BRCK acquires ISPs EveryLayer and Surf to boost Africa’s public Wi-Fi

Jake Bright Contributor Jake Bright is a writer and author in New York City. He is co-author of The Next Africa. More posts by this contributor Africa Roundup: Zimbabwe’s net blackout, Partech’s $143M fund, Andela’s $100M raise, Flutterwave’s pivot Partech is doubling the size of its African venture fund to $143 million Kenyan communications hardware […]

Kenyan communications hardware company BRCK has acquired the assets of Nairobi based internet provider Surf and its U.S. parent EveryLayer in a purchase deal of an undisclosed amount announced Friday.

Based in Nairobi, Surf is a hotspot service provider aimed at offering affordable internet to lower income segments. BRCK is a five year old venture that pairs its rugged WiFi routers to internet service packages designed to bring people online in frontier and emerging markets.

With the acquisition, BRCK gains the assets of San Francisco based EveryLayer and its Surf subsidiary, including 1200 hotspots and 200,000 active customers across 22 cities in Kenya, according to BRCK CEO and founder Erik Hersman. EveryLayer CEO Mark Summer confirmed these details with TechCrunch.

Backed by $10 million from investors including Steve Case’s  href="https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/revolution" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/revolution&source=gmail&ust=1550264079401000&usg=AFQjCNHxpQzuoH0fPB4lHfAa_bZ07Yiklg">Revolution VC fund, BRCK plans to use its new resources to expand to an undisclosed East African and is eying options abroad. “We’re looking at Indonesia and starting our pilot in Mexico next month,” Hersman told TechCrunch on a call from Kigali.

BRCK built its platform around providing internet solutions primarily in Kenya and Rwanda. In 2017, the company rolled out its SupaBRCK product and paired it to its Moja service, which offers free public WiFi—internet, music, and entertainment—subsidized by commercial partners.

There’s not a requirement to click on or watch advertisements to gain Moja access, though users can gain faster access if they “interact with one of our business partners…by doing a survey, downloading an app, or watching an ad,” said Hersman.

In 2018, BRCK began offering SupaBRCK devices to drivers of Nairobi’s Mutatu buses for Kenyan commuters to access Moja. As of January Moja traffic is racking up 300,000 active uniques and 3.7 million impressions per month, according to Hersman.

The BRCK founder has described Africa’s internet challenges—mainly the lowest penetration rates in the world—as shifting toward more of an affordability than availability problem.

“The demand on internet in Africa is largely driven by the 10 to 15 percent who can afford it. The real massive opportunity is trying to connect the 70 to 80 percent of the people who can’t. That’s where the internet race really is,” Hersman told TechCrunch in 2017.

Speaking on the recent EveryLayer asset acquisition, Hersman explained that improvements over recent years in Africa’s smartphone penetration, internet costs, and broadband capabilities are not necessarily translating to large portions of Africa’s 1.2 billion people.

“Even with penetration improving, even with data prices going down, there’s still not a viable way to get internet to huge swaths of people,” he told TechCrunch. “The real numbers are that about 20 percent in every country can now afford to buy data-bundles, but 80 percent can’t.”

With the recent asset acquisition BRCK hopes to add its experience in delivering internet solutions on transit networks to Surf’s WiFi and IP capabilities toward new partnerships and service countries.

“Surf has a model for fixed WiFi and a team that roll things out in Kenya and new geographies. We can go to big ISPs in other countries and create partnerships…for fixed WiFi followed by transportation connectivity,” said Hersman.

BRCK will maintain the Surf name in the short term, “but over the next three to six months it will all be rebranded and the platform will become Moja WiFi,” Hersman said. Surf’s existing employees have been invited to join BRCK.

As for Surf’s parent company, EveryLayer, “at this point it will be shutdown. One of the founders Andris Bjornson will join BRCK,” CEO Mark Summer told TechCrunch.

