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300M-user meme site Imgur raises $20M from Coil to pay creators – TechCrunch

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Meme creators have never gotten their fair share. Remixed and reshared across the web, their jokes prop up social networks like Instagram and Twitter that pay back none of their ad revenue to artists and comedians. But 300 million monthly user meme and storytelling app Imgur wants to pioneer a way to pay creators per second that people view their content.

Today Imgur announces that it’s raised a $20 million venture equity round from Coil, a micropayment tool for creators that Imgur has agreed to build into its service. Imgur will eventually launch a premium membership with exclusive features and content reserved for Coil subscribers.

Users pay Coil a fixed monthly fee, install its browser extension, the Interledger protocol is used to route assets around, and then Coil pays creators dollars or XRP tokens per second that the subscriber spends consuming their content at a rate of 36 cents per hour. Imgur and Coil will earn a cut too, diversifying the meme network’s revenue beyond ads.

“Imgur began in 2009 as a gift to the internet. Over the last 10 years we’ve built one of the largest, most positive online communities, based on our core value to ‘give more than we take’” says Alan Schaaf, founder and CEO of Imgur. The startup bootstrapped for its first five years before raising a $40 million Series A from Andreessen Horowitz and Reddit. It’s grown into the premier place to browse ‘meme dumps’ of 50+ funny images and GIFs, as well as art, science, and inspirational tales. With the same unpersonalized homepage for everyone, it’s fostered a positive community unified by esoteric inside jokes.

While the new round brings in fewer dollars, Schaaf explains that Imgur raised at a valuation that’s “higher than last time. Our investors are happy with the valuation. This is a really exciting strategic partnership.” Coil founder and CEO Stefan Thomas who was formerly the CTO of cryptocurrency company Ripple Labs will join Imgur’s board. Coil received the money it’s investing in Imgur from Ripple Labs’ Xpring Initiative, which aims to fund proliferation of the Ripple XRP ecosystem, though Imgur received US dollars in the funding deal.

Thomas tells me that “There’s no built in business model” as part of the web. Publishers and platforms “either make money with ads or with subscriptions. The problem is that only works when you have huge scale” that can bring along societal problems as we’ve seen with Facebook. Coil will “hopefully offer a third potential business model for the internet and offer a way for creators to get paid.”

Coil Micropayments

Founded last year, Coil’s $5 per month subscription is now in open beta, and it provides extensions for Chrome and Firefox as it tries to get baked into browsers natively. Unlike Patreon where you pick a few creators and choose how much to pay each every month, Coil lets you browse content from as many creators as you want and it pays them appropriately. Sites like Imgur can code in tags to their pages that tell Coil’s Web Monetization API who to send money to.

The challenge for Imgur will be avoiding the cannibalization of its existing content to the detriment of its non-paying users who’ve always known it to be free. “We’re in the business of making the internet better. We do not plan on taking anything away for the community” Schaaf insists. That means it will have to recruit new creators and add bonus features that are reserved for Coil subscribers without making the rest of its 300 million users feel deprived.

It’s surprising thT meme culture hasn’t spawned more dedicated apps. Decade-old Imgur precedes the explosion in popularity of bite-sized internet content. But rather than just host memes like Instagram, Imgur has built its own meme creation tools. If Imgur and Coil can prove users are willing to pay for quick hits of entertainment and creators can be fairly compensated, they could inspire more apps to help content makers turn their passion into a profession…or at least a nice side hustle.

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Spotify releases a new exclusive podcast hosted by Kim Kardashian • TechCrunch

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Today, Spotify released the first two episodes of the new original podcast “Kim Kardashian’s The System: The Case of Kevin Keith,” narrated by reality TV star Kim K and true-crime producer Lori Rothschild Ansaldi. The series will be available worldwide and is free for all Spotify listeners.

The podcast will have eight episodes in total and explore the story of Kevin Keith, who was convicted of a triple homicide in 1994. For 28 years, Keith has been trying to prove his innocence. Kardashian and Rothschild Ansaldi will work with investigators and experts to demonstrate how the legal system is broken, Spotify wrote in its release.

New episodes of “The System” will be released on Mondays.

Kardashian has been open about her thoughts on the flawed justice system and is currently pursuing a career as a lawyer. She passed the “Baby Bar” exam in California and claims to have plans to open her own law firm in the future.

