Behind the Investment: How Linktree is Creating a Universal Point of Access for the Expression and Discovery of Online Identity
Whether it be the emergence of new cultural mainstays like TikTok and OnlyFans or incumbent growth in the form of Snapchat and Pinterest, as the number of online platforms on which we create, distribute, and sell has proliferated over the last few years, the surface area along which we build our digital identities has in turn expanded considerably. In fact, even prior to COVID and its impact on our technology consumption habits, there were more than 7 different social media and commerce platforms boasting at least 500 million monthly active users.1 That said, COVID’s impact is difficult to overstate, and as of May the estimated average minutes per day spent on social platforms was up roughly 10% (as compared to late 2019 estimates).2
However, prior to the onset of COVID, there was already a general sense that the emergence of a robust and fast-growing economy spearheaded by internet-first creators and merchants was a lasting and powerful trend. As of 2017, there were roughly 17 million Americans whose primary source of income was earned via the internet in some capacity.3 In addition to the need for participants in the aptly dubbed “creator economy” to effectively centralize their online identities, COVID quickly necessitated a similar attempt at richer expression, or in some cases the outright creation of, online identity for small businesses all the way up Main Street. In short, there are more of us - from Selena Gomez and the Cleveland Cavaliers to the local diner and florist - who are spending more time building online identity across an increasingly fragmented set of platforms, making it more difficult than ever to elegantly share the entirety of our online personas in a single touchpoint.
Enter Linktree, which enables users to build personalized microsites, effectively aggregating the different endpoints that comprise their online identities. Each individual “Linktree” therefore becomes a single URL that encompasses the whole of one's online identity, from YouTube videos to Spotify streams and Pinterest boards. Despite the sheer number of endpoints that can be encompassed in and supported by a single Linktree, they feel elegantly understated, largely found in social profile bio links (though they recently launched QR codes!) and emerging as non-invasive in-app browsing windows. While Linktree’s user base boasts some of the world’s highest profile celebrities and brands, its appeal is universal, with free and paid users across the full spectrum of followership sizes, industries, and geographies. After first meeting with CEO Alex Zaccaria back in early May, many of us at Insight enjoyed becoming Linktree power users ourselves, and it soon became even more obvious that there was already a large, growing population of other users out there who agreed. In fact, as of September 2020, Linktree profiles were being viewed more than 500 million times per month. This engagement growth has occurred while Linktree’s base of more than 9 million global users continues to scale rapidly, yet the company has consistently exhibited best-in-class unit economics and operating metrics across the board.
The virality with which Linktree has grown and the product itself are certainly both compelling, but they themselves are in fact the byproduct of Alex and team’s endless obsession with the entire Linktree experience, both for creators and consumers. Having essentially bootstrapped Linktree, which was borne out of their attempts to solve for (seemingly universal) pain points experienced during their agency days, we came to learn that Alex, Anthony, Nick, and the rest of the Linktree team powerfully embodied two key aspects of our own DNA at Insight in their scrappiness and desire to win. With that overlap in fundamental values, and an even clearer line of sight into the future of the microsite, we’re incredibly excited to lead this $10M series A investment to help the company enter the next phase of their exciting growth journey.