The creative economy, now at 50 million strong as defined by one of the venture capitalists on this list (although other analysts put it even higher), is proving to be fertile new ground not only for creatives, but also for the investors who see the opportunity to support the kind of technology and tools that can are opened up more opportunities for more people to earn a living pursuing their passions. Venture capitalists today fulfill two essential roles within the creator ecosystem: they find and fund additional platforms, products, services, and marketplaces (or more efficient ones) that help creators capture, grow, and monetize audiences. They are also increasingly self-created, using newsletters, podcasts and social media to bring insight and transparency into investment, business building and the trends that shape the markets they finance. These five rising investors are shaping the creative economy in ways that affect the creators and all of us who enjoy what they do and want them to continue to captivate and entertain us.
Josh Constine, venture partner, SignalFire
Every investor needs a significant advantage that makes their capital stand out. In the world of the creative economy, a notable advantage would be to have and even stick to a track record as a maker while investing as well. In other words, you would be Josh Constine, a venture partner at SignalFire, who was and remains a creator himself. For more than eight years, Constine was editor-in-chief for TechCrunch, writing over 4,000 pieces of content. Today he has an interview podcast called PressClub with Josh Constinea Newsletter Substack exploring trends in the creator economy (although it’s had a hiatus this year), and of course he’s a good twitter follow for nearly 92,000 fans.
But ask Constine what helped him more than anything else to shape his view of the creative economy, and he cites the time he spent managing crowd-building projects and merchandising for two music artists: Bon Jovi and the Killers. “That experience taught me a lot about how the short list of ‘superfans’ is where the real revenue comes from — it’s not everyone else’s,” he says. “You can be a big company as a maker, but to really get big you have to find super fans who are price insensitive.”
At SignalFire, Constine seeks founders “who create tools that help creators seize the means of distribution — it’s all about owning attention and owning that audience.” That includes companies like Clubhouse, the audio-based social network that is currently refining its experience to consider more intimate, private conversationsand Karat, a creator-focused financial services company, among many other startups establishing themselves The SignalFire portfolio. Constine says that by investing in companies that create solutions for creators, he hopes to create value for those “who can focus on niche content that resonates with a much more passionate group of fans.”
Em Herrera, investor, Night Ventures
Em Herrera, a 23-year-old investor at Nightly ventures, may be the youngest VC in the country, but that’s not what landed her on the Creator 25 list. The self-proclaimed high school dropout has a wealth of foundational experience dating back to her high school days as a social media manager for Days for Girls International and later as a brand representative for Glossier, among others. All this makes her a native creator economy if ever there was one in the VC space (not to mention her more than 14,000 tweets to her more than 15,000 followers that she has amassed over the past nine years). Since April, she has now put her expertise to work at Night Ventures, the investment arm of the creator management juggernaut run by Reed Duchscherwhich stands for Jimmy Donaldson aka MrBeast. Night Ventures has supported such creative startups as: pear dollthat connects brands with creators and influencers, and NFT-focused companies Zora and Cyber.
Herrera says her main goal is to find female founders, and “enable them to deploy capital and network within the spaces they really care about.” Furthermore, at Night, Herrera seeks to connect with founders and creators who exemplify a sense of responsibility to their communities as they unearth vast amounts of value in small subcultures long ignored by brands and the media. “Creators are an unlocked resource for micro-community insights, and I really want the VC community to respect that,” she says. “I’m super passionate about finding deals and people who have opened up and amassed influence in a previously overlooked field.”
Katelin Holloway, co-founder of Seven Seven Six
“I’ve seen many people turn their ‘plan B’ into their ‘plan A’, get a boring job and let go of their creative dreams,” says Katelin Hollowayone of the founders of the venture capital firm Seven Seven Six. “When people have the tools to turn their creative pursuits into their livelihoods, that’s where real innovation comes from.” Its mission, along with that of its co-founder, Alexis Ohanianis to support innovative, creative startups – and there is no plan B.
