More and More Influencers Are Launching Their Own VC Funds — Here’s Why

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.

three big influencers on tiktok
@DixieDamelio, @NoahBeck, @Jaclynrjohnson

From brand deals to creator funds, influencers are finding new ways to make their personal brand a business enterprise. Their latest method? Venture capital.

TikTok stars Charli and Dixie D’Amelio made waves earlier this year, when they started their fund. So did TikTok stars Noah Beck, Josh Richards and Griffin Johnson with the launch of Animal Capital—a $15 million fund targeting pre-seed and series A-stage startups. Up to this point, the fund has invested in 26 companies, including the plant-based chicken company Daring Chicken and the event partnership platform Recess.


Animal Capital managing partner Marshall Sandman says turning to venture capital allows influencers to plan for their economic future—one that isn’t reliant on internet fads. While Sandman says many influencers are “cash heavy” thanks to large brand deals, investing offers one method to grow that existing wealth.

“Traditionally, there’s a pretty tight lifecycle on being an influencer,” Sandman says.

Not to mention, influencers tend to have flexible schedules, which Sandman says, allow them to create time dedicated to the fund. And influencers aren’t just writing checks. Sandman says many of them actively speak with founders and help connect them with other companies.

Actively involving influencers in the investing process is all part of the economic relationship forged by a fund like Animal Capital. While an influencer’s personal taste can sway what investments they make, Sandman says they trust him to spend their money well. In other words, each person brings something different to this partnership. Sandman provides the investing background. And influencers provide their expertise in knowing how to capture an audience.

“We each exist in our lanes,” Sandman says.

When lifestyle influencer Jaclyn Johnson first found success on Blogspot in 2008, she says monetizing content creation wasn’t as easy as it is today. That forced her to look to entrepreneurship opportunities, ultimately leading to the media company Create & Cultivate, which she sold for $22 million last year.

As she built up her business, she was also angel investing—a process she says revealed how her audience can boost a business. This led her to launch New Money Ventures to invest in female-founded businesses. Backing companies like Winnie Harlow’s skincare brand Cayskin, New Money invests in late-stage, seed or Series A rounds.

Not only has content monetization changed since she first entered the influencer world, but so has the question of ownership. Johnson says more influencers are concerned with both owning their content and finding fair brand deals since companies often lean on influencers’ audiences while not paying them fairly. As such, Johnson says investing in companies is one way for influencers to make the sponsored content they already create more beneficial.

“For these influencers, there's a major opportunity to not only get paid to promote brands but ask for a piece of ownership as well,” Johnson says.

Other VC funds have also utilized a creator’s background to invest in this space. Blake Michael was once the youngest person to be monetized on YouTube in 2009. Having spun internet fame into an acting career, Michael launched his VC firm CreatorLed to turn influencers into investors. CreatorLed’s limited partners are influencers with followings ranging from 10,000 to 20 million.

Michael says he wants to foster a network of creators in the investing space and, ultimately, “leverage the power that we all have together.”

Many creators are also trying to look beyond the traditional brand deal and toward a more fleshed-out personal brand. In the same way that Disney has its parks, films and merchandise, Michael believes influencers can create a broader legacy by adding investments on top of their content creation.

“My mission is helping creators understand that they can be so much more than a digital billboard,” Michael says. “They can help companies and founders in all aspects of business.”

Despite the benefits an influencer can bring as an investor, only some are prepared to explore venture capital. Sandman says it takes a discerning eye to determine when to take a brand deal versus when to invest money, and that judgment typically requires a team of people providing guidance. But those who are willing to find the right team have the potential to increase both their personal wealth and their social capital.

“[Influencers invest] to look smart and entrepreneurial,” Sandman says. “I think, for the most part, they do, and that's a successful relationship.”

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🚁 One Step Closer to Air Taxis in LA
Image Source: Joby Aviation

🔦 Spotlight

Joby Aviation, a pioneering electric air taxi company, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully flying a hydrogen-electric aircraft demonstrator for 523 miles with only water as a byproduct. This groundbreaking flight showcases the potential for emissions-free regional travel using vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, eliminating the need for traditional runways. The company's innovative approach combines its existing battery-electric air taxi technology with hydrogen fuel cells, paving the way for longer-range, environmentally friendly air travel.

For LA residents, this development holds exciting implications for future transportation options. Joby's technology could potentially enable direct flights from LA to destinations like San Francisco or San Diego without the need to visit conventional airports, offering a cleaner and more convenient alternative to current travel methods. The company's progress in both battery-electric and hydrogen-electric aircraft positions it at the forefront of next-generation aviation, promising to revolutionize urban and regional mobility.

