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Start-up Victorious aims to help YouTube stars develop fan communities

Victorious, a mobile platform designed to better connect YouTube stars with their fans, has launched
Major YouTube stars such as Michelle Phan have signed on with Victorious and will have their own unique apps

Victorious, a mobile platform designed to better connect YouTube stars with their fans, has officially launched.

The Santa Monica start-up puts video creators in control of their brands by giving each his or her own unique app. The apps will be available for users to download free in the fall.

Victorious executives said many digital stars have wanted to develop their own mobile hubs to interact with fans but haven’t pursued them because of the time, labor and cost involved in creating apps that look good and perform well.

Victorious gives creators a way to build their mobile businesses "quickly, easily and at no charge," the company said.

Video bloggers, or vloggers, will be able to use their apps to further build their fan communities. They can engage with fans directly through interactive features and content such as videos, photos, polls and text, and build more revenue by monetizing their brands with advertising, in-app purchases and e-commerce.

Victorious is being led by several former YouTube executives, including Bing Chen, who was global head of creator development and management at the Google-owned company before leaving this year to join Victorious.

In an interview at Victorious' headquarters, Chen, who is chief creative officer, said the platform would be "by and for creators."

"You always hear content is king," he said. "I don't believe that. I think the creator is king."

Victorious is reaching out to creators and is targeting those with already-established large fan bases. Popular YouTube stars including Michelle Phan, Boyce Avenue and Shay Carl have already signed on.

“We've been eager for a long time to connect on mobile devices with our fans in a way that feels organic, direct and personal," Boyce Avenue, a Puerto Rican American rock band with 5.8 million YouTube subscribers, said in a statement. "We're excited to build something like this together with Victorious. We feel like this could be the beginning of something different."

Each creator will have his or her own app, so mobile users can pick and choose which ones to download in an "a la carte" fashion, Chief Executive Sam Rogoway said.

"It's not a one-size-fits-all platform," he said. "It's a community or social network wrapped around a creator."

Rogoway declined to provide details of the start-up's funding. Victorious will share revenue with the creators, who will receive the bulk of the money, he said.

He added that the start-up views Victorious as complementary to YouTube and expects creators will publish content to both platforms.

"Watching and liking are not enough," Rogoway said. "Victorious is extending engagement beyond simple consumption."

Other Victorious executives include chief technology officer and co-founder Michael Todd, who joined from OpenX, where he was CTO. Before that he led engineering groups at Google.

Executive Chairman Dean Gilbert is a former vice president of product at Google and most recently was vice president and global head of content and operations at YouTube.

Follow Andrea Chang on Twitter.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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