October 2023

Kaiber’s Origins: From Disaster to Disruption

space person hovering over planet

Kaiber origins: from disaster to disruption

This is the story of Kaiber—from just $1,000 after the FTX.us crash to 5.3 million sign-ups in a mere 11 months. It's a story of dreams, resilience, and innovation.

The Secret Garden

Our journey began in February 2022, when my childhood friend Eric Gao and I decided to embark on a bold venture.

Eric, aka "oksami," is not only a highly skilled developer but also an incredibly talented music producer and I'm a former IP lawyer turned tech founder. Together, we co-founded "Secret Garden," an audiovisual web3 collection, on a mission to revolutionize how we create, share, and experience music.

Fun fact: I bought Eric's first Ableton launchpad as a birthday gift in 2015. Little did we know the impact it would have on our trajectories.

The core of Secret Garden was the "Bouquet," a first-of-its-kind interactive beat player for making music, no musical skill or software required. The inaugural Bouquet, "Sunday Journal," featured oksami's fantastical tones and cover art from the esteemed Seerlight. Collectors recounted the magical experience of finally being able to make music themselves—a powerful foundation around creative accessibility.

Our team began to grow, including the addition of Christine Zuniga as Head of Marketing in June 2022. By October, we launched three Bouquets. Guiding users through the complex world of NFTs and crypto was no small feat, but our ambition and passion for music propelled us forward.

The turning point arrived when we teamed up with the legendary Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park, a web3 advocate. Not only did collectors get exclusive new music in his "Windchime" Bouquet, they each received a unique visual piece, all created by Mike. Mint day was a success.

Planting the Seeds for Kaiber

Leaning into that concept of music visuals, Eric and a mutual friend from UC Berkeley, Jacky Lu, began exploring AI generative video. As luck would have it, we secured a deal with Republic Records to create 15 AI-generated visualizers for each track on Kid Cudi’s new album Entergalactic, which also serves as the soundtrack for Cudi’s animated Netflix film.

This venture into AI video went beyond Secret Garden; it was about turning Eric's dream into reality. He painted a vision of bringing an oksami project to life with animations, merging visuals with sounds.

But for an independent artist like Eric, the cost of paying an animation studio upwards of $150,000 for one video was unfathomable. AI visuals held the key to the future, and so, the seeds for Kaiber were planted in Secret Garden.

Hitting Rock Bottom

Then came November 2022, and disaster struck. The FTX.us crash wiped out Secret Garden's funds, and we had to let go of most of our team. December was a month filled with uncertainty, with just $1,000 in our bank account.

I recall Eric and me sharing a hot pot dinner, assessing our situation with an eerie calm, and almost helpless laughter. At that moment, we made a decision: We were going to fight on.

Eric, Jacky, Christine, and I dared to take another risk. Each of us co-founders made sacrifices to stay afloat and keep our dreams alive. Christine took on consulting jobs to make ends meet, Jacky stretched out his runway from his savings while grinding away at his art, and Eric spent sleepless nights building our new product. I found myself working from the discomforts of an emergency room, juggling a family accident and the heartbreak of our flailing startup.

We forged ahead.

Our co-founding team at a retreat in Utah. From left to right: Christine, Jacky, Eric, and Victor.

The Rise of Kaiber

In early December 2022, our product concept was "Memories," the idea was to create daily personal animations for friends and family—think: BeReal meets journal prompts. It's why even now the URLs for your Kaiber library videos start with https://kaiber.ai/memory/.

By the end of December, we repositioned as a "Spotify Canvas Generator," a tool that would resonate with musicians. In those early days, Kaiber was just a 7-second video generator, creating looping 9:16 videos. However, we had our sights set on a much grander vision.

Following our initial launch in January 2023, we began to receive a ton of feedback, that helped us inform the next steps for Kaiber:

"When can we make longer videos?"

"When will you offer other aspect ratios?"

"Can you make it audio-reactive for full music videos?"

And so, we kept iterating.

March 2023 brought another turning point. We reached out to our old advisor, Mike Shinoda, and he had a project for us. Kaiber Studio had the privilege of contributing to the official music video for Linkin Park's "LOST." Jacky's collaboration with shibuya.xyz and Sagans for this project put us on the map. Our in-house AI tools were used to create shots, reimagine band members as anime characters, and generate backgrounds and assets.

With Linkin Park's endorsement, our visibility skyrocketed. They partnered with us to create 60+ visualizers, establishing Kaiber as a leader in AI-generated visuals for music.

And in May 2023, an organic mention of Kaiber in the "ASTRAL JUMP" TikTok trend brought millions of new users, catapulting us to new heights. 11 months later, we stand at 5.3 million signups with growing revenue, a vibrant community, and a thriving team.

Proudly bootstrapped, Kaiber remains committed to its mission: empowering creatives worldwide. Our journey has only just begun, and we continue to break the rules, deliver world-class solutions, and keep things simple for our users.

Thank you for being part of our story. Together, we're disrupting the creative landscape and empowering artists everywhere.

Share article:
Kaiber’s Origins: From Disaster to Disruption
This is the story of Kaiber—from just $1,000 after the FTX.us crash to 5.3 million sign ups in a mere 11 months. It's a story of dreams, resilience, and innovation.