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Victorious, a Stealthy Startup for YouTube Stars, Raises a Big Round

Kleiner Perkins is in. So is Chris Sacca's Lowercase Capital. The challenge: Give Web video stars their own platform.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Web video producers and Web video stars have been talking for a while about building businesses outside of YouTube, but not many of them have done it. Now, a company that wants to make that task easier is raising a big pile of cash.

Industry sources say that Victorious, a stealthy LA-based startup, is raising a $13 million round, led by Kleiner Perkins. Other investors include Chris Sacca’s Lowercase Capital and former YouTube executive Dean Gilbert. All of the companies I’ve just mentioned declined to comment.

The general pitch, according to people who have heard it, is that Victorious is supposed to help YouTube stars create their own sites and apps, with the hope that they can generate more revenue for their stuff than they can on Google’s site, and/or keep a bigger slice of revenue.

One person who has heard the company explain itself compared Victorious to app-maker Mobile Roadie; another compared it to FanBread, another LA-based stealth startup.

Victorious CEO Sam Rogoway had previously founded TripUp, a social travel startup acquired by SideStep in 2007.

Building a business that doesn’t depend on YouTube has been a hot-button issue for the Web video industry for more than a year. Video makers and distributors complain that it’s hard to make money on the world’s biggest video site, and are trying to figure out how to find other outlets, including ones they own.

Maker Studios, for instance, the YouTube network that sold to Disney for $500 million this year, is working on a “Maker Direct” program, designed to house stars like PewDiePie. Yahoo has been approaching stars about bringing their stuff to its site. And star Freddie Wong has had some success bringing his fans from YouTube to RocketJump, his own property.

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