Work is changing. The old structures that dominated the 20th century are gradually being replaced by platforms and cultures that have grown up on the internet that aim to help people do what they love for a living. Li and Nathan unpack this new passion economy in a weekly conversation with guests at the forefront of this change.
#28 - Sam Lessin
This week on Means of Creation, we spoke to Sam Lessin!
Sam is currently the co-founder of Fin and General Partner at Slow Ventures. He also writes a column at The Information called Modest Proposals that covers creators, platforms, and startups writ large.
He was formerly a vice president of product management at Facebook from 2010 to 2014. Prior to joining Facebook Sam founded drop.io, a file-sharing platform that was acquired by Facebook in 2010.
In this interview, we are going to talk to Sam about:
- Equity financing for influencers
- How platforms’ attitudes towards creators has changed over the years
- The creator revenue streams that will be significant in the next few years
- Why Reels won’t really stop TikTok’s growth and how Instagram can incentivise creators
- Slow’s early investment in Clubhouse.
- What to look for in early-stage social platforms before they’ve proved scale and network effects
- The success of OnlyFans and how it fits in with the societal problem of only needing 1,000 true fans to be successful online
#27 - Allen Lau
This week we welcome Allen Lau, the co-founder and CEO of Wattpad—a self-publishing platform and entertainment company with 90 million users and 5 million writers. It was recently acquired by South Korean tech conglomerate Naver for $600 million.
Allen is also the co-founder of Two Small Fish Ventures, a fund that invests in Toronto and Waterloo-based early-stage internet companies with strong network effects.
Prior to Wattpad, Allen co-founded FeedM8, a mobile advertising company that was later acquired. He also co-founded Tira Wireless, where he helped leading brands optimize content for mobile delivery.
#26 - Katia Ameri & Elijah Daniel
Katie Ameri and Elijah Daniel are co-founders of Rocketship House, a villa in the Hollywood Hills that serves as their platform for content and venture creation. You might know Katia from her starring role in Zoom Bachelorette, or from her work as the founder of Mirra, a skincare newsletter with over 100k subscribers. Elijah is known for his viral satirical stunts, such as becoming the mayor of Hell, Michigan, and outlawing straight people, only to be impeached later that day. In a feature profile last a few months ago, Taylor Lorenz of the New York Times wrote, “his career could be seen as a blueprint for how to succeed in today’s digital media landscape, if you’re willing to make a few people mad in the process.”
We spoke to Katia and Elijah about:
- What they're trying to build with Rocketship House
- The process behind creating a creator house, and why the business model changes each time
- Why their partnership works, and their differing views of tech
- Using underleveraged distribution channels such as OnlyFans and Twitch in order to empower and protect creators
- Widespread disconnects between creators and platforms
- Their project pipeline, and how it engenders collaboration and allows creators to push the enveloped
#25 —Joshua Cohen on the Professionalization of the Creator Economy
Joshua Cohen is the cofounder of Tubefilter, the go-to source for creator economy news and insight. He also co-founded the Streamy Awards — an annual event considered to be the Grammys for online video creators.
Founded in 2009, Tubefilter and the Streamy Awards have been pivotal for the legitimization of the creator economy. The Streamy Awards have been recognizing creators and online business trends long before it was considered a serious industry and it had nearly 7 million views in 2019.
Currently, Tubefilter also runs two popular series profiling YouTube and TikTok millionaires, and releases Tubefilter Charts. Joshua also co-hosts Planet Upload, a podcast dissecting the creator economy.
In this interview, we are going to talk to Joshua about:
How content creation became a legitimate business
Creator wellness and the commonalities shared by successful content creators
How content creators and their business models have changed over the years
How YouTube has remained dominant as a social media platform
The changes in platforms’ creator strategies over the years
#24 — Evan Britton on creating a Wikipedia for a new generation and bootstrapping an ad-based business
Evan Britton is the founder of Famous Birthdays, the de facto celebrity wikipedia offering 200,000 biographies with a focus on Gen Z social media stars and creators.
Evan founded Famous Birthdays in 2012 and has profitably bootstrapped operations through ad revenue. Currently, the site registers 30 million unique monthly visitors, with versions in Spanish and Portuguese.
Famous Birthdays also creates original content with celebrity creators by hosting Q&As, games, and challenges. The site’s content on all four of its social channels (YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram) has been receiving more than a 100 million views every month.
In this interview, we talked to Evan about:
- The origin of Famous Birthdays
- Identifying the phenomenon of digital creator fame
- Why he chose not to compete with Cameo
- Which platforms and content drive Famous Birthdays searches
- Why user curiosity has migrated from traditional celebrities to digital creators
- What creators can learn from what’s popular on Famous Birthdays
- The risks posed by deplatforming
- Why he’s not interested in outside funding, and how he managed to bring an ad-based business model to a bootstrapped business
- His advice to founders who want to bootstrap a business
Brought to you by the Means of Creation newsletter: https://meansofcreation.substack.com/
#23 — Community Hangout with Li, Nathan, and Adam Keesling
In another special hangout episode, Li, Nathan and MoC producer Adam Keesling talk through the week's passion economy news and take live questions from the MOC community.
In this episode, we talk about:
- The intersection between Nathan and Li's recent writing on why content is king and building a creator middle class
- Why Li built Side Hustle Stack, and its surprise appeal to Gen Z
- How to mitigate risk in the Passion Economy
- Sahil Lavingia's new essay "No Meetings, No Deadlines, No Full-Time Employees," and whether we've been brainwashed by capitalism
Brought to you by the Means of Creation newsletter: meansofcreation.substack.com.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Must listen for Creators
Li and Nathan are the best. I enjoy the episodes very much. Their insights into the current state and the future of creator economy is spot on.