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.


Similar programs are common in the startup world and in the creator economy. For example, social media companies can use accelerator programs not only to support rising stars but to lure those creators—and their audiences—to the company’s platforms. Genies believes avatars will be a crucial part of the internet’s future and is similarly using its program to encourage creators to launch brands using Genies’ platform.

“I think us being able to work hands on with this next era—this next generation of designers and entrepreneurs—not only gets us a chance to understand how people want to use our platform and tools, but also allows us to nurture those types of creators that are going to exist and continue to build within our ecosystem,” said Allison Sturges, Genies’ head of strategic partnerships.

DIY Collective’s initial cohort will include roughly 15 people, Sturges said. They will spend three weeks at the Genies headquarters, participating in workshops and hearing from CEOs, fashion designers, tattoo artists and speakers from other industries, she added. Genies will provide creatives with funding to build brands and audiences, though Sturges declined to share how much. By the end of the program, participants will be able to sell digital goods through the company’s NFT marketplace, The Warehouse. There, people can buy, sell and trade avatar creations, such as wearable items.

Genies will accept applications for the debut program until Aug. 1. It will kick off on Aug. 8, and previous experience in digital fashion and 3D art development is not required.

Sturges said that the program will teach people “about the tools and capabilities that they will have” through Genies’ platform, as well as “how to think about building their own avatar ecosystem brands and even their own audience.”

Image courtesy of Genies

Founded in 2017, Genies established itself by making avatars for celebrities from Rihanna to Russell Westbrook, who have used the online lookalikes for social media and sponsorship opportunities. The 150-person company, which has raised at least $250 million to date, has secured partnerships with Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group to make avatars for each music label’s entire roster of artists. Former Disney boss Bob Iger joined the company’s board in March.

The company wants to extend avatars to everyone else. Avatars—digital figures that represent an individual—may be the way people interact with each other in the 3D virtual worlds of the metaverse, the much-hyped iteration of the internet where users may one day work, shop and socialize. A company spokesperson previously told dot.LA that Genies has been beta testing avatar creator tools with invite-only users and gives creators “full ownership and commercialization rights” over their creations collecting a 5% transaction fee each time an avatar NFT is sold.

“It's an opportunity for people to build their most expressive and authentic self within this digital era,” Sturges said of avatars.

The company’s call for creators could be a sign that Genies is close to rolling out the Warehouse and its tools publicly. Asked what these avatar tools might look like, the startup went somewhat quiet again.

Allison Sturges said, “I think that's probably something that I'll hold off on sharing. We will be rolling some of this out soon.”

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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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Rivian Q2 Earnings Are a Much-Needed Nothing Burger

David Shultz

David Shultz is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara, California. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside and Nautilus, among other publications.

Rivian R1S at a charging station in the desert.
Rivian's Q2 numbers are delightfully boring.

Rivian, the fledgling electric vehicle startup in Irvine, CA, released its Q2 earnings yesterday. I’m happy to report they’re pretty boring! There were no big surprises from RJ Scaringe’s EV hopeful, but here are the report highlights:

  • ~$15 billion of cash, cash equivalents, and restricted cash as of June 30 2022.
  • 98,000 net R1 preorders
  • Amazon has ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans
  • Rivian has produced 8k vehicles so far
  • The company is still on pace to deliver 25,000 vehicles in 2022
  • -Actual revenue was $364 million.
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Amazon-Owned MGM is Making a TV Show Out of Ring Camera Footage

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He 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 samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter at @Samsonamore. Pronouns: he/him

Wanda Sykes with hands clasped next to "Ring Nation"
Credit: Ring/Amazon

Comedian Wanda Sykes’ latest venture is turning video from your smart home network into a TV show.

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