Eight years ago, Missoula entrepreneur and video blogger Hank Green and his brother, John Green, founded VidCon, which is now billed as the largest conference in the world dedicated to people who love internet video and creating content for sites like YouTube.
Every year, more than 30,000 people attend the flagship VidCon show in Anaheim, California. Two other international conferences in Amsterdam and Melbourne, Australia, also draw thousands.
The events are still organized by a staff of 17 people in Missoula and several out-of-state employees. But last week, Green announced that VidCon was being purchased by the global entertainment company Viacom.
“I’m so happy that we found such a strong, successful and progressive company to give our team the stability and resources needed to make bold moves at home and grow what we’re doing internationally,” Hank Green said in a statement.
“Viacom has decades of expertise creating incredible live events for fans, and we are building something truly unique by blending that with our team’s deep care and passion for the community and culture of online video."
Green will remain in his role as chairman of the board and be deeply involved in VidCon. CEO Jim Louderback also will remain in his role, although he will now report to Viacom officials. Financial terms of the deal were not released.
In an interview with the Missoulian, Louderback said he’s been talking with Viacom for three months.
“We’ve been exploring alternatives for the company for awhile, on and off for more than a year,” he explained. “One of the reasons why we went international last year was the great desire for what we do.
"Part of Hank Green’s vision is for democratizing the creative economy around the world. If we wanted to satisfy the demand we saw everywhere, we needed a partner.”
He said the executives at Viacom shared the vision the VidCon staff has for the future.
“We both share the vision of moving beyond Anaheim, Australia and Amsterdam,” he said.
Louderback said VidCon is a face-to-face conference for people who love online video and for people who work in the online industry.
“When it first started eight years ago, it was described as the Comic-Con for YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Twitch,” a live streaming video platform, he said. “It’s three separate conferences in one. We have a community track, a creator track and an industry track.”
The community track is for fans and people who love online video and its creators. VidCon holds meet-and-greets, dances and other gatherings for them.
The creator track is for content producers to learn how to improve, grow, break into the industry and meet fellow creators.
And the industry track is for those who want to learn the secrets from the experts and build success for their company.
The sale won’t mean any big changes for the Missoula office, at least for now.
“There are no plans for changes,” said Louderback, who works from California but often visits Missoula. “We’ll keep our staff the way it is. We want to expand our vision around the world, but the staffing in Missoula will stay here.”
Added Green, "I’m so excited to be part of this team and to continue our work connecting people, providing amazing experiences and helping creators create."