Membership platform Patreon has announced $90 million in new funding, bringing the 7-year-old company's valuation to $1.2 billion.
Patreon hosts more than 200,000 creators on its platform, which allows makers, ranging from podcasters to indie bands, to present their content and charge fans subscriptions for access.
CEO Jack Conte told Cheddar that the new funding will support a three-pronged effort to expand the platform internationally, improve the experience for fans or patrons, and help connect creators and patrons without resorting to algorithms.
"In terms of the algorithms that govern platforms, as a creator myself, honestly, I've been really gutted by the way I've been treated on distribution platforms," said Conte, whose two bands released over a hundred music videos last year. "I feel like I'm constantly separated from my fans on these other platforms. I make a post on Facebook and reach 1 percent of my audience."
Creating a more direct relationship between creators and fans has been Patreon's goal from the beginning, but the funding will support new search and exploration tools "focusing on discovery in a way that honors and preserves the relationship that a creator has with their fans," Conte added.
As competitors such as TikTok promise to pay out more to users, Conte sees the development as an overall positive shift for the online economy.
"As a creator myself, I think it's incredible," he said. "It's about time that distribution platforms start thinking about the financial implications of their platforms and start thinking about how to get creators paid because creators are building so much value. In fact, these platforms are in many cases built on the backs of creators."
However, he added that many platforms are still charging higher rates than Patreon and don't have the same "creator-first culture."
"I still think Patreon is the best game in town," Conte said.
Patreon creators have earned more than $2 billion since the platform launched. With a wave of new creators joining the platform following coronavirus, that number is set to rise dramatically.
"Yesterday we announced that in a few months they're going to be making a little over a billion dollars a year on the platform, which is so exciting," Conte said. "I think that the future is really bright for creators."