Mark Cuban Invests in Virtual Human Startup Offbeat Media Group
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Atlanta Ventures and Mark Cuban are investing in digital marketing startup Offbeat Media Group. Offbeat is a global media network and created VirtualHumans.org as a hub to design, promote, and strategize virtual influencers for brands and companies.
The Atlanta-based Offbeat Media Group was founded three years ago by a group of University of Georgia alumni as Scout Social before rebranding early this year. The digital media startup works with brands to develop innovative marketing campaigns for companies like Cameo, Netflix, TikTok, and Twitch. Offbeat claims their network’s audience has more than a billion followers in all. The company claims to offer a pipeline to the meme and influencer-fueled parts of the internet that brands may have had trouble reaching. Original shows published on TikTok, augmented reality lenses on Snapchat, and Instagram-based marketing campaigns are among Offbeat’s tools, but the potential of virtual humans as influencers has picked up a lot of momentum and interest from clients.
That’s why Offbeat co-founder and chief creative officer Christopher Travers founded VirtualHumans.org with others from the team in 2019. Companies interested in creating their own virtual influencer can explore the growing list of nearly 150 virtual influencers, including interviews Travers conducts with the brand avatars. The virtual human hub is how Mark Cuban discovered Offbeat Media, reaching out through the contact form and eventually working with Atlanta Ventures and others to make the undisclosed investment. Offbeat wrote in a LinkedIn post that the money will go toward upping the research and development of digital media and expanding production of its current original content.
Virtual Human Real Influence
Virtual humans are a potentially enormously flexible technology. The combination of AI with voice and visual technology means they can say or do essentially anything their creators want. Virtual influencers cataloged by Travers and his team include corporate avatars, artists, musicians, educators, and more. They can appear and speak as everything from a human that requires a careful study to see is fake to 3D or 2D cartoon animals or animate sausages. Platforms like MetaHuman Creator are getting attention for making ultrarealistic appearances for virtual humans, and startups like CoCo Hub are creating virtual influencers capable of writing pop songs. There are more of them appearing for consumer and enterprise use all the time. For instance, Nestle Toll House launched Ruth, a virtual human “cookie coach,” in February, while virtual humans developed by Virti are training doctors in communication and empathy. Anticipating the rise of virtual humans could help boost Offbeat to leadership in the space when it comes to brands and marketing, which is certainly something the startup’s investors are thinking of now.”
“We see huge opportunity in Offbeat’s work on VirtualHumans.org, MemeMarketing.org, and in continuing to research and develop completely new, digital-media formats to launch on social. While unclear the exact path things will go, we believe the virtual humans space presents a huge opportunity for brands, media, and consumers to collectively engage with,” Atlanta Ventures wrote in a blog post about the investment. “We all know the impact Turner media had on Atlanta… we’re excited to see Offbeat usher in another wave of new media in this great city!”