Zarta was founded in 2021 by former Airbnb software engineer and YouTube content creator Luba Yudasina. It’s a new ad-free creator platform with pay-per-view video content. Creators can upload a video, set parameters for a free preview, and then charge viewers for access to the entire video.
Luba shares, “Our mission is to connect creators and their fans directly, and we’re doing it through building a pay-per-view video platform. Zarta is an ad-free standalone video platform that utilizes a new business model and allows creators to monetize their one-off videos through pay-per-view and allows viewers to support their favorite creators and pay exactly for what they value.”
Zarta recently announced a 5.7 million dollar funding for the company. Andreessen Horowitz led this round of funding.
Luba explains that the funding will primarily be used for quick iteration and hiring new talent. Currently, the Zarta team is small and lean despite the large amounts of funding they’ve raised in the past, so Luba is excited to use the funds for new talents and develop more features that are valuable to creators and their audiences.
Ad-Driven Models vs. Subscription Models
There are currently two primary monetization models in the creator space: ad-driven and subscription models.
Ad-driven models, like YouTube, rely heavily on ads to pay their creators. In contrast, subscription models like Patreon rely on creators bringing an existing audience that is excited to pay a subscription for exclusive content.
Luba shares, “We believe that there needs to be a model in between, which is why we’re pursuing pay-per-view because both from my own creator experience and from a lot of friends that are creators, and I’m a YouTube creator myself, I’ve just seen how frustrating it can be not to have control over what content you can make or be overwhelmed with keeping up the subscription.”
She adds that it’s also highly frustrating from the viewer’s perspective because they cannot view their favorite creator’s content without watching ads or keeping up with a subscription fee.
Subscriptions can quickly become expensive and you may only be interested in one type of content from the creator. A pay-per-view setup allows you to pay only for what you want to watch from that creator.
Zarta creators can set how much of their video is free to view. This gives viewers a taste of the video before they invest in it. Most of the funds also go directly to the creator, allowing viewers to support their favorite creator directly.
Luba shares, “Our ultimate goal is really to build something of value for creators and viewers, and right now, our revenue model is a revenue split. We’re splitting revenue between the creator and the platform where the cut that we take just covers our operational costs, primarily the credit card processing fees.”
Zarta’s Target Audience & Community Guidelines
Luba makes it clear that Zarta won’t be for everyone. They’re focusing on serving a category of creators producing value-driven but entertaining content with an established loyal audience.
As for community guidelines, Zarta has a set of guidelines that gives creators a lot of control over their content and what they charge while keeping the content appropriate for the platform. For example, creators can’t share violent or misinforming content. Every video uploaded to Zarta goes through a review process to ensure it satisfies the community guidelines.
Serving their customers in the best way possible includes keeping up with the latest technology.
Luba explains, “We’re keeping the pulse on what is happening in the artificial intelligence space. I think there can be really great tools for content moderation using machine learning and AI. That’s pretty standard in the content moderation space. We’re leaning into any technology that will make things better and easier for our end customer.”
Prioritizing the Creator
Luba is excited to see more platforms putting creators first, as this is also a huge goal for Zarta.
She shares, “We’re very much focused on making sure that people on Zarta can make a meaningful, whatever meaningful is to them, amount of money. Then, we also want to make sure that the viewers really find the experience frictionless and delightful as opposed to feeling like this is just another platform that is asking them for money. I think the emotional elements are really important.”
Luba’s Experience as a Creator
Luba started her YouTube channel in 2018 and drew on her experience working as a software engineer at Airbnb. She shared her story of becoming a software engineer without a computer science degree on her channel. Like many creators, she went through the typical milestones and was able to monetize her platform successfully.
“A couple of years ago, I seriously considered doing a subscription for my community and having deeply thought about it and talked to other creators who have done it. I’ve just realized that I would be on the hook for even more content, and I would be hooking up my audience to pay monthly without being really sure whether I’m providing enough value, and that idea had me feeling guilty.”
She ultimately didn’t want to do a subscription model because she didn’t want to feel pressure to create content to keep up with the subscription and possibly make content that she wasn’t excited about.
However, a pay-per-view model would ensure that she could share new content that she was truly excited about making that didn’t fit on YouTube because it was either too long or specific.
She shares, “I actually decided to sell them as pay-per-views myself. I’ve sold a couple of videos on how to get an internship in Silicon valley. A lot of my audience members, like over a hundred people, actually bought that video, and that was my first experience with selling pay-per-view content.”
This experience made her think about the gap in the creator space for pay-per-view content, eventually leading her to create Zarta.
Future Plans for Zarta
Luba shares that Zarta is currently in private beta. However, they are always looking to speak with more creators interested in creating content for the platform.
Luba explains, “Short-term, we’re just going to slowly expand our creators that we work with. In terms of long-term plans, we really want to stay focused on that creator persona that I’ve elaborated on long-term content, people who are interested in growing their community and creating more value for their audience members. We are going to expand out in other categories and niches because we believe that the pay-per-view model can work for a lot of different types of content.”
She adds that they are also very excited about focusing on international expansion while maintaining their laser focus on the United States.