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Victorious Wants to Help YouTube Stars Make New Homes Outside of YouTube, on Your Phones

Ryan Higa and the Young Turks are trying it. Michelle Phan is supposed to. What will YouTube say about that?

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.

In a couple of days YouTube will host a big sales presentation at Madison Square Garden, where it will tell advertisers that it is the best place to find today’s video stars.

But here’s another company that wants those same stars on its own property: Victorious, a buzzy startup creating mobile “hubs” for some of YouTube’s brightest lights.

The closely-watched startup, which spent the last year or so in semi-stealth, launched apps for Ryan Higa and the Young Turks last week. It says it has plans to launch several more for other big video stars and brands, including gaming hub Machinima, Freddie Wong’s RocketJump and Michelle Phan, one of the stars YouTube is most proud of launching.

Victorious lets YouTubers create their own free iOS and Android apps, using their own names, and gives them the ability to add revenue streams like advertising, micro-transactions and e-commerce. Its biggest stars will collect 70 percent of the net revenue from each stream, while smaller names will keep 60 percent, says CEO Sam Rogoway.

Rogoway says he sees the apps he makes as more than just outlets for video stars’ most ardent fans — he envisions them as community sites where fans can interact with each other, and even become semi-celebrities themselves. So far Victorious has raised $25 million from investors including Kleiner Perkins, Redpoint Ventures and Lowercase Capital.

Victorious is one of several companies that has either launched or would like to launch places for YouTube stars to hang out besides YouTube. Most of them, including Victorious, say they aren’t competing directly with YouTube, and expect the YouTube stars that have made it to keep putting their videos on YouTube. And Victorious doesn’t require any kind of exclusivity from its talent, unlike rival video hub Vessel.

That said, if Victorious’ apps take off, they’ll provide more competition for YouTube viewers’ eyes, free time and possibly their wallets. Which is yet another reason why YouTube is scrambling to create new opportunities for its biggest names. We may hear about some of those this week.

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