Victorious: An App Where YouTube Stars Can Collect Fans--And Money

As YouTube personalities turn into bonafide money makers—and as social media spreads out the ways they try to find their audiences--it was inevitable entrepreneurs would be looking for a way to find better angles into the expanding market. With the increasing popularity of mobile, it’s not surprising the surest home for such spin-offs would be there.

 So it is that Victorious, launched today  aimed at helping creators engage with fans on social and mobile platforms with mobile apps created for them that will make it easy for fans to interact via YouTube, Vine, Twitter or other social sites. You'll start seeing the apps a few months from now. 

This isn’t a bid to displace/replace YouTube—that just ain’t gonna happen—but the brains behind the operation are former YouTube execs. Bing Chen, the new chief creative officer, was chief of YouTube’s creator development unit, and left last month. Dean Gilbert, the executive chairman, was a vice president at YouTube. And at launch, Victorious could announce that YouTube-created brands Michelle Phan, Boyce Avenue and Shay Carl will have Victorious apps going for them.

CEO and co-founder Sam Rogoway also started social network TripUp, later acquired by Sidestep/Kayak.  CTO and co-founder Michael Todd joined from OpenX, where he grew the company to be serving four trillion impressions a year, according to bios the new company provided.

Victorious is aiming its introduction at creators who have not always (or maybe ever) been a totally satisfied lot at YouTube because they say YT takes a too big cut of the profit.  Social media spreads also brands around (or, in this case, YouTube personalities, which is basically the same thing) making it awkward for fans or personalities to coalesce at one place. (Watch Grace Helbig addressing her fans, coming to her from all over the place, in a recent YouTube video.)

But it’s also the case that fans become personalities themselves, easily enough. Victorious makes it easier for content producers to not only directly engage and manage their sites, but also lets fans create content and interact with each other. The Victorious app also lets the creator mess with the platform—still photo, text, video whatever.

And it promises to provide “diverse ways to monetize fame,” with e-commece and a variety of ad formats. Victorious took no time introducing itself to potential new creators on its Website. The control-your-destiny message there is simple and familiar, especially if you’ve heard the many stories about creatives stiffed and stifled by bigger, more powerful powers-that-be.

“Over the past four years, I've witnessed unknown content creators bloom into new age celebrities and media brands for the connected generation. As they grow, they increasingly crave full creative and business control,” Chen said in a statement.  “They are the full C-level suite: CEO, CFO, CMO, and, of course, CCO. In this world, ‘Creator is King,’ and we’re helping to power their kingdoms.”

It’s all that money stuff where YouTube fails, and offends. I would bet it’s happy circumstance (for Victorious) that it launches this business at the same time lots of smaller- name and independent musicians are angered at YouTube’s plans to start its own music service and YouTube’s new ad plan which they say applies the royal screws.

All that said, in various articles out today, Chen and other executives insist they’re not out to raid YouTube, only to let its stars and other online personalities use the Victorious apps to put together the various bits and pieces of their mini-empires in one place. Whatever, the idea seems to be attractive to some investors. According to Re/Code, Victorious recently was able to raise $13 million, highlighted by Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers.

That Victorious is aiming itself squarely at mobile users isn’t surprising, but simultaneously today, in San Francisco at Google’s I/O conference, Sundar Pinchai, the SVP of Android, Chrome and apps noted that there are now one billion Android phones out there, and on them users send 20 billion text messages a day and take 93 million selfies. They also check their phones 100 billion times a day. So, just on that operating platform, that creates a lot of opportunities to tap on an app.

pj@mediapost.com

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