Protostarr CEO Joshua Gilson: “I Get My Entertainment from YouTube and Twitch”br>
Virginia-based Protostarr is planning an initial coin offering (ICO) that will allow investors to fund rising stars on video outlet YouTube and gamer site Twitch. The Protostarr tokens will be available starting on Aug. 13.
“YouTubers are today’s celebrities, and they’re making celebrity money from producing great video content,” said Joshua Gilson, CEO of Protostarr. “More are waiting to be discovered, and funding from fans and investors could help them reach the critical mass needed to earn significant income. Protostarr allows everyone involved to benefit when a creator turns celebrity.”
Business Insider detailed just how much YouTubers are making. While it is a substantial amount, they only get 55 percent of gross revenue, a deal reminiscent of the Col. Tom Parker/Elvis Presley contracts. That 45 percent is pre-tax revenue and doesn’t count production costs, which are borne by the YouTube star and can be substantial.
Still, the gross revenue numbers are impressive. Statsheep, a site that generates statistical estimates about YouTube channels, reported that PewDiePie, one of YouTube’s biggest stars (ask your teenager for details), who reportedly grosses $3.5 million every month, according to published reports.
Gilson talked with Block Tribune about the world if video talent and his coming ICO.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: So walk me through how this works, I guess from the the investor side and then from the talent side.
JOSHUA GILSON: I think from the talent side is the clearest picture. You’re a digital content creator, YouTube star for example. You go to our site, it has a simple web interface for you to interact with, and it creates a smart contract that will tie to your YouTube channel and allow for people to invest into this contract, and it will automatically pay out of the YouTube channel based on the terms that you put into it.
On top of that, our site, will also feature stores and be a place to bring people together to find talent that needs funding. So from the investor side, I’m talking about the ICO investor, it’s a decentralized app running on that back bone. It will basically allow the contracts to be created using that and it takes the trust out of the relationship, which is kind of the key to cryptocurrency in general, is that you’re not trusting a bank with your money. It’s an immutable supply, and these contracts will be the same. You’re not depending on somebody to pay you out. It’ll automatically pay out.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Will the terms be the same for everyone? Will somebody more popular charge more?
JOSHUA GILSON: We’ve created a lot of flexibility already just in our initial concepts. The terms are completely flexible, and it depends on the star to set those terms upfront. It’s basically broken down in our initial version by the percent of the income that’s paid out total to the investors. Let’s say you want to give them 10% of your channel’s information. The contract itself will calculate how much to split to how many people invest, depending how much they invest. You always commit that 10% or five percent, whatever you choose.
On top of that, there’s duration of time, so you can limit the contract. You can have an unlimited contract, whatever you want. Then you can add additional level to it. So if you had a manager or a recruiter or somebody you wanted to give a percentage to as well, you could put them in, too.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: When does the initial coin offering start?
JOSHUA GILSON: The ICO kicks off on the 13th at four p.m. UTC or noon east coast time.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What are the specifics on it? How many tokens are you making available?
JOSHUA GILSON: Our target goal is nine million. So we’ve got a chart on the website in the white paper because the amount flexes. Essentially, it’s one ether for 100 investor tokens. Then as you back up towards the beginning of the sale, you get better and better percentages, all the way to in the first hour of the sale, where you get 170 investor tokens for the first hour of the sale. That being said, from the investor side here, these investors in the ICO, these investor tokens, will get a combined two percent of every star contract in perpetuity.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What happens if the video gets taken down or there’s some sort of technical glitch at YouTube that it goes down for a while? Is that accounted for in the contracts?
JOSHUA GILSON: It shouldn’t be really an issue. If the video comes down or the star’s channel comes down, I mean basically the money’s been invested into that star for their production. When they go back up, they can create a new contract or account for it just like normal. We’ll have a trust based system. Towards the end of the white paper, I mention it, that way we can account for anybody that’s tried to scam the system. Put up a contract, raise money, and then it wasn’t successful. Then just continually did that. That way you can see if somebody is worth investing in essentially.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: You mentioned YouTube and Twitch in your press release. Are there going to be other sites that you might do this with?
JOSHUA GILSON: We’re looking at expanding. Actually, when we were fleshing out the idea, it actually spread really wide and how many things this can apply to all the way to bloggers, and we wanted to keep it to things where the trust was out so it had to have basically a digital angle, so it automatically tied into the contract so that we were using its full potential. For the ICO, we wanted to really narrow down the idea because it’s so useful overall.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Is there any way YouTube, Twitch or whomever is on board could interfere with you?
