An Interview With Revry Co-Founder & CEO Damian Pelliccione
Part of the LGBT Foundation interview series
One of the best things about being part of the project team behind the LGBT Foundation and the launch of the LGBT Token is the people involved. We’ve assembled an incredible team of advisors and project leaders passionate about our mission and will be introducing you to that team in a series of interviews for LGBT Foundation. With this week’s announcement of Revry, the world’s first and largest queer global streaming service, as our first LGBT Token business partner, we’re happy to share our interview with co-founder and CEO Damian Pelliccione.
We’re so excited to be partnering with Revry! Can you tell me a little bit about Revry and what you do?
Revry is the first global LGBTQ streaming platform. We are first to market, direct consumer on Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Android, iOS, the web, etc. Essentially what we are is the largest LGBTQ content and music library in the world. We have movies, TV shows, feature films, short form digital series, short films, podcasts, music videos and collections, just so much amazing content that truly reflects the identity of the LGBTQ community. It reflects all gender identities, races, sexual orientations, cultures, languages, backgrounds — you name it. It has a very international appeal.
In fact, almost half our traffic is international, which is really exciting for us. Today we have a reach of just over 10 million with over 100 countries downloading our content and our apps. It’s really exciting because we’re just a start-up. We only launched in June of 2016, so we’re just about two years to market.
That international audience is really surprising for a start-up. Was it something you expected or did it surprise you, as well?
I was completely shocked. When you start a business in the United States, or you have an idea like Revry, you build it from your own back yard first. We always had the grand idea that it would be global, but we didn’t expect the immediate reaction that we received literally at launch from these repressed and oppressed territories. It’s so exciting to me to connect these filmmakers with these audiences that never had access to content that represented them like this before. It’s my passion; it’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.
You’ve been in the content game for a while, so it’s always great when something can surprise you, right?
Absolutely. I’ve always worked in startups and entertainment and I was a content producer myself. Prior to Revry, I was heading up development for a company called Make.TV, a really great streaming company in Germany. I left that when I saw this opportunity to begin my own startup. Before that, I was an instructor at YouTube Space LA and New York doing education training. I was working with a number of companies and before that, about 10–15 years ago, I was actually content producing in video with a focus on short form even before the launch of YouTube.
Your co-founders also had interesting paths to Revry.
They did! My three fabulous co-founders, Alia J. Daniels, our COO, Chris Rodriguez, our CBO, and LaShawn McGhee, our Chief Product Officer, all come from really great backgrounds. Alia and Chris were lawyers — Chris was actually the attorney for Shark Tank and quit that to come here. Alia was in small business and entertainment. And LaShawn comes from a programming and editorial background, where she worked on projects like Selma and The Amazing Race. So we had all been friends and worked together before Revry.
The idea came about when I saw an opportunity when the new Apple TV came out and there were zero LGBTQ apps. That’s when the lightbulb turned on and I came up with the idea for Revry. Now here we are three years later with a staff of fifteen great employees in Glendale. We are growing exponentially and doing some really exciting things.
Content, as you well know, is competitive. Why start a platform like Revry? Why is it so important to have a queer-specific content platform?
I get asked that question quite a bit. The big differentiator is that the curator who is curating content for the community, in this case, an actual LGBTQ employee. The content that you find on our app, you do not find on Netflix or Hulu or any other application, and so that makes the experience of the media collection that we have very unique. People want niche content. It’s why platforms like Viceland, Cheddar and Tastemaker to Grindr, Hornet or Her are so popular. People want to feel safe in certain structures and confines and want to see themselves represented in media.
We have so many great trans and POC (Person of Color) titles, so many great queer and non-gender binary titles. These are things you’re just not going to see on mainstream services.
So how did you find out about LGBT Token and decide to become a business partner?
I’d been researching and buying Bitcoin for about six months, and it dawned on me: Why is there not an LGBTQ token? I started to do my research and came across the LGBT Foundation and found some really great friends like Sean [Howell] and Christof [Wittig, co-founders of Hornet] were a part of it. So when I realized who was behind it, I decided, why not join them instead of doing my own ICO? And then I had a wonderful meeting with Ben [Kubota, LGBT Token project lead]. Chris and I spent some time with him a while back. His concept and enthusiasm and outlook on life and where he is going to take this crypto is really exciting. Without a doubt, we wanted to be a part of that. We wanted to be on the forefront of what this means for our community on a global scale.
That right there is the difference. Revry is a global company; crypto is a global currency. These are the types of things that excite me and are why I wake up every day and do what I do.
Why do you feel it’s so important for Revry to be a part of the LGBT Token project?
Crypto in our LGBTQ community is so important. For example, right now with
Revry, we have our traffic that is international. Fifty percent of that traffic comes from countries that are still oppressed, where you can be criminalized or even put to death for being LGBTQ. Having a coin all to itself, our community, would protect the rights and identities of potential consumers who would engage with our apps. That’s really important to have that safety in place.
For us, 1 in 5 visitors to Revry come from one of those oppressed countries. And so this is a democratization and a destigmatization opportunity for the kid in Iraq, for example, who wrote us on Facebook and said that he was a closeted queer boy who had never seen a gay film in his life until he discovered Revry. Before that he’d felt like he was the only person
in the world like this and had been considering suicide. We get these messages all the time through our social feeds from kids in Saudi Arabia, kids in Russia, kids in rural places even here in the United States. Having something like this protects their identity while giving them the opportunity to engage with something like Revry and feel that they’re a part of something.
But it’s also just a smart partnership from a business sense, too.
Right. If you look at statistics, the LGBTQ population is growing. 20% of millennials identify as LGBTQ. By 2020, millennials will make up over 50% of purchasing power globally. A close second is Generation Z. Generation Z, which turns 22 this year, 52% will be non-binary, not declare a gender, and on the queer spectrum. By 2030, Gen Z and millennials combined will make up over 75% of purchasing power globally. So it’s a very strong scaling demographic that we’re entering into. It’s really important that the new generation is able to have something like the LGBT Token to stand behind as the community grows. It’s time that we have a currency of our own that is able to scale with our demographic.
It really feels like there’s been a sea change in the last few years regarding the necessity of brands engaging in activism and not just business.
All of these organizations and businesses now matter more to the history of our community than ever before, both domestically and in the global climate. We’re fighting for our rights in so many different places, whether that’s Europe or Asia or Africa. Some are winning and some are losing, but they need the support of their brethren across the globe. Going back to the Token, crypto allows for that support from the farthest region of South America or the Middle East. It, and business partnering with it, is really something that’s long overdue.
Become an LGBT Token partner
For more information about the LGBT Token or how to become a business partner, please visit our partners page or follow us on Twitter and Telegram.