Will Clark, Contributing Editor, BrandStorytelling.tv
There’s a hundred-billion-dollar industry that’s silently taking over the web.
Or at least, silent to us in North America. Every day, hundreds of millions of people use the Alibaba-owned site Taobao, where a whole new class of influencer sells products to live audiences.
In 2019, the live stream shopping industry was valued at $66 billion in China, and that number is projected to more than double this year. But so far, efforts from companies like Amazon to create their own live stream marketplaces haven’t found traction.
Dave Lazar, CEO and Founder of Stage TEN, is not trying to build a marketplace. He’s building a tool set.
Lazar has long hair and a goatee, a gravelly Canadian accent, and a piano keyboard in the background of his office. He wouldn’t be out of place at a ski resort or your local record store.
But through the air of casualness, he radiates quiet confidence and determination. He’s someone whose vision of the future of the internet and media is quickly becoming reality.
“The magic of the web is that it is a two-way medium and that content produced and experienced on the web should be both interactive and transactional,” Lazar said. “The way brands and media companies have used the web up until this point has been mostly as a distribution medium.”
Stage TEN is changing that through their browser-based live streaming software, which is used by Gwyneth Paltrow's brand goop, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Bill Gates, Khan Academy and more. They recently produced the live launch of Cardi B’s and Megan Thee Stallion’s new single and music video “WAP.”
They’re also the makers of the app Rozy, a live streaming video player which allows viewers to purchase products without leaving the live video. It’s integrated with Shopify and allows users to multi-stream their live video to social channels.
“Our approach with Rozy is to integrate with any e-commerce storefront and to make the Rozy viewer fully brandable and embeddable anywhere so that the audiences can reach it from any device without any download,” Lazar said.
The app would essentially be the first video player outside of Taobao that gives users the capability to sell to audiences in real time. While marketplaces like Amazon’s have live shopping, the ability to start a storefront in their marketplace is restricted. Rozy, however, is free to download on the app store.
“So if you think of us as turning creators into retailers and retailers into creators,” Lazar said, “we also have the ability to take anyone with a Shopify store, even if they're not making content per se, and have them begin to engage with their customers in real time and do things like guided selling.”
Lazar emphasized that he’s not in the e-commerce platform business. He’s not involved in fulfillment — instead he’s building the tools for influencers and brands to interact with audiences in new ways.
“We think there's going to be a massive market across multiple verticals to serve these retailers, as a way to engage their customers in real time,” Lazar said, “but also as a way to finally give media companies a way to monetize live video and start taking advantage of broadcasting onto that two-way medium.”
While there is a licensing fee for the full version of the Stage TEN streaming software, according to Lazar, most of the 160,000 users have the free version. And instead of charging the creators and media companies to use Rozy, the Stage TEN model relies on taking a 5% cut.
“I still think, despite the fact that we're democratizing things, that the coolest shows are going to come from the biggest brands and media companies,” Lazar said, “because they're the ones who are going to be able to actually afford what it takes to turn a live stream sale into a live stream show that has sales.”
Stage TEN will soon announce a new partnership that will utilize their software to create a live, interactive show.
“That's what gets me really excited,” Lazar said, “because I've always thought streaming was being totally underutilized as a way to basically rebroadcast TV on the web when it could do so much more.”
About Will Clark
Will Clark is a writer and musician based in Austin, Texas. He’s written for The Daily Texan and Verge Campus and also writes screenplays and short stories. With the help of his friends in Austin, he helps manage PorchFire Records.