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Lucy Guo’s Passes Attracts Big Tech with $40 Million Funding Round

ByHuey Yee Ong

Mar 16, 2024
Lucy Guo's Passes Attracts Big Tech with $40 Million Funding Round

At just 29 years old, Lucy Guo has already made a name for herself as a self-made millionaire and a co-founder of the unicorn company Scale AI, now valued at $7 billion. In a recent development, Guo has ventured into a new domain with her creator economy platform, Passes, which has successfully secured a whopping $40 million in Series A funding. In an exclusive interview with Fortune, Guo discussed her ambitious plan to revolutionize how content creators monetize their work, emphasizing her goal to transform small creator ventures into substantial businesses.

Passes Secures Major Funding

Passes, a platform aimed at supporting creators, recently secured $9 million in seed funding. Investors include notable figures like: Paris Hilton, Jake Paul, and tech veteran Kevin Hartz, co-founder of Eventbrite.

The Series A funding was led by Bond, a firm founded by Mary Meeker and Mood Rowghani, both known for their early investments in tech startups like Humane and big players like Canva and Uber. This new funding is meant to grow the Passes team, which currently has 15 members.

The investment attracted attention from high-profile figures in both the tech and media industries, like Emma and Jens Grede, co-founders of Skims, and Michael Ovitz, co-founder of Creative Arts Agency. This indicates strong confidence in Passes’ potential to shake up the creator economy. However, Guo, the founder, chose not to disclose the company’s current valuation.

A New Revenue Model for Creators

Passes offers a platform where influencers can directly earn from their followers through exclusive content, messaging, live streams, and more. This initiative seeks to provide creators with more stable income streams, independent of fluctuating brand deals and algorithm changes on major social platforms. With unique features like screenshot-blocking and automated sales messaging, Passes is positioning itself as a superior alternative to existing platforms like Patreon and Fanfix, further planning to integrate AI technology to streamline operations.

Passes currently supports 900 creators and has amassed a fan base of 500,000. Among its most popular users are America’s Got Talent runner-up magician Anna DeGuzman, workout influencer Alysia Magen, and relationships therapist Jeff Guenther. Guo disclosed that the top 10 creators on the platform are projected to earn over $1 million this year alone. Passes generates revenue by taking a 10% commission and a 30-cent transaction fee on each payment made through the platform, though specific revenue figures were not provided.

Lucy Guo’s Journey

Guo’s entrepreneurial spirit was evident from an early age, selling Pokémon cards and teaching herself to code in elementary school. Before founding Passes, she contributed significantly to the tech and business world as a product designer at Snapchat and Quora, and later as a co-founder of Scale AI. Following her departure from Scale AI, Guo ventured into venture capital with Backend Ventures, backing several unicorns, before fully dedicating her efforts to growing Passes.

Guo’s motivation for founding Passes was driven by her desire to address the challenges faced by her friends and other creators within the creator economy. “A lot of my friends are creators—they’re musicians, they’re TikTokers—and I saw the problems with the creator economy and thought, I want to help solve them,” she said. Despite the efforts of major social platforms to introduce features aimed at supporting creators, such as Instagram’s monetary gifts and TikTok’s Creator Fund, challenges remain. Creators have expressed dissatisfaction with the compensation offered by these programs, prompting them to seek alternatives like Passes for more lucrative and sustainable monetization opportunities.

Lucy Guo’s Passes has undeniably captured the attention of major players in the tech and media landscape with its $40 million Series A funding round. As it seeks to revolutionize how creators monetize their influence, Passes stands at the forefront of an evolving creator economy, promising a more empowered and financially stable future for content creators worldwide.

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Featured Image courtesy of Lucy Guo

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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