TikTok’s big UnitedMasters deal is the way forward for creators looking to secure their bag

TikTok is right in the jaws of a thorny situation with the U.S. Government regarding its ownership, but it’s sending a clear message today that it is not sitting on its heels with big deals. Yesterday, it announced a deal with UnitedMasters to allow artists on TikTok to distribute their songs directly to streaming services and other partners directly.

UnitedMasters is the un-record-label label — in fact a direct distribution company founded by former president of Interscope Records, Steve Stoute. The firm allows musicians (especially budding ones) to pay a competitive distribution rate to get access to Spotify, YouTube, SoundCloud, Apple Music and other services. It also gets them access to analytics, retargeting, CRM tools and individual deals that UM makes with brands like ESPN and the NBA.

Normally, the path between an artist being able to go viral on TikTok and be included in the next NBA 2k or before an official game on the air would be a long one involving a lot of knives out for pieces of the pie. UnitedMasters shortcuts all of this.

The simple scenario is this:

  • An aspiring artist or songwriter puts out a song or riff on TikTok (likely one of many).
  • This one has something and it catches on the algorithm and generates numbers.
  • The creator opts in to participating in UnitedMasters’ program.
  • They give up a cut close to 10% but get direct distribution into the major streaming buckets and potential A-grade partners.
  • They can also market things like tickets, merch and more directly to fans using UM’s customer tools.

Which is why a tie up with TikTok makes a hell of a lot of sense. One of the biggest issues with viral social platforms has been the way that they reward creators. Vine, of course, squandered their opportunity there. Even YouTube has had major problems providing consistent revenue to many of its top creators, with a long trend towards big hitters monetizing off platform in order to earn consistent, durable money.

TikTok has already announced a creators fund with a significant purse, but it needs to go beyond that. We’ve seen over and over how young creators on the platform create viral waves of attention for TikTok and millions of re-enactments and remixes. Often, though, those creators are offered little recourse to monetize or benefit from their creations. Dance creators and musical talents, often young Black women, are literally crafting culture in real-time on TikTok and the pathways for them to benefit materially are very rare. Sure, it’s great when an originator gets called out by a Times reporter willing to do the work to trace the source, but what about the thousands of others being minted as a real voice on the platform every month?

It’s beyond time for the creators of The Culture to benefit from that culture. That’s why I find this UnitedMasters deal so interesting. Offering a direct pipeline to audiences without the attendant vulture-ism of the recording industry apparatus is really well aligned with a platform like TikTok, which encourages and enables ‘viral sounds’ with collaborative performances. Traditional deal structures are not well suited to capturing viral hype, which can rise and fall within weeks without additional fuel.

In terms of overall platforms, TikTok clearly has the highest concentration of incredible and un-tapped musical talent on the market. It’s just wild how many creators I see on there that are just flat out as good if not better than what you hear on the radio. Opera, rap, soul, folk, comedy, songwriting, it runs the gamut.

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer came to the company after a long stint at Disney ending with a very successful Disney+ launch. Almost immediately, he was dropped into a political firestorm between China and the U.S. government. Parent company ByteDance must sell within 90 days, says Trump, or get shut down. Microsoft might buy them. Other tech companies are circling. This deal is a pretty crisp forward-looking signal that TikTok sees a way through this and is not waiting to innovate on one of the trickier components of this era of user generated businesses.

And on top of that, it charts a course for how user generated platforms should look to service creators and keep them in their universe. All UGC plays garner significant value from the creative energies of their users, but few have found a way to make that relationship reciprocal in a way that feels sustainable.

This UnitedMasters deal feels different, and the start of a larger trend that could pay big dividends to platforms and, finally, creators.

The Oura Ring is the personal health tracking device to beat in 2020

The Oura Ring has been getting a lot of attention lately because of its role in a number of COVID-19 studies, as well as its adoption by both the NBA and WNBA as a potential tool for helping prevent any outbreaks of the novel coronavirus as those two leagues get back to a regular schedule of play. Oura has released multiple generations of the Ring, which is a health and fitness tracker that reports a range of data, and I’ve spent the past month using one to see what all the fuss is about.

