Fresh Off $40 Million Raise, CreatorIQ Buys Tribe Dynamics

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Fresh Off $40 Million Raise, CreatorIQ Buys Tribe Dynamics

One of the largest influencer marketing companies, a Culver City-based startup that's helping Disney, AirBnB and Amazon build social media campaigns, is getting larger as demand for data on social media stars grows.

CreatorIQ, a marketing analytics company, is acquiring a similar company called Tribe Dynamics for roughly $70 million.

The cash and stock deal announced Sept. 21 comes less than a week after CreatorIQ raised $40 million to scale its operations and invest in fine-tuning the artificial intelligence systems it uses to get precise measurements of a brand's digital footprint.

Both companies use artificial intelligence to analyze market trends and gauge if marketing is working. As influencers become the default spokespeople for big-box brands, companies are shelling out to predict who's the best voice to sell specific products.

CreatorIQ CEO Igor Vaks

CreatorIQ CEO Igor Vaks

CreatorIQ CEO Igor Vaks said each company prioritizes measuring a different subset of influencer marketing campaigns, which is why combining them made sense.

San Francisco-based Tribe Dynamics tracks what co-founder Conor Begley calls "earned media," a term to describe advertising that the company doesn't pay for, like people flexing their Tesla on Instagram.

The car owner isn't paid by Tesla for the ad, but posting about it does usually benefit the brand anyway, and this sort of shadow advertising is a key metric in helping brands to truly determine how they're viewed online.

On the other hand, CreatorIQ focuses on paid interactions where brands enlist influencers to sell their products and prioritizes data on direct activations.

Conor Begley

"The companies are very complementary. Together, this will enable us to give brands and agencies a 360-degree look at both paid and earned influencer marketing programs," Vaks said in an email.

Begley said the company was looking to raise funding but instead opted to take the buyout, because it'll give Tribe Dynamics access to areas of marketing intelligence it wasn't previously tracking, as well as support to grow.

Tribe Dynamics tracks the metrics of fashion and beauty campaigns, but it doesn't have a hold on other industries like automotive, publishing, entertainment and gaming.

Tribe Dynamics will operate under its existing brand, as will CreatorIQ, but going forward the teams will share technology and staff as they continue working remotely. The two have about 500 customers combined, Vaks noted. CreatorIQ's database of influencers is about 23 million strong.

"Looking at CreatorIQ, and specifically its position in the market, I believe that right now, it is the biggest both by revenue and by headcount," Begley said. "That was, frankly, part of the motivation, because as these things start to scale up, you get significant advantages around being number one… additional access to capital (and) better access to partnerships."

Grand View Research estimates the global influencer marketing industry this year is valued at $7.68 billion, and noted it expects the market to grow roughly 30% by 2028.

Begley argued that figure seems low and pointed to valuations of influencer-created brands that Tribe Dynamics tracks – like Kylie Jenner's Kylie Cosmetics, which was valued at $1.2 billion two years ago. Anastasia Beverly Hills, another influencer-helmed brand that Tribe Dynamics analyzes, was valued at $2.5 billion in 2018.

"If you actually think about the amount of value that's getting created by the businesses that are being counted," the overall industry valuation should be more, Begley posited. "I think it's actually much, much bigger… If you start to bake in the brands that these people are creating, it gets really big really fast."

CreatorIQ has raised roughly $80 million since its launch in 2014, and its biggest clients include Unilever, Disney and Sephora, which it'll add to Tribe Dynamics' growing portfolio of luxury retailers like Gucci, Coach and Dior and fast fashion brands like FashionNova and Gymshark.

Vaks said the deal gives CreatorIQ access to even more data, which positions it to become a more well-rounded player in the influencer analytics space.

"We're also looking forward to bringing Tribe's capabilities to a wider cross-section of industries like gaming and entertainment," Vaks said. "Influencer marketing measurement is something that will benefit every category, not just beauty and fashion."

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Another Round of Layoffs Points to the Growing Tension Within the Tech Industry

Lon Harris
Lon Harris is a contributor to dot.LA. His work has also appeared on ScreenJunkies, RottenTomatoes and Inside Streaming.
Another Round of Layoffs Points to the Growing Tension Within the Tech Industry
Drew Grant Midjourney

According to a new report from Bloomberg, Facebook and Instagram owner Meta are planning a fresh, significant round of layoffs that could happen as soon as this week. Thousands of employees are expected to lose their jobs, and that’s after the company cut 11,000 workers – 13% of its total workforce – in November of last year.

The November cuts were part of an ongoing project Meta leadership has dubbed “flattening,” an attempt to reorganize the entire company from the top-down to make it more “nimble.” CEO Mark Zuckerberg has dubbed 2023 Meta’s “Year of Efficiency,” in an attempt to familiarize employees with his thinking and prepare them for the changes to come. Broadly, the thinking goes that, while multiple layers of management and supervision make organizations more predictable and reliable, the bureaucracies ultimately stifle innovation and individual employee development. As well, they make the organizations slower to react to change, because so many different individuals on so many layers have to re-evaluate and alter their workflows.

