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Patreon now valued at $4 billion as VCs plow money into creator economy companies

Venture capitalists are plowing money into startups that help content creators to directly monetize their work.

Driving the news: Patreon, a platform that connects creators with fans, today will announce $155 million in fresh funding at a $4 billion valuation.

  • Audio platform Clubhouse, which just launched a payments feature for creators, reportedly is raising new money at a $4 billion valuation.
  • Last week: Newsletter platform Substack snared $65 million at a $650 million valuation, celeb messaging app Cameo added $100 million at a valuation north of $1 billion and music distribution startup UnitedMasters secured $50 million in an Apple-led round.
  • Roblox, which paid more than $300 million to game creators last year, in January raised $520 million from VCs before going public.

Many of these platforms are seeking to both disintermediate and become the new intermediaries.

  • One loser in this new paradigm is the digital advertising model.
  • Marc Andreessen, whose venture capital firm has backed both Clubhouse and Substack, has argued that the internet is in a "third wave" of content monetization, where direct-to-creator spend will dominate.

The bottom line: This trend is only accelerating, including into burgeoning areas like NFTs. The more money that goes in, the more that may go out to creators.

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Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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