Mark Cuban, Falon Fatemi Launch New Interactive Storytelling Platform, Fireside

Mark Cuban, billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner, Shark Tank star and early Internet entrepreneur, is announcing the launch of his latest media venture, a mobile interactive storytelling platform called Fireside.

Cuban, who has spanned tech and entertainment for years — his 2929 Entertainment portfolio includes Magnolia Pictures and Magnet Releasing — is co-founder of the venture with Falon Fatemi, formerly of Google/YouTube. It’s basically a set of tools that let professional content creators easily produce, edit and distribute shows for live audiences, Fatemi said. It helps creators sell tickets to the shows if they want and gathers audience response data to help them fine-tune productions.

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Fatemi, who is CEO, told Deadline that Fireside’s proprietary technology can be used by creators from podcasters, authors, musicians, television personalities and comedians to business leaders and policy makers. It’s been in private beta for the past several months and has already attracted north of five hundreds of creators, she said. It launches officially today on all iOS devices.

“As someone who helped start the streaming industry, I’ve seen it evolve in many ways. The one element that has always been missing is tactile interactivity with audiences. Fireside changes that,” said Cuban in the launch announcement.

“With Fireside, creators can now broadcast and achieve the same experience as they would standing on a stage in front of an audience. Our patented tactile interactivity not only provides the energy they previously only could experience in a live venue [but] we can provide analytics, letting the creator know how many people clapped, laughed and more. Content creators now have the tools and platform to finally digitally engage their audiences and invent new ways to entertain and inform them.”

Creators can include the laughter or reactions in the final version of the show or edit them out in part or whole.

Cuban became a billionaire in 1998 when he and Todd Wagner took their online audio streaming company public. They sold it to Yahoo in 1999 just before the bubble burst. He continued to invest in tech and entertainment and in 2003 acquired arthouse cinema chain Landmark from Oaktree Capital. He sold it in 2018 to Cohen Media Group.

Fatemi is credited as being Google’s youngest employee when she started there at age 19 while a student at Santa Clara University. She stayed for ten years before leaving to found AI firm Node in 2014. It was backed by investors including Cuban in 2019 and sold later that year to SugarCRM, an enterprise software firm, for an undisclosed amount.

The Fireside announcement says it serves creators in a handful of ways:

-Creating interactive shows and analyzing and editing content.

-Distributing content via a browser or social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Twitch. Or Fireside’s partnership with Libsyn lets creators turn shows into podcasts and distribute them across major podcasting platforms “with one tap.”

-Monetizing shows by selling tickets and inserting ads. Options will also include creating non-fungible tokens (NFTs) from the content and experiential brand activations.

Current content includes the team of Victory, The Podcast where Entourage creator Doug Ellin and stars Kevin Connolly and Kevin Dillon host a virtual viewing party, inviting the audience to join them watching an episode of the HBO series for the first time ten years later and offer unfiltered behind-the-scenes commentary.

True Crime Reporter: Peabody Award winning investigative reporter Robert Riggs and his co-host, former federal prosecutor Bill Johnston, in a documentary storytelling interactive show that brings the audience to the scene of a crime.

What’s your problem? New York Times bestselling author Daniel Pink and a revolving co-host, including comedians Bob Saget and Lisa Lampanelli, lead a humorous conversation with participants who bring their problems to get advice from the hosts and the audience.

Fatemi said Fireside covers its costs which is 3% until the creator makes 30K in revenue, then the platform fee is 15%.

She declined to discuss funding specifics but said Fireside is backed by a combination of venture capital and creators. “We believe that creators should have the opportunity to invest in the platforms they use so this is an option we do extend to them that they have been asking us for since the beginning,” Fatemi said.

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