📹 YouTube’s 10-year-old millionaire, explained - The Hustle
The Hustle

📹 YouTube’s 10-year-old millionaire, explained

Wordle, the viral word game taking over the internet, already has copycats. One developer created a clone in Apple’s App Store, and charged $30 for a premium version. After a flurry of downloads, he boastfully tweeted about “going to the moon.” Shortly after, Apple removed his game, along with other clones. The lesson? Don’t mess with Wordle.

Today’s rundown:

  • Ryan’s World: How a 10-year-old became YouTube’s top earner.
  • Not enough ears: The number of podcasts is skyrocketing. Are listeners?
  • Pot of gold: States have made $10.4B in cannabis tax revenue.
  • Around the web: Lego apps, a database of Black hair for video games, birding guides, and more cool internet finds.

Let’s do it.

The Big Idea

How a 10-year-old became the king of toys, and YouTube

Many parents struggle to figure out how much time to let their kids spend in front of screens.

Loann and Shion Kaji have the opposite problem — figuring out how much time to let their son spend in front of the camera.

Their 10-year-old, Ryan, is the star of “Ryan’s World,” a toy-centric YouTube empire that earned the family $25m+ in 2020, per The New York Times.

“Ryan’s World” started small

The 1st video features 3-year-old Ryan making his “pick of the week” in the toy aisle at Target (he picked a Lego train).

Worried that buying a new toy every week would get expensive, the Kajis set a weekly production budget of $20. When one of Ryan’s videos went viral, they no longer had to worry about that.

After experiencing explosive growth from his toy review and unboxing videos, both parents eventually quit their jobs to help build Ryan’s brand.

The key to their success?

There’s no shortage of toy videos on YouTube, but the Kajis realized most of them are focused on the toy brand. They differentiated by making Ryan the star of the show — leading to monster growth:

  • The channel now counts 31.3m subscribers
  • “Ryan’s World” branded merchandise brought in $250m in 2020
  • Ryan landed his own Nickelodeon show, “Ryan’s Mystery Playdate”

The next chapter is about expanding beyond Ryan

The Kajis have done so by creating animated characters under the “Ryan’s World” banner. Two examples are “Combo Panda” and “Gus the Gummy Gator,” which have ~2m and ~1.3m YouTube subscribers, respectively.

By offloading hosting duties to cartoons, the Kajis are able to limit Ryan’s time in front of the camera.

If they’re successful enough, they just might have to start limiting his screen time, like any other 10-year-old.


Big plans: Discount retailer Big Lots wants to open 50 new net stores in 2022, and possibly 80+ stores per year after that. #ecommerce-retail

Green news: The Biden admin announced plans to upgrade the power grid and use public lands and waters for clean energy initiatives. #clean-energy

This Nuro delivery bot is meant to drive on the road, not the sidewalk. As such, it comes with an external airbag in case it hits something. #emerging-tech

Tesla hack: A German teen claims he found a way to hack Teslas through a piece of 3rd-party software some owners use. #privacy

Celebs including Kim Kardashian are being sued for allegedly making “false or misleading” statements about EthereumMax in social media ads. #fintech-crypto

An ex-Google employee claims the tech company had a toxic drinking culture that led to violence and harassment. #big-tech

Now on MFM: SaaS companies anyone can start with Rob Walling. #mfm

All ears

The podcast conundrum

The number of podcasts on Spotify is growing far more rapidly than the number of ears that can listen to them.

Over the last few years, Spotify’s user base grew 84% while the number of podcasts available skyrocketed 1630%.

The result: For listeners, it’s harder to discover stuff to listen to. For podcasters, it’s harder to find underserved markets to podcast for.

Consequently, you aren’t often seeing major hits. On average, the top 10 podcasts in the US in 2021 were 7+ years old. A few of them are 10+ years old. Among the top 50, just a handful are less than 2 years old.

This speaks to the challenge major studios now face in making a hit (Spotify alone has spent $500m on 3 studios).

(P.S. If listening’s your thing, we’ve got something cool coming soon.)

Free Resource

Cost-per-action ad marketing, explained

In 2022, paying for impressions and clicks is old news.

CPA ads directly link marketing campaigns with business success, since you only pay when a desired action (like signing up, filling out, or making a purchase) is performed.

Learn about CPA marketing options and strategies for top advertising platforms like Google, Facebook, and Pinterest.

HubSpot Marketing explains high-ROI CPA marketing (YouTube):

  • CPA advertising overview (i.e., affiliate, native, socials)
  • How platforms prioritize bidding
  • 3 tips to improve Facebook quality rankings
  • Best-practice Pinterest CPA ad examples
  • Choosing the right “lookback” metric

More on getting the best bang for your buck below.

Cost-per-action ad tactics →
Puff Puff Tax

States are making bank off weed taxes

All that staying home was apparently good for the weed industry. In 2020, US cannabis sales hit a record $17.5B, per Forbes.

But a new report from the Marijuana Policy Project found that states are also profiting.

The 18 states that have legalized recreational cannabis have raked in $10.4B in tax revenue since 2014. A few examples:

  • Colorado, which kicked off legal adult-use sales in 2014, has collected $1.79B.
  • Alaska (2016) has generated $95m.
  • California (2018) — the largest state by population — has collected $3.1B.

The report does not include local tax revenues…

… but cities pull in money, too.

Denver has generated $237.5m.

California’s West Hollywood sees itself as a future Amsterdam. It currently has 6 dispensaries in 1.8 square miles, generating $2.2m a year.

Where does the money go?

Every state is different, but many support schools, infrastructure, or nonprofits.

For example, Colorado splits its money among funds including the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) Fund. Since 2014, it has received $325m+ in excise taxes.

California has given ~$100m to organizations that work with communities harmed by the war on drugs, per AP News.

Michigan generated $45.7m in 2020 from excise taxes and fees, which it splits between its School Aid Fund, the Michigan Transportation Fund, municipalities and counties, and admin costs.

Fun fact: A 2021 study from the Pew Research Center found that only 8% of US adults think cannabis should be illegal, while 31% are cool with medical use and 60% are fine with recreational use, too.


🏀 On this day: In 1986, the NCAA adopted Prop 48, which mandated minimum high school grades and test scores for students who wanted to play sports.

🐦 How to: Need a relaxing hobby? This short guide to birding features 10 common birds in Quebec, but also tips for bird-watching anywhere.

🎮 That’s cool: Black hair in video games is often poorly designed. Enter the Open Source Afro Hair Library, a free database launching in 2023 to which Black artists can contribute 3D assets and art.

📸 Useful: Brickit is an app that will scan and catalog your Lego bricks, then suggest models you can build with what you have.

📫 Cure boredom: 404PageFound is a collection of old websites, like “The Chupacabra Home Page” and a You’ve Got Mail fansite.

🥚 Aww: And now, 2 dwarf mongooses play with toy eggs.

Meme of the day

Don’t let it get you down. (Source: Reddit)

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