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Hi all! Charley here again.

Whenever I want to pontificate about new, interesting areas for fintech, an easy hack I like to do is spend time in other macro areas and then apply some sort of fintech lens. As a result, I’ve recently been spending a bit of my free time trying to get up to speed with what’s happening in the “creator economy.”

There’s been a ton of thought leadership written up:

  1. Li Jin’s post when she was at a16z about the passion economy.
  2. Investments being made and creator focused VC funds and firms.
  3. Even “crazy” fundraises at high valuations (hellooo Clubhouse).

Not to mention, a lot of companies are trying to find ways to allow creators to get paid directly by those that are consuming their content (see Square’s press release on acquiring Tidal).

The internet has dramatically lowered the energy required for creators to find their 1000 true fans, and various platforms over the past 5-10 years have further streamlined searching, discovering, curating, and even category creating of new creators (Patreon, TikTok, Twitch, Teachable, Substack, Roblox, Cameo, etc). There’s an incredible amount of attention concentrated within all of these platforms, and the pandemic has further accelerated that growth.

**Side note: Julie touched on the influencer economy a bit in this post a few months ago.

Becoming a YouTuber, influencer, and/or creator is increasingly viewed as something to aspire towards (this view probably drastically differs by generation). There have also been massive success stories to point to, and a high degree of sophistication on how to build + cultivate an audience (customer discovery…). Not to mention many ways to seamlessly offer a product that’s consumed by the audience (delivering a product).

TLDR - we’re seeing a next generation of SMB creation that isn’t being effectively captured by how we traditionally define SMBs.

However, traditional institutions are often slower to react to structural changes driven from the internet, and financial services is often one of the worst offenders (I’m allowed to say this since I used to work for JPMorgan). As a result, new companies are starting to spring up to take advantage and I’ve started to put a light category across each.

  1. Providing financial products to creators
    1. Karat which recently raised funding from USV is providing credit cards for creators, and leveraging unique data points to more comprehensively understand and underwrite a creator.
  2. Unique creator financial tools
    1. Stir - A16Z backed w/ Homebrew, XYZ, Ludlow and many creator angels. The initial product helped split and attribute revenue across projects, increasingly moving into holistic financial OS for a creator.
    2. Juice - Index, Inspired, Boxgroupd, Slow, Mr Beast (and myself! 🙃️). This is also focused on providing a holistic understanding of a creator’s business.
  3. Embedded banking / payments
    1. Companies like Unit, Stripe, etc allowing companies to more easily embed banking services and unique payment products.
  4. Embedded lending
    1. Still early, but increasingly also seeing more companies that want to offer unique working capital products to creators.
  5. NFTs + social tokens
    1. Enter crypto!! An explosion of interest around NFT marketplaces such as Dapper Labs with NBA topshot, OpenSea, etc have allowed creators to monetize digital products.
    2. Bitclout, Rally.io - social tokens which allow individuals to monetize their audience.

I’m sure I missed many, many more - and I believe that there’s still a ton of opportunity. Send me feedback, thoughts, interesting companies, on Twitter. I think we’re in for a bit of a wild ride over the next few years :)

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FTT+ Expert Charley Ma:

The Creator Economy and Fintech



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