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MrBeast is a YouTube megastar. Can he make it in business?

Even creators with hundreds of millions of followers can find their names mean little to older audiences, hampering their chances of building a brand outside social media.


One of the most popular YouTubers in the world is a tall, rather awkward 25-year-old from North Carolina called Jimmy Donaldson, better known to his fans as MrBeast. He has more online followers than Elon Musk, makes millions of dollars in ad revenue and wants to turn his devoted subscriber base into a business. But swapping virtual fame for the real world is tricky.

If you didn’t spend your teenage years glued to YouTube, Donaldson’s success may come as a surprise. The videos he makes are reminiscent of MTV’s Jackass: there is a lot of shouting and elaborate stunts. Escapades include squashing a sports car in a hydraulic press and running a train into a brick wall.

Recently, more of his work has had a philanthropic bent. Video titles trade in big, eye-catching numbers: “1000 Deaf People Hear For The First Time”, for example.

Donaldson does not have the attributes you might associate with superstardom. He has grown in confidence but can still look uncomfortable on camera. While his videos follow the faux-casual YouTube style of fast cuts and shots of friends laughing, he rarely looks relaxed.

Yet his comment section glows with respect. Under a video of him sitting in a chair and counting to 10,000, one viewer wrote “This is hardwork and dedication at its finest! His patience and mental fortitude is beyond; don’t know how or where he gets the motivation.”

The question for Donaldson and other online stars is what comes next. Even the most successful content creator lives at the mercy of social media company algorithms, moderators and the vicissitudes of digital advertising. Whoever owns the platform sets the rules.

YouTube, owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, is trying to persuade more creators to upload short videos to compete with TikTok. TikTok has been threatened with bans in the US. As creators gain more followers, lack of control can start to chafe. Autonomy becomes a prized possession.

Content creation is gruelling work too, since audiences demand a constant stream of new videos – another incentive to build up offline businesses. He may be young, but it has taken Donaldson a while to reach his 178 million subscribers. He started posting on YouTube when he was 11.

'Hyper obsessed’ with going viral

Speaking to podcaster Joe Rogan a year ago, Donaldson described himself as “hyper obsessed” with the platform. He studied ways to make videos go viral, looking at how bright thumbnail images for videos were, for example. His own are cartoony and hyper-real.

MrBeast videos are a model of the genre: not too long and opened with explainers that are useful for viewers with wavering attention spans.

He likes to get other famous YouTubers involved too. Recently, Felix Kjellberg – aka PewDiePie (111 million YouTube subscribers) – joined him on a rollercoaster in Japan.

As his audience grows, so do the number of businesses. As well as the 55 per cent of video ad revenue he gets through YouTube’s partner program, his business endeavours include a ghost kitchen called MrBeast Burger and a chocolate bar company called Feastables, plus investments in other creators via a fintech called Creative Juice.

Earlier this year, Donaldson tweeted out an idea to sell parts of his businesses “for billions of dollars”. He had previously mentioned the idea of an initial public offering. Last year, news website Axios reported that he was considering external funding that would value his business empire at about $US1.5 billion ($2.3 billion). In tech parlance, this would make him a unicorn.

Celebrity-run businesses are not new. In the late ’90s, David Bowie issued asset-backed securities based on revenues from his albums. George Clooney used to sell tequila. Rihanna has a make-up line.

For online stars who trade in views, however, valuations are still a work in progress. Even YouTube megastars can find that their names mean little to older audiences, hampering their chances of building a brand outside social media.

In 2022, an online media company made up of 93 content creators and esports competitors joined markets via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company. The FaZe Clan, as they call themselves, claimed it had more than 500 million followers across multiple platforms such as YouTube, TikTok and Twitch. Revenue comes from sources including ads on videos and brand deals that include the gruesome sounding Orange Chicken Pizza Roll.

But market interest in FaZe Holdings does not bode well for Donaldson. SPACs tend to open at $US10 a share. FaZe Holdings now trades at less than 30 cents a share.

Donaldson’s enthusiasm for an IPO appears to have waned. He sued Virtual Dining Concepts, the company behind Beast Burger, following customer complaints, and was counter-sued in response. All the while, the videos keep coming. Escaping the confines of YouTube is going to be difficult.



YouTube Shorts Now Available On TV - November 7, 2022

Google-owned video sharing platform rolls out short-form vertical players optimized for television screens.


By Brian Frederick

YouTube Shorts are now available in a television-optimized format, the company announced today via a blog post.

Owners of Android TVs or Google TVs will now be able to view short-form videos via the YouTube app.

YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan said in the blog:

“While this may seem like a natural next step, an incredible amount of thought and care has gone into bringing this vertical, mobile-first experience to the big screen.”

Before this release, there was no convenient way for viewers to watch vertical videos in landscape orientation. Now, you can play vertical clips in a clean, white-bordered format that uses the wider screen’s additional space to include information about the video, including title, audio format, creator names, and the like/dislike icons.

New Functionality Intended To Facilitate Community Viewing

YouTube researched users’ preferred format before releasing this new functionality, seeking to preserve what it called the “essence of Shorts” while encouraging viewing with others on a larger screen.

Mohan continues:

“As YouTube continues to make it easier to interact on TV, the richness of the Shorts experience will only grow. Bringing Shorts to TV is a great bridge to bring two of our most important experiences together to benefit both creators and viewers. Over the coming weeks, this experience will be rolling out on TV models (2019 and later) and on newer game consoles.”


The Google-owned video-sharing platform experimented with employing a conventional video player and a “jukebox” style format, in which multiple Shorts would display simultaneously, before finally settling on a layout with a clean design that still takes advantage of the television’s additional screen space.

Move Latest Attempt By YouTube To Compete With TikTok

Recognizing the power TikTok wields in the short-form video sphere, many other companies, including Google and Facebook, have sought to claim a share of the market to varying degrees of success.

YouTube Shorts has been one of the more successful platforms in this format, reaching 30 million daily views in April of this year, a massive number for a service that was launched as a beta version in India in September 2020 before going live in the U.S. in March of the following year.

The release of Shorts for televisions should provide YouTube with a significant advantage over competitors, as most smart TVs come with the YouTube app already installed, as opposed to downloading a separate app, ala TikTok.

Viewing Shorts only requires users to open the app and look for a carousel on the homepage. You can also view Shorts directly from a creator’s channel.

*click here for full article and multimedia

(Search Engine Journal)

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Greg Tingle

SEJ on YouTube Shorts hitting the big screen TV by Brian. A call to action perhaps to create more YT Shorts and Google friendly content. Could this almost be a preemptive strike against Netflix with gaming strategy and marketing plans? Everything is competing with everything right? How about in part to counter Microsoft, TikTok and maybe even Musk's Twitter in the bud, or at least build on market penetration and pop culture infiltration, build views on interactive, while reducing churn? Perhaps we're looking into this too deep, but maybe not! The battle for eyeballs, hearts, minds, loyalty and revenue continues! The latest chapter in the big book entitled 'The Internet Matrix Of Things'. PS: still pleased we paid to have the YouTube ads removed, but now Netflix ads are sneaking up on us. The game of business.