Launched today in beta, Playground is a social platform that seeks to help people discover and develop community while allowing creators to monetize their audiences. Already, the website has a wide variety of users including the Museum of Modern Art, comedy host Alexis Gay, the Abolitionist Teaching Network, activist Nupol Kiazolu, and a Malaysian virtual dance club. For now, the beta is open to certain creators of the cultural space (art, music, wellness, games, etc.), and for community members there is a waiting list.
As the daughter of Taiwanese-born immigrants who grew up in a culturally diverse neighborhood in Santa Fe, founder Jia Ling Yang understands the importance of bringing people together. But while working as a freelance creative director for brands like Facebook, Google Play, and E! Entertainment, she decided she wanted to help build an online community in a new way. Of course, social media is already building communities, from neighborhood book exchange groups to One Direction and Twitter. But life online can also be isolating.
“Instead of scrolling around and looking at each other’s lives, I’m like, hey, let’s go together. Let’s cook Filipino food together, let’s work together, ”Yang said.
In its current state, Playground helps users find events online and in person to attend with cultural institutions and creators. Eventually, Yang wants Playground to become an all-in-one platform for creators to run their businesses. They will be able to manage fan subscriptions, send newsletters, publish their events, articles and podcasts, display analyzes. , sell products and more. Yang and her team of nine are currently developing social tools to help community members connect with each other.
“We want to create discussion forums among members,” Yang told TechCrunch. “The difference between having an audience where you just deliver content to them and having a community is that members can actually interact with each other outside of the host. “
All-in-one platforms are invaluable to creators because it’s easier to manage an account than juggle Discord, Patreon, Eventbrite, Mailchimp, and more. But there’s also an inherent risk in handing over your entire business to a startup. Nonetheless, Playground gives its creators full control over their subscriber list and contact details, so that they don’t rely on the Playground platform to reach their fans.
“It’s really frustrating not to own your community,” Yang said. “Let’s say you’ve built an following on Clubhouse or something, and that platform just goes away. Then your audience is just the one who messaged you in your Instagram DMs.
There will be a free tier for creators on the platform, but to access monetization features, like paid ticketing and membership programs, they’ll need to pay $ 15 or $ 30 per month, depending on the level of customization. they are looking for.
Image credits: Playground
Yang also reflects on how web3 plays out in the future of Playground. Since its inception, his company has raised $ 2.3 million in seed funding from Animoca, Sogal, Gaingels and Anomaly. One investor, Animoca, is known to invest in blockchain-based projects, but among the cultural creators targeted by Playground, there is a visible anti-crypto sentiment. While some artists embrace the possibilities of NFTs for example, others worry about the environmental costs and the proliferation of scams in an unregulated market. But Yang thinks the crypto world is having a communication problem.
“This world isn’t about culture,” she told TechCrunch. “Cultural creators love the concept of being able to own your own art, monetize your community, decide how your community is governed… These are all principles creators really care about, and I feel like we don’t. let’s just fill the conversation a little bit. “
Yang is interested in a blockchain-based future for Playground, but for now the platform is focused on onboarding creators and community members after launching in beta.