- Alfie Deyes is hugely popular on YouTube, building up a following of 5.4 million subscribers over the last decade with videos of his day-to-day life.
- Deyes earns an estimated £500,000-to-£1 million annually from advertising, plus book and merchandising sales, and income from his properties.
- Speaking to Business Insider at Lisbon’s Web Summit, Deyes said he’s building a new company to strike collaborations with early stage companies with “cool” ideas.
- Deyes said he isn’t necessarily interested in investing lots of money into startups, but wants to partner with projects which will play well with his millions of followers.
On the day Alfie Deyes is due to speak at Web Summit in Lisbon, there’s a gaggle of teenagers waiting outside the VIP area.
A Portuguese security guard explains to baffled guests trying to enter the conference: “They wait for YouTuber.”
Deyes — better known online as PointlessBlog — is 24 years old and probably unknown to anyone born before 1990. He has more than 5 million subscribers on YouTube, 5 million followers on Twitter, and gets 16 million views on average for his Snapchat Stories.
He is a superstar in his own right for his video blogs, or vlogs, about his day-to-day life. that fame is enhanced by the fact he is dating Britain’s most popular YouTuber, the fashion and beauty vlogger Zoe Suggs, also known as Zoella.
Deyes doesn’t disclose his earnings, but makes money from advertising against his YouTube videos, brand partnerships, merchandise, rent from his properties, and sales of his books. Estimates for his annual earnings range from £500,000 to £1 million, according to YouTube analytics site Social Blade.
Now he wants to harness his young audience, and everything he’s learnt from making popular videos on YouTube, to help launch startups.
Business Insider was given 10 minutes to catch up with Deyes at Web Summit in Lisbon, where he was meeting with startups that pitch him through the conference app, or in-person at the busy investor lounge.
Deyes said he’s in the process of building up a team for an as-yet unnamed new company, through which he’ll strike partnerships with other early stage ventures. A spokeswoman wouldn’t confirm a name for the new company, but said it would be open for business in the new year. So far, Deyes said, he’s been hiring for a project manager, brands manager, operations staff, legal and finance, and sales staff.
He told Business Insider: “I’m all about still doing YouTube and making videos, but it’s also about teaming up and working with really interesting people, great partnerships, and making cool new stuff that’s never been done before.
“And using my audience — having those guys all brought on board, because they follow my life every single day. It’s about doing bigger picture things, working on new companies and investing in cool new stuff that will benefit myself and my audience.”
Deyes doesn’t seem to have specific ideas in mind but, when pressed, says one investment he’d “love to make” would be to buy shares in a gin company.
“Or I’d love to work on a restaurant — something like that,” he said. He’s also willing to work with tech startups.
“It won’t be ‘Alfie Deyes’ [branded], just things I’ve helped shape,” he added.
All of this lends some credence to the rumours that Deyes has quit Gleam, the powerful talent management company which put Zoella, her brother Joe Sugg, Deyes, and many others on the path to YouTube stardom. Deyes’ spokeswoman wouldn’t comment on his status with Gleam. Gleam did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Fans have spotted, however, that Deyes does not appear on the front page of Gleam’s site alongside its other YouTubers.
Deyes said that he had been in a “bubble” over the last decade, building up PointlessBlog on YouTube and striking the occasional brand deal, but rarely thinking more ambitiously.
“Everything I’ve experienced in the last nine years has almost been like a bubble,” he said. “And I’ve done extremely well in this bubble, and I’ve had so much fun, but I haven’t seen what is [out there].
“It’s not that I want to hit any particular thing.”
With six minutes of the interview left, it’s difficult to wring precise details out of Deyes beyond the fact he wants to meet people with ideas.
We establish that Deyes doesn’t really want to invest lots of money into startups.
“If someone needs £1 million, there are people who can get £1 million more easily than me. I’m not that person to be chucking in big money early stage,” he said.
Business Insider explained the concept of Seedrs to Deyes, the crowdfunding platform which lets people invest in early stage startups. One of its most famous users is the tennis star Andy Murray.
Seedrs is a new concept to Deyes, but he said he would only invest or collaborate with startups or projects where there was a relationship.
“It would be hard, I don’t know if I would be feel comfortable investing in something without meeting the team and getting to know what I can bring to them and what they want to get back,” he said. “I feel like if it’s just monetary, someone else can provide that bit.”
Asked why he isn’t simply launching his own startup, Deyes said: “I’ve done that. I’ve got an ecommerce store called The Creator Store where we do merchandising for different talent, predominantly YouTubers, we do pop-up shops in London. We’ve done that and it’s great … But there are endless opportunities. I want to see what other people are up to.”
Alfie Deyes needs to diversify beyond YouTube
It makes sense that Deyes wants to diversify.
YouTube stardom probably isn’t a long-term career option and, if Social Blade’s metrics are correct, Deyes’ followers on his main PointlessBlog YouTube channel are strong but plateauing.
Deyes didn’t talk about his metrics with Business Insider, but here are two graphs from Social Blade that shows his subscribers growing quickly, then flattening out:
Once a YouTuber hits a plateau, it may make sense to prioritise loyal, engaged subscribers over chasing new ones.
And an estimated maximum salary of £1 million a year, while out of reach of most British 24-year-olds, actually isn’t that much considering Deyes’ comparative fame. It’s not enough to put him on any rich lists, and it’s less than the BBC’s highest paid presenters.
Finally, there’s the risk of depending solely on a medium which is still popular with advertisers, but is increasingly running into trouble over inappropriate content, a magnet for predators, and terrorist videos.
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