It's always impressive when a startup hits that $1 billion mark. Of course, that designation of unicorn status isn't faultless, as companies can lose value. But right now, Cameo isn't worrying—they're celebrating.
Cameo is still private, scoring institutional funding.
While retail investors will have to wait for a potential IPO way in the future, Cameo is trucking ahead with the completion of a Series C funding round. This $100 million round is what brought them over the edge to become a unicorn startup at just 5 years old.
CEO Steven Galanis has spearheaded the company to stardom. Cameo is the doing-business-as name of Barron App Inc., which is headquartered in Chicago. In 2020 alone, they sold 1.3 million videos and raked in $100 million in gross revenue. Note that Cameo keeps 25 percent of each sale, with the remainder going to the creators themselves.
In 2019, a writer named Amrit Singh predicted that Cameo would be a unicorn by 2020. He was just a few months off the mark.
Live calls and personalized videos from noteworthy names
Legendary boxer Floyd Mayweather charges $999 for a personalized video. Leslie David Baker of The Office charges $349. William Hung, of American Idol notoriety, charges $30.
Some celebrities keep the funds they earn from Cameo. Others use the money for charitable causes, which is good news considering the high net worth they often have. For example, Caitlyn Jenner donates proceeds from her $2,500-apiece Cameos to the Caitlyn Jenner Foundation.
Cameo is boosting the creator economy, but is it for the right people?
As part of the creator economy, Cameo's new unicorn status showcases the strength of the industry. But unlike platforms such as Patreon and Etsy, Cameo caters to people who are primarily already well-off. Of course, small-time celebs could probably use the money, but it's important to consider the effect of propping up an already privileged class.
At the same time that Cameo celebrates its new title, other companies in the creator economy are taking off. Substack, which allows creators to monetize newsletters, just raised $65 million in venture funding. Unsplash, a stock photo website, has officially been acquired by none other than Getty. Betty Labs, owner of Clubhouse-style sports platform Locker Room, has been bought by Spotify. All in all, big things are happening beyond Cameo. Even OnlyFans is making a name for itself.
How to invest in the creator economy (Cameo excluded)
Cameo may be private, but that doesn't mean retail investors can't dip capital into the creator economy at large. There are stocks like Etsy Inc. (NASDAQ:ETSY), which has a 12-month trailing growth of 431 percent. Spotify Technology (NYSE:SPOT) caters to creators big and small. Patreon may go public this year. Then, of course, there are non-fungible token (NFT) platforms where you can use blockchain currency to trade totally digital art.