Kickstarter is largely responsible for creating the crowd-funding scene as we know it today, but Patreon’s work in this area may actually be the most noteworthy. Rather than having tons of people pool money together to support a project, which is almost like a cross between fundraising and investing, Patreon allows people to financially support their favorite content creators with regular donations, just like patrons of the arts have been doing for centuries. Small time YouTubers are the most-common recipients, but any content creator that publishes their content online can receive money from their fans, including podcast owners and and web comic creators. The service has seen some impressive growth, enought that it was recently able to raise $30 million in funding.
Hiring the right developers is an issue for many startups in Silicon Valley, but Patreon CEO Jack Conte tells TechCrunch the speed he needs to hire is a major issue for his fast-growing subscription-based artist funding platform. “We need to bring in so many people so fast. We need to keep up with hiring and keep up with making all of the things,” Conte said in a recent phone interview. Patreon just closed on a fresh round of $30 million in Series B funding, led by Thrive Capital, to help hire more folks to make those “things.” Conte and Patreon co-founder Sam Yam started the site in 2013 as a way to support artists in their pursuit of a decent living while doing what they love. The startup has since grown to nearly 50 people mostly working out of a SOMA warehouse space in downtown San Francisco. Bigger players such as Youtube are now capitalizing on a similar idea. Youtube Red, the newish subscription service offering a revenue split with content rights holders, might attract Patreon’s core users – creative types hoping to make a living on their talent. However, Conte believes Youtube is a complimentary service to what Patreon provides and only strengthens the future potential for growth on his platform. “It’s a very different product,” Conte said of Youtube. “The idea of paying a subscription instead of ads is just very different from paying to support an artist.”