Special Offer: Subscribe today for a free ticket ($499 value) to The Future of Startups. Redeem Now
YouTube star Tyler Oakley. Photo by Bloomberg.
Media/Telecom

The Problem with Being YouTube Famous

Photo: YouTube star Tyler Oakley. Photo by Bloomberg.

Here’s an issue for all those media firms jockeying to cash in on the enormously popular YouTube stars and their giant audiences: is the nature of the medium making stars out of people too early, stunting their chances of growing into sustainable acts?

That question came to mind at last month’s Vidcon—the annual conference of online video stars, where Youtube fans get a chance to interact with their favorite personalities, while media executives watch from above. (Literally. All the media industry panels featuring media company executives are held on the Anaheim Convention Center’s top floor).

One evening at the nearby Hilton, I saw a young guy making his way up the escalator. He was a pudgy kid and awkward in a way that’s particular to middle school boys. But there was something about him that displayed an underlying confidence. Soon it was clear why. At the top of the escalator, a girl went up to him and said that she loved his Vines. He thanked her, they took a picture together and parted ways. Then another girl came up to him and said he was hilarious. Thanks! Selfie! Goodbye. That happened at least three more times in as many minutes.

Get access to exclusive coverage
Read deeply reported stories from the largest newsroom in tech.
Latest Articles
 
The Takeaway Policy
I Helped Uncover QAnon. Failed Prophecies Won’t Kill It
Photos by Bloomberg; Shutterstock. Illustration by Mike Sullivan
I first stumbled upon the collective delusion we now refer to as QAnon in November 2017, just a few weeks after it began as a series of conspiratorial posts on one of the internet’s more untamed bulletin boards. In a sprawling discussion thread on 4chan titled “Calm Before the Storm”—a reference to a quote from the prior month by then-President Donald Trump—an...
Latest Briefs
 
Report: Databricks Raising New Round at $27 Billion Valuation
Microsoft, SAP Get Cozier With Teams Integration
Antitrust Scholar Khan in the Running for FTC Post
Stay in the know
Receive a summary of the day's top tech news—distilled into one email.
Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
Vice CEO Nancy Dubuc. Photo by Bloomberg.
Exclusive Entertainment
Inside Nancy Dubuc’s Quest to Rehabilitate Vice
When television veteran Nancy Dubuc took over as CEO of Vice Media in the spring of 2018, cash was so tight that company executives were debating whether they should cancel the Friday morning ritual of free donuts and bagels for staff.
Andreessen Horowitz co-founders Marc Andreessen (left) and Ben Horowitz. Photo by Bloomberg.
Exclusive Venture Capital
Andreessen Horowitz Looks to Launch Opinion Publication as Its Media Ambition Grows
Silicon Valley investment firm Andreessen Horowitz, which once courted attention from the news media, is ramping up its own media efforts.
Org Charts Startups Markets
The People With Power at Robinhood
Last year, as Robinhood’s trading activity boomed and legal problems mounted, the $11.7 billion startup shook up the ranks of its senior staff.
Zach Perret, CEO and co-founder of Plaid, spoke during the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit in Salt Lake City last year. Photo: Bloomberg
Exclusive Venture Capital Startups
Plaid Shareholders Field Offers at $15 Billion After Merger Collapse
Normally CEOs that opt to sell their companies aren’t happy when the government blocks the deal over antitrust concerns.
Rioters breached barricades to enter the U.S. Capitol  on Jan. 6. Photo: Bloomberg
Exclusive Travel Policy
Airbnb Used Facebook and Twitter to Weed Out Hate Groups
For the past few years, a specialized team of about half a dozen employees within Airbnb has been assigned an urgent task: preventing white nationalists and other potentially dangerous fringe groups from renting homes on the site.
Patreon CEO Jack Conte. Photo courtesy of Patreon
Exclusive Startups Markets
Patreon Considers Public Listing as Soon as This Year
Patreon, the online service that allows podcasters, musicians and other artists to receive direct financial support from fans, is considering a public listing as soon as this year, said a person with knowledge of discussions.