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Patreon buys Memberful but keeps it indie as patronage consolidates

Patreon is forming a patronage empire. Today it acquired white-labeled subscription membership platform Memberful, which lets creators sell exclusive access to content through their own site instead of a centralized platform like Patreon. Rather than being folded into a Patreon feature, Memberful will run as an independent brand, maintaining its tiered pricing structure, though new sign-ups will get a rate closer to Patreon’s low 5 percent rake. Terms weren’t disclosed for the deal that brings Memberful’s whole seven-person team and 500 paying clients aboard. But Patreon clearly sees rolling up competitors and complements in the patronage space as a worthy use of its $60 million raise at a $450 million valuation late last year that brought it to $105 million in funding. In June, Patreon bought Kit to let creators bundle in merchandise with their perks for paying monthly subscribers. It also bought out competitor Subbable back in 2015. By teaming up, Patreon and Memberful will be able to provide subscription patronage services for creators, whether they want their fan community to live on Patreon, or through Memberful on their own WordPress or website with integrations of Stripe and MailChimp. Patreon already has 2 million patrons paying an average of $12 each to a total of 100,000 creators, and it expects to pay out $300 million in 2018 alone. The acquisition could let Patreon move up market, recruiting comedians, illustrators, game developers and vloggers that already have an established audience elsewhere. “I think membership is on the up and is going to grow for the next decade,” says Patreon VP of Product Wyatt Jenkins. “Our strategy is to be an open, neutral platform,” as opposed to focusing on one type of content like YouTube with videos or Twitch with streaming where you’re locked into that platform’s tools. Memberful, launched in 2013, has bootstrapped the creation of its white-labeled tools without the need for venture funding. Memberful gives creators like Stratechery’s Ben Thompson (who has an interview with Patreon CEO Jack Conte about the acquisition) and podcast producer Gimlet Media full control over branding, with no Patreon chrome. But it’s more…

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