6:00am PT by Chris Gardner
Now Celebrity Avatars Can Hire Their Own Agents
App startup Genies has launched the Avatar Agency, a company that creates digital versions of its clients — such as musician Offset, DJ Khaled, Quincy Jones, Marshmello, Alan Walker, Kodak Black, Soulja Boy, Steve Aoki, A$AP Rocky and Zedd; sports stars including L.A. Rams quarterback Jared Goff, New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano and Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond; and influencer-turned-DJ Chantel Jeffries — and finds them advertising, sponsorship and branding opportunities.
“We’re creating the next human race,” says CEO Akash Nigam, whose Venice-based company also has deals with Gucci and MVMT watches. “We’ve been able to digitize talent and represent them, providing unprecedented deal flow.” In other words, clients can cash in on a gig endorsing a Chinese soda or film a music video without ever leaving their sofa. Insists Nigam, “People are starving for digital representation, to be able to express ideas, beliefs and matters in a fantastical way that their physical selves cannot."
The division — led by executives Izzy Pollak (brands evangelist), Allison Sturges (managing director of Avatar Agency) and Jake Becker (Avatar agent) — will help celebrities and influencers find top brands for activations and vice versa. Nigam adds that the agency came together organically, sparked by talent who were requesting their avatars seek out a portion of the market. “Our goal as a business is to create the most beautiful and dynamic avatars on the market,” Nigam explains, adding that the Genies avatars can also translate to easier production schedules, swift negotiations and zero travel time. (Hello, email!)
Says Becker: “Now that we are introducing brand partnerships for the agency, we are able to bring our talent more deals — allowing them to fulfill opportunities through their Genies avatar, without ever needing the actual person present.” Before launching the agency, Genies had already made a splash on Instagram with avatars of stars like Cardi B, Rihanna, Carmelo Anthony and Offset. To date, Nigam says that 2 million Genies have been created and the company counts among its investors major Hollywood players like CAA, Management 360, Macro and Thomas Tull.
Talent and brands can now apply through the Genies site to be verified for future deals.