We’ve all heard of Venmo, the favorite money transfer app of bank-killing millennials. What really sets it apart from other payment apps are its widely used and appreciated social features. Friends and strangers are invited into your spending habits where they can silently judge you for how often you use ride shares and eat gelato.
It’s in this niche, money-centric social circle that Maya Hale’s career has flourished. The 20-year-old LA native, who can be found across all platforms as @venmomaya, is the first successful “influencer” on the app, and has made quite a splash in the last few months. Since her breakthrough in late 2018, Hale has amassed a tremendous following, currently sitting at a little over six million Venmo “friends,” and raking in around two million likes per transaction. The consistently high engagement rate with Hale’s profile has led to promotional work with Adidas, American Eagle, and Coach, among other clothing brands. She also promotes restaurants and bars by simply eating there and mentioning them in her Venmo feed. These transactions are supplemented by Hale’s Instagram — no posts, just story boomerangs — of her visiting these various places or wearing sponsored items. I contacted her manager and discussed getting an interview with Miss Hale while she was out in Dallas for an event. The manager agreed that this would be good for “expanding Maya’s brand,” and informed me that our meeting would take place in a coffee shop where Miss Hale could do a promotion deal.
I arrived 15 minutes early and waited patiently at our table. Maya sauntered up to me 14 minutes later, her manager in tow. Her smile was warm enough, but she eyed my outfit with a not-so-well hidden distaste. With her high ponytail and boots, huge sweater, tiny handbag and dark reddish hair, Maya Hale looks like the lovechild of today’s Ariana Grande and 2009 Ariana Grande. She smiled at me through pink lipstick so bright I was tempted to shield my eyes. Her long, purple nails (no doubt from “nails day! ❤️💅” with Kim K. last week) wrapped around the iced coffee that the awestruck barista brought her. Maya wrinkled her nose and peeled the green plastic straw out of the lid, before replacing it with a monogrammed metal straw from her purse. Despite seeming polite and wide-eyed as we exchanged pleasantries, this woman gave off the energy of someone who knows they are a star.
AMP: So Maya, these past nine or so months have been the keystone of your career. You went from 40 Venmo friends to six million. What was the catalyst?
Hale: Well, it, like, has all happened so fast! About a year ago I went to In-N-Out with my friend Tina — we don’t talk anymore. It’s a really sad story, you should ask me a question about that… [Editor note: I did not.] Anyways, I Venmoed her for my share of the burger and jokingly I put the caption as “not drugs ;)” because I thought that was funny. My mom, like, totally popped off on me, and so I posted the screenshots and my Venmo handle on twitter. And, like, people just started following me, I guess. So I started posting more of my purchases. Yeah. Now I’m here.
AMP: So, what exactly is “here”? What is it that you do as a Venmo influencer?
Hale: Well, first of all, this is nothing like being an Instagram influencer. Don’t @ me. I actually have to go out in the world and do things: eat at restaurants, buy clothes, take Lyfts, you know, I actually have to work for my fame. But basically how my job works is I, like, do something and then I post about it. So people will see that I took a flight to NYC, and then on my Insta I’ll post a picture or something from the plane. Because, you know, at first people, like, didn’t believe me. They were like “Ok sis, sure you’re doing these things,” but because Venmo doesn’t let you post pics or say how much you spent, people thought I was lying so I made an Insta to go with it. I buy things and then show them to people, kinda.
AMP: So why not just use Instagram? Why do you think Venmo is so appealing to your fans?
Hale: Well like… Instagram is so… 2012, you know? Like, this ain’t it. Venmo is in the now. People care about what I’m wearing and where I got it, and I want them to know how much I’m spending. It really just makes them feel like they’re part of my life. And, like, who wouldn’t want to be?
AMP: And how is that life? As an influencer?
Hale: Like, I just told you, it’s totally a lot of hard work. But overall it’s pretty good, I guess, you know? My manager handles all of my work stuff, so I just go places and wear clothes and whatever. It’s work, but someone has to do it! It’s definitely like, supes different than my life before though, because now I get to have lunch with Tana and Kylie and like, other people that I used to only dream of knowing.
AMP: How do you get in touch with other influencers and celebrities? Did you and Huda Kattan really get boba last week?
Hale: My manager handles most of that, I guess… I just go out to lunch and hang out. And of course, Huda and I are like, best friends, she’s just super busy a lot of the time.
AMP: Why is it that you never get pictures with other celebs? Why don’t they tweet at you or tag you in posts?
Hale: I don’t put people’s faces in my pics because like… I respect their privacy, I guess. And they don’t tag me because I like to… um, like… build my own following.
It was at this time Maya’s manager came over from where he was watching us in the corner, and told Maya it was time to leave for her facial. She asked if I could pay for the coffee, and she would split the cost with me on Venmo. As she left, my phone buzzed and I got a payment for $6.32: “coffee with the bestttttt ✨.” Immediately, the comments started blowing up, as people wanted to know who “the bestttttt” was. I must have missed Maya’s response, but she did post an Instagram boomerang of her coffee with my head, barely visible, turning back and forth in the bottom corner.
Editors’ Note: A few days after we received this article, the news broke that Maya “Hale” Jacobson’s influencer career was a fraud. Miss Jacobson was found to be lying about her connections with celebrities by using fake accounts and conveniently-timed posts that allowed fans to link her fraudulent experiences with those of said celebrities. Any names, brand names, and celebrities mentioned in this article are not associated with Miss Jacobson and request to remain that way. Miss Jacobson’s social media accounts have all been deactivated, and the handle @venmomaya seems to have been removed from every platform except LinkedIn.
Avery Carter (freshman | biology)
Part-time Canadian, full-time bird enthusiast.