The basics

The Oura Ring is a health tracker that’s unlike just about any other wearable with a similar purpose. It’s a ring that’s virtually indistinguishable from an actual ring without any smart features, available in a couple of different designs and multiple finishes. The Ring has sensors located on the inside surface, but these barely add to its overall thickness and are totally hidden when the ring is worn.

Despite its small size and low profile, the Oura Ring is still a connected device, with an internal battery, and the ability to talk to a smartphone via Bluetooth to transmit the data its sensors collect. In the box, you also get a USB-C stand for the Oura Ring that powers it up via induction charging.

The built-in battery is good for up to seven days of continuous use – and that includes wearing the Oura Ring during sleep. During my usage, that seemed to be an accurate estimate. In general, though, the battery life just seemed to be ‘long enough,’ prompting me not to really think about specific spans, and charging is so quick that it’s easy to just remember to put it on the dock occasionally when it’s convenient (I would often do this during the work day while at my desk, where I keep the Oura dock). Oura’s app also sends helpful notifications to remind you to charge before bed when you’re getting close to the end of your ring’s battery life.

Design

Oura’s design for this most recent iteration of their Ring is fantastic – both as just a piece of jewelry, and doubly so as a connected health and activity tracker. It’s available in two styles, called “Balance” and “Heritage,” both of which come in multiple metallic finishes. There’s a polished silver and gloss black option for both, while “Balance” has a premium-priced version with inlaid diamonds, and “Heritage” has a matte black finish option (which I reviewed).

All the various finishes ore made of a lightweight titanium, with a molded plastic inner to protect the sensors and provide transparency for them to work. The exterior finishes are all coated with a scratch-resistant outer layer – but just like with just about any other metal jewelry, scratch-resistant isn’t scratch proof. The matte black finish I reviewed is definitely showing some wear and tear after multiple weeks of use, but that’s something I was fully expecting, and it’s surprisingly resilient given how often it comes in contact with other metal surfaces, stone and whatever else you come in contact with on a daily basis. The minor blemishes that appear lend it a pleasing patina, rather than negatively impacting its aesthetics, in my opinion.

The Oura Ring is also fixed in terms of sizing and fit, and the company has come up with a clever way to handle ensuring a good fit for customers. They offer a free sizing kit that they ship out first so that you can figure out which Oura size is most comfortable, and decide on which finger you want to wear it. Size is important because you want the Oura Ring to fit snugly enough that it won’t fall off or shift around too much, but also not too snugly that it becomes uncomfortable.

Ultimately, the design is fantastic because it’s both an attractive ring, and an incredibly comfortable device to wear all day – and through the night. Unlike even an Apple Watch or other wrist-worn wearable, there’s virtually no adjustment required for getting used to wearing it while sleeping, or any discomfort from various types of bands. It’s the first wearable I’ve used where I truly was able to forget that I was wearing one at all, and it’s one that no one else will realize you’re wearing, either.

Features and performance

So what does the Oura Ring actually track? A lot of things, actually. It measures sleep, as mentioned, as well as various other metrics under two other broad categories: Readiness, and Activity. Sleep, Readiness and Activity all provide one overall summary score out of 100 to give you a topline sense of where you’re at, but each is actually calculated from a range of sub-metrics that add up to that larger score.

Oura’s sleep tracking is much more in-depth than the forthcoming Apple Watch sleep tracking that Apple is releasing with its next watchOS update in the fall. It monitors when you go to sleep, how long you sleep, how much of that qualifies as “deep” and how much is “REM,” and gives you a metric or you sleep efficiency, your time in bed, your total sleep time and more. Readiness tracks your ambient body temperature, heart rate variability, respiratory rate and your resting heart rate, while activity automatically measures calorie burn, inactive time, you steps and how close you are to your overall activity goal.

