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Venture capital firm M13 celebrated its new, supersized fund on Thursday night by gathering fellow VCs, limited partners, founders and reporters for a fireside chat on the future of crypto and the creator economy.
Held at TikTok predecessor Musical.ly’s former Santa Monica headquarters (which M13 now calls home), the talk featured Cameo CEO Steven Galanis, Lightning Labs CEO Elizabeth Stark and M13 co-founder Courtney Reum. As a teaser for the event indicated, the conversation revolved around “new paradigms” that could “unshackle creators from antiquated monetization models.”
The creator economy consists of tens of millions of independent content creators, the majority of whom do their work part time, per research from San Francisco-based VC firm SignalFire. Yet most influencers, streamers and the like rely on just a handful of platforms to reach the majority of their fans: essentially, YouTube, Instagram, Twitch and TikTok. As the whims of these companies ebb and flow, livelihoods and online communities often hang in the balance.
The power dynamics at play have sparked plenty of other “Web 2.0” services that help creators monetize their work, such as Patreon and OnlyFans. But blockchain evangelists argue that the rise of a decentralized web, dubbed Web3, will push the envelope further, empowering creators to be more creative and independent. (M13 is among the believers, with co-founder and partner Carter Reum telling dot.LA this week that “every company that we invest in… has to be thinking about Web3 and the underpinnings of Web3.”)
“Today, people are highly reliant on centralized platforms,” said Stark, whose blockchain firm runs the Lightning Network, a secondary layer built atop Bitcoin’s blockchain that helps speed up transactions. “It’s early; to have truly decentralized technologies, it actually takes time.”
For creators, Web3 would mean “the ability to earn money where you don’t have the issue of borders, the issues of foreign exchange fees,” Stark added. “There’s also technology in the works to enable things like sending stablecoins. Today, it’s Bitcoin—but in the future it will be other assets and dollars over Lightning, and this opens up the possibilities for people around the world to earn… and find other ways to make a living.”
Galanis echoed that sentiment, noting that “these technologies are in their infancy” and that eventually Web3 “will be bigger than the internet” as we know it today. The Cameo co-founder then spun an analogy comparing the broader opportunities presented by Web3 to the colonization of North America.
“I actually think it’s like 1493 right now,” Galanis said. “Columbus has just come back from the New World, and he’s going to the King of Spain and the Queen of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella. He’s like, ‘There’s a whole world over there—there’s literally gold coming out of rivers.’ And then the king of France hears about it, the king of England hears about it… Right now, we’re in this age where everybody’s building boats, everybody’s trying to go to this New World, everybody’s trying to figure it out—but you know most of the boats aren’t going to make it.”
“There’s going to be mutanies on some boats, somebody’s gonna hit an iceberg, somebody else is gonna end up going the wrong way,” Galanis added. “But somebody’s gonna end up on, like, Manhattan, in a digital world—and they’re gonna pull a bunch of beads out of their pocket and they’re going to make the best real estate transaction of all time.” — Harri Weber
Hollywood film producer Brian Grazer outlined the process he uses to break himself out of a creative slump, which he calls “curiosity conversations,” at this week's Upfront Summit in Downtown Los Angeles.
You can now count TikTok stars Charli and Dixie D'Amelio among California’s newest—and almost certainly youngest—venture capitalists.Their new fund aims to raise $25 million and will focus on investments in women- and minority-led startups.
The wrongful death lawsuit was filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court by the parents of Kerri Moynihan. The former Activision finance manager was 32 years old when she was found in a Disneyland hotel room in April 2017 after taking her own life.
Disney is joining other major streaming platforms in giving subscribers an ad-supported option. The Burbank-based media giant did not disclose how much the less expensive tier will cost but said it will roll out in the U.S. later this year.
Santa Monica-based video game developer Thatgamecompany raised $160 million. Consumer-tech venture firm M13 raised $400 million for its third fund. Catch up on this week's SoCal funding news.
Netflix has a new chief marketing officer. Electric vehicle startup Faraday Future has a new interim chief financial officer. Talent agency UTA has a new chief communications officer and partner. Check out all this week's tech moves.
With its just-announced Fund III, Reum told LA Venture host Minnie Ingersoll that M13 is writing $8- to $15-million checks to fintech, healthcare, food and real estate-focused startups. His company has its eye on how the next iteration of the web will change businesses’ relationship with consumers.
What We're Reading Elsewhere...
- Tortoise Mobile vending machines will soon roll out in Los Angeles.
- L.A.-based System1 marketing platform acquires 'coupon search engine' CouponFollow.
- NBCUniversal ends its content partnership with Hulu.
- Sony and Honda partner on electric vehicles.
- Two L.A. city council representatives call on L.A. to create a regional 'green hydrogen hub'.