Insider Influencers: Top LA media startups — college athletes become micro influencers — OnlyFans model sues agency

 
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Hi, this is Amanda Perelli and welcome back to Insider Influencers, our weekly rundown on the business of influencers, creators, and social-media platforms. Sign up for the newsletter here.

In this week's edition:

Send tips to aperelli@insider.com or DM me on Twitter at @arperelli.


 

From left: Nigel Egrari, co-founder of Moment House, Dan Dan Li, CEO of Popshop Live, Delane Parnell, founder of PlayVS, and Christina Heller, CEO of Metastage inside Hollywood Walk of Fame stars on a black background

LA media startups shaping the next wave of entertainment and tech

Watch out Silicon Valley: Los Angeles is becoming a hotspot for new startups. In the last year alone, investors have poured $195 million into LA companies transforming entertainment and media. 

My colleagues Dan Whateley and JP Mangalindan narrowed down the top 15 startups reimagining the entertainment and tech worlds, and spoke to their leaders about their missions — as well as why launching in LA is a "no-brainer," as Moment House CEO Arjun Mehta said.

Here's a look at the list:

  • Creator+ is a new production studio and streaming platform producing premium video-on-demand films starring content creators and traditional Hollywood talent. 

  • Dispo, the photo sharing app, says that despite the controversy surrounding its cofounder David Dobrik, it continues to see steady growth.

  • With some major funding, Genies helps celebrities and influencers create virtual versions of themselves for fans.

Here's the full list of 15 startups transforming the industry. 

unruly agency influencer onlyfans accounts 4x3

An OnlyFans model is suing a social-media management company, claiming 'revenge porn' and 'intentional infliction of emotional distress.'

An OnlyFans model is suing the social-media-management firm Unruly Agency.

The suit alleges Unruly took and distributed nude photos of her without permission "likely" in an act of "retaliation."

Here are a few key takeaways from the suit:

  • It alleges that Unruly "covertly took nude photographs" while the model was changing at a photo shoot.

  • The model also claims that when she tried to end her business relationship with Unruly, the company published a nude photo of her on OnlyFans.

  • The model "suffered severe emotional, mental, and psychological distress," the lawsuit says.

Unruly responded in a statement, saying "this complaint is completely unfounded, and we are confident the matter will be resolved in our favor."

Read more on the complaint, which is the second lawsuit filed against Unruly this summer by an OnlyFans model.

The offensive lineman of the University of Nebraska pose with burritos wearing red shirts at Muchachos.

How student-athletes are making money as micro and nano influencers

Thanks to the change in name, image, and likeness rules, student-athletes are cashing in and transitioning their stardom from the field to social media.

Dan Whateley and I spoke with industry insiders who said NIL campaigns on Twitter and Instagram have centered on niche audiences and local brands, given that the more than 460,000 college athletes across the US largely have smaller audiences than social-media stars.

Many local retailers are pairing in-person appearances with Instagram and Twitter posts to drive attention to their businesses. Take Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, who recently promoted a partnership with a local Chevrolet auto dealer on Instagram.

"Those small deals, while they may be small in monetary value, they may go a very long ways for these student-athletes," said Christopher Aumueller, the CEO of the athlete-marketing and brand development upstart FanWord.

More on how athletes are making money on social media and what these deals are looking like. 

Melissa Ong is holding the camera and taking a selfie in a pajama sweat, which includes a light beige pair of shorts and crewneck. She has long brown hair and is wearing a blue bucket hat.

A TikTok star explains why she quit her job at Google to become an influencer

Melissa Ong, known by her username "chunkysdead," is a comedian on TikTok who has over 3.8 million followers. 

But it wasn't always that way. In 2020, she made a major career shift, leaving her job as a UX developer at Google after facing burnout from the intense pressure.

Kylie Robison spoke with Ong, who shared the story of her rise to fame on TikTok, and how her new social-media career has turned out to be more rewarding than her gig at Google.

A look at what Ong had to say:

  • Her new career is not only more fulfilling, Ong told Insider, but also more lucrative. 

  • She's been able to secure paid partnerships across TikTok and Instagram with brands like Mercari and FabFitFun.

  • When she's not on TikTok, she's been working on a TV pitch about a sociopath who gets a job at Google. 

Read more about the former Google engineer, now full-time TikToker, here.


Here's what else you need to know this week:

Social capital

Power moves

What's trending


Chart of the week:

Insider Intelligence projects that the number of paid digital audio subscribers in the US will hit 121.9 million this year, up 11% from 2020. Check out the full report here. 

Insider Intelligence

 


he's all that

TikTok hashtag of the week: 

Every week, we highlight a top trending hashtag on TikTok, according to data provided by Kyra IQ.

This week's hashtag: #hesallthat

  • Percentage uptick: 9,662%

  • The latest viral trend has users analyzing the Netflix film, which stars TikTok creator Addison Rae. The movie is a Gen-Z remake of the popular 1999 film "She's All That" — and has a dismal audience score of 26% on Rotten Tomatoes.


Pokimane

What else we're reading and watching:

Subscribe to the newsletter here.

And before you go, check out the top trending songs on TikTok this week to add to your playlist. The data was collected by UTA IQ, the research, analytics, and digital strategy division of United Talent Agency.

UTA

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