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

For all three of these categories, you can dive into each individual sub-metric and see trends over time or individual scores per day, but you can also just look at the overall score, which is provided in a feed-like dashboard in the app and accompanied by practical, actionable advise about what to do with your day, your activity or your sleep habits based on that score and how it’s trending.

It’s at once both the easiest to understand health tracking app I’ve used, and also one of those with the most depth when it comes to digging into what is actually being tracked, and what that means in greater detail. And because the app focuses heavily on establishing a baseline and then monitoring deviations from that baseline and providing advice based on that, it’s more likely to be useful and specifically relevant to you.

Bottom line

With most wearable tech, including the Apple Watch, I periodically have a sort of internal revolt where I end up finding them too much of an intrusion, or too much of a hassle to maintain continuous use. With the Oura Ring, health self-monitoring reaches a perfect pinnacle of combining convenience, with useful and actionable information, with an unobtrusive and attractive design that actually makes me want to put it on.

The jury remains out on whether the Oura Ring can actually accurately detect COVID-19 or anticipate the onset of its symptoms, but regardless, it’s a fantastic personal health tracking device and a great tool for anyone looking to take more control over how they feel on a daily basis. And by actively establishing an individual baseline and comparing your actual overall state to that every day, Oura provides one of the best potential platforms for long-term personal wellness insight out there.

The Oura Ring is the personal health tracking device to beat in 2020

The Oura Ring has been getting a lot of attention lately because of its role in a number of COVID-19 studies, as well as its adoption by both the NBA and WNBA as a potential tool for helping prevent any outbreaks of the novel coronavirus as those two leagues get back to a regular schedule of play. Oura has released multiple generations of the Ring, which is a health and fitness tracker that reports a range of data, and I’ve spent the past month using one to see what all the fuss is about.

The basics

The Oura Ring is a health tracker that’s unlike just about any other wearable with a similar purpose. It’s a ring that’s virtually indistinguishable from an actual ring without any smart features, available in a couple of different designs and multiple finishes. The Ring has sensors located on the inside surface, but these barely add to its overall thickness and are totally hidden when the ring is worn.

Despite its small size and low profile, the Oura Ring is still a connected device, with an internal battery, and the ability to talk to a smartphone via Bluetooth to transmit the data its sensors collect. In the box, you also get a USB-C stand for the Oura Ring that powers it up via induction charging.

The built-in battery is good for up to seven days of continuous use – and that includes wearing the Oura Ring during sleep. During my usage, that seemed to be an accurate estimate. In general, though, the battery life just seemed to be ‘long enough,’ prompting me not to really think about specific spans, and charging is so quick that it’s easy to just remember to put it on the dock occasionally when it’s convenient (I would often do this during the work day while at my desk, where I keep the Oura dock). Oura’s app also sends helpful notifications to remind you to charge before bed when you’re getting close to the end of your ring’s battery life.

Design

Oura’s design for this most recent iteration of their Ring is fantastic – both as just a piece of jewelry, and doubly so as a connected health and activity tracker. It’s available in two styles, called “Balance” and “Heritage,” both of which come in multiple metallic finishes. There’s a polished silver and gloss black option for both, while “Balance” has a premium-priced version with inlaid diamonds, and “Heritage” has a matte black finish option (which I reviewed).

All the various finishes ore made of a lightweight titanium, with a molded plastic inner to protect the sensors and provide transparency for them to work. The exterior finishes are all coated with a scratch-resistant outer layer – but just like with just about any other metal jewelry, scratch-resistant isn’t scratch proof. The matte black finish I reviewed is definitely showing some wear and tear after multiple weeks of use, but that’s something I was fully expecting, and it’s surprisingly resilient given how often it comes in contact with other metal surfaces, stone and whatever else you come in contact with on a daily basis. The minor blemishes that appear lend it a pleasing patina, rather than negatively impacting its aesthetics, in my opinion.

The Oura Ring is also fixed in terms of sizing and fit, and the company has come up with a clever way to handle ensuring a good fit for customers. They offer a free sizing kit that they ship out first so that you can figure out which Oura size is most comfortable, and decide on which finger you want to wear it. Size is important because you want the Oura Ring to fit snugly enough that it won’t fall off or shift around too much, but also not too snugly that it becomes uncomfortable.

