Linktree hits unicorn status with $150 million raise

Linktree startup

Linktree co-founders Anthony Zaccaria, Nick Humphreys and Alex Zaccaria. Source: supplied.

Aussie social media startup Linktree has become Australia’s latest unicorn, with a US$110 million ($150 million) raise giving it a massive valuation of US$1.3 billion ($1.7 billion).

The round was led by US investors Index and Coatue, and also included repeat backing from Aussie VC Airtree.

Founded as a side hustle back in 2016, Linktree started out as a humble ‘link-in-bio’ tool for Instagrammers.

At the time, the founders — brothers Alex and Anthony Zaccaria and friend Nick Humphreys — were addressing a problem facing clients of their own music and entertainment digital agency.

But the product caught on fast, and the startup was soon seeing tens of thousands of signups every day. Since then, the startup has gone from strength to strength.

“I don’t think we ever could have imagined the scale that it’s reached now … and the opportunity to impact billions of creators,” Alex Zaccaria tells SmartCompany.

“We definitely never saw that coming.”

He also didn’t necessarily anticipate the number of use cases and verticals the tool could be applicable to.

Linktree is now used by some 24 million creators, artists and brands. While early adopters included the likes of Alicia Keys, Red Bull and Pearl Jam, Linktree now also counts TikTok, Selina Gomez, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and even the Los Angeles Clippers as users.

Between 2020 and 2021, the platform’s influencer, small business and music verticals grew by an average of 300%.

Linktree has also partnered with Shopify to launch e-commerce storefronts directly from the platform, and launched its Passion Fund to help entrepreneurs, activists and artists monetise their online presence.

More growth on the horizon

This latest funding will be used to further supercharge Linktree’s growth. That includes a massive hiring spree, boosting the Australian team by 200 to 300 people within the next 12 months.

While the startup is also boosting its geographical reach, Zaccaria remains committed to boosting the local ecosystem, and “calling Australia home”.

The growing team is set to move to a new Melbourne HQ, which will house employees and creators alike.

The team has a “huge amount” on the roadmap, due to be unveiled within the next couple of months, Zaccaria teases.

At the same time, Linktree has also onboarded former LinkedIn, Microsoft and Twitch exec Mike Olson as its first president

Previously senior vice president of growth at Twitch, Olson is a “super exciting” hire for Linktree, Zaccaria says.

In a statement, Olson said he is “honoured to be joining Linktree at this milestone moment”.

“Over the past few years, the creator economy has grown rapidly,” he added.

“Linktree has led the way through innovations in discovery, engagement, and monetisation — there are so many commercial possibilities with an audience of this size.”

Where growth meets wellbeing

Linktree has seen the kind of hockey-stick growth that startups dream of. But it has also hit the headlines for its progressive policies and focus on culture and wellbeing.

Its benefits package offers 18 weeks of paid parental leave, and leave and psychological support for miscarriage and late-pregnancy loss.

Employees can also access a $6000 ‘flexible’ benefit allowance, to spend on anything from holidays to life coaching to exercise classes.

Last year, Linktree was named as one of the best Aussie startups to work for.

For Zaccaria, reaching unicorn status while focusing on wellbeing — as well as on his own mental health — is “definitely part of the pride”.

Organisations don’t have to be ruthless corporate machines in order to achieve growth, he says. In Australia, it’s the tech sector that is leading the way in proving that.

“We’re super proud to be leading the pack in that way and showing the world what we can be doing with policies,” Zaccaria says.

“I really hope we are seen as role models.”

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