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Jellysmack - Global Digital Media Company
Founded in 2016, Jellysmack is America's largest digital-first company that produces and hosts social video channels.
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Founded in 2016, Jellysmack partners with video creators and media brands to grow their audience and maximize their earnings across a host of social platforms. Since many content creators do not have the resources to master multiple social media platforms on their own, Jellysmack manages it for them. Time, money, and technology are utilized to grow and monetize social channels for content creators.
Headquartered in New York City, Jellysmack also has offices in London, Paris and Corte. In 2021, it reached unicorn status after a Series C funding round. Although the amount of the investment was not disclosed, it is known that the company now stands a valuation over $1B.
Business Overview and Products
Jellysmack has 2 major businesses. The company owns and operates a host of social channels with in-house content production. It owns some of the major social media channels.
Additionally, the company partners with content creators and brands to help them grow their audiences. It has different programs in place for different audience categories, including:
Creator Program: for content creators
Brand Partnerships: for brands trying to grow their customer base
Media Company Partnerships: for media companies looking to attract more fans across diverse platforms
Other than partnering with these, Jellysmack also offers what it calls catalog licensing. Under this, it offers content creators the opportunity to license their Youtube back-catalogs of upto 5 years, in exchange for a lump-sum payment.
How It Works
Jellysmack owns a host of social media channels that it has built and scaled itself. The company started off from 5 main channels that provide video content to subscribers including Oh My Goal!, Gamology, Genius Club, Beauty Studio and Riddle Me This. Since its inception, many new channels have been added such as House of Bounce, Crowned Ladies, Binge Society, and Beauty Wow.
Under the creator program, Jellysmack optimizes and distributes existing content of creators on different social channels for them, working on creating authentic and engaged communities for brands. A tech-driven process is used to tailor a creator’s video according to each new social platform. Throughout the process, creators maintain full control of their content and are not required to do any extra work, while reaping full benefits of diversification.
Under brand partnerships, customized performance marketing aided by technology is offered to a brand. Jellysmack utilizes its scaled communities, creator partners and knowledge of community engagement to distribute the brand’s messages across different social channels. Moreover, the most powerful assets of brands are leveraged to grow communities for them.
Under media company partnerships, there are 2 ways through which Jellysmack attracts more fans towards a media company. These include content licensing and social media management. According to the website, via content licensing, Jellysmack licenses a company’s original content for sharing through its own original social channels. Under social media management, it takes control of the client’s social channels to manage the company’s own content.
The catalog licensing avenue allows content creators to sell a license to their past videos on Youtube while keeping the videos on their own channel and also continuing to own them. Jellysmack uses AI technology to choose the videos it wants licensed and makes cash offers for those that qualify. This is beneficial to content creators as they get a generous amount of cash upfront while also staying fully independent.
Business Model and Pricing
Jellysmack does not charge content creators. Instead, it makes money through a revenue-sharing model using income generated from social media platforms. To be specific, when a creator signs a contract with Jellysmack, they are not charged a fee for it. Instead, when Jellysmack manages their content on social platforms, it makes a percentage of the revenue from in-stream advertising.
The exact revenue split has not been disclosed. However, according to Jellysmack’s website, the model takes into account the technology, data, and financial and human investment Jellysmack makes into managing its partners' content. To give a rough idea of what this revenue may be like, CEO Michael Philippe commented in an interview back in 2019 that some creators in the creator program were making “six figures per month on Facebook.”
Jellysmack’s success stems from the own successful scaling of its original content channels as well as the use of its proprietary AI technology. As the founders were content creators themselves, it is no mystery as to how they knew exactly what angles to try with their company and creator partners. In the exact words of CEO Michael Philippe, “Our success has been driven by our focus on engagement and interactions between fans within the same community, and our plan is to build on that secret sauce of data and creativity to launch new communities covering many more passions in the coming months.”
According to a source, Jellysmack is able to generate $25M to $300M in incremental views per month for each creator. The creator programme currently manages 500+ influential content creators and the total video content that Jellysmack manages yields about 10B global monthly views. According to Tubular Labs, it also has a cross-platform reach of about 125M unique American users (nearly 45%). This makes Jellysmack currently the largest digital-first company in the US and Tubular Labs ranks it as the 6th largest media property by view counts.
