A As a middle schooler, Daniel Thrasher imagined himself gaining YouTube fame as a funny guy: comedy sketches, jokes, the works. For a long time he bombarded.

Near the start of college, however, he got a surprise. A video posted years earlier in which he combines humor and music – he has fun with Office theme – suddenly started going viral. (Thrasher suspects a tweak to the site’s recommendation algorithm partly boosted his fortunes.) It has since garnered 21 million views and remains his third most popular clip. “This comedy built around me playing the piano – that’s what everyone wanted to see,” says Thrasher, 29. “I hit my stride after that.”

Many people have seen it since. His self-titled YouTube channel racked up 3 million subscribers and caught the eye of the investment arm owned by two of YouTube’s biggest stars. That would be Rhett and Link, co-hosts of the long Good morning mythical show (and lights on our list highest earning YouTubers). Last year, they launched a fund, The Mythical Creator Accelerator, putting $5 million into it to invest in the businesses of other YouTubers. They are part of a small but growing group of companies keen to put money in the hands of these social media stars. Rhett and Link are two of the most famous. Two of the biggest, Spotter and JellySmack, said they would invest nearly $1 billion combined in YouTube channels and back-catalog royalty rights.

Mythical’s first investment was in the chain run by 26-year-old Jarvis Johnson, which they made last year. Thrasher’s chain scores second place. “When we seek creators for this program, we look for creators who, above all, have established a good content/market fit,” says Neel Yalamarthy, who oversees the fund. . “We’re looking for creators who have really tapped into creative concepts that resonate with a fandom and have the ability to scale.”

Thrasher wants to extend. “I’ve always really admired people who are able to take Tarzan from just something on the internet to something substantial and more diverse.” His stuff does well on TikTok (2.2 million subscribers) once he boils down a concept to a one-minute idea. “But, you know, I’m not on Facebook, I’m not on Snapchat, I’m hardly on Instagram,” he says, naming the apps he thinks he should consider expanding to. “And I don’t have any products.” Selling branded merchandise can also be very lucrative – it typically accounts for around a third of a star’s income – and Thrasher has some initial ideas for two clothing companies. He would like to market one separate from himself, away from his online image and followers. If successful, it would be a hedge against his fame that would one day disappear as quickly as it seemed to appear.