KUALA LUMPUR & LOS ANGELES (April 22, 2021) -- The creator economy is one of the fastest-growing global sectors in technology and entertainment today, with a seismic explosion of digital video consumption driven worldwide by Gen Z and Gen Alpha. To address the surging demand for new content from a new generation of storytellers, Benjamin Grubbs, former global head of top creator partnerships at YouTube, and startup veteran Jonathan Shambroom today announce the launch of Creator+, a new film studio and streaming platform for digital-first storytellers and fans hungry to support them.
Creators wield massive reach and engagement on YouTube and TikTok, exceeding 1 trillion hours of content streamed in Q1 2021 across Southeast Asia, according to data from Media Partners Asia. However, current streaming options for creators are limited to free, short-form and ad-supported content, or a growing number of subscription-based platforms. The stories creators can tell and the IP franchises they can build are constrained by existing platforms’ time limitations or economics, or limit the creator’s ability to build community and leverage their growing expertise in direct-to-consumer commerce.
“We believe the next generation of great storytellers are digital natives that don’t just want to tell stories in short-form bursts, but rather inspire and impact their audience with compelling feature-length films,” said Jonathan Shambroom, CEO and co-founder of Creator+. “We also believe the young viewers connecting to these creators prefer to watch movies at home with friends and family where community and e-commerce features are integrated into the movie viewing experience.”
Creator+ is establishing a new platform that aims to spawn an ecosystem fueling careers for young creatives in-front of and behind the camera. The company’s studio is leading the financing and marketing of the films, and looks beyond a creator’s influencing ability with a path for creators to be active in producing, directing, cinematography, editing, film score and soundtrack development, and other roles that are essential to the success of a film.
Films produced by Creator+ will premiere on the company’s proprietary platform across web, mobile and connected TV in a premium video on-demand (PVOD) offering with no subscriptions or ads. Creators partnering with the company have full alignment on transparent backend revenue participation, and will receive audience insights and ownership uncommon on other major streaming platforms.
“I have been fortunate to partner with many creators over the past decade on their IP and long-form content development ambitions,” said Benjamin Grubbs, co-founder of Creator+. “I have also seen first-hand how important it is to have strong producing partners and the power of a distribution channel where you have access and ownership of the audience. I am delighted we are able to deliver on both aspects from the start with Creator+.”
The company is committed to greenlighting more than six feature films this year and bringing them to the market starting in early 2022. The Creator+ leadership team includes Adam Wescott (Head of Content Studio), Ben O’Keefe (Head of Diversity and Impact), Nick Phillips (Head of Production), McKenna Marshall (Director of Development) and JaQay Carlyle (Business Affairs) driving film development and production. Tricia Choi (Head of Product) and Al Lieb (Advisory CTO) are both architecting the company’s proprietary platform and user experience. Wescott, Philipps and Marshall will serve as producers on all projects.
Creator+’s $12 million financing round includes leading investor PETRA Group and Freestyle Capital, as well as other global investors from key growth markets such as India, Greater China and Africa, entrepreneurial creators Jake Roper, Peter Hollens, Wendy Ayche (aka Wengie), tech veterans including Selina Tobaccowala, and strategic business partners including Rainshine Entertainment CEO Neeraj Bhargava.
PETRA Group's investment in Creator Plus was led by their Hong Kong-based international film company PETRA Films, headed by media veteran Darren Shaw, who worked closely with the Creator Plus founders Jonathan Shambroom and Benjamin Grubbs on their initial business plan. PETRA's investment in Creator Plus will play an important part in augmenting its wider entertainment operations by aligning with a new group of digital-first content creators, many of whom are primarily targeting the important Gen Z and Gen Alpha audience.
"There will always be a place for traditional film-making and watching movies at the cinema. But there are great storytellers that have followed a digital-first route to produce content and engage with audiences on alternative distribution platforms. We want to be at the forefront of this market and Jonathan and Benjamin are perfect partners to lead us into his space," says Shaw.
In addition to producing theatrical feature films and scripted TV series, PETRA Films is already supporting top South East Asian creators through their Asian Future Filmmaker short film project which goes live in a few months, and hopes that the region's best can eventually move to Creator Plus as the global studio platform for the world's leading creators.
“The creator economy has been largely driven by regions like India and Southeast Asia where consumers are showing an increasing appetite for both international and local content,” said Datuk (Dr) Vinod Sekhar, Chairman and Chief Executive of the Malaysia-based PETRA Group. “We’re firm believers in what Jonathan and Benjamin are building with Creator+ and embrace their vision to become a champion for underrepresented voices and talent in these high growth regions, and the world.”
Shaw added "Another important aspect of this investment is Vinod's vision of wanting to forward PETRA Group's social capitalism agenda and empowering people to move ahead, especially in parts of Asia, and I am excited to work with Vinod to realise this important goal through Creator Plus and PETRA's related businesses."
To join the Creator+ team, or to become a member of the Creator+ community, please visit: https://www.creatorplus.com
Creator+ is a new film studio and streaming platform for digital-first storytellers. The company was co-founded in 2021 by Benjamin Grubbs and Jonathan Shambroom, and is backed by PETRA Group controlled by Datuk (Dr) Vinod Sekhar, and Freestyle Capital, along with prominent creators, technology founders, and entertainment industry executives.