David Dobrik, 24, is one of the most famous YouTubers in Hollywood. He made a name for himself on Vine, the short-form video app that spawned a generation of online stars. He then moved to YouTube, where he and a group of friends known as the Vlog Squad started sharing fast-paced comedic content that often included stunts.
Since 2014, he has accumulated more than 18 million subscribers on his primary YouTube channel.
However, an investigation by Kat Tenbarge at Insider released this week detailing allegations of sexual assault against a former Vlog Squad member left many viewers angrily re-evaluating Mr Dobrik’s work and fandom. Now it challenges the success of its growing empire.
Mr. Dobrik has been referred to as “Gen Z’s Jimmy Fallon” by the Wall Street Journal. In April last year, he stepped back from regular vlogging, which had become a challenge during the pandemic, and focused on other projects, including launching his own photo-sharing app called Dispo.
This app’s rating fell below two stars in the Apple App Store last week. Apple briefly paused the ability to post reviews as people rushed into the room to scold Mr. Dobrik in the form of reviews and ratings.
Late on Sunday, Mr Dobrik announced that he would be leaving the company and stepping down from Dispo’s board of directors in order to “not distract from the company’s growth,” a statement told The Information. “The team, the product and, above all, our community from Dispo stand for building a diverse, integrative and empowering world,” said the company.
Hours earlier, the venture capital firm Spark Capital, which led the start-up’s $ 20 million Series A financing round in February, announced that it would “cut all ties with Dispo”. “We have resigned from our position on the board and are currently taking precautions to ensure that we do not benefit from our recent investment in Dispo,” the company wrote on Twitter.
On Friday, a spokesperson for HelloFresh, one of Mr Dobrik’s sponsors, said, “We can confirm that we are no longer working with David Dobrik or any member of the vlog team and have no plans to work with them again in the future.”
“We have made the decision to end our relationship and to stop all planned activities,” said a representative from the Dollar Shave Club. A spokesman for EA Sports, who once gave Mr. Dobrik a Lamborghini, said the company could “confirm that we are not currently working with him or have any plans for the future.”
On Thursday, SeatGeek, the ticketing company that is one of Mr Dobrik’s largest advertisers, told Insider that it was “reviewing” the company’s partnership.
In 2018, Mr. Dobrik posted a video on his YouTube channel entitled “SHE SHOULD NOT PLAY WITH FIRE !!” It showed footage of young women talking to Mr. Dobrik and members of the vlog team when the men joked about sexual encounters with them. One of the men later tells Dom Zeglaitis that he has sex with one of them.
This woman told Insider that she was incapacitated by alcohol during the evening and described the experience as rape. Her report was confirmed by at least one other woman present.
The woman confirmed her story to the New York Times and provided pictures, text and videos from the evening to confirm her report.
“We’re going to jail,” said Mr Dobrik at the end of the video.
The woman turned to Mr. Zeglaitis and asked to have the video removed. it was after receiving more than five million views.
The prosecutor has not contacted the police and no charges have been filed.
Mr Dobrik, through a representative, declined to comment. He posted a video about the story on Tuesday.
“I wanted to come over here quickly and have some online conversations,” Dobrik said in the video titled “Let’s talk.” It was posted on a secondary channel that has roughly a tenth of the followers of its main channel.
Mr Dobrik said in the video that “Consent is something that is super, super important to me.” He added that he will seek the consent of everyone who appears on his videos and will remove videos if those in them no longer want to be recorded.
“There were also moments when I looked back at videos and realized that they no longer represent me and harm other people, and I don’t want them anymore because I am as a content creator and as a person,” he said. “And I disagree with some of the videos I’ve posted.”
“I’m sorry if I let you down,” he said.
Last month, a former Vlog Squad member named Joseth “Seth” Francois said he was sexually assaulted in one of Mr. Dobrik’s videos. In it, he was tricked into kissing another YouTuber, Jason Nash; Mr. Francois thought he was kissing a woman.
“The point of the video is to sexually assault me. That’s the whole requirement, ”Francois told BuzzFeed.
Mr Dobrik apologized for the incident. “Seth is sorry about the Seth situation because, like I said, I just want to make videos where everyone, whether you’re attending or watching, is having fun and having a good time,” said Dobrik. “And with that I missed the mark. And I’m really sorry. I really am. “
Other sponsors supported Mr. Dobrik over the weekend. DoorDash has ended sponsoring Mr Dobrik’s podcast. “DoorDash deeply condemns the behavior of Vlog Squad members and we have ended our sponsorship of David Dobrik’s podcast ‘Views’. This terrible wrongdoing is inconsistent with DoorDash’s values and does not represent the communities we want to create. Our thoughts go out to all those affected, ”a spokesman told Business Insider.
General Mills and HBO Max said they have no current campaigns with Mr. Dobrik or the Vlog Squad and no plans to work with them in the near future.
Mr Dobrik lost more than 100,000 subscribers on his primary YouTube channel in the past week.
His entertainer career has made him wealthy enough to buy a $ 9.5 million home in Los Angeles – complete with a Hawaiian punch fountain.
In Mr. Dobrik’s apology video, he also said that he had “distanced himself” from some of the individuals previously featured in his content. “I don’t stand for any wrongdoing,” he said, “and I’ve been really disappointed with some of my friends and that’s why I’ve broken up with many.”