Ultimately, the design is fantastic because it’s both an attractive ring, and an incredibly comfortable device to wear all day – and through the night. Unlike even an Apple Watch or other wrist-worn wearable, there’s virtually no adjustment required for getting used to wearing it while sleeping, or any discomfort from various types of bands. It’s the first wearable I’ve used where I truly was able to forget that I was wearing one at all, and it’s one that no one else will realize you’re wearing, either.

Features and performance

So what does the Oura Ring actually track? A lot of things, actually. It measures sleep, as mentioned, as well as various other metrics under two other broad categories: Readiness, and Activity. Sleep, Readiness and Activity all provide one overall summary score out of 100 to give you a topline sense of where you’re at, but each is actually calculated from a range of sub-metrics that add up to that larger score.

Oura’s sleep tracking is much more in-depth than the forthcoming Apple Watch sleep tracking that Apple is releasing with its next watchOS update in the fall. It monitors when you go to sleep, how long you sleep, how much of that qualifies as “deep” and how much is “REM,” and gives you a metric or you sleep efficiency, your time in bed, your total sleep time and more. Readiness tracks your ambient body temperature, heart rate variability, respiratory rate and your resting heart rate, while activity automatically measures calorie burn, inactive time, you steps and how close you are to your overall activity goal.

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

For all three of these categories, you can dive into each individual sub-metric and see trends over time or individual scores per day, but you can also just look at the overall score, which is provided in a feed-like dashboard in the app and accompanied by practical, actionable advise about what to do with your day, your activity or your sleep habits based on that score and how it’s trending.

It’s at once both the easiest to understand health tracking app I’ve used, and also one of those with the most depth when it comes to digging into what is actually being tracked, and what that means in greater detail. And because the app focuses heavily on establishing a baseline and then monitoring deviations from that baseline and providing advice based on that, it’s more likely to be useful and specifically relevant to you.

Bottom line

With most wearable tech, including the Apple Watch, I periodically have a sort of internal revolt where I end up finding them too much of an intrusion, or too much of a hassle to maintain continuous use. With the Oura Ring, health self-monitoring reaches a perfect pinnacle of combining convenience, with useful and actionable information, with an unobtrusive and attractive design that actually makes me want to put it on.

The jury remains out on whether the Oura Ring can actually accurately detect COVID-19 or anticipate the onset of its symptoms, but regardless, it’s a fantastic personal health tracking device and a great tool for anyone looking to take more control over how they feel on a daily basis. And by actively establishing an individual baseline and comparing your actual overall state to that every day, Oura provides one of the best potential platforms for long-term personal wellness insight out there.

Dr. Seuss comes to the blockchain thanks to the maker of Cryptokitties

From CryptoKitties to the NBA,

Dapper Labs has paved the way

for blockchain popularity

beyond speculation that’s purely monetary

and now with Dr. Seuss Enterprises

another collectible application arises.

Featuring the Lorax, Thing One and Thing Two

The Cat in the Hat and Horton too,

fans of Dr. Seuss can collect

characters who in retrospect

may prove to be more valuable

than almost any other collectible.

“As the world moves increasingly online, so has consumers’ desire for discovering and collecting digital memorabilia that brings them one step closer to their favorite athletes, musicians and iconic characters,” said Roham Gharegozlou, the chief executive and founder of Dapper Labs, in a statement. “With our new Dr. Seuss digital decal experience, we are marrying the best of both worlds – allowing fans to interact and discover something entirely new, while tapping into our collective nostalgia for the characters that mean so much from our childhood. We are thrilled to be working alongside Dr. Seuss Enterprises to launch this first of its kind endeavour that is bound to bring joy to Dr. Seuss fans around the globe.”

In September, Dapper Labs raised $11 million in financing from a slew of investors including Andreessen Horowitz’s crypto fund, with participation from investors including Accomplice, AppWorks, Autonomous Partners, Fenbushi Digital and Warner Music Group.