JOSHUA GILSON: No. There shouldn’t be any issue there. We’re trying to work with YouTube to supplement their programs, and even if there’s an issue where they don’t support us as an MCN or something like that, the contract investment thing works on its own, wholly separate from the system .
BLOCK TRIBUNE: How wild are the earning swings for YouTube stars or Twitch stars for that matter? Do they peak and do they drop off rapidly? Do you have any idea?
JOSHUA GILSON:What matters is critical mass. That’s what really matters what digital celebrity content. Obviously, there’s a lot of people out there trying to make it. Most of them are doing it in their spare time. They have a full time job. That’s why they can’t make it past a certain amount of casual side money, type users. Using something like proto star, using this product, being able to get that many fans around you, it starts going viral. You can spend more time doing it, have the funding to do the videos right in the first place and really push yourself over that edge to become the celebrity status that a lot of YouTube stars are becoming.
Once you’re in that celebrity area, it really continues to grow and spread. If your fans like you, they get to know you, and then they start referring you, and it just catches fire.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Do you have any YouTube people on board or Twitch people that you could reveal?
JOSHUA GILSON: We have a few, and they’re participating in what we have as a bounty program, and that’s growing. I haven’t talked to any of them about releasing their information yet. But if you look at our bounty program, you’ll see what we’re doing. We’re doing a whale hunt basically to bring on the biggest stars, and we’re also doing a grass roots advertising kind of campaign on both platforms.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: When you get a token, what can you do with it? I mean you can do stuff in your ecosystem, I imagine. Is there a way to convert it into fiat currency?
JOSHUA GILSON: Well it’s kind of separate from a coin in itself. With the token, it’s a piece of a return of a contract. You can obviously convert that to currency over time. If you want to use that money elsewhere, you can sell that token, that investment token to somebody else. They break down just like most crypto currencies, down to eight decimal points. You can sell part of your long term earnings on a celebrity. It basically turns into pieces of revenue.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What’s the level of professionalism in the video universe that you’re trying to mine here? Are most of these people amateurs at it? I know you have mega celebrities that use social media as an outlet, but are you dealing with mostly people who are in the beginnings of their careers?
JOSHUA GILSON: In general, yeah, you’re looking at, especially our audience, new starters. The idea of a professional celebrity and I’m assuming what you’re thinking now, it’s because my vision of what we talk about when we talk about professional is somebody who is used to the traditional system of meeting with the executives and getting themselves advertising, getting themselves out there. I think this really wipes that model out, where you don’t have to live the life of a Hollywood celebrity with an agent and always focusing on that aspect, the business aspect. The business aspect is taken care of 100% by the contract, freeing you up to enjoy yourself as a YouTube celebrity.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What is your background?
JOSHUA GILSON: I’ve been cyber forensics for 17 years now. Shane is the co-founder of this company. Him and I have worked on several startups in the past. His most current one running right now that I’ve been a part of is coinplay.io. I work for army cyber commands in forensics.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: YouTube stars is a really fascinating area and one that’s really ripe for growth, it seems, considering all the cord-cutting and shift to independent production.
JOSHUA GILSON: Yeah, that’s what I’ve noticed. I’m actually really surprised. We dove into some new forums because we’ve done traditional business, raising money before with a C corp and investors and all that kind of stuff. When we’re doing the ICO, there are a few things that caught us by surprise, and one of them was some of the main websites that focus on ICO’s. We thought we were going to get trolled, and we were going to do the best we could to show them how new this idea was and that we were serious about it. We got nothing but positive. Everywhere we’ve been, it’s been nothing but positive responses. For internet company, that’s not something you get that often.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Do you feel that the landscape of general celebrity-dom is fracturing now? Traditional TV, at least on the cable side is sort of splintering, and you’re also seeing movie chains like AMC suddenly starting to take a big financial hit. Are we moving more and more towards YouTube and Twitch stars becoming the mainstream?
JOSHUA GILSON: I cut the cord five years ago. I haven’t had the traditional model of cable running into my house for five years. I get my entertainment from YouTube and Twitch. I don’t see the traditional model holding on. You can see we’re trying to spread out, and they’re trying to have their apps, and they’re trying to lock you into their ecosystem. But it’s the YouTube celebrities that are taking off.