LTK pioneered the creator economy when it was founded in 2011, launching a new category that monetized Instagram and allowed lifestyle creators to become entrepreneurs. Now the Dallas-based company has new funding to back its status as an industry titan: A $300 million investment from SoftBank Vision Fund 2, putting it among the tech unicorns.
LTK plans to use the capital to expedite growth plans, specifically internationally, while aggressively making new hires across the company. The goal is to accelerate its three-sided tech marketplace that simultaneously serves creators, brands, and shoppers. The investment values LTK at $2 billion.
“Ten years ago, we began with a mission to make creators like myself as economically successful as possible,” Amber Venz Box, LTK’s co-founder and president, said in a statement. “This investment further validates the current and future opportunities for creators around the world when they put their skills to use on the LTK platform.”
The deal with SoftBank Vision Fund gives Amber a net worth of $315 million, according to Forbes, meaning she’s now one of the richest self-made women in the U.S.
In May, PitchBook reported that SoftBank had raised its Vision Fund 2 from $20 billion to $30 billion. The Japanese multinational conglomerate has a hand in a number of emerging tech leaders, including DoorDash, Cameo, and Slack.
SoftBank’s Lydia Jett, who is the fund’s first female investor to hold the managing partner title, said the firm aims to support LTK’s long-standing advocacy of global creators as it continues to scale. Jett is a managing partner with SoftBank Investment Advisers.
When the transaction closes, Angela Du, investment director at SoftBank Investment Advisers, will join LTK’s board of directors.
$3 billion in sales in past year
In the past year, shoppers have bought more than $3 billion worth of fashion, beauty, fitness, home, and lifestyle products from LTK’s creators. That includes sales generated through LTK Creator Shops (a bespoke storefront for influencers to market content), the LTK app, blogs, and social media.
“We believe there is a paradigm shift in the way consumers shop, which has highlighted the tremendous role creators play in guiding the online retail experience,” Jett said in a statement. “LTK has built a seamless shopping platform that now reaches millions of monthly shoppers in more than 100 countries.”
Amber Venz Box and her husband, CEO Baxter Box, are the duo behind the app.
When it launched in 2017, the influencer-driven consumer shopping app formerly known as LIKEtoKNOW.it made photos and videos shoppable by giving users the ability to instantly purchase real products in fashion, beauty, home, and family that they viewed on high-profile accounts. As Baxter Box previously told Dallas Innovates, it’s essentially the first-ever contextual search engine for mobile shopping.
On the backend, it also became the catalyst for a new generation of social media bloggers to connect with mobile consumers and earn monetary gain for content creation. That has always been the Venz Box’s goal: Empowering LTK’s lifestyle creators, who are almost all women, to be as economically successful as possible.
The company itself is now in its tenth year. What began as a solution for Amber to be compensated for the sales she was driving through her own blog has transformed into a multifaceted marketing platform trusted by creators across the globe.
Today, more than 150,000 social media influencers use LTK.
In June, rewardStyle rebranded its entire platform, which included LIKEtoKNOW.it, under the LTK moniker to ensure consistency, simplicity, and shopping success.
As LTK, the company allows brands to leverage retail performance data; encourages influencers to create, manage, and grow their own ecommerce storefront; and continues to make shopping as swift as possible.
To Amber, as a B2B2C platform that serves all sides of the creator commerce experience, it was important that LTK unify under a singular brand to further expand clients’ opportunities.
Currently, more than 5,000 retailers use the LTK Brand Platform for their marketing campaigns, paid collaborations, and content licensing, according to the company. Clients span more than 100 countries.
LTK this year honed in on investing in talent, adding more than 100 new employees in 2021. The company additionally has teams in the UK, Brazil, France, Germany, Australia, China, and South Korea.
Amber previously said that the focus now is on “innovation and speed.” LTK’s demand is expected to continue as the migration to online shopping continues to sweep the retail industry as many know it.
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