Published on October 26, 2023, 10:23 am
Virtual influencers have become increasingly popular in recent years. These computer-generated personalities have gained traction on social media platforms, and companies are investing heavily in the “digital human economy.” It is estimated that this market will reach a whopping $125 billion by 2035, according to Gartner.
Midjourney and Stable Diffusion, AI image generators, have made it easy for anyone to create virtual influencers. One company that leverages generative AI for this purpose is 1337 (pronounced Leet). They are building a community of AI-driven micro-influencers with diverse backgrounds and hyper-personalized interests. This allows them to connect with niche communities such as gardening, emo music, vintage fashion, classical literature, and more.
1337 recently emerged from stealth mode with $4 million in funding. What sets them apart is their approach of combining human interaction with early-stage AI. They don’t solely rely on AI to create these influencers; users can suggest what they do and say. Users who contribute to the platform are also compensated financially.
The AI-driven influencers created by 1337 are called “Entities.” These Entities have their own unique skills, traits, and interests. For instance, one Entity named Daria is a 19-year-old unapologetic music blogger who is passionate about emo culture and advocates for mental health. Each Entity has its own backstory and shares information about their life, favorite spots, and philosophies on the world.
1337 offers a wide range of Entities to follow, each with different ages, gender identities, nationalities, occupations – essentially creating a diverse set of virtual influencers. These Entities even have their own Instagram accounts, LinkedIn profiles, and public Spotify playlists. Followers can interact with them through comments and direct messages on Instagram.
What makes 1337 unique is their vision beyond mere chatbot interactions. They aim to craft entities that evolve with their niche communities and adapt to the ever-changing digital landscape. They believe this approach will redefine social media engagement and how people interact with each other online.
While still in beta, 1337’s Entities are set to officially launch in January 2024. They are created by the founding team of 1337 in collaboration with users and AI models like OpenAI’s GPT-4, Midjourney, and their own in-house solution. The team at 1337 includes co-founder Robin Raszka, who previously founded Alter (an AI avatar startup that was acquired by Google for $100 million in 2022), Jan Maly as the chief technical officer, and strategic advisors like Bailey Richardson, former head of community at Instagram.
To co-create with an Entity on the platform, users participate in a Discord chat where they enter a prompt to generate a caption and provide four photos of the Entity engaged in different activities or settings. The moderation team approves posts based on pre-established guidelines. Credits are given to creators whose content gets approved.
In the future, 1337 plans to allow its “super creators” to build entirely new Entities from scratch. They also have plans to introduce a revenue model where creators will be compensated through a revenue share model or equity opportunities. Furthermore, they are exploring additional features such as allowing Entities to speak for hosting podcasts and producing videos.
Investors who participated in 1337’s funding round include Credo Ventures, GFR Fund, Treble Capital, Roosh Ventures, as well as notable individuals like Hugging Face CEO Clément Delangue and impact investor/model Natalia Vodianova. The primary focus of this funding is to help grow the company’s global creator community.
With the rapid advancement of AI technology, it is clear that virtual influencers are here to stay. As companies like 1337 continue to innovate and push boundaries in this field, we can expect exciting developments that will shape the future of social media engagement and online interactions.