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‘The opportunity has never been bigger’: How the creator economy has opened options for creators to profit from their intellectual property

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‘The opportunity has never been bigger’: How the creator economy has opened options for creators to profit from their intellectual property

This article is part of a cross-brand Digiday Media series that examines how the creator economy has evolved amid the Covid-19 pandemicExplore the full series here.

“Intellectual property” is a term often reserved for the Disneys of the world that have been able to take characters like Mickey Mouse and franchises like Marvel and squeeze them for licensing revenue in the form of product lines and content syndication deals. But individual video creators are also now getting in on the act.

Over the past decade, creators have increasingly struck deals with companies like retailers to license their likenesses for new product lines. They have even formed their own commerce businesses pedaling everything from cosmetics to clothes to coffee. More recently, companies like Jellysmack and Spotter have emerged offering to pay creators millions of dollars in some cases to license their video back catalogs. Meanwhile, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) provide the next potential opportunity for creators to spin off new revenue sources from the content they have created and audiences they have accumulated.

“I’ve definitely seen the opportunities increasingly arise for our clients,” said Mahzad Babayan, digital talent agent at talent agency UTA where she has worked with creator clients to create standalone commerce businesses based on their content channels.

“The opportunity for creators to monetize their audience has never been bigger,” said Reza Izad, co-founder and partner of talent management firm Underscore Talent, which represents creators.

One reason for the explosion in IP monetization opportunities for creators is the explosion of the so-called “creator economy.” While creator-centric companies like talent management firms and multi-channel networks existed a decade ago, in recent years companies with more concentrated focuses — like commerce or content licensing — have sprouted to widen the spectrum of creators able to derive new revenue from their content and followings. Creator economy companies of this sort in the U.S. have raised more than $6 billion in funding since the start of 2021, according to The Information.

“The creator economy is the democratization of that IP flywheel that Disney has perfected and has put it in the hands of individual creators,” said Andrew Cohen, manager at strategic advisory firm RockWater.

“Through the money [being invested into creators], it shows us that there’s a value in content, that there’s a value in IP,” said Jake Webb, founder and president of talent management firm Slash Management.

Cases in point: Jellysmack and Spotter plan to spend $500 million and $670 million, respectively, in the coming years to license creators’ video back catalogs. “We’re doing deals for as little as $10,000, and we’re willing to do up to $50 million-plus,” said Spotter founder and CEO Aaron DeBevoise. Meanwhile, over the past 10 years, digital studio and content rights management firm Collab has paid more than $200 million to creators in content royalties, according to chief strategy officer Eric Jacks. Additionally, Fanjoy, which works with creators to develop and sell merchandise, has paid out more than $50 million to creators since 2014, according to its founder and CEO Chris Vaccarino.

However, these companies are not limiting themselves to the top 1% of creators with mass followings. Instead, they’re supporting a wider spectrum of creators. For example, while Jellysmack has done deals with creators who have tens of millions of subscribers on YouTube, it has also signed ones with creators who have as relatively few as 50,000 subscribers, said Jellysmack president Sean Atkins.

The extension of IP monetization opportunities to mid- and smaller-sized creators evinces not only the expansion of the creator economy but also the growing recognition of creators’ influences on their audiences. That is especially apparent when it comes to commerce-related opportunities, such as creators licensing their own brands to other companies or forming their own companies.

“We’re starting to see a lot of these ‘mid-level’ — I say that in air quotes — creators really pop into having a heavier hand in their own brands or even just more so of a collaboration aspect with their favorite brands,” said Evegail Andal, founder and CEO of talent management firm Matter Media Group.

These brand licensing opportunities largely originated with so-called capsule collections that creators would work on with established brands, in which the brands would license a creator’s likeness to attach to a product line, said Ali Grant, founder and CEO of influencer marketing agency Be Social. The addition of links to Instagram Stories helped to open these opportunities to more creators because the links’ performances provided evidence to prospective brands of whether a creator was able to motivate their followers to visit a product page and make a purchase, she said.

Fanjoy uses a similar exercise when evaluating creators for merchandise deals. It runs a test for creators to send their audiences from Instagram to a pop-up page on Fanjoy’s site to provide their email addresses or phone numbers prior to launching merchandise with a creator. “The [creators] who can drive a thousand initial emails or phone numbers give a sense of who can sell product,” said Vaccarino.