In 2018, EveryLayer announced a partnership whereby Surf would also offer Facebook’s Express WiFi hotspots on its network. With the acquisition, that arrangement will continue “only for those existing express WiFi locations” until BRCK transitions “those…nodes to Moja WiFi in the next three to six months, explained BRCK CEO Erik Hersman. “

On data-privacy for BRCK’s Moja users, “BRCK doesn’t capture personally identifying information beyond the MacID of the device connecting…We don’t associate users browsing data with individual users and there are no logins,” Hersman told TechCrunch.

Spotify says it paid $340M to buy Gimlet and Anchor

Spotify doubled down on podcasts last week with a double deal to buy podcast networks Gimlet and Anchor. Those acquisitions were initially undisclosed, but Spotify has quietly confirmed that it spent €300 million, just shy of $340 million, to capture the companies. That’s according to an SEC filing — hat tip Recode’s Peter Kafka — which deals the […]

Spotify doubled down on podcasts last week with a double deal to buy podcast networks Gimlet and Anchor. Those acquisitions were initially undisclosed, but Spotify has quietly confirmed that it spent €300 million, just shy of $340 million, to capture the companies.

That’s according to an SEC filing — hat tip Recode’s Peter Kafka — which deals the transactions which were “primarily in cash,” Spotify said. Kafka previously reported that Spotify paid around $200 million for Gimlet, which, if correct, would mean Anchor fetched the remaining $140 million.

Those numbers represent an impressive return for the investors involved, particularly those who backed the companies at seed stage.

Gimlet raised $28.5 million from investors that included Stripes Group, WPP, Betaworks and Lowercase Capital, according to Crunchbase.

Anchor, meanwhile, raised $14.4 million. Crunchbase data shows its backers included Accel, GV, Homebrew and (again) Betaworks.

Those deals represent a good chunk of change, but Spotify still has more fuel in the tanks.

As we reported last week, it plans to spend a total of up to $500 million this year “on multiple acquisitions” as it seeks to further its position on podcasting which, to date, has been an after-thought to its focus on music. Less these deals, Spotify has around $160 million left in its spending budget for 2019.

In a blog post announcing the deals published last week, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek admitted that he didn’t originally release that “audio — not just music — would be the future of Spotify” when he founded the business in 2006.

“This opportunity starts with the next phase of growth in audio — podcasting. There are endless ways to tell stories that serve to entertain, to educate, to challenge, to inspire, or to bring us together and break down cultural barriers. The format is really evolving and while podcasting is still a relatively small business today, I see incredible growth potential for the space and for Spotify in particular,” Ek explained.

Spotify says it paid $340M to buy Gimlet and Anchor

Spotify doubled down on podcasts last week with a double deal to buy podcast networks Gimlet and Anchor. Those acquisitions were initially undisclosed, but Spotify has quietly confirmed that it spent €300 million, just shy of $340 million, to capture the companies. That’s according to an SEC filing — hat tip Recode’s Peter Kafka — which deals the […]

Spotify doubled down on podcasts last week with a double deal to buy podcast networks Gimlet and Anchor. Those acquisitions were initially undisclosed, but Spotify has quietly confirmed that it spent €300 million, just shy of $340 million, to capture the companies.

That’s according to an SEC filing — hat tip Recode’s Peter Kafka — which deals the transactions which were “primarily in cash,” Spotify said. Kafka previously reported that Spotify paid around $200 million for Gimlet, which, if correct, would mean Anchor fetched the remaining $140 million.

Those numbers represent an impressive return for the investors involved, particularly those who backed the companies at seed stage.

Gimlet raised $28.5 million from investors that included Stripes Group, WPP, Betaworks and Lowercase Capital, according to Crunchbase.

Anchor, meanwhile, raised $14.4 million. Crunchbase data shows its backers included Accel, GV, Homebrew and (again) Betaworks.

Those deals represent a good chunk of change, but Spotify still has more fuel in the tanks.

As we reported last week, it plans to spend a total of up to $500 million this year “on multiple acquisitions” as it seeks to further its position on podcasting which, to date, has been an after-thought to its focus on music. Less these deals, Spotify has around $160 million left in its spending budget for 2019.

