
  • There are a variety of rules and regulations to adhere by, like to make certain that you and the brand are aligned on deliverables.

Check out the playbook for college athletes who want to become influencers, here.

Victoria Paris, a TikTok influencer with 1 million followers, sits and applies lip gloss.

How a TikTok star gained 1 million followers by vlogging about her New York City life and posting up to 100 videos per week

Victoria Paris became a sudden TikTok sensation in 2021, gaining 1 million followers in five months.

Paris has flooded TikTok with daily vlogs, and she earns income from revenue streams including brand deals, TikTok’s Creator Fund, and consulting.

Sydney Bradley spoke with Paris on how she quickly gained 1 million followers:

  • Non-stop content. Each week, Paris would post up to 100 TikToks and rakes in millions of views and likes.
  • Flooding her TikToks with engagement. Paris likes nearly every comment on her videos and used to respond to each comment, she said.
  • Strategically working with brands. In the early months of her budding influencer career, Paris was hesitant to post sponsored content.

But even with all these strategies at play, Paris said becoming an influencer sensation is to some degree a matter of luck – and privilege.

Read more about Paris’ TikTok success, here.


More influencer industry news:


Black influencer

JOIN OUR LIVE EVENT ON JULY 8: How TikTok has transformed the music industry

My colleague Dan Whateley is hosting a webinar featuring execs from TikTok, Universal Music Group, and UnitedMasters for a conversation about TikTok’s role in the music industry, and how social media is slated to make an even bigger impact on popular culture in 2021.

The 30-minute chat is scheduled for July 8 at 1 pm ET/10 am PST. If you’d like to submit a question to be answered, please fill out this brief form.

Sign up for the event here.


TikTok trend

TikTok’s top trending hashtag of the week:

Every week, we highlight a trending hashtag on TikTok, according to data provided by Kyra IQ.

This week’s hashtag: buffering

  • The percentage uptick for the last 7 days: 3,858%
  • This uptick is centered around a viral TikTok challenge where creators use a new effect to show what happens when they are “buffering.”

Creator economy deals, signings, launches, and investments:

Every week, Insider gives a rundown of creator economy company announcements. It was a busy week for podcasting startups and influencers looking to break into the format.

This week’s news includes:

  • New funding for the podcasting startup WaitWhat and Spotify buying Podz, a podcast-discovery platform.
  • New content deals and talent signings at UTA, Studio71, Spotify, Amazon, and Audible.
  • A new product launch from Famous Birthdays.

Read the full rundown of creator industry moves, here.


Jack conte patreon
Patreon CEO Jack Conte. Jerod Harris/Getty Images

Here’s what else we’re reading:

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