The 5 savviest investors in the creator economy in 2022


The creator economy, now home to 50 million people by the definition of one of the venture capitalists on this list (although other analysts place it even higher), is proving to be new ground. fertile not only for creatives but also for investors who see the opportunity. to support the kind of technology and tools that can open up more opportunities for more people to earn a living by pursuing their passions. Venture capitalists today play two essential roles within the creator ecosystem: they find and finance additional (or more efficient) platforms, products, services and marketplaces that help creators capture, grow and monetize their audience. They are also increasingly creators themselves, using newsletters, podcasts, and social media to bring insight and transparency to investing, business building, and the trends shaping the markets. they finance. These five rising star investors are shaping the creator economy in ways that affect creators and all of us who love what they do and want them to keep us engaged and entertained.

Josh Constine, Venture Capital Partner, SignalFire

Every investor needs a meaningful edge that makes their capital stand out. In the world of the creator economy, a notable advantage would be to have a track record as a creator and even stick to it while investing. In other words, you’d be Josh Constine, a venture partner at SignalFire who was – and remains – a creator himself. For more than eight years, Constine was editor-in-chief for TechCrunch, writing over 4,000 pieces of content. Today he has an interview podcast titled PressClub with Josh Constinea Substack newsletter exploring trends in the creator economy (although it was discontinued this year), and of course, it’s a good twitter follow for nearly 92,000 fans.

But ask Constine what helped shape his view of the creator economy more than anything else, and he cites the time he spent managing audience building and merchandising projects for two music artists. : Bon Jovi and the Killers. “This experience taught me a lot about how the shortlist of ‘superfans’ is where the real monetization is – it’s not everyone having fun,” he says. “You can be a big company as a creator, but to get really huge you need to find superfans who aren’t price sensitive.”
At SignalFire, Constine is looking for founders “creating tools that help creators capture the means of distribution – it’s about capturing attention and owning that audience.” This includes companies such as Clubhouse, the audio social network that is currently refining its experience to envision more intimate and private conversations, and Karat, a creator-focused financial services company, alongside many other startups that populate the portfolio of Signal Fire. Constine says that by investing in companies creating solutions for creators, he hopes to unlock value for those “who can focus on niche content that resonates with a much more passionate group of fans.”

Em Herrera, Investor, Night Ventures

Em Herrera, a 23-year-old Investor at Night Ventures, may be the youngest VC in the country, but that’s not what earned her a spot on the Creator 25 list. base dating back to her high school days, as a social media manager for Days for Girls International and later as a brand rep for Glossier, among other experiences. All of which makes her a native of the creator economy if there ever was one in the VC space (not to mention her more than 14,000 tweets to her more than 15,000 followers she has amassed over the past nine plus years). Since April, she has been putting her space expertise to work for Night Ventures, the investor arm of the creator management juggernaut headed by Reed Duchscher, who represents Jimmy Donaldson, aka MrBeast. Night Ventures has backed creator-centric startups such as Pearpop, which connects brands to creators and influencers, and NFT-focused companies Zora and Cyber.

Herrera says her main goal is to find female founders and “allow them to deploy capital and network in the spaces that really interest them.” Additionally, at night, Herrera seeks to connect with founders and creators who exemplify a sense of responsibility to their communities as they unearth enormous amounts of value within small subcultures that have long been ignored by brands and the media. “Creators are an unlocked resource for microcommunity information, and I really want to see the VC community respect that,” she says. “I’m super passionate about finding deals and people who have opened up and gained influence in a previously overlooked field.”

Katelin Holloway, Founding Partner, Seven Seven Six

“I’ve seen a lot of people see their ‘plan B’ become their ‘plan A’, find a boring job and give up on their creative dreams,” says Katelin Holloway, founding partner of venture capital firm Seven Seven Six. . “When people have the tools to turn their creative pursuits into a livelihood, that’s where true innovation will come from.” Its mission, along with that of its co-founder, Alexis Ohanian, is to support innovative, creator-centric startups — and there’s no plan B.