For as many opportunities as there are today for creators to monetize their IP, the number is only likely to grow. The back catalog licensing deals to date have largely focused on syndicating creators’ YouTube videos to other social platforms like Facebook and Snapchat, but the surge of streaming services provide an even wider array of outlets. “There are opportunities out there [in streaming], and those will come to light in the next six to 12 months,” said Babayan.

Looking even further out, there is the opportunity for creators to monetize their IP in the form of NFTs. To be clear, this is already underway, with creators like the Nelk Boys raising $23 million from an NFT collection in January 2022.

“The technology is there, and it all adds up to why we’ve been having this conversation. It all adds up to rights management,” said Webb. He added that NFTs offer “a lot of opportunity for creators and changes even the conversation of long-term rights management, long-term copyright.”

https://digiday.com/?p=444444

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Boeing’s Starliner carried a ‘Kerbal Space Program’ character to the ISS

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Boeing’s Starliner carried a ‘Kerbal Space Program’ character to the ISS

After two-and-a-half years of delays, Boeing’s Starliner capsule successfully docked with the International Space Station. It was an important milestone for a company that has, at least in the popular imagination, struggled to catch up with SpaceX. So it’s fitting how Boeing decided it would celebrate a successful mission.

When the crew of the ISS opened the hatch to Starliner, they found a surprise inside the spacecraft. Floating next to Orbital Flight Test-2’s seated test dummy was a plush toy representing Jebediah Kerman, one of four original “Kerbonauts” featured in Kerbal Space Program. Jeb, as he’s better known by the KSP community, served as the flight’s zero-g indicator. Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin took a small doll with him on the first-ever human spaceflight, and ever since it has become a tradition for most space crews to carry plush toys with them to make it easy to see when they’ve entered a microgravity environment.

If you’ve ever played Kerbal Space Program, you have a sense of why it was so fitting Boeing decided to send Jeb to space. In KSP, designing spacecraft that will carry your Kerbonauts to orbit and beyond is no easy task. Often your initial designs will fall and crash as they struggle to fly free of Kerbin’s gravity. But you go back to the drawing board and tweak your designs until you find one that works. In a way, that’s exactly what Boeing’s engineers had to do after Starliner’s first test flight in 2019 failed due to a software issue, and its second one was delayed following an unexpected valve problem.

Boeing kept Jeb’s presence on OFT-2 secret until the spacecraft docked with the ISS. A spokesperson for the company told collectSPACE that Starliner’s engineering team chose the mascot in part because of the science, technology, engineering and math lessons KSP has to teach players. Jeb will spend the next few days with the crew of the ISS before they place him back in the spacecraft for its return trip to Earth.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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COVID-19 makes automation more important than ever for enterprise integration

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COVID-19 makes automation more important than ever for enterprise integration

We are excited to bring Transform 2022 back in-person July 19 and virtually July 20 – 28. Join AI and data leaders for insightful talks and exciting networking opportunities. Register today!


As a longtime supply chain technology professional and head of a software company focused on enterprise (B2B) cloud integration, I’ve been watching several key trends that are shaping the fortunes for ecommerce and digital transformation as organizations push through the business impacts of the ongoing pandemic. These include the need for more IoT deployments and the rise of collaboration platforms to cope with increasingly remote and hybrid work environments. We’re also seeing enterprise end-to-end visibility across the business ecosystem emerge as a top C-suite priority.

These factors will help define the level of success organizations can expect in transforming data into value and impact. Ecosystem Integration, which is an advanced approach to multi-enterprise B2B/EDI integration that creates seamless end-to-end integrations that connect partners, applications, systems, and marketplaces, enables organizations to leverage collaborative platforms and increase end-to-end visibility. It’s a multilayered approach with various technologies that, when combined, amount to more than the sum of its parts. For the sake of this article, let’s zero in on automation as the common underlying capability that will best serve in the months and years ahead as an increasingly critical lynchpin for successful ecosystem integration adoption.

Pandemic fuels rush to adopt automation

As we continue to adjust to the new normal of pandemic-induced pressures on supply chain and business processes overall, automation and no-code are becoming more central as a foundation for digital transformation. That’s because COVID-19 showcased the fragility of manual processes. Recall how organizations struggled under the pressure of workforce lockdowns and the virus hindered efforts to become more agile in supply chain and other operations that were disrupted by the pandemic.

