He has a job that kids can only dream of: playing video games and making money (lots of money) from it.
Lachlan Power, an industrious and charming 25-year-old from Australia, has built an empire creating videos of himself screaming, laughing and narrating as he plays online games. He started with Minecraft, but it’s Fortnite, the Epic Games phenomenon, that catapulted him to global fame. Today, his YouTube channel (GOOG, GOOGL) has nearly 15 million subscribers, with 4.7 billion views and counting. He has an additional 1.8 million followers on Instagram (FB) and 1.5 million on Twitter (TWTR).
Power has been at it for eight years now, and his business is growing. Like Beyoncé or Zendaya, he goes by a single name online. But he’s turned his fortuitous surname into something even broader: PWR, a gaming, entertainment and apparel brand. The guy who once played eight hours of Fortnite a day now plays just two or three, and uses the rest of his time to grow his business.
“It's full time, full time, full time, full time squared. You wake up, you think about work. You go to bed. And in between that ... you think about work,” he told Yahoo Finance's Jen Rogers as part of the ongoing series The NEXT: 21 to watch in 2021. “Especially in the influencer side of things, you're always thinking about the next business opportunity. You're always thinking about your next video. You're always thinking about how you can better optimize a certain process within your organization.”
From college dropout to content creator
Power says it didn’t take long for his childhood hobby to turn into a bonafide career. The turning point came after he developed a Minecraft server as a side hustle. “It was actually pretty quick for me. In the first month, I think I was getting a couple 1,000 views on my Minecraft videos, which was insane,” Power said. “I always have this memory of like, there was one day where the revenue on that server made, I think was like $1,000 in a day. And that was just like unbelievable money at that time. I was 17 at university. And I was just like, I am going to drop out and pursue this ... and haven't regretted that ever since.”
He says it took a little bit of time to get his parents on board (his mom is a bank manager and his dad is a local politician): “They were sad at me leaving [university] at first and then tried to convince me to go back for the next year, even though I was making really good money,” he said, laughing. “But the argument would always be there, ‘This can't last forever.’ So I made it last forever.”
Gaming goes mainstream
Part of Power’s success has certainly been timing. Esports have exploded in recent years, and certainly during the pandemic, with no end in sight. Just this week, Epic Games, creator of Fortnite, announced a staggering $1 billion round of new funding, with $200 million from Sony Entertainment (SONY). The company’s equity valuation is now $28.7 billion, up more than 60 percent from last year.
Fortnite has been shrewd and aggressive in releasing new twists on its format and creating culturally relevant moments, like its 2019 in-game Marshmello concert. In February, it even teamed up with the Australian Open for a five-week Fortnite Champion Series, presented by the legendary tennis tournament.
“I think Epic and the Fortnight team have done an amazing job with breaking down those barriers between traditional and the gaming realm, because it is so new. The Australian Open is one great example,” Power said. “Fortnite has also done a lot of things in-game as well through the Icon series … awesome, amazing collaborations with Travis Scott, more of these mainstream things that kind of make gaming cool.”
The next chapter
Perhaps it’s no surprise that Power is also bullish on high-tech trends like non-fungible tokens (NFTs). He bought his first — a cute animated pink dinosaur-like creature — earlier this month. “I think for creators and creative [people], it's a great way to monetize your audience in a new way. And I think we're gonna see a lot more of it,” he predicted.
He’s also intrigued by cryptocurrencies: “I personally am very into crypto, a little bit of investing myself into a few coins,” he said. “And it's just very interesting, the blockchain technology, and I would really love to see a video game get involved, because I think that is going to be when it gets real.”
In the meantime, he will keep stoking the fires of his beloved YouTube and social following. And he has this advice for anyone dreaming of following building a career like his: “I would always start on YouTube, it's just a great discoverable platform for people to find content,” he said. In the increasingly crowded "influencer" space, he says it’s crucial to focus on alluring titles and thumbnails, and to find a niche.
“You need to have your best foot in the door, and then just deliver on the content. Make them not want to click off the video," he said. “Finding ways to create content that people aren't doing is the best way to grow.”
Check out more of Yahoo Finance's THE NEXT: 21 to watch in 2021