Around here on film theory, you know We’ve covered some pretty bizarre series on the Internet from episodes on Poppy to Salad Fingers to “Don’t Hug Me, I’m Scared” But today I think I can safely say that I’m going to the darkest part of the internet yet Jake – “Brilliant! Yes!” Jake – “I wanna do the interview here” *screams* Jake – “It’s every day brooooo!” Hello Internet! Welcome to Film Theory, the show that’s been YouTubing it up since the days of Vine. Here on the channel I have a history of covering not just movies and TV, but also big online series that pop up all across the interwebs And recently there has been nothing bigger than the Shane Dawson expose into the life of Jake Paul. In case you weren’t one of the hundred and forty two million views that this series got in its first couple weeks, let me catch you up. Recently, YouTuber/Conspiracy theorist Shane Dawson put out an 8 part documentary series on social media star, former Viner, and all-around bad boy Jake Paul. Yes, that’s correct, right now you’re watching a youtuber covering a youtuber covering another youtuber. We have reached peak meta. Now Shane’s docu-series focused on a bunch of different aspects of Jake Paul’s life. His relationship with his family, his Ex-girlfriend Alyssa Violet, his squad mates and team 10. Even going so far as to analyze Jake with the help of a licensed therapist to try and determine whether Jake is actually a sociopath – – a question that we’ve been asking since 2013 *highpitched voice* “Humble brag.” but across all 413 minutes of content, nearly 7 hours of video dedicated to this guy there’s one story that Shane Dawson really missed. Either because he wasn’t interested in it, or frankly because he wasn’t allowed to talk about it. And that’s Jake Paul’s real job. Because here’s the thing in the docu-series, Shane portrays Jake as a vlogger. A young guy out there having fun and making cash with his buddies. But that’s a huge lie Jake isn’t a vlogger, nor has he ever intended to be. In an interview last year, Jake Paul himself said, “I want to be the first social media billionaire” And that wasn’t just some offhand remark in the style of Bruno Mars wishing he was a billionaire. That was in the context of an interview discussing his business The pursuit of money is pretty darn central to Jake Paul’s online identity, and as such it seems like a glaring oversight in Shane’s documentary, especially given how he just got a behind-the-scenes look at Jeffrey Star’s mega business. No, it’s my theory that Shane wasn’t allowed to talk about it because the business side of Jake Paul doesn’t vibe all that well with his goofy on-camera persona, and was thus the untold part of this supposedly tell-all documentary. Either way, I am more than happy to pick up where Shane left off, and I’ve left a couple of links down below to other YouTubers who’ve started to talk about similar parts of this story like Nerd City and Lindsay Ellis. But this is all my own take on what Jake Paul is really doing. What he’s really selling. because it is a heck of a lot more than t-shirts. So today, we’re not going inside the mind of Jake Paul. This is us going inside the business of Jake Paul to reveal how his billion-dollar ambitions might be the first glimpse into the future of a dystopian YouTube. A YouTube built on manufacturing and monetizing the most valuable commodity of them all. Trust. In Shane’s series, the first real glimpse we got behind-the-scenes with Jake Paul was in talking about how his pranks are staged. Jake: “Those pranks on them are, like, fake.” J: “My vlogs are, like, lightly scripted, and so all those pranks, -” J: “I like, tell them I’m gonna do it. They’re like, ‘okay,’ and then I do it.” And, quite frankly, that’s amateur stuff. Of course it’s all faked! Anyone who remembers the early days of Vitaly and Roman know that it was all faked. What he didn’t talk about being faked was his completely carefree attitude. Building a business empire isn’t about Jake clowning around in front of a camera. It requires him to act in a very deliberate and intentional way. And Jake is certainly not a man without a larger plan in place. In a video posted on January 22nd, 2017 (now unlisted), Jake Paul lays out his plans for potential investors in his new business Teamdom. He says, No, Jake, I’m sure that a very small minority of your viewers have actually heard of Y Combinator. So let me explain it to them. Y Combinator is one of the biggest startup incubators in Silicon Valley They provided early funding and mentorship to companies like Dropbox, Reddit, and Twitch, just to name a few. And of course that early Investment means that they own part of those companies. Investing in a company when it’s valued at a few million dollars starts to look like a really good idea when that company goes on to be valued at billions of dollars, as it was the case with Dropbox and Reddit. Twitch on the other hand was not part of that billion dollar club since it sold to Amazon for a valuation of a mere nine hundred and seventy million dollars. Ah, so close, and yet so far! The important takeaway here though is Y Combinator isn’t a technology company; it invests in technology companies for partial ownership. Jake seems to be aiming to copy the idea. In his pitch video, he isn’t trying to sell himself as an influencer or vine star. He’s trying to sell himself as a business incubator that can train up other influencers and become an early investor in what they’re doing; in exchange, owning a big chunk of their career. Jake – “If you leak anything on the internet to anybody, you will be sued for everything you have!” J: “And I know I’ve taken 20% of that already, but you will be sued for the rest of it.” If his goal is to become a billionaire, Jake has the right idea. Bruno Mars might not be a billionaire, no matter how frickin bad he wants it, but you know who is? Len Blavatnik, the owner of holding company Access Industries, who owns Warner Music Group, which in turn owns Atlantic Records, which is Bruno Mars’s record label. Yep! I’m talking about the owner of the owner of the owner of