In a blog post announcing the deals published last week, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek admitted that he didn’t originally release that “audio — not just music — would be the future of Spotify” when he founded the business in 2006.

“This opportunity starts with the next phase of growth in audio — podcasting. There are endless ways to tell stories that serve to entertain, to educate, to challenge, to inspire, or to bring us together and break down cultural barriers. The format is really evolving and while podcasting is still a relatively small business today, I see incredible growth potential for the space and for Spotify in particular,” Ek explained.

Atrium, Justin Kan’s legal tech startup, launches a fintech and blockchain division

Atrium, the legal startup co-founder by Justin Kan of Twitch fame, is jumping into the blockchain space today. The company has raised plenty of money — including $65 million from A16z last September — so rather than an ICO or token sale, this is a consultancy business. Atrium uses machine learning to digitize legal documents and develops applications […]

Atrium, the legal startup co-founder by Justin Kan of Twitch fame, is jumping into the blockchain space today.

The company has raised plenty of money — including $65 million from A16z last September — so rather than an ICO or token sale, this is a consultancy business. Atrium uses machine learning to digitize legal documents and develops applications for client use, and now it is officially applying that to fintech and blockchain businesses.

The division has been operating quietly for months and the scope of work that it covers includes the legality and regulatory concerns around tokens, but also business-focused areas including token utility, tokenomics and general blockchain tech.

“We have a bunch of clients wanting to do token offerings and looking into the legality,” Kan told TechCrunch in an interview. “A lot of our advisory work is around the token offering and how it operates.”

The commitment is such that the company is even accepting Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash for payments through crypto processing service BitPay.

While the ICO market has quietened over the past year following to huge valuation losses market-wide, up to 90 percent in some cases with many ICO tokens now effectively worthless, there’s a new anticipation around regulatory-friendly security token offering (STO) options. Coinbase, for one, has backed STO platforms and its CEO Brian Armstrong has spoken of his belief that the cap table of the future is tokenized, allowing company tokens to be freely traded worldwide.

According to Armstrong, Coinbase could potentially host “millions” of STOs in the future.

If even a fraction of that number is to exist, companies will need advisors to help with structure and regulatory compliance. Many legal firms are already making a proverbial killing and, just like its core business, Atrium wants to use its tech-centric platform to offer a more efficient and cheaper alternative to expensive legal firms.

“People are doing private offerings, but the number of ICOs has definitely dropped,” Kan admitted. “Interest, though, has continued to grow, as people try to navigate this new regulatory regime. We spend a lot of time trying to focus on only taking on high-quality clients.”

Atrium Fintech and Blockchain also includes fintech work — as the name implies — but blockchain is likely to account of the majority of client work, so said Ross Barbash, who leads the 10-person team.

“We currently work with a mix of companies across the U.S, with some in Asia and Europe,” he said.

The fintech work has tended to be more U.S-centric at this point, Barbash said, because Atrium’s expertise is particular to licenses at federal and state level in America.

Regulation is, of course, far trickier when it comes to blockchain as it remains a work in progress. The SEC has made periodic statements, often taking legal action to establish expectations and boundaries as it decides how to respond to the explosion of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

“The level of challenge and regulatory frameworks have evaluated blockchain analysis to business level” work rather than simply legal counsel, Barbash explained. “We’re working closely with some regulators to better understand some elements of the ecosystem.”

“With the shift from HODL to BUIDL, we are finding it easier to identify and collaborate with the teams that both have the necessary dev chops and are committed to compliance,” he added via a statement.

Some of Atrium’s disclosed clients include credit card startup Final (which was bought by Goldman Sachs) and solar financial services firm Wunder Capital.

More generally, Kan said that the blockchain and fintech division serves as a blueprint for how Atrium will go after specific verticals. He said that the startup, which now has 150 staff, will spin out different units for specific legal practices.

