Q&A With Tyler Oakley: The YouTube Star Whose Fans Raised $500K For His Birthday

Meet Tyler Oakley. His “YouTube family” (subscribers) grew by over 3 million last year and today stands at 4,324,655—a following that rivals top entertainers on the platform. His vlog posts are deceptively simple, filmed in the same colorfully decorated room, spotlight on, and Oakley ready to share whatever is on his mind. But watch him tell one story and it’s clear that he has tapped into Millennial tastes with his personal storytelling style. Always charged with intense positive energy, Tyler reveals intimate details, and can talk non-stop without missing a beat. He claims to be fluent in five languages: “English, emoji, sexting, sarcasm, and sass” and has gossiped with President Obama himself. While his best friends include the elite of Millennial YouTube entertainment, the magic in Tyler’s videos lies in his ability to make every viewer feel like they too are his best friend.
Wanting to use his influence as a high-profile LGBT vlogger for something more, Tyler began a birthday fundraising campaign last year benefitting a charity close to his heart: The Trevor Project. This year, the campaign reached its goal of raising $150,000 in just six days. By the end of the full 50 days of fundraising, Tyler’s online “family” had raised over half a million dollars—$525,679 to be exact— for LGBTQ youth. We got the chance to speak with Tyler about his monumental rise on YouTube, the success of his birthday campaign, and how views on the LGBT movement are changing within the next generation.

Ypulse: Tell us about how you got started on YouTube.

Tyler Oakley: It was back in 2007 and I was a college student at Michigan State University. All of my high school friends went off to different colleges, so I wanted to find a new way to keep in touch with them. I had Facebook, but I also wanted…


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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “For Halloween I’m dressing up as Erlich Bachman from the HBO show Silicon Valley.”—Male, 24, IN

Time has released their annual list of the 30 most influential teens. This year’s cut was chosen by “global impact through social media and overall ability to drive news,” and ranges from the dancing 14-year-old made famous from Dance Moms and Sia’s latest music videos, Maddie Ziegler, to 16-year-old founder of a high-end lacrosse equipment company, Rachel Zietz, to 17-year-old poster child “in America’s culture war over LGBT rights,” Gavin Grimm. Also making the list is 17-year-old app developer Ben Pasternak, who we spoke to earlier in the year. (TIME

The Uber for orchestras is aiming to get Millennials hooked on the classics. Groupmuse is a service that hires “young classical musicians to play small concerts in living rooms across the country.” Consisting of two 25-minute sets, the combinations of music can span a wide range: “We’ve had Dvorak and then string quartet arrangements of Guns and Roses.” The founder, Sam Bodkin, blames “steep entrance cost[s] to stuffy symphony halls” and the association that classical music is “boring,” for the lack of interest in Millennials. 70% of Groupmuse’s users were born in 1980s and ‘90s, and Bodkin has plans to partner with other classical music institutions to further spread interest. (WIRED)

Millennials are abandoning ship on shows that are just too hard to watch. A new study from TiVo found that more than half of Millennials have stopped watching a show because it was too “burdensome to access — i.e. not enough episodes were available to catch up on, episodes were behind a paywall or moved platforms,” or other obstacles. 91% of Millennials have active subscriptions to at least one streaming service, and their easy access to content has turned them off to the idea of having to put in effort to watch a show, especially when they think: “There are four other shows I can go watch right now.” (Variety

A brewer is targeting young and curious drinkers with an Instagram campaign that is the first of its kind. London brewer Fuller’s has strategically placed “blank” outdoor posters that encourage the viewer to take an Instagram and use filters to find hidden messages. The #FindFlavour campaign is promoting Fuller’s Frontier craft lager, and is backed by the insight that “social beer drinking is dominating across platforms, with fans sharing experiences, love of flavour and designs.” Participants who snap and hashtag their hidden message will get the chance to win movie tickets or free beers. (Morning Advertiser

A new augmented reality game is making little entrepreneurs out of kids. Osmo Pizza Co. uses an iPad camera and a simple mirror to mimic the experience of running a pizza shop for five to 12-year-olds. Players use physical objects to create pizza orders and exchange currency, that the iPad picks up on and translates into the game. They can also use their profits to upgrade their shop and level up. The game teaches math and emotional intelligence, as well as two important aspects of startups: making the consumer happy and growing a company by reinvesting money earned. (VentureBeat

Quote of the Day: “I would want anyone that is not named Clinton or Trump to be the next president.”—Male, 23, NY

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