Jerrick Media Holdings (Fort Lee), a technology company with a digital publishing platform called “Vocal” and a business model in which the creators and the company derive profit together, is moving from trading over the counter to being listed in the Nasdaq Capital Market.
This is a big deal for the company, which says that it’s a rare occasion when companies are “uplisted,” as it is called, “avoiding the venture capital and private equity worlds altogether,” according to Jerrick founder and CEO Jeremy Frommer. He and other executives from the company spoke at a virtual Annual Meeting of Shareholders, on July 8.
The company also announced plans to change its name from Jerrick, with the over-the-counter stock market symbol JMDA, to Creatd, with the stock market symbol CRTD, as soon as the listing event takes place, which should be in a few weeks. The company expects preliminary approval from Nasdaq next week, and will then move forward with a $8 to $9 million capital raise.
Frommer had always wanted to build a technology company “worth at least $1 billion,” he said. “And to keep things unambiguous, I wanted to do it in the public markets. This way, transparency would be unquestionable, both in our team’s actions, as well as in our future valuation as a publicly traded stock.” He said that he was well on the way to reaching that goal.
Discussing the company’s metrics, Robby Tal, who currently leads the business intelligence group and will be chief strategy officer when the company is uplisted, said that Vocal has experienced an uptick in activity since the pandemic struck. “The number of unique users consuming content on Vocal has increased by over 30 percent during the pandemic period. Consumers are spending 12 percent longer, on average, reading and engaging with Vocal content.”
He added that Jerrick uses first-party data to identify new users, service them properly, and upgrade them to a Vocal+ paid subscription. As Tal explained it, Vocal’s methodology for creator acquisition is to maximize customer lifetime value while lowering acquisition costs, with the goal of reducing the time it takes to convert a free Vocal creator into a Vocal+ paid subscriber. Meanwhile, the product development team works to reduce churn by ensuring that Vocal+ subscribers are getting enough value to convince them to retain their subscriptions for a greater length of time.
Justin Maury, founder and president, explained Jerrick’s evolution. “We launched Vocal three years ago with 1,000 creators and six communities. And it grew and became very popular very quickly. I think it all worked because we recognized an opportunity in shifting consumer behavior. People around the world were sharing their content for free on platforms like Instagram and SoundCloud, trying to grow their audience and earn money,” he said.
“Our north star metric is how many of our creators are finding value and success.”Justin Maury, Jerrick
“While simple in theory, creators found themselves in a fragmented ecosystem with limited solutions to growing problems. So we set out to build a best-in-class platform to solve those problems. We built something that made it easy for all types of creators to share their stories and their already-published rich media, get discovered through engaged communities, and have the opportunity to earn money while pursuing their passions.”
Now, said Maury, there are more than “650,000 creators who have published over 150 million words, which has been attributed to over 400 million minutes of people reading stories on Vocal.”
As far as who its competitors are, Jerrick seems to position itself as a complement to other platforms, as opposed to being in direct competition against them. Frommer addressed this issue during the shareholder meeting, noting that “some aspects of our company resemble Medium, Patreon, Reddit and others. But the bottom line is, Vocal is unique in that our goal is to coexist with these companies, not to compete with them.”
Adding to this thought, Maury said, “We built Vocal to be accretive to the whole digital ecosystem. That’s why we made it easy for creators to embed their already-published videos, songs, podcasts, photographs—and more directly into Vocal. We see this as a growth opportunity by building partnerships with the world’s greatest technology companies, and to further spread our roots deeper into the digital foundation of society.”
One of the things that separates Vocal from other platforms is its support for creators. “We provide creators multiple opportunities to earn money on Vocal,” Maury said. “We were one of the first platforms to develop an algorithm to pay creators when their stories are read. We made it possible for fans and readers to access microtransactions and tips to show their support and send to the creators. And we most recently introduced ‘Challenges,’ a way for creators to participate in themed storytelling contests for a chance to win money and give back to the community.”
The company says that its content creators also value a user experience with less friction, so Vocal’s editor tool makes it easy for creators to embed many different kinds of rich media without having to worry about hosting, plugins, themes and all of the other typical components of running a blog site, Maury said.
Notably, Vocal has no interruptive advertising on the site. It instead produces content for brands at its in-house studio, Vocal for Brands. And Vocal has added “a proprietary moderation system into our technology that allows us to provide a safe environment for all stakeholders.”
Maury noted that Vocal for Brands partners with creators to produce branded content that’s native to Jerrick’s platform. These stories build brand affinity, education and trust with the audience; and Vocal for Brands campaigns have outperformed industry benchmarks, and provided real value for Jerrick’s brand partners. Moreover, these campaigns provide the company’s creators with the opportunity to earn money and build their own brands by participating in these campaigns, he said.
Vocal calls this its “Creatd Cycle.” The more stories creators share, the more people they attract, and the more brands want to reach the people they’ve attracted, Maury said. The more Vocal grows, the more creators will be successful. And that, in turn, will naturally attract more people to Vocal. “That’s why our north star metric is how many of our creators are finding value and success.”