Press release

Yellowbrick Leads Creative Education with Investment from Sony Innovation Fund by IGV; Acquires Animation Mentor

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New York-based education platform Yellowbrick today announced two strategic moves that will further cement the company’s position as the leading education platform focused on the Creative Economy. To start, Yellowbrick has secured an investment from Sony Innovation Fund by IGV, which invests in technology-driven companies that are shaping the future of business, entertainment, and society.

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Yellowbrick, the leading education provider for the Creative Economy, boosted its presence in the Entertainment industry through its acquisition of Animation Mentor. Photo Credit: Yellowbrick

Yellowbrick, the leading education provider for the Creative Economy, boosted its presence in the Entertainment industry through its acquisition of Animation Mentor. Photo Credit: Yellowbrick

The second move is Yellowbrick’s acquisition of Animation Mentor, the leading online animation school; founded by renowned professional animators behind the biggest hits from Walt Disney Feature Animation, Pixar Animation Studios, and Industrial Light & Magic – Bobby Beck, Shawn Kelly, and Carlos Baena. Animation Mentor was launched in 2005 to address the need for industry-trained animators, uniting students with industry professionals in a production environment.

Yellowbrick’s steady growth, backing from Sony Innovation Fund by IGV and acquisition of Animation Mentor are all indicators of the maturation of the Creator Economy. As reported last year by SignalFire, 50 million people worldwide already consider themselves part of the Creator Economy – which is defined as a class of artists, influencers, bloggers, musicians, and videographers who are building fanbases and monetizing their channels and products via social media and other digital means. According to the Influencer Marketing Hub’s Benchmark Report 2021, the Creator Economy’s total market size is estimated at $104.2 billion and growing.

As the demand for creator-centric tools and platforms has grown, so too has the demand for educational opportunities that offer industry knowledge that help creative entrepreneurs succeed. Yellowbrick has emerged as a leader in this space due to its strong partnerships with academic leaders like New York University, Parsons, and FIT, along with media brands like Complex, Rolling Stone, WWD, Wallpaper*, Billboard, and others. Yellowbrick learners – from high school students to career changers to NBA stars – have gone on to build creative business ventures large and small.

“Yellowbrick’s focus on growing the creator economy through education fits with our mission to support promising startups who bring creative and promising innovations to the world,” said Gen Tsuchikawa, CEO and Chief Investment Officer at Sony Innovation Fund by IGV. “The team has developed high-quality educational content that has attracted top universities and marquee brands to develop the next generation of creators. Additionally, their focus on education and promoting diversity through their work with corporations to bring opportunities to underrepresented students, aligns with our ESG efforts.”

Established in 2005, Animation Mentor was founded as an online animation education platform through which students could learn directly from industry professionals. With more major-studio instructors than any other platform, Animation Mentor offers critical one-on-one student/mentor time, upskilling learners through a proprietary online campus, exciting bootcamps, exclusive feedback tools, and a real-world production pipeline. Animation Mentor has an alumni community of over 5,000 students throughout 105 countries; now working in world-class studios like Sony Animation, Pixar, DreamWorks, Industrial Light & Magic, Laika, WETA and many more.

“We sought to create the kind of instruction and mentorship program that we never had when we were starting out, and that dream became a reality as we’ve taught thousands of aspiring animators and seen many of them become rising stars in their own right,” explained Bobby Beck, CEO of Animation Mentor. “Now, in joining the Yellowbrick platform, we’re able to take what we’ve built and expand that experience to other creative industries like Film, Music, Design, Fashion – the areas in which Yellowbrick has already seen so much success.”

“Over the past 20 years, great strides have been made in STEM education with flexible bootcamp offerings and online learning. However, with much of the focus placed on technical fields, the ‘A’ for ‘Arts’ – which transforms STEM into the more comprehensive ‘STEAM’ – has often been underrepresented. That’s where Yellowbrick comes in to fill that educational gap,” said Rob Kingyens, President and CEO of Yellowbrick. “The Sony Innovation Fund by IGV shares our vision and has come aboard as a great partner at the same time that the team from Animation Mentor is joining our ranks. Together, we’ll continue to transform education as it relates to creative fields and the creator economy.”

About Sony Innovation Fund by IGV

Innovation Growth Ventures (IGV) is a venture capital firm formed in 2019 by Sony Corporation, Daiwa Capital Holdings Co., Ltd. and external limited partners. Managed by the Sony Innovation Fund (SIF), IGV invests in mid to late-stage startup companies across Japan, the U.S., Europe, Israel and India.

About Yellowbrick

Yellowbrick is a global leader in online education and career exploration for the Arts, Media, Sports, and Entertainment industries. The company develops exciting, accessible online programs in collaboration with top brands and world-renowned universities. Many key influencers in media and culture participate as instructors on the platform; including some of the world’s top entertainment industry professionals connected through Yellowbrick’s recent acquisition of Animation Mentor. Backed by Sony Innovation Fund, University Ventures, Condé Nast, and others, the company’s mission is to help a new generation of talent discover, pursue, and advance career paths that are aligned with the things they love.

Find out more at www.yellowbrick.co.