Content Creators Relieved by Susan Wojcicki's Departure From YouTube

Amrita Khalid
Amrita Khalid is a tech journalist based in Los Angeles, and has written for Quartz, The Daily Dot, Engadget, Inc. Magazine and number of other publications. She got her start in Washington, D.C., covering Congress for CQ-Roll Call. You can send tips or pitches to amrita@dot.la or reach out to her on Twitter at @askhalid.
Content Creators Relieved by Susan Wojcicki's Departure From YouTube

When YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki announced her departure from the world’s largest video platform in a letter to its employees last week, she also issued a separate note to its millions of creators.

“Today, the YouTube community is incredibly strong. You are building businesses and following your dreams,” wrote Wojcicki.


The company began splitting its ad revenue with creators since 2007, long before rivals like Instagram, Twitch and TikTok began offering five and six-figure payouts to its most popular users.

But many creators who spoke to dot.LA say they’re relieved that Wojcicki is making her exit, citing numerous policy changes under her nearly decade-long tenure that they feel ruined the platform’s culture and made it harder for creators to earn a living. Once a destination for homegrown content, many independent creators have long felt that YouTube has abandoned them in favor of the brands and legacy media companies.

Zac Morris, who has been running the horror history YouTube channel CZsWorld full-time since 2017, said, “as a horror content creator, nearly every policy and change introduced under Wojcicki has been tumultuous.”

According to Morris, Wojcicki’s philosophy seemed to favor the creation of new products and services instead of maintaining existing features citing YouTube Shorts as one example.

“It's hard to be excited about YouTube Shorts when most viewers claim that notifications still don't work, the caption editor is nearly impossible to use and the mobile app for creators is still missing key features,” said Morris.

While YouTube has invited Shorts creators to its paid Partners program, some say the additional revenue isn’t worth the amount of labor. Animator Terminal Montage noted on Twitter that a video he posted that had over 650,000 views earned just a total of $18.51 in revenue.

“Shorts seem like a good way to build an audience but as someone who has a community and also hires people to help me, Shorts don't seem worth it,” he tweeted.

Other creators felt that Wojcicki hadn’t done enough to change YouTube’s copyright claims process. YouTubers who use popular music and movie clips in their videos risk getting flagged by Google’s Content ID system, which regularly scans for copyrighted material. As such, users have been forced to take down their videos, shut down their accounts or cough up hefty settlements, thanks to the seemingly all-seeing system.

“I felt that YouTube’s soul left during Queen Susan’s reign,” said English YouTuber Vee3rdeye. YouTube’s removal of the dislike button last year — which Wojcicki argued would reduce bullying — took away “the public’s voice,” he said.

Some creators also felt that their own voices had been taken away in light of a platform-wide effort to purge the site of less wholesome content and curb online harassment. While creators admit that some measures were necessary to prevent YouTube from becoming a cesspool of Russian propaganda or medical misinformation, many believe the platform has gone too far. YouTube made a drastic shift to family-friendly content in 2017 to appeal to advertisers and tightened its advertiser-friendly content restrictions, which forced many creators to scrub their content or risk demonetization. Many creators were unable to “clean up” their offerings and went offline altogether.

“What was meant to prevent videos promoting terrorism turned into a policy where only the most squeaky-clean family-friendly creators could survive. YouTube is interesting because of its diversity of talent, so forcing everyone into the same tiny box of guidelines is a terrible move,” said Morris.

Creators who let out a swear word or two in a video may wake up to find out their channel had been demonetized. YouTube updated its profanity policy last November to include the thumbnail, title, and first seven seconds of a video. The new policy also treats all curse words equally (regardless of their severity) and applies retroactively. As Polygonreported, some creators found that YouTube flagged old videos for “limited ad revenue” or classified them as “age-restricted” after the profanity policy went into effect — despite the fact that the content was perfectly kosher when published.

For years, LGBT creators have criticized YouTube for restricting and demonetizing their content. “Under Susan’s ‘rule’, creators suffered. YouTube went from a golden age to an ad apocalypse where LGBT terms like “trans” or “transgender” would get your video (..demonetized or restricted),” said Matthew Lush, one of the earliest gay Youtubers.

Meanwhile, following the 2016 presidential election, YouTube became known as a hotbed for extremist content, misinformation, and propaganda. While YouTube doubled down on efforts to combat misinformation and online harassment, creators say the current atmosphere is less than inviting and that there’s still widespread uncertainty amongst creators about what kind of content is allowed on the platform.

“What was meant to prevent videos promoting terrorism turned into a policy where only the most squeaky-clean family-friendly creators could survive,” said Morris. “YouTube is interesting because of its diversity of talent, so forcing everyone into the same tiny box of guidelines is a terrible move.”

Wojcicki will be replaced by YouTube’s chief product officer Neal Mohan, whose division oversees YouTube’s many products, from Shorts to Gaming to Kids.

