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Internet Stardom Has Its Own Rules, Says Fullscreen CEO George Strompolos

If you're an Internet star and you get a sponsorship deal, your fans don't think you've sold out, according to Strompolos.

Fame on the Internet looks a lot different from old-school stardom.

So says George Strompolos, founder and CEO of Fullscreen, which helps finance videos for 50,000 creators, who get five billion views per month. Fullscreen backs big stars, like TheFineBros and Grace Helbig and Rooster Teeth. They may not be familiar names to anyone over 30, but Fullscreen stars are so popular, the company has to warn its talent not to tweet when they visit headquarters because of all the security issues from teen fans.

“We have a lot of teenage millionaires at Fullscreen,” Strompolos said, speaking at Thursday’s Code/Media evening event in San Francisco. And from fancy productions to unboxing and haul videos, the common element among all the Web stars is they are “personality driven,” he said.

People who make videos for the Internet tend to break with TV conventions. They look into their own cameras and connect with their audiences, Strompolos noted. They are becoming the next generation of mainstream stars, and they are uniquely different from those that came before. “I think the new breed are going to be people who developed an audience and they will continue to feed that audience,” he said.

If you’re an Internet star and you get a sponsorship deal, your fans don’t think you’ve sold out, Strompolos said. “If you grow up online, the fans say, ‘We’re so glad we got you to the level where advertisers want to work with you.'”

And where a celebrity-driven television ad might have cost multiple millions of dollars to shoot and distribute, Fullscreen ads often cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they come with distribution built in. “A lot of advertisers come to us say, ‘How do we reach millennials?'” Strompolos said. “The truth is, they don’t. Instead of interruption, we help them be part of this world.”

Fullscreen, which merged in September with Otter Media, is now working to groom its next stars in countries around the world, like Brazil, India and the U.K. Strompolos said Fullscreen has picked up an interesting expansion strategy in new markets. “We overfund and over-promote certain creators,” he said. “Because as soon as one person breaks, everyone else says, ‘That’s really cool and I want to do that too.'”

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