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Creator Economy Startups Hop on the Web3 Bandwagon

Startups catering to the creator economy are adding crypto offerings and in some cases pivoting entirely to Web3, lured partly by a blockchain investment bonanza. But others are sitting on the sidelines, seeing instead a trendy distraction from their businesses.

Illustration by Josh Brill
Illustration by Josh Brill
March 30, 2022 7:00 AM PDT

Since the end of last summer, investors have peppered Nick Gerard, co-founder and CEO of a company called Norby that makes marketing tools for creators, with the same question: What are his startup’s Web3 plans?

Web3—a catchall term for technologies built atop the decentralized blockchains first used by cryptocurrencies—has captivated many entrepreneurs. Gerard isn’t one of them. He said a handful of investors lost interest in his company when he told them Norby has no plans for crypto-related features, unlike many of his fellow startup founders in the creator economy. “You see one by one everyone else pivoting to Web3,” he said. “You do take a step back and you’re like, ‘Are we crazy? Or is this all just hype?’”

Seventeen startups in The Information’s Creator Economy Database are primarily focused on Web3 technologies, including companies like Rosebud AI, which pivoted its entire business to non-fungible tokens after starting three years ago as a subscription-based app that helped creators make animated images. At least a dozen more startups have embraced those technologies over the past six months as a part of their broader offerings, including custom merchandise maker Spring and celebrity shout-out service Cameo.

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