Digital Stars of the Past Where Are They Now? Part 1



From YouTube to You Who? Videoink dives into digital stars of the past and where you can find them now!

This article was written by Nicolette Acosta and originally appeared on VIDEOINK.

From YouTube to You Who?

We’ve all done it: Getting lost down the internet rabbit hole and find ourselves watching a favorite video from 2007 (about to be over decade ago if you want to feel old) and while enjoying someone who used to be an internet staple, the first question that is always asked is, “I wonder what happened to them?” Well, wonder no more because VideoInk is here to answer this haunting thought leaving you to watch your throwbacks in peace.


Also known as Joe Penna, MysteryGuitarMan is a Brazilian filmmaker who was one of the first digital pioneers in 2006. Along with his YouTube channel, Penna also creates for and is a member of the Big Frame Network, owned by AwesomenessTV since April 2014. Although his YouTube contributions are sporadic (his last video was posted 3 months ago), Penna is still keeping the creative juices flowing through film. His latest project, Arctic, is currently in production and is set to star Mads Mikkelsen and Maria Thelma Smáradottir.

The Fine Bros:

(Or Brothers, if you’re feeling formal) Benny and Rafi Fine are two Brooklyn boys known for their online producing, writing, and directing through Fine Brothers Entertainment. Joining YouTube in 2007 the brothers found a huge following through several series including MyMusic, Spoilers, Lost: What Will Happen Next?, Sing It!, and most famously (infamously) the React series. The last listed caused quite a stir in early 2016 with a trademark controversy, costing the team thousands of fans (since regained). The brothers are still a huge presence on YouTube with Sing It! exclusively on YouTube Red and their public channel update every few days. They currently have over 16.5 million subscribers and don’t appear to be slowing down any point soon.

Shay Carl:

Shay’s worn many hats: Vlogger, author, YouTube personality, to name a few. Hailing from a YouTube Family, the “Shaytards”, Butler has three channels used to document the different areas of his life. “shaycarl” is his personal page, “shaytards” is reserved for family time including the entire life of his fourth child, Brock, who has been dubbed the “first Truman baby”, and “ShayLoss” which documented Butler’s 112 lbs weight loss in the course of a single year. In 2009, Butler founded Maker Studios with friends and fellow YouTubers Dan Zappin, Lisa and Ben Donovan, Kassem Gharaibeh, and Philip DeFranco. Maker Studios was bought by Disney in March 2014 for $500 million. Although once known as one of YouTube’s most consistent vloggers, Butler announced the family would be taking a media hiatus in 2017, but before the official date, a cheating scandal broke which also tied in Butler’s struggle with alcoholism. Both he and his wife, YouTuber Katilette, have both posted vlogs since the damage and appear to be attempting to mend the relationship.

Lisa Nova:

Also known as Lisa Donovan, is also a Makers Studios co-founder (although she left after Disney acquired it) as well as a co-founder of Zappin Productions. Nova had several strong years on YouTube. Starting in 2006, she was one of the first YouTube personalities to cross into legitimate entertainment, although she continued to keep up with her page until 2011. Despite her lack of presence on the site, her channel still has over 500,000 subscribers. Her last acting role was in The Wedding Ringer in 2015, but other than that Donovan’s essentially disappeared from the public eye.

Phil Defranco:

Defranco is a reporter turned YouTube personality and creator of the Phillip Defranco Show which runs the gambit of celebrity gossip to actual news coverage. His page started int early 2006 when Defranco was still a student at East Carolina University. Since then he’s gone on to produce and act in several series including Hooking Up (2008). He was a part of Discovery/Group Nine from 2012-2017 after signing a contract with Revision3, a subsidiary of Discovery Digital Networks. From this partnership sprung Sourcefed which transition Defranco’s show to more “news-oriented” subject matter. In May 2017 Defranco announced that he was officially an independent creator again and had regained control of all of this properties. Since then he has attracted over 5 million subscribers to his page. Despite his success he still ran into a controversy involving Youtube’s new monetization guidelines, driving him to create the #Youtubeisoverparty. Even if this is his personal belief, Defranco continues to consistently update his channel almost daily.

Shira Lazar:

Lazar did not start her media career on YouTube, but rather in 2004 as a host on College Sports Television which led her to be a host and producer for Music Plus TV as well as a contributor for She soon joined YouTube ranks in 2007. She has a personal vlog page, although she is far better known for What’s Trending which premiered in 2011. After an unconfirmed tweet from the show’s official page detailing Steve Job’s death went viral in September of 2011 CBS News cut ties with the show completely. Despite the setback, Lazar went on to partake in a partnership with YouTube for the show which went on to be a major success and even garbbed the show an Emmy nomination. This past August, “What’s Trending” was officially tapped to be a new interstitial series on Comcast. Also in 2017, What’s Trending began a strategic relationship with Sinclair Broadcasting’s news and lifestyle brands, Circa.

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