Since Ohanian and Holloway started Seven Seven Six in 2020, she has quickly helped build the company as arguably the most aggressive fundraiser for startup and creative startups. The list of Seven Seven Six Backed Creator Economy Companies is wonderful, including the Gen-Z focused social networking app real timevideo platform in short form huddlescollaboration platform for creators pear dollback-end all-in-one platform fourth wall (see the Creator 25’s Supporting Acts section), along with many crypto startups who share the same ethos of letting people build value for their creative contributions. In many ways Holloway’s work is an organic extension of what she did at Reddit, where she led people and culture on the iconic social media site co-founded by Ohanian, as well as her angel investing, where she supported the likes of groundbreaking social audio platform Clubhouse and crowdfunding platform for creators Seed and spark. (Holloway, who himself has More than 13,500 Twitter followershas also found a clever way to bridge her history in HR with her creator orientation: she has hosted three seasons of a podcast series called all hands interviewing CEOs and other top executives about their workforce strategies.)
As creator tools proliferate and become more commonplace, Holloway says she sees her vision for the future coming to fruition: Creators can now truly connect directly with their audiences and grow their audiences, and earn a living by doing what they love. The opportunities presented to today’s creators, she says, “are totally endless.”
Nicole Quinn, General Partner, Lightspeed
“When you’re building a business, having an influencer, creator, or celebrity co-founder is hugely helpful,” says Nicole Quinnwho has been a general partner investing in the A-list VC firm Speed of light since 2015. “It is much easier and cheaper to turn a fan into a customer.” Although she is Dr. Dre and the Kardashians cites as examples of how creators become entrepreneurs, the charming Brit is only modest in choosing not to talk about her own book. Quinn has invested in Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop and Lady Gaga’s Haus Labs. She has also facilitated the ur-creator economy platform that has generated hundreds of millions in gross revenue for tens of thousands of creators: Cameo.
Quinn developed a passion for early-stage investing at Morgan Stanley, where she worked on major IPOs for companies like Facebook and Pandora. After landing at Lightspeed, she says she’s focused on the power influencers and creators can have as entrepreneurs, which is why she’s focused so much on the creator economy. When Quinn meets founders and startups, she brings a similar lens to what she looks for in a creator-turned-founder — specifically, focus, a drive to succeed, and the ability to evolve and cater to an audience. (Quinn, like so many VCs, has developed her audience on Twitterwhere she has over 12,600 followers.)
But her favorite part of being an investor is learning what’s next before it goes mainstream. You can glimpse what she sees and is excited about her investments in startups like . to consider fizza college campus social network (you may remember a particular company that started that mission in the mid-2000s), and FlickPlay, a platform for creators to monetize augmented reality digital collectibles. “I love my job,” Quinn says. “When I meet founders, they give us an idea of what the future will look like.”
Rex Woodbury, partner, Index Ventures
Rex Woodbury, 29, “grew up fascinated by how people interact with each other online,” an excellent creative economy that matured that led him to become a VC after jobs working for growth at buzzing startups like Airtable and Calm. Fittingly, Woodbury collects his thoughts on technology and culture and shares them through his popular newsletter (which has over 30,000 subscribers) called – what else?Digital Native. (He also tweets regularly to his over 33,400 Twitter followers.) His early experiences with online communities at the amateur and professional levels have helped him shape and guide many of his investment decisions as an investor. Index companies has several creator-focused companies in his portfolio, including Discord, Etsy and Roblox, and Woodbury, who joined the company in 2020 and became a partner earlier this year, says his focus is on finding founders who want to “break down the barriers to creation.” Among his “relationships” portfolio, as Index describes them, are: Creative juice, a banking application for creators that allows them to collect all the revenue they generate on platforms like Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. “[Creators had] previously limited by the available tools. But the internet has blown that wide open.”
This article is part of our list of the top 25 creators of 2022.