Jess Box, Head of Growth at Linktree, believes the company’s explosive expansion will not only continue, but that it has the potential to be the next Australian export to achieve unicorn status.
“I feel like we have this huge opportunity to be like the next Canva in Australia,” Box told Business Insider Australia.
The five-year-old company, which pioneered the form of “organic linking” that allows customers to aggregate links to almost any other part of their online presence, has recently seen tremendous growth.
Box said the company now has 16 million “Linktrees” worldwide, with 900 million visits to its online trading platform each month.
“I don’t think there are a lot of platforms in the world that are growing on this scale,” she said.
To increase that trajectory, Linktree raised an additional $ 45 million in March as part of an effort to push overseas.
The pandemic, now in its second year, has only fueled that momentum, as creatives – and anyone else looking to build up and connect with an audience – have been forced to conduct their work online.
Most of this growth is coming from the United States, Box said, adding that the next steps for the company will be to find ways to help people use the platform not just as a gateway, but as a site in and of itself. where Linktree customers can build and nurture their customer base.
“We’re exploring the kind of ways we can connect [customers and their audiences] more, especially for users who are building a following, ”she said.
The growth of Linktree is the growth of the creative economy
Linktree’s success is somewhat a testament to the designer economy itself, which has also experienced accelerated growth, especially in the United States since the start of the pandemic.
More than 50 million people in the world now see themselves as creators, with an increase in venture capital funding indicating that investors have now decided to take the space seriously.
In the United States, the creator economy recorded record funding of $ 1.3 billion in 2021 alone, triple what was spent in 2020.
The top performing YouTube channels raised $ 211 million between June 2019 and June 2020, Forbes reported. High-income Instagram influencers can make up to six figures for a single post, and the top editors at Substack make up to $ 1 million a year.
But the designer boom has also created a large middle class of designers, seeking to generate income through what are often multiple monetized businesses.
Box said this growing subset is where Linktree sees opportunities for growth – and innovation.
“The designer economy in general, and a growing designer economy, has offered so many new opportunities for entrepreneurs and new businesses to emerge,” she said.
Linktree sees this class of creators as part of a “new generation” defining what a content creation business might look like.
In recent months, the company has invested a lot to become more integrated into this ecosystem.
In May, when he signed an agreement to enable direct payments with the Square payments platform, Linktree also launched a “Passion Fund” which awarded $ 250,000 to creators, entrepreneurs and business owners. using the platform.
“What we’re deeply passionate about at Linktree is helping everyone have their own place on the internet and monetize it, no matter your size,” Box said, reiterating the startup’s mission statement.
Another part of that push just ended with a TikTok campaign called #LinkUpWithLinktree, which matched massive names with promising creators to improve their profiles and followers.
Box said that developing and deepening these long-term relationships contributes to Linktree’s own growth efforts by putting their brand in front of more and more designers.
“What TikTok does a really good job of is empowering these little creators to build and gain momentum from those who have already built their audience.”
“We have an 85% market share for the category we have created”
Linktree also faces an increasingly competitive field, with a host of new entrants pursuing the company’s “organic link” model.
At the end of May, American startup Beacons, founded in 2020, raised $ 6 million in seed funding to expand its platform.
While the startup claims its difference is that it is “deeply customizable,” its platform does not yet allow direct payments.
There are now a host of other small entrants too, some more legitimate than others, including Feedlink, Direct.me, Shorby, Sked Link, LNK.Bio, Link in Profile, Tap Bio, and Campsite.
Another major focus is social commerce, or the ability to activate payments directly through a social platform. This is an area of growth that social platforms and retailers around the world are eager to tap into, following the activation of direct purchases on Instagram through Instagram Checkout, as well as direct payments on Facebook and Pinterest.
TikTok is also actively exploring new live shopping features, which are already live in China, according to reports.
Part of the company’s efforts to maintain its competitive advantage in the space has been to develop this capability.
The platform’s commercial links, which are powered by PayPal and Square, allow Linktree users to set up request links, giving subscribers the ability to request goods and services directly from their profile as well as a tip jar where fans can offer financial support for a creator’s work. .
Box said they are particularly focused on the music vertical, where the company sees an opportunity to speak to the vast sea of musicians rocked by the changing economy of the music industry, as well as helping those who do not have major record companies to become independent companies.
To that end, Linktree announced last week the acquisition of Songlink / Odesli, a content matching technology platform for streaming music.
Anthony Zaccaria, co-founder and chief creative officer of Linktree, said the acquisition was another big step for the company.
“We are now one step closer to becoming a one-stop-shop for musicians, providing an integrated solution for the three key pillars of music monetization: touring, merchandise and streaming,” Zaccaria said.
Box said the new services for musicians are part of a strategy that musicians don’t necessarily need a major label to be successful.
“I think musicians in particular are going to want to be able to find a way to be independent,” she said.
It also follows initiatives from platforms like YouTube, which offers long-standing programs to train musicians based on evidence showing that music content attracts more viewers than anything else on the platform. Its Foundry music development initiative gives artists access to seed funding and partner support to develop content.
Box says the company’s internal research allayed any concerns about threats to its competitive advantage. She claims the company has seen “Linktree” research overtake “link in bio,” suggesting that its brand recognition continues to eclipse others in the space as well.
“We have an 85% market share for the category we created and we continue to maintain it,” Box said.
Platforms and disinformation
In recent months, the pervasiveness of the business has led to yet another problem facing social media platforms that have reached critical mass.
Reports outside the UK and Australia has suggested some are using Linktree’s platform to spread disinformation, with one UK-based researcher suggesting that one in three Instagram users reported posting harmful content on the platform is using Linktree to do it.
Box said the company had a short-term strategy of encouraging users to report related content through its platform, and said it had just hired a trust and security officer whose mission is to “build the tools and systems using AI to automatically detect when this happens and prohibit uses that violate our Terms of Service.”
“The older we get, the more responsibility we have to make sure we’re responding to it the right way,” Box said, but stressed that the issue is impacting all social platforms.