Those investors followed on a slew of other venture firms like Union Square Ventures, Venrock, Digital Currency Group, Animoca Brands, SV Angel, Version One, and CoinFund, among others.

That who’s who of investors are buying in to the underlying platform Dapper developed called “Flow”, a specialized blockchain designed for the entertainment industry, according to Gharegozlou.

 

Dr. Seuss comes to the blockchain thanks to the maker of Cryptokitties

From CryptoKitties to the NBA,

Dapper Labs has paved the way

for blockchain popularity

beyond speculation that’s purely monetary

and now with Dr. Seuss Enterprises

another collectible application arises.

Featuring the Lorax, Thing One and Thing Two

The Cat in the Hat and Horton too,

fans of Dr. Seuss can collect

characters who in retrospect

may prove to be more valuable

than almost any other collectible.

“As the world moves increasingly online, so has consumers’ desire for discovering and collecting digital memorabilia that brings them one step closer to their favorite athletes, musicians and iconic characters,” said Roham Gharegozlou, the chief executive and founder of Dapper Labs, in a statement. “With our new Dr. Seuss digital decal experience, we are marrying the best of both worlds – allowing fans to interact and discover something entirely new, while tapping into our collective nostalgia for the characters that mean so much from our childhood. We are thrilled to be working alongside Dr. Seuss Enterprises to launch this first of its kind endeavour that is bound to bring joy to Dr. Seuss fans around the globe.”

In September, Dapper Labs raised $11 million in financing from a slew of investors including Andreessen Horowitz’s crypto fund, with participation from investors including Accomplice, AppWorks, Autonomous Partners, Fenbushi Digital and Warner Music Group.

Those investors followed on a slew of other venture firms like Union Square Ventures, Venrock, Digital Currency Group, Animoca Brands, SV Angel, Version One, and CoinFund, among others.

That who’s who of investors are buying in to the underlying platform Dapper developed called “Flow”, a specialized blockchain designed for the entertainment industry, according to Gharegozlou.

 

The lengthy plan to restart the NBA season features fitness rings for temperature tracking

A memo obtained by The Athletic details the NBA’s plans to play out the remainder of the 2019-2020 season, beginning at the end of June. It’s a fairly detailed return to action for the league, including some notable tidbits, like, “It is critical that every player understand that he has the right to choose not to return to play.”

Sports are undoubtedly an important part of a society attempting a return to normality, as a much-needed distraction from the day to day horror show of 2020. But such close-quarter activities ought to come with a fair number of safeguards amid such a highly contagious pandemic.

Amid a long list of guidelines for a season broken down week by week is a surprise inclusion of the Oura smart ring. The letter notes that the wearable “may help with the early detection of the coronavirus and will track temperature, respiratory and heart rate and other measures.” The league says players will have the option of wearing the ring as a kind of safeguard designed to pick up on COVID-19 warning signs.

Researchers have been interested in using the ring as a detection system for several months now. Back in March, UCSF initiated a study using thousands of front-line health workers, tracking temperature, sleep and other health stats.

In this context, the rings only work as a small part of a much larger puzzle (the full plan runs 113 pages). It’s one that invariably needs to include regular temperature screenings and testing — the latter of which is key in avoiding the documented spread among asymptotic carriers. Major League Baseball is similarly attempting to start a long-postponed season, though conflicts between owners and players appear to be at an impasse.

Gaming will increasingly define the entertainment industry’s future

 

Invisible Narratives, founded by Adam Goodman and Andrew Sugerman, and FaZe Clan, the most prominent and influential esports and entertainment organization in the world, unveil today their partnership and plans to launch The FaZe Clan Universe, which will begin with a feature-length film set to arrive later this year. FaZe Clan is at the epicenter of esports, culture and entertainment, boasting 230 million followers and billions of combined views across all channels.