Notably, Joby Aviation has already made strides in Southern California by securing an agreement with John Wayne Airport earlier this year to install the region's first electric air taxi charger. This strategic move sets the stage for LA to be among the initial markets where Joby will launch its electric air taxi service. With plans to commence commercial operations as early as 2025 using its battery-electric air taxi, LA residents may soon have access to a fast, quiet, and environmentally friendly mode of transportation that could significantly reduce travel times and traffic congestion in the region. In the not too distant future, LA might find itself in an identity crisis without traffic and excess smog 🤞🤞.


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Fuel Innovation: 7 Unforgettable Team Building Experiences in LA
Image Source: Discover LA

In today's competitive business landscape, team building activities have emerged as a crucial tool for fostering a positive work environment, enhancing productivity, and crucially, improving employee retention. Studies have shown that such activities help employees feel valued, with one report indicating that 93% of those who felt appreciated were more motivated at work. Importantly, team building events may improve retention rates, as employees who feel connected to their colleagues and company culture are more likely to stay long-term. With these benefits in mind, let's explore some of the most engaging and effective team building activities available in Los Angeles.

Pickleball

Image Source: Modern Luxury Angelino

Pickleball is a fantastic team bonding activity because of the easy-to-grasp rules and gentle pace make it perfect for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. The game thrives on communication and teamwork, as players must collaborate and strategize to outplay their opponents, boosting team cohesion. Plus, the lively, fast-paced action sparks friendly competition and laughter, creating a fun and spirited atmosphere that brings everyone closer together. Los Angeles boasts numerous pickleball courts that are easy to rent if you have your own equipment. If you need additional assistance organizing your pickleball outing, there are plenty of full-service companies ready to handle every detail for you.

Resources: Pickle Pop, Corporate Pickle


Escape Room

Image Source: The Escape Game

Escape rooms are a great way to build camaraderie. They require participants to work together, combining their problem-solving skills and creativity to overcome challenges and puzzles. The immersive and time-sensitive nature of escape rooms fosters collaboration and communication. Additionally, the shared experience of tackling complex tasks and reaching a common goal helps build trust and foster positive emotions among colleagues.

Resources: The Escape Game, 60Out


Day Trip to Catalina Island

Image Source: Love Catalina

Catalina Island is a perfect day trip for a team because it provides a break from the usual work environment, allowing team members to relax and connect in a new setting. Shared experiences during the trip, such as exploring new places and participating in fun activities, help build stronger relationships and foster a sense of camaraderie. There are numerous team-building activities such as an arboreal obstacle course, an island tour, scavenger hunts and more.

Resources: Catalina Island Group Activities


Top Golf

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Topgolf is an excellent team building event because it provides an inclusive, relaxed atmosphere that accommodates players of all skill levels, fostering personal connections and improving team morale. The unique blend of competition and entertainment creates an ideal setting for building trust, enhancing communication, and revealing hidden skills among team members. Additionally, Topgolf offers structured team building packages with guided activities, discussion prompts, and lessons on culture, change, collaboration, and strategy, making it a versatile and effective platform for strengthening relationships and boosting overall team performance.

Resources: Topgolf El Segundo


SoFi Stadium Tour

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A SoFi Stadium tour offers a unique, behind-the-scenes experience of one of the world's most advanced sports venues, allowing team members to explore exclusive areas like premium suites, team locker rooms, and the player tunnel together. The tour provides a shared, memorable experience that can foster camaraderie and spark conversations among team members, regardless of their interest in sports. Additionally, the stadium's state-of-the-art features and impressive architecture can inspire creativity and innovation, while the group setting encourages interaction and collaboration, making it an engaging and enjoyable activity for teams of various sizes and backgrounds

Resources: SoFi Stadium Group Tours


Corporate Volunteering

Image Source: L.A. Works

Volunteer work serves as an excellent team building activity by uniting employees around a shared, meaningful cause, fostering a sense of purpose and collective accomplishment. It provides opportunities for team members to collaborate in new ways, often revealing hidden strengths and leadership qualities that may not be apparent in the regular work environment. Additionally, engaging in community service can boost morale, enhance the company's reputation, and instill a sense of pride among employees, leading to improved workplace relationships and increased job satisfaction.

Resources: Habitat for Humanity, L.A. Works, VolunteerMatch


Corporate Improv Sessions

Image Source: Improv for the People

A corporate improv class encourages spontaneity, creativity, and quick thinking, skills that are valuable in the workplace. It promotes active listening and collaboration, as participants must work together to create scenes and respond to unexpected situations, fostering better communication and trust among team members. Additionally, the playful and often humorous nature of improv helps break down barriers, reduces stress, and creates a shared positive experience that can improve team morale and cohesion long after the event.

Resources: Improv-LA, Groundlings, Improv for the People

🎬 Paramount and Skydance Are Back On
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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.


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  • 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

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