Patreon has become known in the online media industry as the place to go if you want to send your favorite podcaster or musician a few dollars a month in exchange for extra content or access to exclusive chats. But the company has much bigger ambitions. It wants to offer creators a variety of services for creators, such as loans, so they can build their businesses. Think of Shopify, which powers many e-commerce outfits, but for artists, as one Patreon investor described it.
Those ambitions are reflected in Patreon’s valuation last year of $400 million—when it raised a reported $60 million—despite revenue this year expected to be only around $16 million, its cut of online donations.