Li Jin Profile picture
29 Oct, 38 tweets, 9 min read
What’s next for the creator economy & its intersection with web3? 🧵
At a high level, we’re moving from a world in which creators made income on their own, to one in which they build wealth together with their communities.
The creator economy isn’t new, but it’s constantly evolving.

We’re now in what I consider to be the 3rd era of the creator economy, and on the cusp of the 4th.
Creator economy 1.0: UGC

The rise of social media platforms & UGC content made every internet user into a creator.

Livejournal was founded in 1999, MySpace in 2003, FB 2004, Twitter 2006.
Creator economy 2.0: The rise of the "influencer"

Some creators built large audiences, which they monetized largely through ads & brand deals. In 2007, Youtube launched the Partner program, allowing channels to run ads & earn money.
Creator economy 3.0 (today): Direct monetization from users

Creators seek to become independent businesses, and are adding direct monetization to get more independence from social media platforms.

Multi-SKU earnings direct from fans across courses, subscriptions, tipping, etc.
The future:

Creator economy 4.0: Ownership

Lines between fans & creators blur into community ownership, and the nature of what being a creator is changes and reflects new incentives.
Let’s start with where the creator economy is today (era 3.0).

- In the past 3 years, YouTube has paid out $30B to 2M+ creators
- Creators’ cultural impact is eclipsing that of traditional media. Top YT videos have 5-9B views each; by contrast, NBC primetime gets 4M viewers
- Serious money is going towards retaining and attracting creators: TikTok is paying creators $2B in the next 3 years. Facebook, YouTube, Snap, and Pinterest also rolled out their own creator funds.
- $3.7B has been invested into creator startups so far this year, many offering new monetization tools (Patreon, Cameo, Kajabi, Clubhouse, etc.)…
Today’s web2 platforms have done well in enabling creators to create content & build an audience, but often fall short on monetization, which is the 3rd pillar of creator-market fit (CMF).

At a higher level, web2 platforms also don’t enable creators to have independence and ownership of their content.
Right now, crypto’s killer feature for creators is monetization through digital scarcity.

Web3 is enabling transformative new ways for creators to monetize & engage their audiences.
@cdixon wrote that NFTs enable creators to capture more area under the demand curve via granular price tiering.

Through editions, 1/1s, and auction mechanisms, creators are able to monetize up to fans’ individual willingness to pay.…
Along those lines, I’ve described NFTs and social tokens as extending the ‘pyramid of fandom’: enabling creators to capitalize on cult fans as well as new speculators/investors.

This is key to unlocking a larger creator middle class.
In just the first 3 quarters of 2021, NFT sales volume topped $13Bn:…
Some prominent successes:

- @muratpak’s single grey pixel sold for $1.3 million at Sotheby’s
- @justinaversano’s Twin Flames photography NFT collection has seen sales upwards of 500 ETH
- @artblocks_io trading volume over $400 million in August. Ringers #109 went for $6.9M
Let's take a moment to appreciate that these numbers that are UNHEARD OF in the web2 world for a creator’s work.

Most partner channels on Youtube earn between $0.30 to $2.50 per 1,000 views.

A creator selling 1 NFT for 1 ETH = 4 million views on a Youtube video
What’s going on?

By tokenizing their work, NFTs have made creators’ work comparable to fine art, re-introducing scarcity that fans desire and which benefits creators.

It’s like a return to what art was before the age of infinite digital reproduction and zero marginal costs.
Excitingly, a lot of creators opt to keep their earnings in crypto vs. cashing out to fiat, dip their toes into DeFi, collect other artists’ NFTs, and purchase other assets, kickstarting a flywheel of growing wealth.
This all is an extension of & turbo-charging of creator economy 3.0, which is creators as independent businesses.

It’s early days, but the new monetization capabilities for creators via crypto can be life-changing.
Turning our attention to the future, what’s in store ahead for the creator economy?

Creator economy 4.0 is the ownership economy.
Using building blocks offered by crypto, everyone participates in ownership of the networks they’re a part of, and are rewarded more meritocratically for their efforts.…
The ownership economy is the idea that in the future, all platforms will be built, operated, and owned by their users. Imagine being rewarded with tokens for using a platform, proportional to usage or value driven.
This is a shift from independence—creators as their own islands—to inter-dependence amongst a decentralized community.
Creators will build together with their communities, blurring the line between creator and audience. We’re starting to see this today.

Examples: @nounsdao, @PleasrDAO, @lootproject.

Who’s the ‘creator’ vs. ‘audience’? That distinction fades in relevance.
Shared upside and exposure to the efforts of the group, via tokens, creates all sorts of incentive alignment and rewards new ‘creators’ who previously had been unseen or under-valued.
Example: @imdanielallan, a musician, is sharing royalty payments back to tokenholders who contributed to funding his EP:

You can imagine that some new lucrative roles/jobs will emerge when there’s shared ownership.