Marc Raibert will be speaking at TC Sessions: : Robotics + AI April 18 at UC Berkeley

So, we’ve already announced that Anca Dragan, Alexei Efros, Hany Farid, Melonee Wise, Peter Barrett, Rana el Kaliouby, Arnaud Thiercelin and Laura Major will all be appearing at April’s big robotics show on April 18 at UC Berkeley (Early Bird sale is on now!) This week we’ve got another big name to add to the […]

So, we’ve already announced that Anca Dragan, Alexei Efros, Hany Farid, Melonee Wise, Peter Barrett, Rana el Kaliouby, Arnaud Thiercelin and Laura Major will all be appearing at April’s big robotics show on April 18 at UC Berkeley (Early Bird sale is on now!)

This week we’ve got another big name to add to the list. Once again, we’ll be joined by none other than Marc Raibert.

As both founder and CEO for Boston Dynamics, Raibert been a principle force in pushing the limits for cutting edge robots. Developed as a pack robot for military applications, the company’s Big Dog has become both an important piece in the evolution of biologically inspired devices and a major online sensation.

Boston Dynamics has continued to innovate with the humanoid Atlas, wheeled robot Handle and the quadruped Spot. At our event last year, Raibert was joined on stage with the latest iteration of the SpotMini, which the company announced will become its first productized offering.

We’re excited to welcome Raibert — and a special robotic guest — back for this year’s event.


Early Bird tickets are on sale now for $249! Book today and you’ll save $100 before prices go up. You’ll join over 1000 engineers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and investors for this single-day event at UC Berkeley.

Students, grab your tickets for just $45 here.

The definitive Patreon reading guide

At nearly six years old, Patreon has gone from startup to king of membership. Now an established leader in an industry that’s been flipped on its head, Patreon’s path has been anything but predictable — peppered with its share of milestones, mishaps, pivots, champions, and critics — and offers invaluable insights for founders, investors, creatives, or […]

At nearly six years old, Patreon has gone from startup to king of membership. Now an established leader in an industry that’s been flipped on its head, Patreon’s path has been anything but predictable — peppered with its share of milestones, mishaps, pivots, champions, and critics — and offers invaluable insights for founders, investors, creatives, or those looking to make sense of the new media landscape.

Since we’ve probably read almost every word written on Patreon as part for our “under-the-hood” exploration in this EC-1, we’ve compiled a supplemental list of resources and readings we believe are particularly helpful for learning the Patreon story.

Reading time for this article is about 8 minutes. Feature illustration by Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch.

I. Background: The Story of Patreon

Pedals Music Video (Announcement Video) & Behind the Scenes Video | May 2013 | In May of 2013, Co-founder and CEO Jack Conte first announced the creation of Patreon alongside the release of a stunning music video that had smoke machines, light shows, and robots on beat machines. Conte also added a neat behind-the-scenes video showing just how much groundwork and hustle went into the production.

Jack Conte’s Patreon Explanation | May 2013 | In a separate video, Conte went into a bit more depth on the original site’s purpose, vision, and functionality.

Pomplamoose’s Jack Conte Creates A Subscription-Based Funding Site For Artists and Patreon Is a Recurring Tip Jar for Fans Who Love Everything You Make | May 2013 | TechCrunch’s and AllThingsD’s coverage of Patreon’s launch. In context, revisiting the pieces offers an interesting look back at the initial excitement around Patreon’s offering and the pervasiveness of the problem it was tackling.

Jack Conte Presentation @ XOXO Festival | September 2013 | At the XOXO Festival, a festival and conference for independent internet-based creators, Conte explains how his own experience as a YouTube artist led to the creation of Patreon.

1,000 True Fans | March 2008 | Wired founding editor Kevin Kelly’s widely read 1,000 True Fans essay is essentially the philosophical underpinning of Patreon. The principal idea here is that one can be a successful creator if they are able to consistently monetize even a small, dedicated fan base. Kelly walks through independent artist economics to explain how just one thousand true fans who will consistently support or purchase a creator’s work can be enough to make a comfortable living.

Digital Medici: How This Musician-Turned-Entrepreneur Plans To Save Creators From Advertising | February 2018 | In a 2018 profile, Kathleen Chaykowski contextualizes Conte’s motivation and aspirations for Patreon, outlining his path from childhood music fanatic to struggling artist to founder.