The pandemic is not yet over, but far enough along that we can see how companies like Amazon and others that invested in automation succeeded in growing both revenue and profitability despite the shutdowns. These success stories are sinking in, and that’s driving consensus and C-suite buy-in at more companies to automate core business processes. Further accelerating adoption is the increasing availability of tools and techniques that lower the barriers to entry for companies that may have thought automation solutions were out of reach. 

Automation tools and the low-code technologies that support them are fueling an expanded list of use cases and applications. Low-code automation simplifies the complexities of traditional back-end programming through more user-friendly interfaces and apps. This can shorten development cycles and allow organizations to automate more of the core processes that most impact operations and revenue.

Helping companies where they need it most 

Automation can help businesses in the process areas hit hardest by the pandemic. Consider the realm of transportation, a key part of the supply chain equation in a time when supply chain logistics have been hammered by COVID-19.

Developer experience (DX) teams can automate order processing and customs documentation with new electronic data interchange (EDI) capabilities, complete with rules engines for validating load tenders, invoices and shipment-status messages. Trucking providers can also enhance their application programming interface (API) integration to achieve more accurate load-tender processing and eliminate errors between the various transportation management systems (TMSs) of freight customers. With the right automation, these efficiencies can hold up even at the scale of large fleets. 

Transportation logistics may be near the epicenter of pandemic impacts, but those impacts ripple far and wide through the spectrum of business operations. That’s why the opportunities and benefits of automation extend across the broader spectrum of business process automation.

For instance, companies hoping to excel in ecommerce and direct-to-consumer (D2C) operations can leverage automation to gain visibility and control across revenue-critical business processes like order-to-cash and procure-to-pay. This can be done by automating end-to-end processes that streamline the integration of internal applications with the external ecosystem of business partners, ecommerce sites, marketplaces and even consumers directly. 

Automation: A top digital transformation priority in 2022

Automation allows for more efficient, scalable and agile control over a wide range of integration use cases that deliver more valuable insights and smoother operations. Along with this comes better visibility and more steady and secure innovation as organizations evolve their operations, even in the face of pandemic disruptions and other business headwinds. That’s why, as we forge further ahead into 2022, automation and no-code are cementing their place as vital components for any digital transformation.

Mahesh Rajasekharan is CEO of Cleo.

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iFixit will sell replacement parts for almost every Steam Deck component

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iFixit will sell replacement parts for almost every Steam Deck component

We knew going into the launch of Valve’s Steam Deck DIY repairs would be easier than most modern electronics. And now it looks like finding replacement parts won’t be difficult either. On Friday evening, iFixit prematurely published a list of components it will offer for Valve’s handheld. The list revealed the company plans to sell spare parts for nearly every component found in Steam Deck, including replacement motherboards complete with the handheld’s custom Aerith chipset from AMD.

Earlier today we published some pages related to our upcoming parts launch with Valve. These went live earlier than we planned, so we ended up taking them down. If you did get a parts order in, we’ll honor it. 💙

Stay tuned for the real launch soon!

— iFixit (@iFixit) May 21, 2022

As The Verge points out, the company will even sell parts that could be considered upgrades. For instance, if you own the 64GB or 256GB model, you can buy the 512GB variant’s display to get the anti-glare screen that comes on that version of the handheld. For any panel replacements, you can also spend an extra $5 to obtain a “Fix Kit” that comes with all the tools you need to complete a screen swap.

One part iFixit won’t sell immediately is replacement batteries. It will offer those at a later date. “We don’t have a solution for battery repairs on day one, but we are committed to working with Valve to maintain these devices as they age,” iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens told The Verge. “Battery replacements are going to be essential to making the Steam Deck stand the test of time.”

Other spare parts that won’t be available on day one include replacements for the Steam Deck’s touchpads and face buttons. Most of the components are reasonably priced. For example, you’ll need to spend $20 to repair a broken thumbstick. The most expensive part on the list is a new motherboard, which will set you back $350. With a complete handheld from Valve starting at $400, it won’t be economical to build your own Steam Deck with parts from iFixit, but for most repairs, the company will have you covered.  

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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