Spotter Raises $200 Million To License YouTubers’ Old Videos

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.

Spotter Raises $200 Million To License YouTubers’ Old Videos
Photo by Wachiwit/ Shutterstock

Bruce Springsteen and Sting are not the only artists these days making millions of dollars from their content catalogs: YouTube stars are monetizing their libraries, too.


Since launching in 2019, Los Angeles-based startup Spotter has spent $350 million to license YouTubers’ back catalogs—providing creators with cash up front in exchange for their videos’ advertising revenues. But whereas musicians like Springsteen and Sting have cashed in on their catalogs as an exit strategy, YouTube creators can use Spotter to get the money they need to further grow their brands. And if they succeed, that only makes Spotter’s investment in them even more valuable.

“If we can give creators money that's on an accelerated basis, that's enough to be game-changing at whatever part of their journey they're in,” Spotter founder and CEO Aaron DeBevoise told dot.LA. “They're going to win at such a big level that everyone's gonna win.”

On Wednesday, Spotter announced a $200 million Series D funding round, led by investment giant SoftBank, that values the firm at $1.7 billion. (The company had previously raised $555 million across three previous, undisclosed funding rounds, it said.) In addition to Softbank, Spotter's investors include Access Industries, CoVenture, Crossbeam Venture Partners, GPS Investment Partners and HighPost Capital.

Spotter founder and CEO Aaron DeBevoise

Spotter founder and CEO Aaron DeBevoise.

The company is hardly alone in making a huge bet on the creator economy. Brands are expected to spend $15 billion on influencer marketing this year, according to research from CB Insights. Tech giants and startups alike are spending prolifically to lure creators, ramping up payouts or letting them put content behind a paywall. That jockeying comes as creators with massive followings look for a bigger slice of the revenue pie.

Spotter contends that its model gives YouTubers a way to capitalize on their work quickly without adding debt or losing equity. The startup licenses the advertising revenue rights to creators’ previous uploads for a usual duration of around five years; Spotter has paid creators anywhere from $15,000 to $40 million for their ad rights, according to DeBevoise, who noted that the average deal is worth about $1.5 million.

The idea of YouTube catalogs as lucrative assets has quickly gained ground. Last month, creator economy company JellySmack announced it would spend $500 million on licensing YouTubers’ libraries.

Spotter has already struck deals with some of YouTube’s biggest creators including MrBeast, Dude Perfect, Like Nastya, Aphmau, and Smokin' & Grillin' wit AB. The company said it has licensed hundreds of thousands of videos that generate more than 40 billion viewing minutes per month.

“If these videos that [creators have] created over time are predictable enough to finance, they can really scale and grow their brands a lot more than the current monetization offerings allow them to do,” DeBevoise said of the idea behind his business.

YouTube star MrBeast, for example, used the capital he received from Spotter to fund his Spanish-language YouTube channel. According to Spotter, MrBeast—whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson—has increased his total viewership by roughly 300%, to 1.35 billion monthly views, since its funding allowed him to expand his content’s language offerings.

“The cost of dubbing is expensive and the revenue on YouTube is delayed—you don't get it instantly,” Donaldson said in a statement. “By partnering with Spotter, I was able to keep dubbing videos and uploading.”

Spotter plans to use its new funding to buy more rights to YouTube videos. The company expects to invest another $650 million on back catalogs over the next 18 months, taking its total spent to $1 billion.

Early on, DeBevoise said Spotter had to overcome concerns from some creators who thought they would be giving up all of their monthly ad revenues; in turn, the company would note it had data showing that most ad revenue comes from new uploads. Spotter now wants to enhance its data analytics offerings to give creators insight into the value of their libraries and ideas on how to improve performance.

“Before it was really ‘Hey, can we get people to believe that this transaction is a good economic deal?’” DeBevoise said. “Now it's, ‘How do we move from being thought of as a transaction to a partnership?’”

🤠Musk Picks Texas and 🔥Tinder AI Picks Your Profile Pictures
Image Source: Tinder

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Tinder is altering dating profile creation with its new AI-powered Photo Selector feature, designed to help users choose their most appealing dating profile pictures. This innovative tool employs facial recognition technology to curate a set of up to 10 photos from the user's device, streamlining the often time-consuming process of profile setup. To use the feature, users simply take a selfie within the Tinder app and grant access to their camera roll. The AI then analyzes the photos based on factors like lighting and composition, drawing from Tinder's research on what makes an effective profile picture.

The selection process occurs entirely on the user's device, ensuring privacy and data security. Tinder doesn't collect or store any biometric data or photos beyond those chosen for the profile, and the facial recognition data is deleted once the user exits the feature. This new tool addresses a common pain point for users, as Tinder's research shows that young singles typically spend about 25 to 33 minutes selecting a profile picture. By automating this process, Tinder aims to reduce profile creation time and allow users to focus more on making meaningful connections.

In wholly unrelated news, Elon Musk has announced plans to relocate the headquarters of X (formerly Twitter) and SpaceX from California to Texas. SpaceX will move from Hawthorne to Starbase, while X will shift from San Francisco to Austin. Musk cited concerns about aggressive drug users near X's current headquarters and a new California law regarding gender identity notification in schools as reasons for the move. This decision follows Musk's previous relocation of Tesla's headquarters to Texas in 2021.