In interviews, Mohan has made clear that he doesn’t see YouTube as competing with other platforms for creators.“I would argue that all of these platforms, while they might seem similar in many ways, are fundamentally very, very different, but I actually think that’s great for creators because it gives them a diversity of options,” Mohan toldThe Verge.

That said, while some creators are hopeful that a new leader will usher in a new era for the platform, others have little faith in a platform it feels has long forgotten independent creators.

“I really hope the new CEO can return YouTube to its previous glory,” said Lush. “It’s clearly been copying TikTok and Instagram with Shorts in a desperate need to keep viewers. But I’m optimistic and I know that many creators would love to create content again.”

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🏰 Disney's Epic Investment Stands Out Amidst Gaming Industry Layoffs

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.

🔦 Spotlight

In the midst of widespread gaming industry layoffs, a glimmer of positive news emerges as Disney announces a significant move: a $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games. 🏰💰🐭

Image Source: Disney

Disney's $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games, disclosed late Wednesday, signals a strategic alignment aimed at expanding the success of "Fortnite." The deal enhances Epic's growth prospects after financial setbacks, including layoffs, and strengthens the partnership between the two companies. With Disney gaining a larger equity stake in Epic, the collaboration will broaden the integration of beloved Disney franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Avatar into the game, potentially boosting its appeal and longevity. This significant investment underscores Disney's commitment to interactive entertainment and signifies a shift towards games as a primary revenue stream, aligning with the growing trend of digital engagement among younger demographics. Moreover, the potential for crossover sales of physical Disney products within "Fortnite" and the exploration of new content distribution channels are just some of the opportunities arising from this partnership.

For LA tech, the Disney-Epic Games partnership represents a validation of the region's burgeoning tech and gaming ecosystem. The substantial investment in Epic, who maintains a large Los Angeles office with 1,000+ employees (according to LinkedIn), reflects confidence in the LA’s talent pool and innovation potential. Additionally, this partnership between two industry giants fosters an environment for further collaboration, investment, and growth within LA's tech sector. As Disney and Epic Games deepen their ties and explore new avenues for content integration and distribution, it not only elevates the prominence of LA as a tech hub but also stimulates economic growth and job creation in the region. This partnership highlights LA's unique position as a hub where technology and entertainment converge. With its ability to integrate diverse industries, LA is driving innovation and expansion in digital entertainment. 🚀💸🎮

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • ProducePay, a financing and marketplace platform for the fresh produce market, raised a $38M Series D led by Syngenta Group Ventures joined by Commonfund, Highgate Private Equity, G2 Venture Partners, Anterra Capital, Astanor Ventures, Endeavor8, Avenue Venture Opportunities, Avenue Sustainable Solutions, and Red Bear Angels. - learn more
  • Blush, an invite-only dating app that drives users to local businesses on dates, raised a $7M Seed Round from individuals like Naval Ravikant. - learn more
  • Mogul, a startup founded last year that provides an overview of an artist's royalty earnings and identifies areas where money is owed but has not yet been collected, raised a $1.9 million seed round from Wonder Ventures, United Talent Agency, AmplifyLA, and Creator Partners. - learn more
  • Avnos, a hybrid direct air capture startup, raised a $36M Series A led by NextEra Energy and joined by Safran Corporate Ventures, Shell Ventures, Envisioning Partners, and Rusheen Capital Management. - learn more
  • AI.fashion, startup whose mission is to help retailers enhance the online shopping experience by providing consumers with virtual try-ons and personalized fashion recommendations, raised a $3.6M Seed Round led by Neo. - learn more
  • Suma Wealth, startup that aims to demystify financial topics and provide culturally relevant content, virtual experiences, and resources to help Latino users navigate financial challenges and opportunities, raised a $2.2M Seed Round . Radicle Impact led, and was joined by Vamos Ventures, OVO fund and the American Heart Association Impact Fund. - learn more
  • 222, a startup that helps users discover their city and meet new people through unique social experiences, raised a $2.5M Seed Round. Investors included 1517 Fund, General Catalyst, Best Nights VC, Scrum Ventures, and Upfront Ventures. - learn more
  • LimaCharlie, a security operations cloud platform, raised a $10.2M Series A led by Sands Capital. - learn more
  • Polycam, an app that uses a smartphone’s sensors to capture 3D scans of objects, raised an $18M Series A co-led by Left Lane Capital and Adjacent, and joined by Adobe Ventures and individuals like Chad Hurley and Shaun Maguire. -learn more.

LA Venture Funds

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a startup building software to decarbonize logistics for logistics businesses and goods business through a vetted marketplace and optimization software. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $1.5M Pre Seed Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

Venture Waves, Climate Tech Wins, and Silicon Beach's Ongoing Evolution

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.

Anduril Seeks $1.5B in VC Funds

Defense company Anduril Industries Inc., based in Costa Mesa and founded by Palmer Luckey, is seeking to raise $1.5 billion in fresh funds to boost its valuation to $12.5 billion or more, according to sources quoted by The Information. This fundraising effort, if successful, would mark one of the largest venture capital rounds of the year.

