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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

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LOLA just raised $24M for a subscription service that ships tampons, pads and now condoms

LOLA , a subscription service delivering tampons and pads, and now other products, including condoms, lubricant, and feminine cleansing wipes, has closed on $24 million in Series B funding. While the startup touts its products’ “100% organic” nature, it’s also well-received because of the customization offered and its direct-to-consumer nature. The new round of financing was led by private equity firm Alliance Consumer Growth (ACG), with support from existing investors Spark Capital, Lerer Hippeau and Brand Foundry Ventures. To date, LOLA has raised $11.2 million, from investors including also BBG Ventures, 14W, the founders of Warby Parker and Harry’s, Sweetgreen, Bonobos, and Insomnia Cookies. Celebs like  Serena Williams, Karlie Kloss, Lena Dunham, and Allison Williams have also invested. Launched in 2015, LOLA’s founders Alex Friedman and Jordana Kier had the idea to challenge industry giants, like Tampax and Playtex, with a 100% organic product. “We founded LOLA with a simple and seemingly obvious idea – as women, we shouldn’t have to compromise when it comes to our reproductive health,” explains Kier. “Like most women, we’d been using the same feminine care products since we were teenagers. But when we found out that brands – including the same ones we were loyal to all those years – aren’t required to disclose exactly what’s in their products, it made us wonder: what’s in our tampon?” “If we care about everything else we put in our bodies, products for our reproductive health shouldn’t be any different,” she states. LOLA’s tampons, pads and liners are made only with organic cotton, not synthetic fibers, like those used mainstream brands. Nor do they contain fragrances or dyes. The nature of its products appeal to consumers – especially, young millennial women – who are more conscious of the chemicals in their products, as well as those who want to buy organic for the environmental benefits. That said, there’s  a bit of debate over how dangerous (or not) it is to use traditional feminine care products. Skeptics , including some  doctors , insist there’s no threat from conventional products. But even women not concerned with buying organic may find LOLA appealing because of its model.

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Google Play’s new tools will help users and developers manage subscriptions

App revenue continues to climb year-over-year , a large part which can be contributed to the growth of subscription services. Now, Google is looking to make subscribing to apps easier for both consumers and developers alike, with a series of new features announced today at Google’s I/O conference. On the user’s side of things, the company is launching a new app discovery experience for finding subscription-based apps and tools for managing existing subscriptions. As the company explained during a breakout session at I/O, consumers are often hesitant to sign up for subscription services because they’re concerned it will be too much of a hassle to cancel — they feel trapped. Google will address this with a new “subscription center” in Google Play, where users will be able to both explore new subscription apps to try, as well as manage their current subscriptions. Here, they can address issues like updating a payment method that’s expired, for example. Other new features will allow users to add a backup payment method to fall back on for those subscriptions that are critical — like your favorite streaming service, perhaps. And if you sometimes want to turn a subscription off, then later back on, the new subscription center will support this too with a click of a button. The demo of the subscription center shown at Google I/O is not the final version, Google cautioned, as it hasn’t fully rolled out just yet. Meanwhile, the company announced a longer handful of updates to help developers building subscription-based apps. For starters, it’s offering deeplinks for managing subscriptions that let developers link directly to their app’s page in the end user’s subscription center. This could be useful to include when trying to notify a user that their payment method failed, or to encourage them to renew their subscription because new content has been added, among other things. Developers will also be able to learn more about their subscription business with updated reporting that lets them drill down into the reasons why users may have canceled — reasons developers can now collect through new “cancel surveys” where they can prompt users to pick an option or fill in their own reason as to why they ended the subscription. Another new report will offer the flip side to cancellation tracking — it will help track retention, so developers can see retention by SKU, dates and country, allowing them to better see what’s working and where. The advanced reporting was offered amid a solid handful of other developer features, including the ability to change SKU pricing with Google Play handling getting user confirmation through emails and push notifications; or handling the cancellation process if the user doesn’t agree.

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MoviePass brings back ‘unlimited’ movie subscription plan

It’s hard to keep track with what MoviePass is doing these days, but here’s trying. Today, MoviePass has brought back its nearly all-you-can-watch monthly movie subscription, Variety reports . With its original plan, subscribers can watch up to one movie a day, every day. This comes after MoviePass removed this subscription last month in favor for a promotional $29.95 three-month plan that only let people see four movies a month. At the time, however, MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe said the move didn’t mean the unlimited plan would never come back. “We’re continually testing various promotions with different partners, and the current iHeartRadio deal is consistent with that approach,” a MoviePass spokesperson said at the time . “This does not mean that our unlimited subscription will not be offered in the future.” MoviePass currently offers two plans — the $9.95 a month “unlimited” one, and a $7.95 a month plan that lets you see just three movies per month and includes a three-month trial to iHeartRadio’s all-access plan. But there’s another service on the market that’s caught my eye as of late. It’s called Sinemia , which costs $15.99 a month for three movies per month. Yes, it’s more expensive than MoviePass but the key differentiator is the fact that you can buy movie tickets online, ahead of time. With MoviePass, you have to physically go to the theater to purchase your tickets. I’ve reached out to MoviePass and will update this story if I hear back.

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