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  • Penguin Random House agreed to acquire comic book publisher Boom! Studios from backers like Walt Disney Co. - learn more

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Top LA Accelerators that Entrepreneurs Should Know About

Los Angeles, has a thriving startup ecosystem with numerous accelerators, incubators, and programs designed to support and nurture new businesses. These programs provide a range of services, including funding, mentorship, workspace, networking opportunities, and strategic guidance to help entrepreneurs develop their ideas and scale their companies.


Techstars Los Angeles

Techstars is a global outfit with a chapter in Los Angeles that opened in 2017. It prioritizes local companies but will fund some firms based outside of LA.

Location: Culver City

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, early stage

Focus: Industry Agnostic

Notable Past Companies: StokedPlastic, Zeno Power


Grid110

Grid110 offers no-cost, no-equity programs for entrepreneurs in Los Angeles, including a 12-week Residency accelerator for early-stage startups, an Idea to Launch Bootcamp for pre-launch entrepreneurs, and specialized programs like the PledgeLA Founders Fund and Friends & Family program, all aimed at providing essential skills, resources, and support to help founders develop and grow their businesses.

Location: DTLA

Type of Funding: Seed, early stage

Focus: Industry Agnostic

Notable Past Companies: Casetify, Flavors From Afar


Idealab

Idealab is a renowned startup studio and incubator based in Pasadena, California. Founded in 1996 by entrepreneur Bill Gross, Idealab has a long history of nurturing innovative technology companies, with over 150 startups launched and 45 successful IPOs and acquisitions, including notable successes like Coinbase and Tenor.

Location: Pasadena

Type of Funding: Stage agnostic

Focus: Industry Agnostic, AI/Robotics, Consumer, Clean Energy

Notable Past Companies: Lumin, Coinbase, Tenor


Plug In South LA

Plug In South LA is a tech accelerator program focused on supporting and empowering Black and Latinx entrepreneurs in the Los Angeles area. The 12-week intensive program provides early-stage founders with mentorship, workshops, strategic guidance, potential pilot partnerships, grant funding, and networking opportunities to help them scale their businesses and secure investment.

Location: Los Angeles

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, seed

Focus: Industry Agnostic, Connection to South LA and related communities

Notable Past Companies: ChargerHelp, Peadbo


Cedars-Sinai Accelerator

The Cedars-Sinai Accelerator is a three-month program based in Los Angeles that provides healthcare startups with $100,000 in funding, mentorship from over 300 leading clinicians and executives, and access to Cedars-Sinai's clinical expertise and resources. The program aims to transform healthcare quality, efficiency, and care delivery by helping entrepreneurs bring their innovative technology products to market, offering participants dedicated office space, exposure to a broad network of healthcare entrepreneurs and investors, and the opportunity to pitch their companies at a Demo Day.

Location: West Hollywood

Type of Funding: Seed, early stage, convertible note

Focus: Healthcare, Device, Life Sciences

Notable Past Companies: Regard, Hawthorne Effect


MedTech Innovator

MedTech Innovator is the world's largest accelerator for medical technology companies, based in Los Angeles, offering a four-month program that provides selected startups with unparalleled access to industry leaders, investors, and resources without taking equity. The accelerator culminates in showcase events and competitions where participating companies can win substantial non-dilutive funding, with the program having a strong track record of helping startups secure FDA approvals and significant follow-on funding.

Location: Westwood

Type of Funding: Seed, early stage

Focus: Health Care, Health Diagnostics, Medical Device

Notable Past Companies: Zeto, Genetesis


KidsX

The KidsX Accelerator in Los Angeles is a 10-week program that supports early-stage digital health companies focused on pediatric care, providing mentorship, resources, and access to a network of children's hospitals to help startups validate product-market fit and scale their solutions. The accelerator uses a reverse pitch model, where participating hospitals identify focus areas and work closely with selected startups to develop and pilot digital health solutions that address specific pediatric needs.

Location: East Hollywood

Type of Funding: Pre-seed, seed, early stage

Focus: Pediatric Health Care Innovation

Notable Past Companies: Smileyscope, Zocalo Health


Disney Accelerator

Disney Accelerator is a startup accelerator that provides early-stage companies in the consumer media, entertainment and technology sectors with mentorship, guidance, and investment from Disney executives. The program, now in its 10th year, aims to foster collaborations and partnerships between innovative technology companies and The Walt Disney Company to help them accelerate their growth and bring new experiences to Disney audiences.

Location: Burbank

Type of Funding: Growth stage

Focus: Technology and entertainment

Notable Past Companies: Epic Games, BRIT + CO, CAMP


Techstars Space Accelerator

Techstars Space Accelerator is a startup accelerator program focused on advancing the next generation of space technology companies. The three-month mentorship-driven program brings together founders from across the globe to work on big ideas in aerospace, including rapid launch services, precision-based imaging, operating systems for complex robotics, in-space servicing, and thermal protection.

Location: Los Angeles

Type of Funding: Growth stage

Focus: Aerospace

Notable Past Companies: Pixxel, Morpheus Space



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

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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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