Issa Rae Acquires Stake In Streamlytics, Angela Benton’s New Streaming Data Analytics Company

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Written by Dana Sanchez
Issa Rae
Issa Rae, an executive producer of HBO comedy series “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” is pictured at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour, July 24, 2019, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP) Angela Benton photo courtesy of Angela Benton. Image by Autumn Keiko

Digital-first writer, director, actor and producer Issa Rae has acquired a minority stake for an undisclosed amount in Streamlytics, Angela Benton’s new tech company focused on streaming data.

An analytics company, Streamlytics uses media consumption data to bring transparency to what people are streaming while helping consumers own their data in the process.

In a Moguldom interview, Benton said that she and Rae have a long relationship.

“I know Issa from when I had Black Web 2.0 (launched in 2007). There were a handful of Black folks creating things online,” Benton said. “Our relationship goes way back. It’s very exciting to have her involved at this level.”

Users’ data ownership, privacy, and portability are increasingly showing up in discussions, congressional hearings and regulations debates. Consumers and governments are increasingly challenging lack of transparency at internet companies over terms of use and privacy policies.

“With the overwhelming number of issues around data privacy as of late, Streamlytics is excited to be at the forefront of helping consumers to actually own their data, and then decide if they want to monetize it,” Benton said in a press release sent to Moguldom. “Streaming, in particular, is a rich, yet often overlooked area for user data privacy.”

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 05: Angela Benton

Angela Benton talks about starting NewMe Accelerator, whose Black and brown founders have raised $42 million in venture capital. Super-early to Black tech media with BlackWeb 2.0, she discusses building her personal brand while being a single mother, battling cancer, and whether or not most of the “diversity” gains in Silicon Valley will go to privileged white women.

Streamlytics’ platform focuses on what consumers are streaming versus what they are watching on cable and listening to on radio. The company is accepting users in a private Beta and working with a select group of corporations, agencies, and studios to provide insights. Streamlytics uses highly targeted consumer-facing applications to access first-party media consumption data directly. Its first consumer-facing application, Clture, focuses on helping minority consumers own and monetize their data.

U.S. households spend $2.1 billion-plus per month on streaming services. Nielsen reports in various studies that African-Americans are repeatedly in the No. 1 spot for media consumption across all media types. This is on track to grow as the U.S. Census recently reported that 191million minorities will represent the majority of the U.S. population by 2045. Streamlytics’ own data cites that African-Americans spend $7.3 billion a year between music and video streaming services.

The venture for Rae is part of a paradigm shift among the Hollywood elite to diversify their business interests into the technology landscape, Benton said. Rae’s new stake in the company is a signal to the growing importance and value of data ownership for creators and consumers alike. 

“Having Issa involved as an owner is beyond exciting,” Benton said. “Her pioneering work as both a creator and as a businesswoman creating digital-first content that has transcended the Internet-only medium aligns seamlessly with our company’s core values on ownership.”

Benton is a tech pioneer and thought leader who helped start the conversation around diversity and inclusion before it became a focus of mainstream media. She launched BlackWeb 2.0 in 2007 to provide information she couldn’t find on what Black entrepreneurs were doing in tech startups and corporations. Later, Benton’s NewMe Accelerator was an industry first for Black tech entrepreneurs and people of color. Under Benton’s leadership, the accelerator helped underrepresented founders raise more than $47million in venture capital funding. New ME was acquired at the end of 2018 by LightHouse, the parent of the Cincinnati-based Hillman Accelerator program.

Rae — real name: Jo-Issa Rae Diop — first rose to fame as a web series creator on YouTube with “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.” She later created, co-wrote, and starred in the HBO TV series “Insecure.” (Season 4 has begun filming with a winter premiere planned for early 2020.)

Rae said she earned her way up. By using YouTube as her forum, she was able to have autonomy of her work since she writes, films produces and edits most of it. Her shows focus on African-American experiences not often portrayed in the mainstream media.

For her acting work on “Insecure”, Rae received two Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actress and an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.

Rae’s stake in Streamlytics is very strategic, Benton said.

“She started out on YouTube so she’s really a pioneer as someone has created digital content and has moved to traditional media.”

In a prepared statement, Rae said, “As streaming services become the standard for how people consume content and information, tools and companies like Streamlytics are necessary for transparency and consumer ownership. Angela’s drive and innovative spirit is the reason why she is a pioneer in the tech space and why I’m excited to partner with her in this endeavor.”

With Rae’s ownership stake, Streamlytics will continue to operate as before, Benton told Moguldom.

Streamlytics has consumer-facing applications and interacts with consumers with those apps and tools. The company pays a flat rate for data. Payouts range from $25 to $300 depending on how much data the company gets, Benton told Moguldom.

Benton talked about how Streamlytics is different from other companies that pay for data,

“Most people paying for data are paying incrementally,” Benton said. “We pay an upfront fee for a certain amount of data. It’s transformative. Nobody is paying out this much. This is a way to literally transfer wealth back into the community. People are saying, ‘Oh my God, I can pay my light bill.'”

Streamlytics is mainly reaching out to underrepresented communities.

“They over-index on media consumption,” Benton said. “Minorities are literally driving activity on a lot of these platforms … None of this goes back in terms of the influence that we have on many of these companies.”

The Streamlytics license to buy data is a fairly basic form or agreement that software companies usually use, Benton said. “We have an API where studios, brands and internet companies can sign up for an enterprise license to get access to the data.”