Startups

Influencer Shoutout Marketplace Cameo Debuts $50M Series B

Because the internet is nothing if not an on-demand marketplace for everything, there’s Cameo, a Chicago-based venture which connects celebrities to fans who buy their time, attention, and influence for personalized shout-outs and promotion.

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On Tuesday, the company announced it closed $50 million in a Series B round, which reportedly values the company at $300 million, post-money. Kleiner Perkins led the deal; Lightspeed Venture Partners, Bain Capital, Spark Ventures, and media investment company The Chernin Group participated.

According to Crunchbase data, the round brings Cameo’s total venture backing to at least $65.2 million. The company closed $12.5 million in its Series A round just seven months ago.

Cameo takes a 25 percent marketplace fee on transactions, which depending on the celebrity or influencer in question can run between $5 and $2,500, depending on how much they value their time. In other words, creators set the price, and a growing number of consumers seem excited to pony up.

TechCrunch reports that Cameo processed 100,000 transactions in December and will have processed “over 300,000” by the end of this month. Digital video industry publication Tubefilter reports that Cameo currently has 15,000 creators on the platform, up from 5,000 last November. Not bad for a company that publicly launched just over two years ago.

Cameo plans to use its new capital for marketing and international expansion. Tubefilter reports that roughly a third of Cameo’s revenue comes from abroad.

The company employs 66 people in its Chicago headquarters. Cameo opened a 20-person engineering and product development office in Los Angeles, which it aims to expand. The company’s profile on BuiltInLA currently lists seven openings for product and software development roles.

Cameo intends to add more features to make communicating with celebrities more interactive. And, as a way to circumvent Apple’s 30 percent marketplace fee on in-app purchases, a yet-to-be released revamp of Cameo’s iOS app will feature “a digital currency model,” according to Tubefilter’s interview with CEO Steven Galanis.

For a cool $150, you can get comedian Gilbert Gottfried—perhaps best known for his voice acting work, and his rendition of “the aristocrats” joke (exceedingly NSFW)—to wish your friend a happy birthday. Actor and musician Ice T will hype your brand for $350. For $999, Shark Tank star and not-quite Canadian politician Kevin O’Leary will talk about just about anything. “Mr. Wonderful” has over 100 reviews from folks who bought his time.

Call it the end-stage of the “attention economy” all you want, but do the math: folks with influence can make some serious money by talking into their phones as a side hustle. What a time to be alive.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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