Jellysmack’s website currently boasts the following stats:
6B+ Monthly story views
10B+ Monthly video views
125M+ Monthly unique US viewers
500+ Creator partners
No.1 US Digital-first social audience
Swann Maizil: Co-founder. Prior to Jellysmack, Swann was the Founder and editor-in-chief of The Sport Dealer. He received his Masters degree from Universite Paris Dauphine.
Michael Philippe: Co-founder. Prior to Jellysmack, he co-founded LeKiosk, a European digital newsstand, with Robin in 2008. He received his Masters degree from ESCP.
Robin Sabban: Co-founder. Prior to Jellysmack, he co-founded Playlistnow.fm and LeKiosk. He received his Masters degree from Universite Paris Dauphine.
History and Evolution
Entrepreneurs Michael and Robin had originally co-founded LeKiosk, a European digital newsstand, in 2008. This experience led them to realize the growing importance of social media platforms as a source of entertainment. While LeKiosk continued its operations in Paris, they decided to create a new company focused on this particular idea.
In 2016, Michael and Robin created The Keli Network, a media company that distributes video content via social channels. This company was eventually rebranded as Jellysmack; the name inspired from a group of jellyfish called “smack.” The rebranding came after a $14M funding round, coupled with appointment of some top executives from Mashable Studios and Red Bull North America. A new production studio also opened in Los Angeles for the creation of new channels and series.
Jellysmack has since grown at a massive pace. Its success can be attributed largely to a combination of a customer-centric approach and the company’s proprietary technology. It attracts viewership by focusing on popular demand and building channels around it. Simultaneously it wields its machine learning technology called the Agile Method. This helps identify trends and optimize videos while scaling distribution of the content to different social platforms. The company also focuses on being community driven, as seen via its LinkedIn page. For example, on National Superhero Day, they celebrated “Jellysmackers” who were parents.
In May 2021, the company announced its plans to expand internationally after securing a Series C funding round that earned it a unicorn status. With social media stars on the rise, Jellysmack wants to reach creators in different countries and has set aside $750M for this expansion into overseas markets. The company will also invest further in its proprietary technology and establish new revenue streams. By november 2021, Jellysmack already started building teams in Latin America, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and Europe and had signed about 100 international creators.
Jellysmack has a specific criteria for choosing which content creators it wants to partner with. And before creators can officially join the platform, Jellysmack runs tests on the videos to ensure it fits the requirements.
In November 2021, Jellysmack announced its introduction of the Creator Program in the UK in a bid to expand globally and add more popular creators to its already burgeoning portfolio. At that point in time, Jellysmack already had 18 creators from the UK, but planned on solidifying its presence in the UK market.
In January 2022, Jellysmack announced a Marquee Program – a partnership where the company collaborates with celebrities to co-produce content. It bears the entire cost of producing the content, but splits the advertising revenue with the celebrities they hire.
In February 2022, Jellysmack announced its expansion into the Indian market, having taken onboard several Indian content creators such as Kanak’s Kitchen and Triggered Insan. The company is aiming to get at least 100 content creators onboard by 2023.
In a survey in July 2021, it was revealed that 86% of the youth in the US wished to become a social media content creator in some capacity. The logic is simple – making money off of doing what one loves and becoming popular in the process. The same source also reveals that there are roughly 50 million people working as content creators but only 0.1% can successfully make an earning out of it.
Moreover, media consumption habits are rapidly evolving towards social media. As stated by co-founder Michael in an interview, any video content that is distributed via social media channels and is viewable via mobile phones, will quickly beat out traditional media companies. He also rightly points out that as consumers are shifting to social media channels for both entertainment and news, there is vast opportunity in the market for companies like Jellysmack to make an impact.
Suggested Next Reads
For Ambitious Social Media Creators, Jellysmack Powers Fast Growth (Variety, July ‘21)
How Jellysmack has discreetly become a global leader in the Creator Economy (Linkedin, May ‘21)
Michael Philippe - Co-Founder, Keli Network & JellySmack (Natfluence, May ‘17)