A startup called Victorious is looking to build mobile apps for “digitally-born stars”, creating hubs that bring together a creator’s content from YouTube and social media sites.
There are a couple of former YouTube executives involved in the company, including Chief Creative Officer Bing Chen (previously YouTube’s global head of creator development and management) and Executive Chairman Dean Gilbert (previously YouTube’s vice president and global head of content and operations). Not that everyone on Victorious’ leadership team comes from YouTube — co-founder and CEO Sam Rogoway previously founded travel startup TripUp, which was acquired by SideStep.
Perhaps equally important, even though Victorious is officially launching today, it has already enlisted some big-name YouTube stars, including Michelle Phan (who has 6.6 million subscribers on the video site), Boyce Avenue (5.8 million), and Shay Carl (1.3 million).
Victorious doesn’t plan to launch its first apps until this fall, but Chen told me that the platform can help creators in a number of ways. For one thing, as they become more popular, they need “a higher level of control, not only over their brand, but over their entire business.” With a Victorious app, they will have that control. It will also allow them to interact with fans in ways that can shape the content, for example through polling. And Chen said that “just creating one form of content is not enough,” so as stars post videos to YouTube, photos to Instagram, shorter videos to Vine, and so on, they can bring it all together (and fans can find in all in one place) through Victorious.
And there will be a monetization component as well, with options like native advertising and e-commerce.
Rogoway and Chen said Victorious is offering a self-serve platform for creating these mobile apps, although it’s also working more closely with its initial customers. Chen also argued that the platform will be “wildly complementary to all the mass market platforms,” because it’s not looking to replace, say, YouTube, as a place where creators can distribute their content and find their initial audience.
As for how popular someone must be for this approach to make sense, Chen said that engagement is just as important, even if you “only” have hundreds of thousands of subscribers: “Niche can actually be incredibly powerful.”
Re/code recently reported that Victorious was raising a $13 million round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. A company spokesperson denied the story, but declined to get more specific.