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Cameo CEO on celebrity messages: Live video ‘could be a great next thing’

Cameo CEO Steven Galanis joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the company’s new projects, the impact of Live video, celebrities on the platform, consumer demand, and the outlook for growth.

Video Transcript


AKIKO FUJITA: Well, some big changes coming for celebrity video sharing platform Cameo. Users can now speak directly to their favorite stars in the platform's latest bid to connect creators directly to fans. To get more insight into what is being called Cameo 2.0, let's bring in CEO, Steve Galanis. Steve, good to have you on today.

We're talking about Cameo 2.0, but I want to start by talking about where 1.0 was because since the last time we talked to you, you have gone through quite a transformation. Obviously, you had to lay off about a quarter of your staff. Certainly something that we've been hearing from so many startups right now. Talk to me about where the company is right now and where you see it going, especially in the face of some of these headwinds the industry is facing.

STEVEN GALANIS: So, first off, thanks for having me. Obviously, it was a very well-known story. And we spoke many times during COVID that COVID and lockdowns and all the world's talent, not having concerts or sports games, that was a massive tailwind to our business. And we grew over 500% in a year during COVID.

As people started spending money differently coming out, we had to make changes and look at our workforce as we started to see people were looking for different types of experiences than just the personalized video shoutout. And we spent the last year and a half diversifying our business. We now have a B2B revenue line, Cameo for Business, which has been the fastest growing part of our business. And we've also purchased celebrity merch company Represent, which, again, helps diversify what we're doing.

As we started taking a look at this shift towards experiences, we really felt that Cameo Live could be a great next thing to offer consumers. So think of this as a 10-minute Zoom call, where you and 10 of your closest friends could have a live interaction with an artist or creator that you love.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Hey, Steven, it's Brian Cheung here. So let's talk about another kind of product that you're working on as well. Cameo Pass, which you hope to use non-fungible tokens, NFTs, to incorporate these fan experiences, which is really what your whole business is all about. This is also coming at a time of immense volatility for the crypto space as well. Has any of that derailed what you're trying to do with this project? And how optimistic are you about that becoming a strong, reliable revenue stream for you?

STEVEN GALANIS: Well, we launched cameo pass right after Super Bowl. That sold out in under one second. It was a huge success. We've now done four or five of these events. And the big idea is Cameo is a company that constantly throws really cool events around Super Bowl and other Formula One-- other big cultural events.

And what we're doing is we're allowing the holders of the Cameo pass to actually come and interact with the celebrities on our platform in real life. So that's been a really big success. That was a Q1 initiative that we launched. And we've had some great feedback and traction from that.

AKIKO FUJITA: Let's get back to the live element, though, because it does sound like you've kind of had to rethink where you want to put your resources, especially as the rest of the world has changed. As you pointed out, you know, celebrities used to just be sitting at home, and they could do the shoutouts. That's not the case anymore.

How do you see the company's services breaking down? I mean, the shoutouts that we knew-- we've come to know from Cameo, is that still going to be the bulk of the business? Is it going to be these NFTs Brian just talked about? How do you see this breaking down?

STEVEN GALANIS: Look, the core of our business is always fan plus talent equals magical moments. From the very beginning, we've talked about for X amount of money on Cameo, a fan can pay to do Y activity with Z person. For the first four or five years, we only had one Y activity. We're starting to diversify and give talent, more tools in their tool belt upon which to interact with fans that earn a living.

The core Cameo shoutout is still the lion share of our business. We project it to be for the foreseeable future. And at the same time, we're helping talent monetize in other ways through Cameo for Business, through Represent. And the NFT stuff right now, we're not doing celebrity-based NFTs. So we haven't gotten really deep into that space yet. But for our ecosystem, we thought that that was a really good thing to add as well.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Who are the top celebs on the platform right now? And I guess, kind of, look, I'm an econ guy. I almost have to ask-- has the supply of who is on the platform offering these types of cameos changed? Because I imagine during 2020, a lot of them were coming onto the platform. You had some big names because maybe they didn't have jobs or any sort of projects going because of just the shutdown of everything. But now things are reopening. Have you seen a difference in the supply of the big names that you have on the platform?

STEVEN GALANIS: The supply has kept-- been an up and to the right graph since we started. One of the nice things about COVID was people who had told us no prior came on, gave us a shot when they were a little less busy. And the vast majority of them have retained as the world's opened up. It's become part of their creator monetization stack and something that they really love doing.

I mean, the money is great, but what people really love about Cameo is the way that it makes their fans feel. So we've been really fortunate that people gave us a shot and have stuck with it. Now the big question for us is, as consumers have changed their spending habits and they're spending less time online, what are we doing to stay relevant? And that's what our team is thinking about every day.

AKIKO FUJITA: So who's the top celebrity right now?

STEVEN GALANIS: The top celebrities in earnings are still a lot of the same folks that we've seen over the years. People like Brian Baumgartner from "The Office" or people like Sonja Morgan from "The Real Housewives of New York" have continued to do exceptionally well. But a big shift that we've seen is a lot of TikTokers and viral memes stars have started to do exceptionally well on Cameo, as opposed to just the more traditional celebrities that we might have been better known for.

BRIAN CHEUNG: I think we just showed Carole Baskin--

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, she was a big one.

BRIAN CHEUNG: That was her, right?

AKIKO FUJITA: I remember, Steven--

BRIAN CHEUNG: I was trying to figure out if--

AKIKO FUJITA: --the last time we talked, we talked about Carole, was a big one during the pandemic. Always good to have you on. Steven Galanis, CEO of Cameo, appreciate your time.