Funding platform Patreon is expanding its operations outside of the United States, opening a new office in Berlin and adding payment options for euros and British pounds. The move is designed to support current Patreon creators and patrons in Europe as well as attract new international users.
Starting today, new creators can set subscription payment tiers in one of the currencies above, rather than listing them in US dollars. Current creators will see the option rolled out later. Patreon plans to add localized language support in 2020 as well, and for patrons who support creators, Patreon says it’s planning to accept new payment methods like direct debit in the future.
Patreon CEO Jack Conte says additional currencies have been “at the top of the list” of patron requests. “Creators whose fanbases are in Europe, or whose fanbases are primarily paying for things in euros — many of them don’t want to launch unless they can offer their membership in their local currency,” says Conte. And “when people see something priced in a currency that isn’t their own or they’re not familiar with, they’re less likely to join.”
The company’s Berlin, Germany office is its third European outpost; it already has small teams of engineers and trust and safety staff in Porto, Portugal, and Dublin, Ireland. The new Berlin office will be a community hub for creators and a space for organizing events.
Patreon hasn’t announced a timeline for expanding beyond Europe. But Conte says it’s on the table. “This year very much is the beginning of our internationalization, but we’ll be working on that for quite a while,” he says. “There’s a ton of creators in Australia and Canada and Latin America and South America, so those are some of the more obvious areas that are probably next.”
Founded in 2013, Patreon has built a significant international base; Conte says a “substantial percent” of revenue comes from outside the US. It faces some of the same challenges as any American startup abroad, including complying with US sanctions and following a patchwork of different legal standards for content. At the same time, Patreon operates at a more manageable scale than many web platforms. Creators who collect money through Patreon often host work on other sites like YouTube, putting a lower moderation burden on the company. And Patreon is tiny compared to major social networks: it has 4 million paying members, compared to 2 billion monthly YouTube users.
Smaller startups are increasingly critical of how big tech companies wield power in Silicon Valley. But Patreon is relatively independent of their influence. Its model isn’t based on advertising, and it can operate without permission from or integration with giants like Google and Facebook — although both of these companies have introduced Patreon-like subscription options. International expansion is an obvious way to keep growing.