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Creators of child-directed content will be financially impacted by the changes required by the FTC settlement, YouTube admitted today. The settlement will end the use of children’s personal data for ad-targeting purposes, the FTC said. To address creators’ concerns over their businesses, YouTube also announced a $ 100 million fund to invest in original children’s content.

The fund, distributed over three years, will be dedicated to the creation of “thoughtful” original content for YouTube, the company says.

“We know these changes will have a significant business impact on family and kids creators who have been building both wonderful content and thriving businesses, so we’ve worked to give impacted creators four months to adjust before changes take effect on YouTube,” wrote YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki in a blog post. “We recognize this won’t be easy for some creators and are committed to working with them through this transition and providing resources to help them better understand these changes.”

YouTube plans to share more information about the fund and its plans in the weeks ahead.

In addition, YouTube said today it’s “rethinking” its overall approach the YouTube kids and family experience.

This could go towards fixing some of the other problems raised by the consumer advocacy groups who prompted the FTC investigation. The groups weren’t entirely pleased by the settlement, as they believed it was only scratching the surface of YouTube’s issue.

“It’s extremely disappointing that the FTC isn’t requiring more substantive changes or doing more to hold Google accountable for harming children through years of illegal data collection,” said Josh Golin, the Executive Director for the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), a group that spearheaded the push for an investigation. “A plethora of parental concerns about YouTube – from inappropriate content and recommendations to excessive screen time – can all be traced to Google’s business model of using data to maximize watch time and ad revenue,” he added.

Google already began to crack down on some of these concerns, independent of an FTC requirement, however.

To tackle the scourage of inappropriate content targeting minors, YouTube in August expanded its child safety policies to remove — instead of only restrict, as it did before — any “misleading family content, including videos that target younger minors and their families, those that contain sexual themes, violence, obscene, or other mature themes not suitable for younger audiences.”

Separately, YouTube aims to address the issues raised around promotional content in videos.

For example, a video with kids playing with toys could be an innocent home movie or it could involve a business agreement between the video creator and a brand to showcase the products in exchange for free merchandise or direct payment.

The latter should be labeled as advertising, as required by YouTube, but that’s often not the case. And even when ads are disclosed, it’s impossible for young children to know the difference between when they’re being entertained and when they’re being marketed to.

There are also increasing concerns over the lack of child labor laws when it comes to children performing in YouTube videos, which has prompted some parents to exploit their kids for views or even commit child abuse.

YouTube’s “rethinking” of its kids’ experience should also include whether or not it should continue to incentivize the creation of these “kid influencer” and YouTube family videos, where little girls and boys’ childhoods have become the source of parents’ incomes.

YouTube’s re-evaluation of the kids’ experience comes at a time when the FTC is also thinking of how to better police general audience platforms on the web, where some content is viewed by kids. The regulator is hosting an October workshop to discuss this issue, where it hopes to come up with ways to encourage others to develop kid-safe zones, too.


Boll & Branch, which sells sustainably-sourced sheets, pillows, mattresses and towels, is announcing that it has raised $ 100 million in a strategic investment from L Catterton’s Flagship Buyout Fund.

This looks like a big change from the company’s previous approach to  funding. It was self-funded for its first two years (resulting in what CEO Scott Tannen described as “a lot of maxed out credit cards and five mortgages on my house”), and even when it started looking at venture capital, it only raised a total of $ 12 million from a single institutional backer, Silas Capital.

In fact, when Recode wrote about Boll & Branch’s Series B last year, it described the startup as one “that wants to raise as little venture capital as possible.”

Tannen said that when he founded the company with his wife Missy, they wanted to “build a sustainable business from the ground up,” and that wasn’t just about the products — they didn’t want to build a company that was “ultimately designed from day one to be sold.”

As a result, he said, Boll & Branch has been profitable for the past four years and is now bringing in “nine-figure revenue.” He compared it to other L Catterton investments like The Honest Company and Peloton, companies that “have become the winner in the startup competition” and are ready to “really become household names.”

In a statement, L Catterton’s Nik Thukral described Boll & Branch as “one of the most beloved bedding brands” and said it “capitalizes on several compelling trends including the emergence of authentic, pure, and chemical free products that can be traced back to their origin, as well as consumers’ heightened focus on healthy living.”

The company’s next steps include expanding internationally — Tannen said that while the company doesn’t currently sell outside the United States, “It’s hard to imagine a country or market in the world that doesn’t make sense for Boll & Branch.”

It will also continue expanding the product lineup. Tannen hinted at “really interesting product introductions” coming in the next few months. They might not be the most obvious additions to the lineup, but he said these decisions come from asking, “What does the home goods brand of the future look like?”

He added, “That’s what we’re trying to be, versus trying to look in the shopping mall and just creating a new version of something [that already exists].”


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