Earlier this month, Black creators on TikTok went on strike to protest appropriation of dance trends by white creators, who in turn wind up getting sponsorships and earning money.
Prominent Silicon Valley investor Jason Calacanis says don’t protest, create your own.
On his popular podcast, “This Week in Startups,” Calacanis suggested that Black creators create their own app since most social media platforms are benefiting from Black creators and Black culture. He also tweeted his view.
“Twitter, in the early days, all of the trending topics at times were based on Black culture. Someone at Twitter told me,…they created localized and customized trending topics…because non-Black people couldn’t understand what was going on on Twitter and they were afraid that white people…would leave. So they basically throttled Black culture on Twitter,” he noted.
Calacanis continued, “Then you look at something like Clubhouse, my goodness, the whole thing was built off of Black culture. You’d open up Clubhouse and it was all kinds of Black creators — comedians, artists, thinkers, journalists, writers, hip-hop artists, athletes –basically building that product.”
Instead of building white-owned apps like Clubhouse, Black creators should create their own platform, Calacanis urged.
“What I would say to all of this…if the top 20 Black creators left TikTok and started their own app…instead of protesting” it would be successful, he said.
While acknowledging that creating a platform isn’t easy, Calacanis insisted it isn’t as difficult as you might think, and he claims there’s funding available for Black creators. An angel investor in various technology startups, he said one just needs a 10-person team and investors.
“There are a lot of Black VCs now.. they could build a TikTok competitor that I believe would be worth a billion dollars within a year,” he predicted. Investment, he said, could also come from Black celebrities such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Oprah Winfrey.
Calacanis’s idea got many responses.
“Many are afraid to take that leap though because the historical lack of support & funding from VCs. That’s the reason we haven’t seen a move like this happen yet” @OfficialBBrooks tweeted.
Vic Boddie @VicBoddie tweeted that there is funding out there. “Bro, @tipsnaps has been fearlessly doing this since 2017. Black founded, bootstrapping to 425K registered users, $2M in payouts, and little love from VC. Our main focus has been supporting creators of color. We just need equitable funding to rocket ship this home!”
Not everyone agreed with Calacanis. Bexel Initiative @BexelInitiative, an organization that aims to expand and develop opportunities in underserved communities, was against the idea of a separate Black-only app. “There is the incredible lie that is perpetuated and seeded regarding the Black community. That segregation is a winning strategy. There are reasons this doesn’t work, but one major fundamental issue is just numbers. The maths doesn’t work.”
The @BexelInitiative thread continued, “Take every human in US that may ascribe to or be designated as Black as a result of phenotype or cultural disposition. ~50 mm in US, of ~330 mm. If everyone else can subscribe to a non-Black disposition trades freely with eachother but this mkt of 15% is confined to itself”.
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