Isaac Hayes III Talks Fanbase, His Social-Media Startup Where All Users Can Monetize Their Content

·2-min read

Not only does Isaac Hayes III possess a deep voice that is strikingly like that of his father — the legendary R&B musician, songwriter, producer, entrepreneur and voice of Chef on “South Park” — but he takes after him in numerous other ways as well. As Ike Dirty, he’s produced tracks for Lil Scrappy, Redman and Ruff Ryders; he’s also done extensive voice-over work for multiple brands and the “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” series.

Yet he might be making his biggest splash yet as an entrepreneur with Fanbase, a photo, video, audio chat, livestreaming and longform-content app that enables users to monetize their posts by gaining subscribers, who can also donate money in the form of “loves” that they purchase on the platform’s subscription store.

Rather than trying to attract big-money investors — a challenge for many Black-owned businesses, particularly in tech — Hayes instead raised more than $3.5 million in microdonations, with 5,100 investors including Snoop Dogg, Charlamagne Tha God and “Real Housewives” star Kandi Burruss. Hayes says the inspiration for Fanbase, which was founded in his home base of Atlanta late in 2019 and has nearly 50,000 users and a $23.5 million current valuation, struck when he saw how much time and effort people were putting into their social media videos without getting substantive compensation.

“My original goal was to provide monetization for every single user on social media,” he says. “People are spending so much money and time and creativity on these platforms, which are making billions of dollars from that content without passing that money on to the users of the platform. My inspiration came from a young creator who had gone viral by dancing in a Spider-Man costume — he can’t monetize Spider-Man, but he could monetize his dancing, so why wasn’t there a platform where people could give him money? Sure, there’s Patreon and OnlyFans, but they’re not community-driven platforms, and we are.”

While some have described Fanbase as a “Black Clubhouse,” referring to the popular audio platform, Hayes feels that description is far too limiting. “Fanbase is a platform; it is not a Black social media platform,” he stresses. However, he notes, “I’m in the same position that Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat were in — a seed-funded social media platform with the ability to scale — and I’m a Black founder, but I keep in mind the equality of every user: It is an even, level playing field for everybody.”

Isaac Hayes III also spoke with Variety about the 50th anniversary of his father’s game-changing music for the film “Shaft.”

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