TikTok Stars Like the D’Amelio Sisters and Addison Rae Are Earning More Than Many S&P 500 CEOs

Molly Wright

Molly Wright is an intern for dot.LA. She previously edited the London School of Economics' student newspaper in the United Kingdom, interned for The Hollywood Reporter and was the blogging editor for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

TikTok Stars Like the D’Amelio Sisters and Addison Rae Are Earning More Than Many S&P 500 CEOs

Eat your hearts out, CEOs: TikTok stars like the D’Amelio sisters and Addison Rae are banking more money than many of the S&P 500’s chief executives.


A recent Forbes ranking placed sisters Charli and Dixie D’Amelio as the top-earning content creators on TikTok, after they raked in $17.5 million and $10 million, respectively, in 2021 through sponsored content, brand endorsement deals and other business endeavors. As the Wall Street Journal noted this week, that puts the sisters’ earnings on par with most S&P 500 CEOs, whose median earnings were $13.4 million in 2020.

As the highest-paid TikToker, Charli D’Amelio made more last year than Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods ($15.6 million) and Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson ($14.7 million) earned in 2020, according to the Journal, while her sister Dixie banked more than Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly ($9.2 million). Fellow influencer Addison Rae—who like the D’Amelio sisters became a viral sensation for her dancing videos—made $8.5 million last year, more than Costco CEO Craig Jelinek ($8.3 million).

Culver City-based TikTok, which is owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, now has over 1 billion monthly active users. The social media giant curates recommendations using a cryptic algorithm that pushes certain content to the top of a user’s “For You” page. The D’Amelio sisters’ and Rae’s highly aestheticized content—which ranges from silly dances, to provocative lip-syncing, to vlog-style “unpack with me” videos—have drawn tens of millions of followers, if not more, to their TikTok accounts. (Charli D’Amelio is by far the most followed TikToker with more than 133 million subscribers.)

Outside of TikTok, the app’s top earners have begun monetizing their cult followings in the form of lucrative sponsorships. In 2020, coffee chain Dunkin’ partnered with Charli D’Amelio to create a drink called “The Charli”, while Rae has parlayed her massive following into her own makeup line, ITEM Beauty and a starring role in the 2021 Netflix movie “He’s All That.”

As TikTok has grown, so have the earnings reaped by its highest-paid stars. Forbes noted that the highest-paid TikTokers on its list collectively earned $55.5 million last year—up 200% from the 2020 edition of its ranking.

Still, even Charli D’Amelio’s bank account can’t compare to very wealthiest Hollywood celebrities or S&P 500 CEOs. Kardashian clan celebrity Kylie Jenner reportedly made $590 million in 2020 after selling a controlling stake in her cosmetics brand, while Apple CEO Tim Cook earned nearly $99 million last year.

mollywright@dot.la

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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.

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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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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.

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