Jake Paul, a Vine star turned YouTube mogul, wants to be YouTube’s Kris Jenner and raise a household of money-making Kardashian-like celebrities. Recent developments suggest he might be running into his own family problems.
It’s been a rough week for Paul: Multiple members of his vlogging incubator, Team 10, have announced their departure from the organization; flurries of rumors surrounding a potential merger between Jake’s company and brother, Logan Paul’s, company are picking up; reports indicate that the Paul brothers’ father, Greg Paul, is handling their companies and firing employees. Jake’s been quiet throughout all of this, sticking to his regular schedule, and going about his business.
Attached to each new bit of breaking news raises a dire question for the prolific YouTuber: What’s next for Jake Paul’s vlogging empire?
What is Team 10?
To understand the fall of Jake Paul, you have to understand Team 10. The creative collective started in 2015 at the height of Vine’s popularity, but didn’t really kick off until a year later, when Paul moved in with six roommates — some of the original Team 10 members — and created a home fit for vloggers to vlog. Paul, who got his claim to fame on Vine, took an idea made famous by Dr. Dre and other business moguls, and began making moves to be more than just an influencer.
“I had this theory where I could replicate what Dr. Dre did in the music industry in the social media business,” Paul told TechCrunch in January 2017. “And I set out to put it to the test… found these kids online… they had 30,000 followers, then I flew them out to LA and taught them how to do things on social media.. In 2, [it] weeks grew from 30,000 to 400,000 and today they have 16 million.”
In 2017, Paul took his talent for gaming internet algorithms, and an eye for web-video-ready talent, and started TeamDom: a social media incubator that received $1 million in funding from “Chinese investment firm, Danhua ... Edward Lando (Horizons Alpha), Gary Vaynerchuk (Vayner Capital), Abe Burns (Sound Ventures & A-Grade Investments) and Adam Zeplain,” according to TechCrunch.
A couple of mega-popular music videos, daily collaborations, feuds with other vloggers, a successful merchandise line and one sold-out tour later, Team 10 became the biggest vlogging team on YouTube. Everything seemed to be going great for Paul, who relocated his team to a $7 million mansion in Calabasas, California after being forced to leave his former mansion following noise complaints from neighbors. He partnered with rapper Gucci Mane for a remix of his popular track “It’s Everyday Bro,” the original can be seen below, and was on the path to becoming a true YouTube mogul.
Not every Team 10 member was a fit for the team. Neels Visser, one of the original members, pursued a more professional modeling career. Other vloggers got into personal disagreements and fights with Paul or other members, choosing to leave the team because it grew uncomfortable. Two of the highest-profile causes over member departures include Alissa Violet (now a vlogger with competing incubator Clout Gang) and the Martinez Twins (two Spanish vloggers who accused Paul of bullying them when they lived in the Team 10 house). Still, the collective chugged along with its campaign to take over internet attention.
“My goals started off small, but as I eventually kept growing, my goal became like, ‘Yeah, I wanna buy a house in Calabasa,’” Paul told TMZ in November. “Now my goals [are] just getting bigger and bigger ... I want to be the first social media billionaire. I’m going to [do it].”
What goes up, must come down
Jake Paul was at the top of his game less than six months ago.
Even as his brother Logan’s world crumbled, following the controversy surrounding a video uploaded from his trip to Japan that contained the body of a man who committed suicide, Jake was exploring new business opportunities, including Team 10 Gaming as a way to leverage YouTube’s Fortnite obsession, and managed to find love in new girlfriend Erika Costell.
But this month, everything started going awry for Jake. Nick Crompton, Team 10’s chief operating officer and on-screen personality, announced on May 4 that he was leaving the team effective immediately. Crompton, who gained notoriety for singing “England is my city” in Paul’s “It’s Everyday, Bro” video, admitted in his statement that he wasn’t happy with the direction the company was moving toward, and didn’t want to be part of it.
It's time to move on from Team 10. pic.twitter.com/8CrDcOTzmH— Nick Crompton (@TheNickCrompton) May 5, 2018
“In the past, I have been very disappointed in the way some talent have chosen to depart ways with Team 10, which is why I want to make it very clear as to why I am leaving,” Crompton said. “Due to internal changes being made within our various businesses that I don’t agree with, I have resigned both as chief operations officer and as talent … the vision for the business, people involved, and direction it’s now going in no longer makes sense to me.”
Crompton’s unforeseen departure from the team led to the raising of flags by YouTube’s most avid gossip reporters, like Keemstar.
“I got a source telling me that Jake Paul is planning on doing a business merger with his brother Logan Paul,” Keemstar said in a recent video. “And if those two companies were to merge, I don’t think Nick Crompton would have a place. I don’t know if any of that’s true, that’s just what I heard.”