the owner of a musician if you’re counting those different layers The point is: billion-dollar talents are rare. Most of the world’s billionaires are businessmen. The kind of people who manage or invest in talent or other industries Only one musician in all of history has ever passed a billion dollars, and you’ll never guess who it is! It’s Andrew Lloyd Webber. He wasn’t even a stage performer. He’s a composer who created musicals, and even those musicals he mostly ripped off from other people. And before you run off to Google to fact check that, yeah! It’s really true. Even Beyonce and T-Swift aren’t billionaires. You know who’s closer to being a billionaire than Beyonce? Her husband Jay-Z. Who makes most of his money by – You guessed it! Owning his own record label and doing massive business deals. Not by being a cool rapper. When it comes to Jake Paul’s billion-dollar idea, managing his own YouTube channel and his own career as an influencer is small potatoes compared to the eventual goal which he laid out in an interview last year. As he says, “I know it’s a cliche, but, like, literally, I want to create an empire of dozens of talent under me, to take my power and multiply it so I become bigger than myself.” He doesn’t want to just become a star who gets attention, he wants to be the owner of a company that manages other stars. Which, again, seems like a pretty good game plan if the goal is to create a billion dollar business empire Shane Dawson not talking about this is like doing a documentary on Elon Musk just talking about his personal life without ever mentioning the words Tesla or SpaceX. Now, building a billion-dollar business ain’t easy. But lucky for Jake, he’s got himself some help. In 2017, he raised himself a small loan of a million dollars to start up Teamdom. Who were the investors? Lead investor in the million dollar round was Danhua, a Chinese investment firm, along with Gary Vaynerchuk, who appears in the Teamdom pitch video alongside Jake Paul, as well as Abe Burns of Sound Ventures and A-Grade Investments, two investment firms co-founded by Ashton Kutcher. So why does any of this matter? Well, it tells us something about the future of the company. Investors aren’t gift givers. They’re not super generous They’re really savvy people who are looking to make money for themselves. Investors can make money in a lot of ways, But they’re always gonna be looking for the biggest payouts, which usually means they’re looking to sell the company for a lot of money the way Instagram sold itself to Facebook. So why do these investors matter to us, and more importantly, to Jake’s job? Well, it means that even though he doesn’t show it, a lot of Jake’s time has to be spent behind the scenes working to make those investors the money that they expect. He’s not gonna impress them by flexing with his Lambos all day. Especially when it’s those big investor dollars that bought that Lambo in the first place. These are the people that you’re not gonna want to disappoint because they didn’t give Jake a million dollars just so he could clown around in his big house all day with his friends they gave him that money because they think it’ll enable him to build a company that some other bigger company will buy out for a lot more money. Jake can’t be just doing this thing forever, cause all those people want to – and, more importantly, need to – get themselves paid, baby! There’s another reason Jake paul’s investors are a big part of this whole picture Investors have an influence on the company they give money to. In the world of retail investing, where you go onto the publicly traded stock market to buy a share of Apple for $200 simply so you can own point zero zero zero zero zero zero zero two percent of the company, you, as a shareholder, don’t really have all that much say in what goes on at Apple. You can just show up to the shareholders meeting, but it’s not like they’re gonna be consulting you on any big decisions. The world of private investment, though, is a different beast. Unlike publicly traded companies, private investors have to strike individual deals with the companies that they’re investing in In a lot of ways, this is a good thing. When an investment firm gives you money in exchange for part of your company, the only way for the investment to pay off is for your company to succeed, which means that a lot of the things they do are gonna be related to helping those companies thrive . For instance: giving those companies access to their network of business contacts. Investment firms are also usually run by people who have their own successes in business, which means that they can serve as effective mentors for younger, less-experienced people who might be starting their first business. The cons of selling part of your company to investors is that now you’re literally giving another group ownership over part of your company, which means that you can’t make decisions entirely by yourself anymore. And investors can be much more likely to want to have that kind of oversight when the CEO is young inexperienced, and on the local news for starting a bunch of couch fires in his backyard. But, hey! You don’t have to take my word for it! Jake Paul said it himself in a video appropriately titled “Raising Money From Investors.” Jake: “One thing that’s bad about raising money from investors is” J: “obviously you’re giving away a piece of your company, so you won’t have full ownership,” J: “And which, you know, could mean that you don’t have full control of your company.” In short, It might seem like Jake Paul’s the one who’s steering his ship, but in truth, he might not actually be the one with his hands on the wheel. As someone who took someone else’s money, He is beholden to make decisions that make his investors happy. And if your investors are no longer happy, well, They’re gonna step in and force you to make some decisions that make them happy. Like, say, for instance, you and your brothers’ bad behavior starts costing your business money. Jake: “Two days after that, I was supposed to be doing, like, a brand deal for, like…” J: “seven