For more than a year, Invisible Narratives and FaZe Clan have been developing an immersive cinematic universe, launching a brand-new form of entertainment that addresses the generational shift in content consumption. This partnership will look to expand the FaZe Clan talent’s content on social media platforms into full length features, delivering the most compelling and disruptive entertainment to feed the insatiable appetite of the massive global FaZe Clan fan base.

Additionally, Invisible Narratives and FaZe Clan have partnered with Epic Records to integrate some of today’s most culturally influential artists and their music into the first film, which will include the release of a new soundtrack.

Fans can text (310) 496-8492 or visit www.inviz.tv to join in the experience and receive drops, clues, and teases of what’s to come for the project.

Together, Invisible Narratives and FaZe Clan are also creating a revolutionary format for entertainment premieres. Their flagship film is set to debut at a first-of-its-kind, drive-in movie premiere event in Los Angeles this September. The premiere, which will be shepherded in partnership with legendary showman Jeff Beacher (Beacher’s Madhouse), will combine car culture, gaming, music and film together. Celebrity guests and FaZe members won’t just walk the carpet – they’ll be driving it – transforming the experience into a motorcade of the world’s most recognizable faces and cars – while upholding all health and safety guidelines.

“We are in the middle of a generational shift unlike any in the history of storytelling and consumption, changing the entertainment industry forever. At Invisible Narratives, we understand that the process by which movies are produced, premiered, and distributed needs to change,” said Goodman and Sugerman. “We are thrilled to collaborate with FaZe Clan and Epic Records, the most engaged eSports, music, and culture communities on the planet, to bring this must-watch content event to fans. We are excited to re-think the Hollywood premiere with the debut of this project and expect to have one of the greatest red (car)pets of all time.”

“When Adam first introduced his unique idea for bridging the gap between YouTube content creators and filmmakers, I knew he was onto something big,” said Lee Trink, CEO, FaZe Clan. “Historically, Hollywood has taken an expedient approach to leveraging creators and their huge audiences. Invisible Narratives’ immense respect and keen understanding of that relationship sets the new standard for filmmakers bringing their formats to this massive and rabid audience.”

The project will be self-financed and Invisible Narratives will be seeking international partners. This announcement comes on the heels of Invisible’s partnership with Michael Bay to produce Songbird, a pandemic thriller receiving early Cannes virtual market buzz.

About FaZe Clan:
Since its inception in 2010, FaZe Clan has established itself as the world’s most prominent and influential gaming organization known for its disruptive original content and hyper-engaged global fanbase of 230 million combined across all social platforms. FaZe Clan holds an unrivaled position at the epicenter of gaming, sports, culture and entertainment, driving how the next generation consumes content, plays and shops. Their roster of 85 influential personalities consists of world-class gamers, engaging content creators and a mix of talent beyond the world of gaming, including NBA star Ben Simmons, NFL star Juju Smith-Schuster and global superstar artists Offset and Lil Yachty. The organization’s unmatched esports division includes seven competitive teams in Fortnite, FIFA, PUBG, PUBG Mobile, Rainbow Six, Call of Duty League (Atlanta FaZe) and CS:GO with dozens of world championship trophies among them. In addition, FaZe Clan has become a sought-after fashion and lifestyle brand through an inspired apparel line and limited-edition collaborations with partners including Champion, NFL, Manchester City FC, Lyrical Lemonade, Kappa, CLOT, LA Kings, and more. Follow us @FaZeClan and @FaZeApparel.

Gaming will increasingly define the entertainment industry’s future

 

Invisible Narratives, founded by Adam Goodman and Andrew Sugerman, and FaZe Clan, the most prominent and influential esports and entertainment organization in the world, unveil today their partnership and plans to launch The FaZe Clan Universe, which will begin with a feature-length film set to arrive later this year. FaZe Clan is at the epicenter of esports, culture and entertainment, boasting 230 million followers and billions of combined views across all channels.

For more than a year, Invisible Narratives and FaZe Clan have been developing an immersive cinematic universe, launching a brand-new form of entertainment that addresses the generational shift in content consumption. This partnership will look to expand the FaZe Clan talent’s content on social media platforms into full length features, delivering the most compelling and disruptive entertainment to feed the insatiable appetite of the massive global FaZe Clan fan base.

