Event: How the Creator Economy Is Empowering Artists and Changing Hollywood

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

Event: How the Creator Economy Is Empowering Artists and Changing Hollywood
Photo by David Ruano

Investors, influencers and entrepreneurs mingled and chatted about the creator economy as a robot served cocktails.

dot.LA's inaugural, in-person summer series event sought to bring some understanding to the creator economy and the myriad ways it's shifting power relationships in Hollywood.


The new model is already upending traditional advertising, spurring a slew of startups from old school talent agencies to AI-platforms aimed at boosting influencers' reach and giving once overlooked artists a bigger voice.

"Talent are [now] able to do much more than just brand deals," said Jake Webb, who runs talent management company Slash Management. Webb was on dot.LA's panel on Thursday night. He counts among his clients, Loey Lane, an influencer who with the help of Wheelhouse has leveraged her hundreds of thousands of followers. "They're able to create productions, create ventures."

Lane now has a Spotify podcast hit.

Lane built her social media following primarily on Instagram and TikTok by focusing on body positivity. She later expanded her brand to also include paranormal ghost-hunting, which she initially pursued largely on YouTube. Wheelhouse, one of many agencies in Hollywood that have thrown their resources behind influencers, helped her and her co-host spin their show into a Spotify podcast – exemplifying the enduring allure of "traditional media."

dot.LA CEO Sam Adams and CoMotion CEO John Rossant enjoy a few magic tricks.

She's hardly the only one who is using her social media celebrity to clinch deals. Brands from Dunkin' Donuts to Crocs rely on celebrities to drive interest in their products. And Hollywood is even scouting on social media.

"It goes both ways," said Wheelhouse digital executive Avi Gandhi. While influencers like Lane who've built a following on social media may seek to migrate into more established entertainment pathways, the reverse is also happening. Noah Schnapp is a case in point, Gandhi said; the child actor leveraged his success on Netflix's "Stranger Things" to build a big social following of his own.

Gandhi, who helps creators build their brand, said aspiring influencers need to spread their presence across numerous platforms.

"If you want to grow your business you have to be in as many places as possible, because there is money in all of those different places if you approach it right. And different content works in different places," Gandhi said.

The company is currently helping the influencer group Hype House launch a show on Netflix.

So where does he spend his free time? Online, of course.

"I watch TikTok when I'm bored and only have my phone; I listen to podcasts when I'm in my car; I watch Netflix on Friday when I just want my brain to shut off," Gandhi said. "They all coexist and I don't foresee any of them going away."

dot.LA's inaugural, in-person summer series was hosted Thursday night by dot.LA's Kelly O'Grady.

It was presented in partnership with Wheelhouse.

https://twitter.com/hisamblake
samblake@dot.la
🎬 Paramount and Skydance Are Back On
Image Source: Paramount

Happy Friday Los Angeles! Hope you all had a fantastic Fourth!!

🔦 Spotlight

Paramount and Skydance Media have rekindled talks to merge after negotiations abruptly halted in June. The proposed deal, contingent on approval from Paramount’s board, aims to combine Paramount’s extensive media holdings—including CBS, MTV, and Nickelodeon—with Skydance’s film expertise showcased in hits like "Top Gun: Maverick." This merger signals a potential transformation in the media landscape, positioning the new entity to compete more effectively amid challenges from streaming services and the decline of traditional cable TV.

Led by Shari Redstone, Paramount’s controlling shareholder via National Amusements, the deal represents a pivot towards revitalizing Paramount’s strategic direction amidst financial struggles and shareholder concerns. The involvement of major investors like RedBird Capital Partners and David Ellison underscores the financial backing aimed at stabilizing Paramount’s operations and addressing its $14 billion debt burden. Importantly, the agreement includes provisions to protect National Amusements from potential legal challenges, addressing previous hurdles that stalled earlier negotiations.

The deal also includes a 45-day period for Paramount to explore alternative offers, highlighting continued interest from other potential buyers like Barry Diller’s IAC and media executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. This flurry of activity underscores the significant stakeholders’ interest in Paramount’s future and its potential as a key player in a rapidly evolving media industry.


🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • Sidecar Health, a startup that offers personalized health insurance plans to businesses that allow members to see any doctor and pay directly at the time of service, raised a $165M Series D led by Koch Disruptive Technologies. - learn more

LA Venture Funds


Download the dot.LA App

😊🚘 Rivian's $5 Billion Lifeline

🔦 Spotlight

Volkswagen announced on Tuesday a significant investment of up to $5 billion in Rivian, a struggling electric truck manufacturer known for its vehicles' distinctive smiley-face design reminiscent of Volkswagen's iconic Beetle. This partnership marks a unique collaboration between the world's second-largest automaker and a startup grappling with profitability challenges akin to those faced by Tesla. Volkswagen's infusion of $1 billion initially, potentially rising to $5 billion pending regulatory approval, underscores its strategic pivot towards enhancing its electric vehicle (EV) software capabilities, an area where analysts believe the company has lagged.

For Rivian, which has received acclaim for its electric trucks and SUVs but struggles with production ramp-up and financial losses, the investment offers crucial financial backing. The company plans to utilize Volkswagen's expertise in manufacturing, leveraging the German automaker's annual production of nearly 10 million vehicles. This alliance aims to bolster Rivian's efforts to launch new models like the R2 midsize SUV and complete its Georgia factory, paused earlier this year to conserve funds. Rivian's stock surged upwards of 40% following the announcement, reflecting investor optimism in the company's future prospects.

Despite their differing corporate cultures—Volkswagen's traditional, structured approach contrasted with Rivian's agile tech startup ethos—the CEOs of both companies expressed mutual admiration and shared goals during the partnership announcement. The collaboration is expected to yield EV software solutions benefiting Volkswagen's various brands, potentially including Audi and Porsche, while allowing Rivian to maintain its brand identity and separate vehicle marketing strategies. This strategic partnership between Volkswagen and Rivian not only promises to revolutionize the electric vehicle market but also highlights the potential for collaboration between established automakers and innovative startups in Southern California, where Rivian is based. Here’s to hoping these smiling cars will balance out some of the inevitable LA road rage.

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • HeyGen, a startup that allows users to generate videos with AI-created avatars that can lip-sync to provided audio, making it easier for businesses to create engaging video content, raised a $60M Funding Round at a $500M post-money valuation. The deal was led by Benchmark, with Conviction, Thrive Capital, and Bond Capital also stepping up. - learn more
  • Pomerium, a startup that provides a secure access platform that dynamically verifies user identities to ensure authorized access to applications and services, raised a $13.8M Series A round led by Benchmark and including previous investors Bain Capital, Haystack, and SNR. - learn more
  • Etched, a maker of transformer-specialized AI chips, raised a $120M Funding Round. - learn more
  • Rocketlane, a customer onboarding platform, raised a $24M Series B co-led by 8VC, Matrix Partners India, and Nexus Venture Partners. - learn more
  • Sift, a developer of unified observability solutions for hardware sensor data, raised a $17.5M Series A led by GV. - learn more
  • LOST iN, a travel media brand, raised a $4M Seed Round led by MaC Venture Capital. - learn more

LA Venture Funds


Download the dot.LA App

RELATEDEDITOR'S PICKS
Trending