Three days later, Chance Sutton, one of Paul’s best friends from high school, announced he was leaving Team 10 to focus on his own personal career, which he said would include building his career as a streamer. Though Sutton’s departure note was far more loving than Crompton’s, rumors continued to fly about the drama happening behind the scenes at Team 10. And, like almost anything related to YouTube drama, Keemstar seemed to have the scoop.
“Jake Paul’s father, known as Greg Paul, has completely taken over Jake Paul and Logan Paul’s businesses,” Keemstar said in another video. “And he’s planning to do a merger with the two ... Nick Crompton absolutely hates Greg Paul. Apparently Greg Paul doesn’t know how to act. He’s calling people ‘whores’ and ‘cunts’ and derogatory terms at work.”
Reports suggest that Team 10 member Kade Speiser, along with his brother and cameraman, Nathan Speiser, could be the next to depart the company, allegedly due to working conditions at Team 10 under Greg Paul. They would follow another Team 10 employee, engineer Drake Rehfeld, who handed in his resignation on May 8.
Some personal news: Friday will be my last day as Head of Engineering at @Team10official— Drake (@drakerehfeld) May 8, 2018
I'm moving to San Fransisco to work on @SplishCreative full time on Saturday. It's been awesome working at Team 10 alongside some awesome people, but now it's time for my next adventure
Paul still hasn’t responded to any of the departures or rumors about the stability of Team 10, but the questions are building up about what’s next for the collecative. It’s unclear if Paul is planning to replace Crompton and Sutton in an upcoming summer tour set to kick off next month.
Now, to address the question that most of you probably still have at this point: Why does any of this matter?
It’s always about money
The word “incubator” isn’t just a quaint term used to describe Team 10’s living arrangements. Paul earned 20% of each incubator member’s revenue, according to Alissa Violet, a profit slice that his brother Logan Paul also referred to in his diss track, “The Fall of Jake Paul.” (At the time, Logan said it was only 10%)
That means individual channels, like Sutton’s co-hosted channel with friend and fellow Team 10 member, Anthony Trujillo, would owe Paul 20 percent of their revenue. On a channel with 2.6 million subscribers and millions of views, that’s a serious take. The more Team 10 members that leave, the less revenue Paul pulls in. It’s simple as that.
Still, it would be ignorant to assume that Paul can’t just use his eye for spotting talent and his immense popularity to his advantage, bringing on new Team 10 members who would jump at the chance. If Team 10 is a venture that Paul wants to continue exploring, it’s safe to assume the YouTube has easy pickings. Again, the unsureness is in whether Paul wants to continue building Team 10 into a superstar team. Jake could ditch the expansion efforts, follow his brother in focusing on other business ventures and let Team 10 exist as it is right now.
If the brothers do combine their companies, many of these business decisions will be made as a unit, along with their father. It’s all a little up in the air right now.
Polygon has reached out to Jake Paul’s team for comment and will update if information becomes available.
Update: Greg Paul and Nick Crompton responded on Twitter to allegations floating around about Paul’s mistreatment of Team 10 employees and talent. Their exchange can be read below.
BUSINESS 101. If anyone has an issue with an internal business audit , there is usually a reason why and no matter what an opinion might state, the fact is that 2+2 = 4.— Greg Paul (@gregpaul63) May 10, 2018
Hope y’all have great day! I’m loving this Ohio sunshine!!
But nobody had an issue with you auditing? People had issue with being verbally abused, watching their coworkers be fired around them and not being kept in the loop. Business 101, communication. Everytime you publicly post to try make myself or the team look bad, I will respond. https://t.co/Pif3Us4Shi— Nick Crompton (@TheNickCrompton) May 10, 2018
Update 2 (May 14): Jake Paul finally responded to rumors about Team 10’s implosion in a vlog posted on May 12. Paul said he is bringing his father, Greg Paul, on as an advisor to “simply look over the shoulders of other people who were in my businesses,” adding that his father won’t “run my business and be in charge.”
Paul alluded to some of the drama that’s been reported, including the abrupt departures of key figures like Chance Sutton and Nick Crompton. Paul said it was his decision, alongside his father, to tap advisors with closer connections to the entertainment and music industry that caused “friction within the family.”
Still, Paul said he’s “come to a point in my life in where I just want everyone to succeed,” adding that “I can grow my tower as big as I want without knocking down anybody else’s tower.”
No other Team 10 members have left at this time, and the Team 10 tour that kicks off later this month seems like it will go ahead as scheduled. Paul’s full video can be seen below.