An app aiming to help people to reclaim their economic power and drive real-world change is today launching a crowdfunding campaign with Crowdcube. 

WeAre8, backed by former England defender Rio Ferdinand, sports presenter Clare Balding and Channel 4, is giving the public a chance to claim a stake in a company ‘reimagining social media for people and the planet’.

The campaign comes as the social platform ramps up its UK scale through its existing partnership with EE, its current investors Channel 4 and large talent agreements. This financial backing will enable WeAre8 to accelerate its growth through 2022 and help it move into other markets, including the US and Australia.   

WeAre8 ensures over 60% of all ad spend goes directly to people and causes that can drive change.  

“Social technology can only function effectively when the economics are benefiting the people,” said founder and CEO Sue Fennessy. 

“We cannot ‘own our voices’ if our time and value is being sold to advertisers every day, with billionaires making billions every day and people getting nothing.”

WeAre8 says it has built the future of social media, and the first step is where people reclaim their economic power by watching ads for two minutes a day and getting valued and paid for their time. The company says its model is democratising digital advertising, putting people and the planet – not tech companies – at the economic centre of the multi-billion-dollar digital ad ecosystem. 

The app has partnered with a number of other celebrities, from rugby union player Ugo Monye and Strictly dancer AJ Pritchard to actor and model Harrison Osterfield.

“I am very careful about when and how I use social media, so I am really excited about how positive WeAre8 is as a platform,” said Balding. “I love that there is now a place where millions of people can come and give their time to make a small contribution, which collectively becomes a huge fundraising initiative for various charities.”

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Last month, the platform announced a $15 million Series B investment led by Channel 4 Ventures and Centrestone Capital.

As part of the round, UKTV Ventures – which offers high-growth startups an opportunity to enter the TV advertising market in exchange for a minority stake in the company –  is investing $1.2m in advertising airtime that will be delivered over UKTV’s seven television channels Dave, W, Gold, Alibi, Drama, Yesterday and Eden.

Brendan Kilcawley, head of commercial at UKTV Ventures, said: “WeAre8 flips the script on the usual talent/consumer dynamic and puts the user experience front and centre. With B Corp certification, WeAre8’s sustainability and ethical values align with ours at UKTV, with a focus of transparency and positivity in all areas of the business. 

“From working with the WeAre8 team, it is clear that they are incredibly passionate about their business, and are focussed on doing good wherever possible, with charitable giving an integral part of their ethos. 

“We are excited to see how WeAre8 continues to grow over the next 12 months and are proud to be part of the journey.”

WeAre8 will also launch its first TV advertising campaign in the UK across Channel 4’s platform portfolio including its streaming service All 4, and on UKTV channels in May 2022 to drive significant brand awareness and reach.

The company aims to unite 1% of the population – 80m people – on the app by the end of 2022 to help address the most urgent social and environmental challenges. 55% of every pound advertisers spend on WeAre8 is shared directly with people and charities, with another 5% going to a creator fund to fuel micro shows, collaborations and monthly challenges on the 8Stage – a hate-free evolution of the social feed.

You can pre-register for the WeAre8 Crowdcube investment here.