Additionally, Invisible Narratives and FaZe Clan have partnered with Epic Records to integrate some of today’s most culturally influential artists and their music into the first film, which will include the release of a new soundtrack.

Fans can text (310) 496-8492 or visit www.inviz.tv to join in the experience and receive drops, clues, and teases of what’s to come for the project.

Together, Invisible Narratives and FaZe Clan are also creating a revolutionary format for entertainment premieres. Their flagship film is set to debut at a first-of-its-kind, drive-in movie premiere event in Los Angeles this September. The premiere, which will be shepherded in partnership with legendary showman Jeff Beacher (Beacher’s Madhouse), will combine car culture, gaming, music and film together. Celebrity guests and FaZe members won’t just walk the carpet – they’ll be driving it – transforming the experience into a motorcade of the world’s most recognizable faces and cars – while upholding all health and safety guidelines.

“We are in the middle of a generational shift unlike any in the history of storytelling and consumption, changing the entertainment industry forever. At Invisible Narratives, we understand that the process by which movies are produced, premiered, and distributed needs to change,” said Goodman and Sugerman. “We are thrilled to collaborate with FaZe Clan and Epic Records, the most engaged eSports, music, and culture communities on the planet, to bring this must-watch content event to fans. We are excited to re-think the Hollywood premiere with the debut of this project and expect to have one of the greatest red (car)pets of all time.”

“When Adam first introduced his unique idea for bridging the gap between YouTube content creators and filmmakers, I knew he was onto something big,” said Lee Trink, CEO, FaZe Clan. “Historically, Hollywood has taken an expedient approach to leveraging creators and their huge audiences. Invisible Narratives’ immense respect and keen understanding of that relationship sets the new standard for filmmakers bringing their formats to this massive and rabid audience.”

The project will be self-financed and Invisible Narratives will be seeking international partners. This announcement comes on the heels of Invisible’s partnership with Michael Bay to produce Songbird, a pandemic thriller receiving early Cannes virtual market buzz.

About FaZe Clan:
Since its inception in 2010, FaZe Clan has established itself as the world’s most prominent and influential gaming organization known for its disruptive original content and hyper-engaged global fanbase of 230 million combined across all social platforms. FaZe Clan holds an unrivaled position at the epicenter of gaming, sports, culture and entertainment, driving how the next generation consumes content, plays and shops. Their roster of 85 influential personalities consists of world-class gamers, engaging content creators and a mix of talent beyond the world of gaming, including NBA star Ben Simmons, NFL star Juju Smith-Schuster and global superstar artists Offset and Lil Yachty. The organization’s unmatched esports division includes seven competitive teams in Fortnite, FIFA, PUBG, PUBG Mobile, Rainbow Six, Call of Duty League (Atlanta FaZe) and CS:GO with dozens of world championship trophies among them. In addition, FaZe Clan has become a sought-after fashion and lifestyle brand through an inspired apparel line and limited-edition collaborations with partners including Champion, NFL, Manchester City FC, Lyrical Lemonade, Kappa, CLOT, LA Kings, and more. Follow us @FaZeClan and @FaZeApparel.

Anthos Capital and NBA All-Star Baron Davis back LA-based college tuition savings service, UNest

UNest, a Los Angeles provider of financial planning and savings tools for parents including college savings plans and other beneficial investment vehicles for various life events, has raised $9 million in a new round of funding, the company said. 

Its round will be used to speed up its growth through strategic hires and partnerships, according to UNest.

Ksenia Yudina initially founded the company to provide financial planning and services to lower- and middle-class families looking for ways to start saving for their children’s education, she said.

Over time, the company realized that tax-advantaged savings plans for college tuition weren’t providing the range of financial services that these families needed so UNest added Uniform Transfer To Minor Accounts  management services to its slate of offerings.

The business attracted interest from Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, Artemis Fund, Draper Dragon and Unlock Ventures initially, and the company has now added Anthos Capital to its roster of investors.