Image Source: Anduril

Anduril recently secured a contract to develop and test small unmanned fighter jet prototypes under the Air Force’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program, beating out major defense companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. Alongside General Atomics, Anduril will design, manufacture, and test these aircraft, with a final multibillion-dollar production decision expected in fiscal year 2026. This program aims to deliver at least 1,000 combat aircraft to fly in concert with manned platforms and is part of the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance initiative. Central to Anduril’s success in this contract is the Fury autonomous air vehicle, acquired through the purchase of Blue Force Technologies. This victory underscores Anduril's rapid advancement in the defense sector, aligning with Luckey's vision of building faster and more cost-effective defense assets. - learn more

Los Angeles Ranks Number 1 in Emerging Climate Tech Hub

The 2024 Emerging Climate Tech Hubs Report by Revolution highlights Los Angeles as a burgeoning center for climate tech innovation. LA's growth in this sector is driven by its diverse talent pool, strong research institutions, and a culture of environmental consciousness. The city's unique mix of legacy industries, such as entertainment and aerospace, alongside emerging tech companies, positions it as a pivotal player in the climate tech landscape. This shift reflects a broader trend of decentralized climate tech funding across the U.S., reducing the historical dominance of California's traditional hubs. - learn more

Silicon Beach: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Assessing the overall health of the startup market is challenging, especially as venture capital funding has decreased by an average of 61% from 2021 to 2023 across the top VC markets in the US. Markets with robust ecosystems in AI, SaaS, Biotech, Healthtech, and Fintech appear to be weathering the downturn better than those focused on Consumer and Gaming industries, areas where Los Angeles traditionally excels.

Percent Change In VC Funding By Region

CB Insights

LA Times paints a rather bleak outlook on the Los Angeles tech scene noting venture capital funding in Greater Los Angeles plummeted 73% from 2021 to 2022. Silicon Beach, once a vibrant tech corridor, currently faces high vacancy rates and lacks late-stage financiers, especially in the AI sector. However, there are positive signs, including growth in aerospace startups and increased venture capital investment in early 2024, suggesting a potential rebound for LA's tech ecosystem.

While LA may not be exceeding expectations during this period, its tech ecosystem warrants a nuanced evaluation, given the broader market dynamics and its strong performance in specific sectors. Reach out to us with your thoughts.

🚀 SpaceX gears up for another stellar year, active raises, and more

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.

Happy Friday Los Angeles! You made it through the first week of 2024!

🔦 Spotlight

Elon Musk may be a divisive (albeit entertaining) figure, but the continued success of SpaceX is pivotal for the aerospace industry in Los Angeles and more broadly around the world.

Image Source: SpaceX webcast

What happened with SpaceX in 2023?

  • Elon Musk challenged Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg to a cage fight.
  • SpaceX launched 96 successful missions with its Falcon series of rockets, a 57% increase over its previous annual record.
  • SpaceX conducted two test flights of the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, Starship.
  • Roughly two-thirds of SpaceX's launches in 2023 were devoted to building out Starlink, the company's satellite-internet megaconstellation.
  • Isaacson’s Elon Musk biography was published in September including everything from Musk’s tumultuous relationship with his father to his work ethic and “demon mode”.

Moving forward what can we expect from SpaceX and its controversial founder? Continued innovation pushing the aerospace industry to new limits? Yes. More drama? Without a doubt.

Here is some of what is to come in 2024:

🤝 Venture Deals

Just Announced

Check back next week!

LA Exits

  • CG Oncology, an Irvine, CA-based developer of immunotherapies for bladder cancer, filed for a $100M IPO. It plans to list on the Nasdaq (CGON) with Morgan Stanley as left lead underwriter, and has raised around $317m in VC funding. - learn more
  • McNally Capital agreed to sell Advanced Micro Instruments, a Costa Mesa, CA-based maker of gas analyzers and sensing technologies, to Enpro (NYSE: NPO). - learn more

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a hard-tech startup that is developing a technology for decarbonizing natural gas, is raising a $1.5M Seed Round. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $250K Angel Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

📅 LA Tech Calendar

Sunday, January 7th

Wednesday, January 10th

  • Startup Cafe: Networking with a Kick - Entrepreneurs, Startups, and Tech Enthusiasts join together to meet and connect with like-minded people, industry professionals and investors, while enjoying a nice cup of coffee in Venice at The KINN. This week’s interactive discussion about AI’s evolution in entertainment will feature Dr. Sam Khoze and Rachel Joy Victor.
  • Venice Tech Happy Hour- Join Startup Coil and FoundrHaus Wednesday evening and enjoy the sunset from the rooftop, grab a bite overlooking Abbot Kinney, and mingle with other tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs by the bar on the patio.

Have an awesome event coming up? Reach out to be featured on next week’s Newsletter!

📙 What We’re Reading

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