MKBHD’s New Job Title 🧰

The tech creator joins a veteran DTC brand

Good morning. 23% of TikTok users create 98% of the platform’s content, according to new research from Pew. And here we thought Instagram Stories was the lurker hot spot…

P.S. Colin and Samir are going live on Discord next Tuesday 2/27 at 5 PM PST. Come prepared to pitch your merch idea for a chance to win Press Publish merch and a $500 gift card. RSVP here.

Marques Brownlee Joins Ridge as Chief Creative Partner

Marques Brownlee joins Ridge as chief creative partner as the company adapts to become a “creator-led brand” / MKBHD

Tech creator Marques Brownlee has joined accessories company Ridge (known best for its primary product, the Ridge Wallet) as chief creative partner and a member of Ridge’s six-person board, Brownlee announced yesterday.

“They're the perfect partner to start making actual products…big and experienced enough to have the manufacturing expertise to turn ideas into reality BUT not too big that they're unwilling to listen and be nimble,” Brownlee tweeted.

We got the details from Ridge CEO Sean Frank →

  • Ridge attributes much of its growth to working with creators. The company has spent about $9 million sponsoring YouTube creators since it began directly partnering with channels in 2016. “People are spending 45 minutes with creators…it’s kind of like word of mouth [marketing] at scale,” Frank told us.

  • Franks wants to become a “creator-led brand.” Ridge entertained the idea of endorsing high-profile celebrities to help tell the company’s story, but Frank realized Ridge’s better option was a “deeper integration” with a creator who could invest more time and teach the Ridge team how to make good video content (particularly short-form).

  • Brownlee’s main focus? R&D. While the tech creator is joining Ridge as an investor and board member—and Ridge will continue to sponsor videos across his channels—the “deeper layer” involves Ridge and Brownlee developing new products together. “That’s what we exceed at and a lot of creator brands struggle with…we have a factory in Arizona, we have prototyping and capital for this type of stuff,” Frank told us.

Zoom out: Frank believes more and more existing DTC companies will reposition themselves as creator-led brands, noting how Ryan Trahan recently became a co-owner of Joyride Sweets—and helped relaunch the candy brand last week.

“If Ridge could operate more like Feastables, Ridge would be a better business, right?” Frank said. “If we could actually, like, go out there and tell a story and get people bought in.”

Roblox Pays $741 Million to its Creators

In 2023, about 750 Roblox creators earned over $100,000 / XBOX

Gaming platform Roblox paid out $741 million to creators last year, up 19% annually, according to a recent company filing

Snapshot: Roblox has 68 million daily active users, 58% of whom are under 16. 

  • When Roblox launched in 2006, most of its developers were teens. Today, though, the platform has matured to include professional game studios making games using Roblox’s in-platform tools. 

  • Users buy in-platform games and items using the Robux currency. Developers currently get $.0035 for every Robux spent on their game.

The draw for creators: Around 750 Roblox creators earned over $100,000 in 2023. And starting next month, Roblox creators can keep 100% of their earnings from selling goods like models and plug-ins in its Creator Store.

But: 26-year-old New Zealand Roblox creator Janzen Madsen makes up to six figures a month from developing and updating games within Roblox. He largely credits his success to Roblox’s Accelerator Program, which was discontinued in late 2022. 

  • “I think removing the program was a massive blow to up-and-coming developers and cultivating that skillset,” Madsen recently said on X.

  • “I feel like only big studios get opportunities to succeed,” fellow Roblox creator Alex Tanooki added. “It’s so rare that we do see independent developers succeed with more chance.”

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Reddit Creators Get First Dibs on IPO

Reddit gives power creators early access to its IPO / Reddit

75,000 of Reddit’s top creators will gain access to the company’s shares before its IPO in March.

How it’ll work: Reddit will allocate shares to select users and moderators who have “meaningfully contributed to Reddit community programs.” After that, people with a Reddit Karma score of at least 2,000 and those “who have performed at least 5,000 moderator actions” will be invited to purchase shares.

FYI: This is unusual for a tech company—advanced access is typically reserved for top investors. 

Zoom out: Reddit has invested heavily in creators over the last year. Reddit users can now monetize their contributions on the platform, and Reddit counts 430+ million monthly active users, ahead of both Twitch and Discord.

🔥 Press Worthy

  • Cocomelon’s parent company Moonbug is starting a record label.

  • This new conference will teach you why some brands go radio silent after a partnership—plus what you can do to jumpstart the conversation.*

  • Quinta Brunson appears on Hot Ones.

  • Ludwig is launching a new show tomorrow.

  • YouTube kids show Morphle is headed to Disney+.

  • Twitch is raising its subscription prices in Canada, the UK, Australia, and Turkey.

*This is sponsored advertising content.

📚️ Thank You For Pressing Publish

The content we’re looking forward to reading, watching, and listening to this weekend.

  • Read: "TikTok for me [at first] was just, like, What the f**k, dude? What am I gonna do here?” Folk-pop artist Noah Kahan talks with The New Yorker about riding viral success from Vermont to the Grammys.

  • Watch: Yoga creator Nico Marie shares what tips she wished someone gave her when she first started on YouTube, as well as what keeps her inspired to create.

  • Listen: Neon founder Tom Quinn discusses the business model behind his indie film production company (and how they’ve propelled movies like Parasite to big wins at the Oscars) on a recent episode of The Town.

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