Since Ohanian and Holloway launched Seven Seven Six in 2020, she has quickly helped establish the company as perhaps the most aggressive fundraiser for creators and creator-adjacent startups. The list of creator-economy companies backed by Seven Seven Six is ​​prodigious, including Gen Z-targeted social networking app Realtime, short-form video platform Huddles, creator collaboration platform Pearpop, the all-in-one back-end platform Fourthwall (see the Supporting Acts section of Creator 25), as well as many crypto startups that share the same philosophy of making people value their creative contributions. In many ways, Holloway’s work is an organic extension of what she did at Reddit, where she led people and culture on the iconic social media site co-founded by Ohanian, as well as her angel investment, where she supported revolutionary social audio platforms. Clubhouse and crowdfunding platform for Seed&Spark creators. (Helloway, who herself has Over 13,500 Twitter followersalso found a clever way to connect her background in HR with her focus on creators: she hosted three seasons of a podcast series called all hands interviewing CEOs and other senior executives about their human resources strategies.)

As creative tools proliferate and become more mainstream, Holloway says she sees her vision for the future coming to fruition: creators can now connect directly with and grow their audience, and earn a living doing what they do. they like. The opportunities for current generation creators, she says, “are totally endless.”

Nicole Quinn, General Partner, Lightspeed

“If you’re starting a business, having an influencer, creator, or celebrity as a co-founder is incredibly helpful,” says Nicole Quinn, who is a general partner and has been investing in flagship venture capital firm Lightspeed since 2015. “It’s much easier and cheaper to turn a fan into a customer.” Although she cites Dr Dre and the Kardashians as examples of how creators become entrepreneurs, the charming Brit is simply being modest in choosing not to talk about her own book. Quinn has invested in Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop and Lady Gaga’s Haus Labs. She also facilitated the ur-creator economy platform that has generated hundreds of millions in gross revenue for tens of thousands of creators: Cameo.

Quinn developed a taste for investing early on at Morgan Stanley, where she worked on major IPOs for companies like Facebook and Pandora. After landing at Lightspeed, she says she focused on the power that influencers and creators can have as entrepreneurs, which is why she devoted much of her attention to the economy of creators. When Quinn meets founders and startups, she brings a similar focus to what she looks for in a creator-turned-founder – specifically, focus, the drive to succeed, and the ability to grow and meet the needs of a audience. (Quinn, like so many VCs, grew her following on Twitterwhere she has more than 12,600 subscribers.)

But her favorite thing about being an investor is learning what’s next before it goes mainstream. One can get a glimpse of what she sees and is excited about by considering her investments in startups such as Fizz, a social network for college campuses (you might remember a certain company that started with this mission in mid-2000s), and FlickPlay, a platform for creators to make money from augmented reality digital collectibles. “I love my job,” Quinn says. “When I meet founders, they give us an idea of ​​what the future will look like.”

Rex Woodbury, Partner, Index Ventures

Rex Woodbury, 29, “grew up fascinated with how people interact with each other online,” a stellar creator economy that led him to become a VC after working growth at startups in vogue such as Airtable and Calm. Fittingly, Woodbury collects his thoughts on technology and culture and shares them through his popular newsletter (which has over 30,000 subscribers) called—what else?—Digital native. (He also regularly tweets to his over 33,400 Twitter followers.) His early experiences engaging in online communities at an amateur and professional level helped shape and guide many of his investment decisions as an investor. Index Ventures has several creator-focused companies in its portfolio, including Discord, Etsy and Roblox, and Woodbury, who joined the company in 2020 and became a partner earlier this year, says it’s focused on finding founders looking to “break down barriers to creation. Among the ‘relationships’ in its portfolio, as Index describes them, is Creative Juice, a banking app for creators that helps them pool all the revenue they generate on platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.”[Creators had] previously limited by available tools. But the Internet has opened the door wide. »


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