First there was Matt Damon's ill-timed ad, then the crypto winter, then the crash of FTX. Last year was not a good one for the crypto market. But the promise of blockchain technology was never about get-rich-quick schemes, and defrauding investors was never a result of blockchain technology. If there's a silver lining to this latest implosion, it's that we should finally decouple these events from the potential that Web3 technology has to transform Hollywood for creators, fan communities and the industry's development and production processes. Because nowhere are the opportunities for Web3 more necessary and more possible than in the entertainment industry.
Yellow, the accelerator program launched by Snap in 2018, has selected ten companies to join its latest cohort. The new batch of startups coming from across the U.S. and international cities like London, Mexico City, Seoul and Vilnius are building professional social networks for black professionals and blue collar workers, fashion labels, educational tools in augmented reality, kids entertainment, and an interactive entertainment production company. Since launching the platform in 2018, startups from the Snap accelerator have gone on to acquisition (like Stop, Breathe, and Think, which was bought by Meredith Corp.) and to raise bigger rounds of funding (like the voiceover video production toolkit, MuzeTV, and the animation studio Toonstar). Every company in the Yellow portfolio will receive $150,000 mentorship from industry veterans in and out of Snap, creative office space in Los Angeles and commercial support and partnerships -- including Snapchat distribution.
Lil Miquela is a star by today's standards: She has roughly 1.5m followers on IG and, thanks to new financing, the company that owns her is about to be worth at least $125m. Brud, the company that created Lil Miquela, is currently closing a round between $20m and $30m to continue developing her and some of its other flagship stars (Miquela may have even hinted about the news herself). To clear up any confusion, Lil Miquela is what they call in the biz, an "avastar" -- meaning she's not real, but her fans certainly are, and investors are smellin' the potential. Of course, that was far before AI became a d*mn-near living, breathing organism, and before entertainment value was measured by "likes" and "subscribes." Now the attention from venture firms is showing creators just how important virtual characters could actually become.
Lil Miquela's 1.5 million followers watch her eat sherbet on the beach, visit her favorite art galleries, and hang out with other robot models. Lil Miquela is a digital influencer created using motion graphics -- something companies have long been capable of making. But even though she isn't truly an AI creation, her success has inspired venture capitalists like Betaworks to invest heavily in virtual creators and work with startups to progress the technology forward. The future of influencers, according to the general director of Betaworks' startup bootcamp, Danika Laszuk, is digital beings who actually are powered by AI. Betaworks' next startup camp will focus on what Laszuk calls "synthetic media" -- a combination of computer-generated imagery and AI capabilities.
Veritone CEO Ryan Steelberg says the Writers Guild of America needs to make sure their writers are protected as AI becomes more popular. Nearly two weeks into the national writers' strike spearheaded by the Writers Guild of America (WGA), little progress has been made between both sides. The WGA has a litany of requests for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Per its website, the WGA has specific proposals with regard to artificial intelligence, including the "regulation of AI on minimum basic agreement (MBA) -covered projects; AI can't write or rewrite literary material; can't be used as source material; and MBA-covered material can't be used to train AI." When it comes to these provisions that surround artificial intelligence, studios have put the kibosh on writers' requests, instead suggesting annual meetings to review evolving technology.