Inside Patreon, The Economic Engine of Internet Culture | August 2017 | Verge senior reporter Adi Robertson outlines in-depth how the Patreon model has changed from the creator perspective overtime, including creator anecdotes, success stories and concerns.

The definitive Patreon reading guide

At nearly six years old, Patreon has gone from startup to king of membership. Now an established leader in an industry that’s been flipped on its head, Patreon’s path has been anything but predictable — peppered with its share of milestones, mishaps, pivots, champions, and critics — and offers invaluable insights for founders, investors, creatives, or […]

At nearly six years old, Patreon has gone from startup to king of membership. Now an established leader in an industry that’s been flipped on its head, Patreon’s path has been anything but predictable — peppered with its share of milestones, mishaps, pivots, champions, and critics — and offers invaluable insights for founders, investors, creatives, or those looking to make sense of the new media landscape.

Since we’ve probably read almost every word written on Patreon as part for our “under-the-hood” exploration in this EC-1, we’ve compiled a supplemental list of resources and readings we believe are particularly helpful for learning the Patreon story.

Reading time for this article is about 8 minutes. Feature illustration by Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch.

I. Background: The Story of Patreon

Pedals Music Video (Announcement Video) & Behind the Scenes Video | May 2013 | In May of 2013, Co-founder and CEO Jack Conte first announced the creation of Patreon alongside the release of a stunning music video that had smoke machines, light shows, and robots on beat machines. Conte also added a neat behind-the-scenes video showing just how much groundwork and hustle went into the production.

Jack Conte’s Patreon Explanation | May 2013 | In a separate video, Conte went into a bit more depth on the original site’s purpose, vision, and functionality.

Pomplamoose’s Jack Conte Creates A Subscription-Based Funding Site For Artists and Patreon Is a Recurring Tip Jar for Fans Who Love Everything You Make | May 2013 | TechCrunch’s and AllThingsD’s coverage of Patreon’s launch. In context, revisiting the pieces offers an interesting look back at the initial excitement around Patreon’s offering and the pervasiveness of the problem it was tackling.

Jack Conte Presentation @ XOXO Festival | September 2013 | At the XOXO Festival, a festival and conference for independent internet-based creators, Conte explains how his own experience as a YouTube artist led to the creation of Patreon.

1,000 True Fans | March 2008 | Wired founding editor Kevin Kelly’s widely read 1,000 True Fans essay is essentially the philosophical underpinning of Patreon. The principal idea here is that one can be a successful creator if they are able to consistently monetize even a small, dedicated fan base. Kelly walks through independent artist economics to explain how just one thousand true fans who will consistently support or purchase a creator’s work can be enough to make a comfortable living.

Digital Medici: How This Musician-Turned-Entrepreneur Plans To Save Creators From Advertising | February 2018 | In a 2018 profile, Kathleen Chaykowski contextualizes Conte’s motivation and aspirations for Patreon, outlining his path from childhood music fanatic to struggling artist to founder.

Inside Patreon, The Economic Engine of Internet Culture | August 2017 | Verge senior reporter Adi Robertson outlines in-depth how the Patreon model has changed from the creator perspective overtime, including creator anecdotes, success stories and concerns.

The definitive Patreon reading guide

At nearly six years old, Patreon has gone from startup to king of membership. Now an established leader in an industry that’s been flipped on its head, Patreon’s path has been anything but predictable — peppered with its share of milestones, mishaps, pivots, champions, and critics — and offers invaluable insights for founders, investors, creatives, or […]

At nearly six years old, Patreon has gone from startup to king of membership. Now an established leader in an industry that’s been flipped on its head, Patreon’s path has been anything but predictable — peppered with its share of milestones, mishaps, pivots, champions, and critics — and offers invaluable insights for founders, investors, creatives, or those looking to make sense of the new media landscape.

Since we’ve probably read almost every word written on Patreon as part for our “under-the-hood” exploration in this EC-1, we’ve compiled a supplemental list of resources and readings we believe are particularly helpful for learning the Patreon story.

