Jake Paul says his controversial influencer squad Team 10 would be lost without him: 'I'm the special secret sauce'

jake paul

  • YouTube star Jake Paul is a veteran social media star, and has used his success to launch the careers of other creators through an incubator called Team 10.
  • Since its launch in 2016, Team 10 has been enmeshed in controversy: the group's shared house was accused of turning a quiet neighborhood into a "living hell," and several members have quit over the years complaining of bullying, drama, and a toxic atmosphere.
  • Paul recently told Business Insider that although the social media business has dramatically changed since Team 10 first started, he is the "special secret sauce" that's kept it alive and successful.
  • Team 10 has maintained a low profile and produced little content in recent months, which Paul said is because the group is "waiting for the right moment" to reveal some big changes.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

With a career spanning seven years in the spotlight, YouTuber Jake Paul can be viewed as a veteran in the creator space.

Since exploding onto the scene in 2013 on the now-defunct Vine, the 23-year-old Paul has attracted nearly 20 million YouTube subscribers and ample headline-worthy controversies. Much of that drama has surrounded his influencer incubator, Team 10, a collective he formed nearly four years ago to help turn young creators into big social media stars like him.

Paul launched Team 10 back in 2016, years before collab houses like Hype House were born and TikTok was even in existence. Paul was one of the earliest to realize the benefit of creators being in close physical proximity, and rented an $18,000-a-month house in Los Angeles for Team 10 in August 2016. Some of the earliest members of Team 10 include successful YouTubers like Alissa Violet and twins Lucas and Marcus Dobre.

"Our business model has always been helping young influencers reach their potential," Paul told Business Insider in a recent interview. "It's just changed so much with the evolution of social media."

However, Team 10 quickly made a name for itself as the bad boys in the creator space. Team 10's house in Los Angeles' Beverly Grove neighborhood was the scene of noisy house parties, including one where furniture was set on fire in the backyard. Neighbors accused the squad of turning the peaceful community into a "living hell" and "war zone," with young fans swarming the street with the hopes of interacting with their favorite influencers.

For his part, Paul seemed not to care. Paul and Team 10 moved out of the neighborhood and into a new home in Calabasas by October 2017. However, the landlord of the former Team 10 house sued Paul for $2.5 million in 2018, alleging they trashed the rented house.

Since then, Team 10 has comprised a rapidly changing roster of influencers, with creators moving in with big dreams and leaving with massive followings - but also with dramatic tales to tell. Multiple former Team 10 members have accused the collective of harboring a toxic culture peppered with bullying and harassment. Members have said they were afforded no privacy and were victims to Paul's endless tirade of attention-grabbing stunts. Alissa Violet, an original Team 10 member formerly in a relationship with Paul, was publicly accused of cheating on him and accused Team 10 of not paying her what she was promised.

Despire the controversy, Paul has stuck with leading Team 10, even as his career has led him to follow forays into boxing, acting, music, and a whirlwind six-month marriage with YouTuber Tana Mongeau.

"It's more difficult as my career becomes bigger," Paul told Business Insider. "I'm not able to focus on it as much."

The problems with Team 10 have continued in regularity. Three queer YouTubers left Team in 2019: Cole Carrigan left first, alleging he was emotionally abused and called homophobic slurs. Two transgender YouTubers then said they were kicked out of the Team 10 house after they were told they weren't "real girls."

It's not like the Team 10 drama hasn't had negative implications for Paul himself. Paul once starred as a main character in the Disney Channel series "Bizaardvark," which he left mid-season in 2017. While both Paul and Disney have said that his exit was a mutual decision, the timing of his departure led to questions of whether it had to do with the drama stirred up from Team 10 house's neighborhood shenanigans.

However, Paul told Business Insider that he's never considered stepping back from Team 10, where he considers himself a vital part.

"The hard part is, I'm the special secret sauce to the business being successful," Paul said. "There's only a couple influencers, counting on one hand, who can actually create huge business and revenue models."

Meanwhile, Team 10 has been relatively quiet online. Nothing has been posted to its YouTube channel in more than six months. Paul said Team 10 has maintained "a low profile" as it goes through some massive changes, and is waiting "for the right moment" to unveil itself in a new light.

Beyond Team 10, Paul told Business Insider he's focusing on interests that bring him "happiness and freedom," instead of a lucrative income. This mindset may help to explain why Paul fell in 2019 from Forbes' list of the 10 highest-paid YouTube stars - although his net worth is estimated to stand at around $11.5 million.

2019 was a particularly wild year for Jake Paul. Paul started dating a fellow YouTuber, Tana Mongeau, not long after both of them had gone through high-profile star-studded breakups. From the beginning, their relationship made headlines and was rumored to be a publicity stunt. Paul and Mongeau publicly dated for a month, then got engaged, and held a wild $500,000 Las Vegas wedding that featured a public brawl - before announcing just a few days into 2020 that they were "taking a break" from their relationship.

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