figures. And, like, that got taken away.” Your investors could, uh, I don’t know… Force you to agree to do a docu-series that rehabilitates your image and then differentiates you from your brother to make you appealing to brands again. If all this is making it sound like Jake Paul is some sort of innovative business mastermind who’s come up with this brilliant, original idea – Well the idea of creating a talent incubator isn’t exactly new. The idea of savvy business runners taking in budding talents and training them up to become more effective entertainment products is about as Hollywood as Hollywood gets. Though, for a more recent example, you can look at the modern music industry. Early on, record labels would scout talent and agents would travel around looking for talented local musicians. Now you don’t need to find talent. You can simply manufacture it. For example, look, no further than the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, and the Spice Girls. Or, even more recently, you can see it in the all controlling world of K-pop and J-pop groups. The new innovation here was that music executives realized that you could take something that usually happens organically – a bunch of people getting together to form themselves a group that performs original music and manufacture it by selecting beautiful people and then writing songs for them to perform on stage It’s hard to find a handsome face and a good songwriter in the same package So why not create everything assembly line style? And so it was that video killed the radio star and our musical performances all came to be performed by beautiful people who have audio engineers teach them how to sing on pitch. It didn’t take long for people to figure out the same thing could be done with content like YouTube videos. Why wait for some naturally compelling vlogger to come along? If you understand what makes a compelling vlog, rather than waiting for it to come into existence organically, you could just hire an actor to act like they’re a vlogger. You don’t think you can fake that kind of thing? Think again. In June, 2006 – yeah, all the way back at the beginnings of YouTube – a channel called lonelygirl15 popped up showing videos starring Bree, who appeared to be a relatively ordinary teenage girl vlogging about her life. Bree: “My name is Bree” B: “I’m a dork” Until it was revealed that Bree wasn’t actually Bree She was an actress – Jessica Rose – who was portraying a fictional character created by a group of filmmakers. One year! It took one year after the launch of YouTube for someone to figure it out. But it took another 13 years for this model to become mainstream on the platform Which brings us back to – you guessed it! – Jake Paul The only difference now, though, is that Jake Paul isn’t applying this model to manufacturing musical acts, or doing a cinematic project exploring digital video. He’s trying to manufacture something very different and very dangerous. He’s trying to manufacture… Your friends. In the last part of Shane Dawson’s docu-series Jake describes himself as, Jake: “I was just having fun. And, like, doing whatever I wanted.” But investors didn’t write him a million dollar check just to be a kid having fun. They wrote him a check to become a talent spotter cranking out new influencers that everyone else can turn a profit on. Except there’s a difference between influencers and celebrities. Viewers view youtubers – influencers – not like celebrities. They view them as friends. Kid: “Jake Paul is my friend, yea Jake Paul is my friend” There’s a fantastic video on this topic made by Lindsey Ellis where she explains it like a real educational channel Lindsey: “The challenge for creators is to maintain the illusion for their followers of feeling like” L: “they do know this creator when in reality, they only know the affect.” L: “the side of the creator that the creator has decided it is most beneficial for you, the audience, to see.” But when your personality, your persona, and your content are all being influenced by major media investors – Well then it starts to get really hard to know where a creator’s personality stops and where the corporate machine begins. When it comes to Jake Paul, it’s critical for him to convince you, me, all of us that he’s just a dude having fun and that he’s not some wannabe business mogul who’s manipulating his audience. Because then you would start to feel like you’re being sold to buy a company. Which is what he really is here. It’s easier if a docu-series that explores his life is more focused on the drama His ex-girlfriends, his ex partners, his bad behavior and not so much the business that’s operating in the background. Because the viewers might not understand it all, but they would probably get angry if they realized how much time they’d spent Watching what they thought was a real life vlog but was actually just the cogs of a corporate machine working its way slowly to that billion dollar mark. And then they would get really mad when they also remembered how much they spent on all that merch. But I’ll save that for part two in a couple of days, because if Shane’s taught me anything, it’s that I should save the even better stuff for next time. But in the meantime, remember! First to subscribe because you don’t want to miss part 2 of this Expose on the business of Jake Paul and Shane Dawson’s documentary. This is a multi-part series. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna extend it out to eight parts like Shane did, but it’s gonna be at least three So hit that subscribe button and write down in the comments below the words… I don’t know, uh “chicken chick” I just think it’s gonna be funny. There’s a restaurant nearby that’s called chicken chick, and it’s just a weird name for a restaurant, so do that! I challenge you to be able to do it in the next 5 seconds! 5 4 3 I don’t think you’re gonna be able to do both of those things in one second Done! Congratulations, you’re gonna be notified of the next upload but also remember even more importantly that it’s all just a theory! A film theory! Aaaaaaaand – cut!