Reading time for this article is about 8 minutes. Feature illustration by Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch.

I. Background: The Story of Patreon

Pedals Music Video (Announcement Video) & Behind the Scenes Video | May 2013 | In May of 2013, Co-founder and CEO Jack Conte first announced the creation of Patreon alongside the release of a stunning music video that had smoke machines, light shows, and robots on beat machines. Conte also added a neat behind-the-scenes video showing just how much groundwork and hustle went into the production.

Jack Conte’s Patreon Explanation | May 2013 | In a separate video, Conte went into a bit more depth on the original site’s purpose, vision, and functionality.

Pomplamoose’s Jack Conte Creates A Subscription-Based Funding Site For Artists and Patreon Is a Recurring Tip Jar for Fans Who Love Everything You Make | May 2013 | TechCrunch’s and AllThingsD’s coverage of Patreon’s launch. In context, revisiting the pieces offers an interesting look back at the initial excitement around Patreon’s offering and the pervasiveness of the problem it was tackling.

Jack Conte Presentation @ XOXO Festival | September 2013 | At the XOXO Festival, a festival and conference for independent internet-based creators, Conte explains how his own experience as a YouTube artist led to the creation of Patreon.

1,000 True Fans | March 2008 | Wired founding editor Kevin Kelly’s widely read 1,000 True Fans essay is essentially the philosophical underpinning of Patreon. The principal idea here is that one can be a successful creator if they are able to consistently monetize even a small, dedicated fan base. Kelly walks through independent artist economics to explain how just one thousand true fans who will consistently support or purchase a creator’s work can be enough to make a comfortable living.

Digital Medici: How This Musician-Turned-Entrepreneur Plans To Save Creators From Advertising | February 2018 | In a 2018 profile, Kathleen Chaykowski contextualizes Conte’s motivation and aspirations for Patreon, outlining his path from childhood music fanatic to struggling artist to founder.

Inside Patreon, The Economic Engine of Internet Culture | August 2017 | Verge senior reporter Adi Robertson outlines in-depth how the Patreon model has changed from the creator perspective overtime, including creator anecdotes, success stories and concerns.

The definitive Patreon reading guide

At nearly six years old, Patreon has gone from startup to king of membership. Now an established leader in an industry that’s been flipped on its head, Patreon’s path has been anything but predictable — peppered with its share of milestones, mishaps, pivots, champions, and critics — and offers invaluable insights for founders, investors, creatives, or […]

At nearly six years old, Patreon has gone from startup to king of membership. Now an established leader in an industry that’s been flipped on its head, Patreon’s path has been anything but predictable — peppered with its share of milestones, mishaps, pivots, champions, and critics — and offers invaluable insights for founders, investors, creatives, or those looking to make sense of the new media landscape.

Since we’ve probably read almost every word written on Patreon as part for our “under-the-hood” exploration in this EC-1, we’ve compiled a supplemental list of resources and readings we believe are particularly helpful for learning the Patreon story.

Reading time for this article is about 8 minutes. Feature illustration by Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch.

I. Background: The Story of Patreon

Pedals Music Video (Announcement Video) & Behind the Scenes Video | May 2013 | In May of 2013, Co-founder and CEO Jack Conte first announced the creation of Patreon alongside the release of a stunning music video that had smoke machines, light shows, and robots on beat machines. Conte also added a neat behind-the-scenes video showing just how much groundwork and hustle went into the production.

Jack Conte’s Patreon Explanation | May 2013 | In a separate video, Conte went into a bit more depth on the original site’s purpose, vision, and functionality.

Pomplamoose’s Jack Conte Creates A Subscription-Based Funding Site For Artists and Patreon Is a Recurring Tip Jar for Fans Who Love Everything You Make | May 2013 | TechCrunch’s and AllThingsD’s coverage of Patreon’s launch. In context, revisiting the pieces offers an interesting look back at the initial excitement around Patreon’s offering and the pervasiveness of the problem it was tackling.

