The success of websites like Cameo has shown that people want personalized interactions with celebrities and emerging Web3 companies to provide a way for creators to do so while valuing themselves, said Solo Ceesay, co-founder of Calaxy, at TechCrunch.
Calaxy, a Web3 social marketplace, has raised $26M in strategic funding co-led by Animoca Brands and the HBAR Foundation with backing from Polygon.
The increase follows a $7.5 million funding round in 2021 with investors including Animoca Brands, Red Beard Ventures, ArkStream Capital, NGC Ventures, and Genesis Block Ventures. The round also had support from NFL player Ezekiel Elliott, “The Bachelor” Matt James, and former PayPal Blockchain Strategist Jonathan Padilla, among others.
The name Calaxy is a portmanteau of “designer galaxy”. The startup aims to build a new infrastructure that allows content creators, ranging from small influencers to big celebrities, to have ownership and a fair exchange of value compared to the current social media landscape, Ceesay said.
The new capital will be stored for future bearish days, but Ceesay said the funds will ultimately be used to expand its platform and products. “We’re an experiential marketplace that does NFTs and a lot of other things, but more specifically, we’re a social token project,” Ceesay said.
The company was founded in 2020 by Ceesay and his co-founder Spencer Dinwiddie, who is also an NBA player for the Dallas Mavericks. Since its inception, it has grown to around 200 creators, Ceesay said.
The platform allows each creator to create their own cryptocurrencies that their fans can buy to interact with their economy or exchange value for social media engagement, Ceesay said. Its usefulness stems from traditional Web 2.0 social media applications such as Patreon and Cameo, where fans can engage with celebrities via social tokens, Ceesay said.
“People can buy an Ezekiel Elliott coin in order to buy a call with Ezekiel Elliott,” Ceesay said. Each celebrity coin starts with a 1:1 ratio in line with the USD Coin (USDC) stablecoin, so “it won’t fluctuate in value because fans don’t want to deal with volatility,” he said. he adds. So in this case, $20 is worth 20 Ezekiel Elliott tokens, he noted.
Going forward, Ceesay said he expects the tokens on Calaxy can fluctuate based on market demand and each creator can have dynamically priced assets, but they are currently held at a value. pegged to the US dollar.
The social token represents a portion of a creator’s own eventual economy, Ceesay said. “When you think of a dynamically priced token in a finite offering, there’s a market value to that token,” he said. “It’s about capturing your own value; if you influence that many people, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have a publicly verifiable market capitalization or value as a person.
“How creators interact with fans shouldn’t be limited by the reach of the platform they’re on through a centralized entity like TikTok,” Ceesay said.
YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram have their big centralized entities that make money from ads and businesses, so they’re not monetizing the creator — they’re monetizing the brand, Ceesay said.
“It’s not fair, so we think creators should be able to control their [success] and take their social token and bring it anywhere to have meaning specifically for them,” Ceesay said. “The idea of a social token really opens up the playing field so that creators can monetize and connect directly with fans without a middleman involved. … We want creators to value themselves.