Butler has switched his flagship Shaytards channel on YouTube — a vlog featuring his wife and their five kids that has 5 million subscribers — along with his and his family’s other channels from the Disney Digital Network to a new “boutique” community run by tech startup Social Bluebook together with Bent Pixels, which provides YouTube content and channel optimization services and branded-content campaign management.
Back in 2009, Butler was among the founding members of Maker Studios, one of the original multichannel networks (MCNs), which Disney acquired in 2014 (ultimately paying $675 million). Now, Butler has invested in Social Bluebook and has assumed the title of “chief marketing officer” for the company.
“I’m itching to get back to the roots of why we started Maker Studios and something tells me this could happen with Social Bluebook,” Butler said. “We want to learn from the mistakes of the past, and use some of the wisdom and tools we’ve gained from doing this so long.”
About leaving the Disney fold, Butler said, “It started to feel like they didn’t know who we were anymore. It’s Disney – they’re big… We wanted control on our social channels.”
Butler’s departure from Disney Digital Network comes after a tumultuous period for the YouTuber. In February 2017, an adult webcam performer revealed that Butler had sent her sexually explicit text messages and videos; he subsequently told fans via Twitter he had relapsed into alcoholism and would enter rehab. Butler ended up taking about a year hiatus from YouTube.
“I made some mistakes,” Butler told Variety. “It was embarrassing. It was hurtful for my wife, my kids, and my mom and dad…. I got my shit together, took a year off, worked on my family – and made them my No. 1 priority.”
Launched in May 2015, Social Bluebook provides tools for social-media creators to grow their businesses. The company now has more than 170,000 users signed up on its platform, providing a way for influencers to estimate the value of their internet reach in negotiating branded-content deals.
With the addition of Shaytards and the Butlers’ other channels, Social Bluebook has formed the Social Bluebook Community, which is powered on the back-end by Bent Pixels. The new initiative is sort of like a mini-MCN — but both Social Bluebook and Bent Pixels stressed that their initiative is not an “MCN” in the sense of an aggregation of unrelated channels; rather, they said, it is a “community” of affiliated channels. (YouTube has different terms for how it works with MCN operators.)
Butler said Social Bluebook Community is focused on re-establishing the collaborations and relationship opportunities that originally attracted Butler and other “OG” YouTubers to the platform years ago. Other talent in the Social Bluebook community include the Eh Bee Family, FuriousPete, Charles Trippy and Tay Zonday.
“Our goal is to really add value,” said Butler. “We don’t want to sign a bunch of creators just to take a portion of their ad revenue.” According to Butler, Social Bluebook takes a 5% cut of the advertising revenue that participating creators earn on YouTube; the company subsequently said that it does not offer a standard revenue split with creator partners.
Butler’s involvement with Social Bluebook is something of a family affair: CEO Jackson Wood is his brother-in-law, married to his sister Carlie Butler (aka “CarlieStylez” online). ShayCarl and his family now live in Idaho, after spending several years living in L.A., and Wood and Carlie Butler also live in Idaho.
With the large MCNs, “creators lost that private-client feel,” Wood said. “It became another company they had rights with. Our goal is to really help creators and grow their channel.”
In addition to Butler and Wood, investors in Social Bluebook include the Eh Bee Family; Furious Pete; former Maker Studios CEO Danny Zappin; and Social Bluebook founders Sam Michie and Chad Sahley (both former Maker execs). The company also has investors through a crowdfunding campaign it launched in 2017.
Social Bluebook will keep its boutique community of creators relatively small, according to Butler. He’s looking at adding between 100-150 channels to the community, including “friends I’ve known forever” and emerging creators.
ShayCarl believes he’s uniquely suited to help other creators maximize their YouTube potential. “I’m a 38-year-old man, and being a full-time YouTuber is the longest job I’ve ever had,” Butler said.