Cameo Adds a Bored Ape to Its Celebrity Video Platform

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Adam Draper next to his Bored Ape
Photo courtesy of Adam Draper

If you’re still wondering what a Bored Ape is and why someone would spend six figures to buy one, you can now ask one of the cartoon chimps yourself. Celebrity video platform Cameo is offering personalized messages from Bored Ape Yacht Club #9132. Or more precisely, from Adam Draper, the venture capitalist who owns the NFT artwork.

Draper, a UCLA grad and the founder and managing director of Boost VC, is a Web3 enthusiast who made early bets on Coinbase and Etherscan, among other crypto investments. This week, Draper joined Cameo to sell pre-recorded videos of himself as a 3D animated Bored Ape, starting at $25. The videos are aimed at Web3 startup founders, who may seek motivation or feedback on their pitches, Draper told dot.LA.


“As an investor, any way that you can open access through new distribution to see deals, you should do that,” Draper said. “I thought, ‘Hey, no one else is really doing this. I might be able to attract great founders through this.’”

Draper described his foray into Cameo as a bit of an experiment. Blockchain firms like Yuga Labs, the company behind Bored Ape Yacht Club, have attached broad commercialization rights to NFTs, which are unique digital assets verified using blockchain technology. That means NFT holders can slap their ape on a t-shirt and sell it—or license them as characters for novels and movies—to make money from their intellectual property. Draper is using the likeness of a Bored Ape he bought for his Cameo, with help from a Texas startup called Aquifer to create the videos. His Boost VC firm is an investor in Aquifer, which helps people and brands make “instant animated videos with their IP.”

“If we are moving forward with the advent of NFTs and communities building out open source, intellectual property—like becoming a Disney sort of thing—we need to experiment and see what other tools need to be created in order to make this a real movement,” Draper said.

Blockchain boosters believe NFTs, cryptocurrencies and related technologies will give us a better, decentralized internet that is free of middlemen and gatekeepers. Until then, we have videos of VCs rendered as animated simians. Many consumers are still leery of NFTs due to a rollercoaster crypto market, environmental harms of crypto mining and headline-grabbing scams—including one involving Cameo’s CEO, Steve Galanis, whose Bored Ape was stolen.

Draper acknowledged that some people will find his Cameo silly. In fact, he’s counting on it. He expects to receive requests to send videos—as a joke—to people who hate crypto. He said his Bored Ape is the first NFT avatar on Cameo, putting him on the frontier of such potential use cases. Draper is donating all proceeds from the videos to Mission Blue, a group working to protect the oceans.

“I love being in industries where there are haters,” Draper said. “That means when they realize the value, they become impassioned lovers of the craft. And so it's just all about changing everyone's mind over a period of time.”

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.

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