Jack Conte Presentation @ XOXO Festival | September 2013 | At the XOXO Festival, a festival and conference for independent internet-based creators, Conte explains how his own experience as a YouTube artist led to the creation of Patreon.

1,000 True Fans | March 2008 | Wired founding editor Kevin Kelly’s widely read 1,000 True Fans essay is essentially the philosophical underpinning of Patreon. The principal idea here is that one can be a successful creator if they are able to consistently monetize even a small, dedicated fan base. Kelly walks through independent artist economics to explain how just one thousand true fans who will consistently support or purchase a creator’s work can be enough to make a comfortable living.

Digital Medici: How This Musician-Turned-Entrepreneur Plans To Save Creators From Advertising | February 2018 | In a 2018 profile, Kathleen Chaykowski contextualizes Conte’s motivation and aspirations for Patreon, outlining his path from childhood music fanatic to struggling artist to founder.

Inside Patreon, The Economic Engine of Internet Culture | August 2017 | Verge senior reporter Adi Robertson outlines in-depth how the Patreon model has changed from the creator perspective overtime, including creator anecdotes, success stories and concerns.

The definitive Patreon reading guide

At nearly six years old, Patreon has gone from startup to king of membership. Now an established leader in an industry that’s been flipped on its head, Patreon’s path has been anything but predictable — peppered with its share of milestones, mishaps, pivots, champions, and critics — and offers invaluable insights for founders, investors, creatives, or […]

At nearly six years old, Patreon has gone from startup to king of membership. Now an established leader in an industry that’s been flipped on its head, Patreon’s path has been anything but predictable — peppered with its share of milestones, mishaps, pivots, champions, and critics — and offers invaluable insights for founders, investors, creatives, or those looking to make sense of the new media landscape.

Since we’ve probably read almost every word written on Patreon as part for our “under-the-hood” exploration in this EC-1, we’ve compiled a supplemental list of resources and readings we believe are particularly helpful for learning the Patreon story.

Reading time for this article is about 8 minutes. Feature illustration by Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch.

I. Background: The Story of Patreon

Pedals Music Video (Announcement Video) & Behind the Scenes Video | May 2013 | In May of 2013, Co-founder and CEO Jack Conte first announced the creation of Patreon alongside the release of a stunning music video that had smoke machines, light shows, and robots on beat machines. Conte also added a neat behind-the-scenes video showing just how much groundwork and hustle went into the production.

Jack Conte’s Patreon Explanation | May 2013 | In a separate video, Conte went into a bit more depth on the original site’s purpose, vision, and functionality.

Pomplamoose’s Jack Conte Creates A Subscription-Based Funding Site For Artists and Patreon Is a Recurring Tip Jar for Fans Who Love Everything You Make | May 2013 | TechCrunch’s and AllThingsD’s coverage of Patreon’s launch. In context, revisiting the pieces offers an interesting look back at the initial excitement around Patreon’s offering and the pervasiveness of the problem it was tackling.

Jack Conte Presentation @ XOXO Festival | September 2013 | At the XOXO Festival, a festival and conference for independent internet-based creators, Conte explains how his own experience as a YouTube artist led to the creation of Patreon.

1,000 True Fans | March 2008 | Wired founding editor Kevin Kelly’s widely read 1,000 True Fans essay is essentially the philosophical underpinning of Patreon. The principal idea here is that one can be a successful creator if they are able to consistently monetize even a small, dedicated fan base. Kelly walks through independent artist economics to explain how just one thousand true fans who will consistently support or purchase a creator’s work can be enough to make a comfortable living.

Digital Medici: How This Musician-Turned-Entrepreneur Plans To Save Creators From Advertising | February 2018 | In a 2018 profile, Kathleen Chaykowski contextualizes Conte’s motivation and aspirations for Patreon, outlining his path from childhood music fanatic to struggling artist to founder.

Inside Patreon, The Economic Engine of Internet Culture | August 2017 | Verge senior reporter Adi Robertson outlines in-depth how the Patreon model has changed from the creator perspective overtime, including creator anecdotes, success stories and concerns.