Kardashian entered a deal with Spotify in 2020 to produce and host an exclusive podcast for the music streaming platform. Her podcast deal joins other celebrities who have inked with Spotify as part of the company’s strategy to expand its exclusive audio offerings. Also, in 2020, Spotify closed a deal with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

“The System” podcast launched on the same day that the SEC charged Kardashian for “unlawfully touting a crypt security.” Kardashian settled the case and paid $1.26 million.

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Mad Realities’ Devin Lewtan talks onboarding new crypto users through content at TC Sessions: Crypto

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If crypto is going to reach “mass adoption,” the industry still has a lot of people it needs to bring on board. Approximately 83% of U.S. adults haven’t ever invested in, traded or used cryptocurrency, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted this summer.

While many builders and investors agree that it’s still relatively early in the life cycle of blockchain technology, there’s less of a consensus around exactly what applications will catalyze widespread adoption. Consumer-facing crypto startups are trying to build intuitive products that have low barriers to entry, but how will they actually convince people their products are worth using?

Mad Realities, an audience-owned TV production studio, is betting on content and entertainment as the next big on-ramp for the crypto-curious. The company debuted an interactive reality dating show called “Proof of Love” this year that engaged audience members through NFTs and attracted $6 million in seed funding from investors, including celebrity Paris Hilton and crypto venture firm Paradigm.

That’s why we are delighted to have Mad Realities co-founder and CEO Devin Lewtan at TechCrunch Sessions: Crypto in Miami on November 17, where we’ll discuss competitive dynamics in web3 media, how to make web3 products accessible and easy to use, and the opportunities and challenges Lewtan sees ahead as her company tries to recruit Gen Z into crypto.

Before co-founding Mad Realities, Lewtan was a product engineer at Sequoia-backed Clay.run and a founder of the viral Clubhouse show, Shoot Your Shot: NYU Girls Roasting Tech Guys, which went viral on Clubhouse during the peak days of the pandemic.

Lewtan and her co-founders are all in their twenties and remain deeply plugged into digital culture trends, so we’re especially excited to chat with Lewtan about how Mad Realities can continue to stand out in a sea of viral video content.

Take advantage of our special launch pricing — save $250 on General Admission passes while supplies last. Buy your pass today, and then join the web3, DeFi and NFT communities at TC Sessions: Crypto on November 17 in Miami.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Sessions: Crypto? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

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Draymond Green will flip the script at TechCrunch Disrupt • TechCrunch

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Golden State Warrior and four-time NBA champion Draymond Green will take the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt on October 18–20 in San Francisco — and get ready for a plot twist.

He will bring his popular podcast, “The Draymond Green Show,” to the Disrupt stage with a very special guest — himself. Turning the tables, Green will hand host duties over to TechCrunch’s own Brian Heater for an interview covering the star athlete’s thoughts on disrupting media, podcasting and sports commentary.

Never one to shy away from straight talk, Green told CNBC of his desire to become a billionaire by the time he hits 40. He’s made several investments along the way, including Smile Direct Club, Blink Fitness gyms, Lobos 1707 (along with LeBron James) and Uninterrupted — part of James’s SpringHill Company.

For his most recent acquisition, Green teamed up with Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers — along with James and other investors — to purchase a Major League Pickleball team.

We can’t wait to hear more about where Green might focus future investments, his perspective on becoming a disruptive media mogul and how that billionaire status is coming along.

Green’s main gig, of course, is power-forward for the Golden State Warriors. He’s a four-time NBA champion, four-time All-Star, a two-time member of the All-NBA Team, a five-time member of the NBA All-Defensive Team and a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

His off-court career rose to new heights this year when he became the first active NBA player to sign a broadcasting deal with TNT. His podcast, “The Draymond Green Show,” features A-list guests and real talk from Green. He regularly appears on a variety of programs, is a voice-over artist and an executive producer of multiple entertainment endeavors. Green also stars in Prime Video’s “The Sessions: Draymond Green,” “Throwing Bones” and TNT’s “Opening Night.”

TechCrunch Disrupt takes place on October 18–20 in San Francisco. Buy your pass today and find out why Disrupt is the place where startups go to grow.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TechCrunch Disrupt 2022? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

 

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