Serena Williams' Debut as an Author Is an Invisible Universe-Inspired Book for Children

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 samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Serena Williams' Debut as an Author Is an Invisible Universe-Inspired Book for Children

Qai Qai the baby doll made her debut on social media in August 2018. Dressed in a tutu, the doll is pictured courtside cheering at Serena Williams’ tennis matches, taking calls in a car with Gayle King, and reading Beyonce’s book “Lemonade” -- and she has over 350,000 followers on Instagram.

Now, Olympic gold medalist and the best female tennis player in the world Serena Williams has written a children’s book about her.

“The Adventures of Qai Qai” is a kid’s book written by Williams, published by Macmillan and co-created with Invisible Universe, a Los Angeles-based startup that’s looking to create the next hit cartoon character on social media and become “the Pixar of the internet.”


Qai Qai is a digital character based on a doll owned by Williams and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanians’ four-year old daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. But the digital avatar was created by Invisible Universe.

To go along with Qai Qai’s debut in the tangible world (the book is set to be released in September 2022), the company also helped Williams create a doll that will be sold on Amazon.

Invisible Universe is one relatively new entrant into the rapidly crowding field of digital avatars and virtual influencers like Qai Qai.


Dapper Collectives (formerly known as Brud) runs social accounts for Lil’ Miquela, a virtual influencer with 3.1 million followers and is said at dot.LA’s recent fall Summit it’s looking to expand her reach into TV and other forms of interactive storytelling. Another similar company is Genies, which is making digital avatars for celebrities that can follow them across different social media platforms.

“Our belief is that the power of incubating IP on social media allows us to test things and build an audience and community,” said Invisible Universe CEO Tricia Biggio “But from there, our mission is absolutely to extend that (intellectual property) and other forms of publishing.”

She said part of that is selling the doll on Amazon and eventually creating long-form scripted content.

Biggio was a TV development executive at VH1, Snap and MGM, and she was Invisible Universe’s chief creative officer for a year before taking the CEO helm in June.

She believes that creating strong characters that can transcend the boundaries of their scripted content and live online as their own digital personas is the key to getting people to stay engaged with new stories. But unlike studios focused on box offices or streaming, Biggio wants Invisible Universe’s content to be on social media first where fans can interact with it all the time.

Biggio said that her co-founder and former Snap executive John Brennan was friends with Williams and Ohanian and developed the idea to create content based on the Qai Qai doll before Invisible Universe even started. They then tapped writers with experience at Hollywood studios to bring the vision to life.

“We've assembled a team of writers, Hollywood writers, who we've convinced to come and do this really experimental thing with us,” Biggio said.

Other digital creations by Invisible Universe include the fictional long-lost toys of Dixie D’Amelio’s family called Squeaky and Roy and robots for Karli Kloss called Kayda and Kai. The creators are involved in the creation of their digital characters, and Invisible Universe is working on another to-be-announced project with “Friends” star Jennifer Aniston.

Biggio said the company has raised $9 million since its launch.

dot.LA co-founder Spencer Rascoff is an investor in Invisible Universe, alongside Williams and Aniston, who also acts as an advisor. Actor Will Smith is an investor through his venture fund Dreamers VC, as is the Cassius Family, Seven Seven Six and Initialized Capital.

Correction: An earlier version referred to John Brennan as Johnathan and incorrectly identified Dixie D'Amelio as Charli D'Amelio. An earlier version also stated Biggio wanted to create the "Pixar of social media," she in fact said "Pixar of the Internet."

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David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

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