Most of these were historically unseen/unrewarded: curators, evangelists, fan club leaders, meme page admins, etc.

This is the future of work.
Importantly, this portends a change in the nature of what a creator even is, from creating static media to cultivating communities.

What we think of as a "creator" today is a direct reflection of the games that web2 invented; with new games, success as a creator looks different.
Being a creator shifts from being a cult leader (top down) to being a core contributor to a community (flatter hierarchy with accountability).
Just as each new successive era of the creator economy is additive to and supplements pre-existing ones, creator economy 4.0 is the same.

It doesn’t replace previous eras, but is another option that presents new opportunities for collaboration & earning.
Over time, crypto will get better at helping creators build audiences and reaching new ones.

Blockchains are akin to newsfeeds that lack an interface.
The new social media will look less like what you post for clout, and more what you do on-chain (proof of skin in the game).

This is compelling fodder for surfacing and matching creators and audiences.
In the coming months, I expect many more experiments with content/media DAOs, collector DAOs, social tokens, decentralized social networks, and other emerging models. It’s an exciting time for the creator economy!
More thoughts on creators and ownership:

I also talk about the creator economy, its various phases, and web3 on the @BanklessHQ podcast with @cooopahtroopa and @jessewldn:
If you're interested in jumping into these topics in your own career, our portfolio companies are hiring across the board! Fill out this talent form to get connected:

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More from @ljin18

21 Oct
NFT collections would do well to learn from Legos (the toy bricks) 🧱

Here’s why:
Legos have network effects:

1. Each new user who buys them & each new collection purchased ADDS value to existing owners, because they’re all interoperable and composable.
Importantly, the network effects and added utility are even true without additional users:

Even single player mode gets more valuable as you buy more products / have more combinations.
Read 7 tweets
19 Oct
Sharing some big news today 🔥

@AtelierVentures and @VariantFund are joining forces!

Together, our partnership will advance a more meritocratic internet, and push towards a future in which users own the products and services they use.…
Last year, I founded Atelier to invest in the passion economy: new platforms that enable users to monetize individuality.

The mission has been crystal clear since day one: to create paths for economic mobility at scale by lowering the barriers to entrepreneurship.
The passion economy is the clear “what” that we are driving towards, but there is a next chapter of the thesis.

Crypto and the ownership economy—software that is built, operated, and owned by users & participants—presents a “how” for fully realizing the passion economy mission.
Read 19 tweets
14 Oct
Legitimacy is the scarcest resource--and that's especially true in the creator economy. But where does it come from, and how is it lost?

New post on the unfolding legitimacy crisis in the creator economy by me and @kplikethebird…
Like feudalism and divine right monarchy before it, the creator economy is experiencing a legitimacy crisis.

Creators are questioning the terms that govern their relationship with the platforms they utilize—and the right of the platforms to set those terms in the first place.
How the ecosystem responds—what alternatives are proposed, who builds them, and how—will shape the next phase of the Creator Economy.
Read 10 tweets
1 Oct
I want to share the story of how the first analyst I ever hired @AtelierVentures was someone I never expected—an 18-year-old recent high school graduate: @LilaShroff
Last fall, I was still in the thick of fundraising, but looking for help with community building, content, and research for my first fund.

Lila had been connected through @peytonkleinpgh, another recent high school graduate whom I had recently chatted with.
After meeting Lila, I was immediately struck by two things: her age and the fact that her resume, just after graduating high school, was somehow more impressive than mine had been when I was 25.
Read 12 tweets
24 Sep
The labor movement has given us many of our current rights, including paid sick leave & protection against job discrimination.

But as work shifts to platforms, what becomes of participants' ability to effect change?

New essay w/ @skominers & @LilaShroff…
Gig workers and content creators are now reckoning with the fact that their livelihoods depend on the actions of platforms that they have little ability to sway, and to which are locked in given lack of data ownership and portability.
As a result, a new form of labor activism is appearing in the platform economy, which we call decentralized collective action or DCA.

DCA aims to achieve many of the same goals as historical labor movements: better pay and working environments, protection from harassment, etc.
Read 29 tweets
21 Sep
Today, it seems inconceivable that for much of human history, people accepted the 'divine right' of monarchs as a legitimate source of power.

Years from now, we may look back on this era and wonder why we were accepting of autocratic companies led by 'enlightened dictators.'
For much of human history, people lived under authoritarian/monarchical forms of government.

In the late 17th century, republican forms of government arose, inspired by conceptions of natural rights developed during the Enlightenment. >50% of the world now lives in a democracy.
The American and French Revolutions were major contributors to the growth of representative governments.

The Springtime of Nations in 1848 was a revolutionary wave affecting 50 countries in Europe, wherein people demanded more participation in government, economic rights, etc.
Read 7 tweets

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