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The success of websites like Cameo have shown that people want personalized interactions with celebrities and web3 companies are emerging to provide creators with a way to do that while valuing themselves, Solo Ceesay, co-founder of Calaxy, said to TechCrunch.
This raise follows a $7.5 million seed round in 2021 with investors like Animoca Brands, Red Beard Ventures, ArkStream Capital, NGC Ventures and Genesis Block Ventures. The seed round also had support from NFL player Ezekiel Elliott, “The Bachelor” Matt James and former PayPal head of Blockchain Strategy Jonathan Padilla, among others.
The name Calaxy is a portmanteau of “creators galaxy.” The startup aims to build new infrastructure that allows content creators, ranging from small influencers to big-time celebrities, to have ownership and equitable exchange of value compared to the current social media landscape, Ceesay said.
The fresh capital will be stored for bearish days ahead, but Ceesay said the funds will eventually be used to expand its platform and products. “We’re an experiential marketplace that does NFTs and a lot of other things, but most notably we’re a social token project,” Ceesay said.
The company was founded in 2020 by Ceesay and his co-founder Spencer Dinwiddie, who is also an NBA player for the Dallas Mavericks. Since its inception, it has grown to about 200 creators, Ceesay said.
The platform allows each creator to mint their own cryptocurrencies that their fans can buy to interact with their economy or trade value for a social media engagement, Ceesay said. Its utility derives from the traditional Web 2.0 social media applications like Patreon and Cameo, where fans can engage with celebrities through social tokens, Ceesay said.
“People can buy an Ezekiel Elliott coin in order to buy a call with Ezekiel Elliott,” Ceesay said. Every coin attached to celebrities begins pegged at a 1:1 ratio in line with the stablecoin USD Coin (USDC), so “it won’t fluctuate in value because fans don’t want to deal with volatility,” he added. So in this case, $20 is worth 20 Ezekiel Elliott tokens, he noted.
In the future, Ceesay said he expects that the tokens on Calaxy can fluctuate based on market demand and each creator could have dynamically priced assets, but they are currently held at a pegged value to the U.S. dollar.
The social token represents a piece of a creator's eventual own economy, Ceesay said. “When you think of a dynamically priced token in a finite supply, there’s a market value to that token,” he said. “This is all about capturing your own value; if you’re influencing so many people, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have a publicly verifiable market cap or a value as a person.
“The way creators interact with fans shouldn’t be limited by the scope of the platform they’re on through a centralized entity like TikTok,” Ceesay said.
YouTube, Facebook and Instagram have their big centralized entities that make money off ads and businesses, so they’re not monetizing the creator – they’re monetizing the brand, Ceesay said.
“It’s not fair, so we think creators should be able to control their [success] and take their social token and bring it anywhere to make sense specifically for them,” Ceesay said. “The idea of a social token really opens the playground so creators can monetize and connect with fans directly without an intermediary involved. … We want creators to value themselves.”