The latest round of cuts is not directly connected to the flattening plan, according to internal sources who spoke with Bloomberg, but will be made out of necessity, due to a downturn in ad revenue and a shift in focus toward the Metaverse. They’re the latest indication of Meta’s increasing desperation for new revenue streams. (Fortune reports that the layoffs ALONE likely cost Meta around $88,000 per employee.)

Regardless of the specific motivations behind the layoffs, and beyond their immediate costs, dropping so much staff in so little time is bound to have some ongoing consequences and ripple effects. Even before Bloomberg’s report about new layoffs, Meta’s flattening project and “Year of Efficiency” announcement was already being blamed for a downtown in productivity at the company. In February, the Financial Times reported that Meta managers lacked clarity around their team budgets, headcounts, and other important information, making them functionally unable to plan for their workloads and ongoing projects. Some staffers told FT that “zero work” was being done amid all the uncertainty, adding that the Year of Efficiency began with “a bunch of people getting paid to do nothing.”

Elon Musk’s Twitter has also entered the “Find Out” phase after F*cking Around with layoffs over the past several months. On two separate recent occasions, minor code changes to the microblogging platform and social network caused widespread problems and outages. Most recently, on Monday, what Musk described as a “small API change” behind the scenes interrupted Twitter users’ ability to post both links and images. Musk blamed an “extremely brittle… code stack” which will ultimately require a “complete rewrite” to fully repair, but it’s worth pointing out that Twitter rarely had these kinds of widespread major outages before letting go of a considerable chunk of its engineering squad.

Beyond the organizational and practical impacts of losing so many people so quickly, there are also bound to be long-term implications for recruitment and morale. On Monday, the same day that links and images broke platform-wide, Musk was confronted publicly on the app by an Icelandic employee (or former employee, depending on who you believe) named Haraldur Thorleifsson, or Halli for short.

Thorleifsson – who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair for mobility – founded a creative agency named Ueno in 2014, which had partnered with Twitter on a number of design and product experiences over the years. In 2021, well prior to Musk’s direct involvement with the company, Twitter acquired Ueno and brought in Thorleifsson as an employee. He explained in a series of tweets to Musk on Monday that he’d lost remote access to Twitter’s system, and was unable to confirm with HR whether or not this was because he’d been terminated from the company. Musk responded aggressively, with a string of questions and challenges implying that Thorleifsson’s work was not providing value, and even referring to his disability as an “excuse.” He added “you can’t be fired if you weren’t working in the first place.” Thorleifsson’s stinging response, sent on Tuesday morning, now has nearly 30,000 retweets and over 200,000 likes, at the time of this newsletter’s publication.

PR-wise, it’s probably a bad look for Musk, and he may even be potentially running afoul of some Californian and international labor laws, if the thread’s many commenter-spectators are to be believed. But the situation also points to a larger tension within the technology industry, between managers who rely on what they view as essentially an infinite supply of fresh young talent eager to work for big brands and hot startups, and a pandemic-hardened workforce that has come to expect more equitable treatment and compensation.

University College of London professor Anthony Klotz – who originally coined the term “The Great Resignation” in May 2021 to refer to all the people who quit their job during the pandemic – predicts that the trend will finally even out this year, as labor shortages abate and more people gradually return to offices. (Klotz cites the potential for a recession, which will potentially force some people to return to jobs they were maybe happy to have left, as a major factor.)

But while most charts, including data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, show the resignation trend becoming more “muted,” there are signs that the Great Resignation may still be influencing overall decision-making on both sides of the employee-employer divide. According to HR Digest, companies that invested in employee development and efforts to attract and keep talent saw a 58% increase in employee retention in 2022. On a recent LinkedIn survey, 61% of US employees said they were considering resigning from their jobs in 2023.

In the aggregate, it’s probably too soon to tell whether or not the pandemic and Great Recession were a blip on the labor market radar or a significant milestone event that with any kind of real long-term impact.

SoundCloud’s Attempt at a Revamp? An AI-Driven Recommendation Feed

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is dot.LA's 2022/23 Editorial Fellow. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

SoundCloud’s Attempt at a Revamp? An AI-Driven Recommendation Feed
Photo by C D-X on Unsplash

AI has infiltrated just about every creative field. Poets have complained about the tech’s shoddy imitations of famous writers, anime fans can watch an unending AI-generated show and artists are suing an AI company over copyright usage. The music industry is no exception.

Though there are plenty of examples of people using ChatGPT to write songs, AI has been most successfully implemented as a way for music platforms to recommend music.

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Behind Her Empire: Gobble Founder and CEO Ooshma Garg On Finding Product Market Fit

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

Behind Her Empire: Gobble Founder and CEO Ooshma Garg On Finding Product Market Fit
Courtesy of Behind Her Empire

On this episode of Behind Her Empire, Gobble Founder and CEO Ooshma Garg discusses raising capital for her company and her ever-evolving business model.

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