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Portal Launches Ad-Free Video Service With Donations and Micro-Transactions

Ads are bad for creators as well as viewers: That’s the simple premise behind Portal, a new ad-free video service that launched to the public Tuesday. Backed by Mark Cuban and used by The Young Turks, Portal tries to establish itself as a kind of anti-YouTube that replaces advertising with donations and micro-payments.

“Advertising is the biggest scam on the Internet,” said Portal co-founder and CEO Jonathan Swerdlin. “Platforms make billions. Creators earn rubbish. Culture conforms to algorithms and people are commodified into a product. Portal is a reset button and a brand new way to view and value digital content.”

At launch, Portal offers creators the option to charge anywhere from $0.01 to $100 per video. Alternatively, creators can also distribute their videos free of charge, and monetize them through donations.

Some of the first users of Portal include The Young Turks, transgender model Corey Rae and former Thinx CEO Miki Agrawal, who also invested in the company.

“The Young Turks has always believed in the ‘audience first’ approach to content creation and place great value on the direct relationship with our fans,” said The Young Turks’ chief business officer Steven Oh. “We are excited to be on Portal to continue building that direct-to-consumer relationship.”

Granted, Portal by far isn’t the only company trying to compete with YouTube and the likes with micropayments. Subscription and membership models in particular have seen a boom in light of Patreon’s growing audience.

But while many newcomers to this space have recently been betting on crypto-currencies to solve micro-payments, Portal instead simply integrates with Apple’s in-app payments, and emphasizes an Instagram-like design with a chronological feed over flashy blockchain technology.

This approach also helped the company to secure $4.2 million in seed funding from Mark Cuban, Day One Ventures and Social Starts as well as individual investors including General Assembly’s Matthew Brimer, Miki Agrawal and Radha Agrawal.

After launching to the public Tuesday, Portal plans to add a subscription option for individual content creators as well as the addition of audio-only content in the coming months.

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