Since its public launch in February, one month before the COVID-19 pandemic forced a major lockdown of US cities and sent the economy into a tailspin, UNest has actually signed up more than 25,000 users.

The savings app is similar to other financial planning services available, but funnels users’ money into 529 accounts and UTMAs so that parents can begin to save for the children’s future.

“To me the investment in UNest is a great opportunity to help my community. It aligns with my vision that all kids deserve a chance to get an education and have equal opportunities in life regardless of their race or ethnicity. All kids should have access to the financial resources that make these goals achievable,” said Baron Davis, two-time NBA All-Star, current CEO and Founder of Baron Davis Enterprises, in a statement. “As a father of two young boys, I care about their financial future and I know that other parents are feeling the same way. By making it easy for parents to step into saving plans, UNest is going to transform the future of the next generation and I’m excited to be a part of this journey.”

Users can open a savings account with as little as $25, according to Yudina. The company charges a $3 advisory fee per-user, per-month and on average customers are depositing around $250 per-month in the accounts, according to Yudina.

People who are more sophisticated and pick their own stocks themselves, according to a company executive, and see how their portfolio grows over ten or fifteen years.

“We have made it our priority to invest in minorities and exceptional female entrepreneurs that are transforming how individuals experience financial security,” said Craig Schedler, Managing Director, Northwestern Mutual Venture Fund, in a statement. “Our additional investment in UNest on top of our initial participation in the company’s Seed round is a testament to the tremendous progress UNest has demonstrated over the past several months. It also reflects the ongoing commitment to providing smart, practical financial solutions to people of all economic backgrounds. We are delighted to be part of UNest’s future in helping even more American families achieve financial stability.”

Tictrac secures $7.5M to expand employee wellbeing platform as WFH baloons

“Employee Wellbeing” SaaS platforms have been around for some time. Both regulation and increasing stress levels and health problems in the workplace have fed the rise of this sector of tech, and with many corporates painting long-term contracts with providers, it’s a lucrative business. Furthermore, with the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, large remote-workforces look here to stay for the foreseeable future and are likely to need these platforms more than ever. Notable players in the space include Rally Health, Dacadoo and Virgin Pulse.

Tictrac is a startup in this space that uses a combination of personalized content, lifestyle campaigns and incentivized challenges to motivate staff. It combines this with behavioral science to identify trigger points to egg-on staff to positive behaviors. Existing investors of Tictrac include world-class tennis champion, Andy Murray and American basketball player, Carmelo Anthony who has been named an NBA All-Star 10 times.

Today it secures a £6m ($7.5M) in a funding round led by London-based Puma Private Equity, bringing its total investment to date to £13.5m ($17M). The latest round will allow the company to expand its Employee Wellbeing platform for its thousand-plus customers. It will also now expand its Enterprise platform, which enables insurance companies and health providers to engage their customers in their health and tailor relevant products and services to them.

Tictrac relies heavily on content, contributed by well-known health and fitness influencers, covering fitness, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, recipes and blog posts which provide its users with inspiration and advice on how to improve their lifestyle.

Unlike a lot of other “Employee Welbeing” platforms, users can follow the content or experts that they can relate to (much like with Instagram, Calm or Glo Yoga) powered by a campaign engine that delivers creative themes across Tictrac features, like healthy habit-forming action plans and activity challenges.

Founded in 2010, the company has partnered with healthcare and insurance providers including Aviva, Allianz and Prudential.

In a statement Martin Blinder, CEO and founder of Tictrac, commented: “Now more than ever, companies have a greater role and responsibility in supporting the health of their workforce. And while businesses are focused on sustaining retention and productivity – particularly with so many people working remotely – they are now tasked with trying to navigate health issues such as burn-out and striking a healthy work-life balance.”

Rupert West, Managing Director at Puma Private Equity said: “We have been consistently impressed with Tictrac’s ability to heighten health and wellbeing engagement, which in turn will help alleviate some of the pressures our health services continue to face.”