The allure of AI-generated "virtual influencers" is gaining momentum in the ever-evolving world of social media. As companies increasingly gravitate towards the burgeoning "digital human economy," a market predicted by Gartner to balloon to $125 billion by 2035, AI-driven image generators like Stable Diffusion and Midjourney are taking center stage. These technologies are now being harnessed to craft entire social media personas for non-existent internet personalities, transforming them into sophisticated marketing assets.
One standout player in this arena is 1337, a New York-based startup making waves with its innovative approach. Not only does 1337 employ AI to create influencers, but it also opens the door for users to shape the actions and dialogues of these virtual influencers. These micro-influencers, known as 'Entities,' cater to niche communities with highly personalized interests, spanning domains such as gardening, emo music, vintage fashion, classical literature, and more.
With $4 million in funding and backers including Credo Ventures, GFR Fund, Treble Capital, Roosh Ventures, as well as notable individuals like Hugging Face CEO Clément Delangue and impact investor Natalia Vodianova, 1337 is poised for transformation. It is named after a popular term from 1980s gaming and hacker culture, and the startup has recently emerged from stealth mode. 1337 distinguishes itself by allowing users to suggest actions and dialogue for virtual influencers.
The platform has already introduced 50 new Entities in beta and is building a global creator community to co-create future Entities. 1337 intends to utilize the fresh funding to develop a scalable platform that will facilitate the expansion of its Entity ecosystem to thousands of niche communities while broadening its global creator community.
Jenny Dearing, 1337's co-founder and CEO, envisions the Entities as guides to enhance connections among people and communities, and ultimately, between communities and brands. The leadership team includes Jenny Dearing, Robin Raszka, Jan Maly, and key strategic advisors like Bailey Richardson, former Head of Community at Instagram.
Robin Raszka, one of 1337's founders, previously founded Alter, a consumer AI startup that he sold to Google in 2022 for $100 million. His experience extends to his role as a product designer at Summly, an AI startup acquired by Yahoo for $30 million in 2013. According to Robin Raszka, 1337 Entities are pioneering the shift towards hyper-personalization and the co-creation of synthetic content, heralding an era where people engage with AI, creators, and brands in groundbreaking ways.
In the words of Karolina Mrozkova, General Partner at Credo Ventures, the next wave of AI is poised to make a substantial impact on the social media landscape, transforming the dynamics of creators, followers, and advertisers alike. With this investment, the 1337 team is primed to revolutionize content creation and connectivity in the realm of social media and beyond.