Newness, a startup co-founded by former Twitch employees, raised $ 3.5 million in a funding round led by Sequoia for its live-streaming platform for beauty designers and their clients. fan communities. While creators today are not without options when it comes to live streaming – Twitch, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook are all popular choices – Newness is focused on creating differentiated tools and features that work well for the beauty streamer market in particular. This includes offering options for public and private feeds, engagement mechanisms that reward positive contributions, moderation features, and the ability for fans to access free beauty products through the participation of the community.
In the new cycle, Jess Lee invested on behalf of Sequoia Capital. Other Newness investors include Cowboy Ventures (Aileen Lee), Upside Partnership (Kent Goldman), Dream Machine (former TechCrunch editor Alexia Bonatsos), Index Ventures (Nina Achadjian), Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin, former executives from Twitch Jonathan Shipman and John Sutton, the founders of Eventbrite, Kevin and Julia Hartz, the co-founder and CEO of Incredible Health, Iman Abuzeid, and other Twitch angel investors.
The idea for Newness came from CEO Jenny Qian, an early employee of Twitch who has held a number of roles on the game streaming site over the years, most recently as Senior Director of Business Strategy for Twitch’s video platform. She is joined by CTO Youri Park, who also previously worked at Twitch, as well as Blizzard and Facebook Gaming.
Although she is still an avid video game enthusiast, Qian says she started to dabble in skin care after turning 30. She then quickly realized the potential of the beauty space in live streaming.
“I was so used to the Twitch format. And, in some ways, I feel like I’ve been spoiled by the live broadcast, ”she explains. Being able to hang out with streamers, ask questions and learn from them was something that made the live format so compelling, she said.
“It made me scratch my head and think, why didn’t something like this exist for the beauty community? It’s a community that’s just as passionate, if not more… and it’s a category of content that’s incredibly popular. How come there is no live support available? She asks herself.
But at the same time, Qian admits that she didn’t feel comfortable living on Twitch.
“It’s something to be laughed at for my gameplay. But I think it’s another thing if I put on makeup and people laugh at me for how I look. It goes to a whole new level, ”she says.
With Newness, the goal is to create a kind of anti-Twitch, in a way. It aspires to be a healthy and positive community for creators and beauty fans, where moderation is a key goal and fans are rewarded for their quality participation, not for trolling.
When creators go live, Newness will pair them with an internal moderator to help them feel more comfortable and keep the content flowing. Once they are a more established streamer, Newness will work with the creator to locate and raise a moderator from their own fan community to help them with future streams.
During this time, fans are given virtual items called crystals for their positive participation and good behavior – for example, for watching your favorite stream and participating in the chat. In Newness, every chat message also has a little heart next to it. And the more Hearts you earn over time for higher quality commentary, the more Crystals you earn.
These crystals can be redeemed for full-size beauty products, which Newness will procure through branded offers. Because moderators spend more time on the platform, they’ll also earn more crystals – and that means more opportunities for products.
The positive reward system has so far proven to be effective in beta testing, as about 66% of Newness viewers, on average, end up chatting during live broadcasts, Qian says.
Another differentiating feature of Newness is the ability for creators to host public and private streams. The latter isn’t meant to be some sort of OnlyFans equivalent, but rather aims to allow creators to host more professional and exclusive live events. With private feeds, creators can sell both general admission and even more expensive VIP tickets that might come with some sort of reward – like a bag of cosmetics.
In addition to events, Newness supports an in-app failover mechanism called “donation” on Daily Feeds.
Eventually, the startup plans to take a share of the revenue generated by these transactions, but it has yet to deploy it as it is still beta testing.
At present, the Newness community is small. And he always chooses which creators are allowed to broadcast live.
“We select the creators that we let access to our platform and keep it by invitation only, because we want to make sure that our early creators help set the tone and build the culture of the community,” she says. The startup wants to make sure there are enough community members to sustain itself, while not allowing the community to become toxic as it evolves.
“We really care about cultivating an incredibly healthy community. So for us, safety, moderation – whatever is really important to us, ”Qian notes.
The creators produce a range of content, including more expert advice and product reviews for more casual videos and vlogs.
The novelty, of course, will face stiff competition from existing, larger platforms for streamers, like YouTube and Instagram, as well as newcomers more focused on beauty videos, like Supergreat.
The startup has been in beta testing since last year and is only available on the web at the moment. With seed funding, Newness plans to develop its consumer iOS app in 2021, to complement its streaming app dedicated to creators. (Creators can also choose to stream from their DSLRs, if they choose.)
It also aims to hire engineering talent and strengthen its 14-person team which is now spread across San Francisco, New York (through hires from former Glossier) and LA