A s a middle schooler, Daniel Thrasher pictured himself winning YouTube fame as a funny guy: sketch comedy, jokes, the works. For a long time, he bombed.
Around the beginning of college, though, he got a surprise. A video posted years earlier in which he combines humor and music—he fools around with The Office theme—suddenly started to go viral. (Thrasher suspects a change to the site’s recommendation algorithm partly boosted its fortunes.) It has since gotten 21 million views and remains his third most popular clip. “That comedy built around me playing the piano—that’s what everyone had wanted to see,” says Thrasher, 29. “I hit my stride after that.”
Plenty of people have seen it since. His eponymous YouTube channel has accumulated 3 million subscribers—and drawn attention from the investment arm belonging to a pair of YouTube’s biggest stars. That would be Rhett and Link, cohosts of the long-running Good Mythical Morning show (and fixtures on our list of the top-earning YouTubers). Last year, they launched a fund, The Mythical Creator Accelerator, putting $5 million into it to invest it in other YouTubers’ businesses. They are part of a small but growing group of firms eager to shove money into the hands of these social media stars. Rhett and Link are two of the most famous. Two of the biggest, Spotter and JellySmack, have said they will invest nearly $1 billion combined into YouTube channels and back-catalog royalty rights.
Mythical’s first investment was in the channel run by 26-year-old Jarvis Johnson, which they made last year. Thrasher’s channel marks No. 2. Like all Mythical investments, it is a more-than-$100,00 stake, acquiring minority ownership and valuing his channel at more than $2 million. “When we’re looking for creators for this program, we’re looking for creators that, first and foremost, have established good ‘content/market fit,’” says Neel Yalamarthy, who oversees the fund. “We’re looking for creators who have really tapped into creative concepts that resonate with a fandom—and have the ability to scale.”
Thrasher does want to extend himself. “I’ve always really admired people who are able to Tarzan-swing from being just something on the internet to something substantial and more diversified.” His stuff does well on TikTok (2.2 million followers) once he shrinks down a concept to a minute-long idea. “But, you know, I’m not on Facebook, I’m not on Snapchat, I’m hardly on Instagram,” he says, naming apps he thinks he should consider expanding to. “And I don’t have any products.” Selling branded merchandise can be quite lucrative, too—it generally accounts for about a third of a top star’s earnings—and Thrasher has some initial ideas for two clothing companies. He’d like to market one separate from himself, away from his online image and following. If it succeeded, it’d be a hedge against his stardom someday disappearing as quickly as it seemed to appear.