To make a living as a creator, you need to share content across multiple platforms. While creators can be successful on TikTok or Instagram, having multiple sources of income — brand partnerships, merch, subscription platforms — can often be the only way to stay afloat. Linktree knows this better than anyone, said Anthony Zaccaria, its co-founder.
Monetizing content as a freelance creator has become a popular career choice, but the market is fragmented. While creator funds and in-app monetization tools offer ways to earn some cash, cross-platform brand deals are still the most cost-effective way to transform being a designer into a full-time job. Linktree gives creators the ability to stay organized, bringing together all the tools they need in one central hub.
“It’s about creating a place where people can monetize, grow and curate the ecosystem no matter where they build their audience,” Zaccaria said. “It’s essential.”
The platform, which was founded in 2016 by Zaccaria, her brother Alex and Nick Humphreys, hit 24 million users last year, with big names like Selena Gomez, Shawn Mendes, Bella Poarch and Dwayne “The Rock Johnson. a third funding round, raising $110 million from a slew of venture capital firms and bringing its valuation to $1.3 billion, the company announced on Wednesday. It also brings in Mike Olson, former senior vice president of growth initiatives at Twitch, as president, focusing on expanding the U.S. market.
Protocol spoke to Zaccaria about the state of the creator economy, how Linktree works for creators, its recent integrations, and the future of the platform.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Can you talk generally about the current state of the creator economy and Linktree’s place in the space?
Obviously, creators as a whole have been around for a long time. Thinking back to YouTubers and vloggers, and people monetizing content and monetizing their personalities, it’s been around for 10 or 15 years. Especially during the pandemic, people [are] realizing they can do so much more. Technological empowerment that has increased.
We’re seeing people really finding ways to monetize their passions, their hobbies, their side pursuits, whether it’s creating and building something physical or just through content. And I think we’re seeing a new economy emerging and a new source of income for people, people living off of it full time, whether it’s through platforms like Twitch or YouTube or TikTok being a secondary source of income.
We see ourselves playing a big role in this, as a platform-agnostic place for everyone to manage their ecosystem, whether it’s digital talent that lives in the world of YouTube or TikTok, or that they live in the physical and digital world where do they have physical goods and they make products a bit sold through Etsy or Amazon, but they also use content to promote and grow their audience.
What types of creators use Linktree the most?
We have over 23 million users worldwide. For verticals or user groups, there are just over 250 [groups] on the platform who identify themselves when registering. We’re pretty evenly spread across those verticals. There isn’t really one that makes the majority. We say we are platform independent and have a valuable use case and accessory across the spectrum.
Do bigger people on different platforms use Linktree differently? What is Linktree doing to meet all of their needs?
We don’t see different use cases per platform, whether you’re TikTok, Twitter, Instagram. What we consider different is the type of user on this platform. So if you’re a musician who’s bigger on Instagram, how you use it might be different from someone who produces educational content on TikTok or a real estate agent who might post their ads on TikTok or a player on Twitch. No matter what platform you come from, Linktree is always that place that unifies your whole ecosystem, everything you care about, what is important, relevant and recent for you.
For example, as a musician, we see our music users using our music-link functionality, which integrates Songlink/Odesli, which we acquired last year. This allows artists to embed their… Spotify link or any other platform and this will show all the streaming services the song or album is available on in the country the user is in. They integrate our Bandsintown link, with which we have just associated. , to display tour dates, or they can use our Shopify integration to display their merchandise.
Does Linktree plan to move from individual and creator uses to enterprise uses?
Absolutely, and we did. Over the last year, we’ve seen the small business vertical itself grow by around 327%, and brands – like Red Bulls or Qantas, those kind of big names – using the product [have grown] more than 500%. So we kind of see brands really using it and directing their audience to links in profiles to go to Shopify or sign up to see new content. So we see that as an important growth area. We already have a number of users on Enterprise plans which is a discounted price for bulk accounts. But we continue to develop features for brands, or even just users who want to manage and control multiple user profiles in one place…whether it’s integration with payments or marketing technology or whatever. .
Is Linktree planning to enter the crypto/blockchain space? If so, what will it look like?
Web3 as a whole aligns with our vision of empowering creators. We’re not necessarily pivoting to become a Web3 company and changing everything about what we do, but we’re still building on our vision of empowering creators to run the digital world. There are specific upcoming features, integrations and tools that we will also be rolling out over the next two months that are in a similar space to what we already do. I can’t speak to specifics on partnerships and integrations, but they’ll be coming soon.
We are building features that will help serve the NFT community, Web3 service, crypto service, while staying true to what Linktree does without necessarily suddenly pivoting. We are already used by a large part of the Web3 community: Bored Ape Yacht Club, for example, uses[s] Link tree. So we still have a product that can overlap Web 2.0 and Web3 quite easily.
What does Linktree plan to do with the funding?
It’s obviously super exciting. We have such a big vision for the product, and the capital really is to execute that vision. The team is really the first party to help run this. We are currently at around 240 employees and will likely be between 450 and 500 by the end of this year, with a greater focus on the US as well as other emerging global markets for us. A lot of it really goes into the team and also gets reinvested into the team to continue to ensure our employee experience is top notch.
Can you tell us a bit more about how you plan to build your product vision? In the near future, what will this look like for users?
We’ve recently built e-commerce functionality, so we’ll continue to build on that… [with] deeper functionality and partnerships with other like-minded companies. We [recently] did a partnership that’s been going on for a while, but we’ve continued it due to the situation in Ukraine, with GoFundMe and allowing people to create a GoFundMe link in their Linktree profiles so they can generate donations for Ukraine. So we will continue to rely on this kind of area.
Is an IPO or an IPO in Linktree’s future?
To be honest, I think we’re still pretty early. We were started until we took funding in early 2020 and were profitable up to that point. We did all of this ourselves, we took risks to help us grow and evolve. We have a big vision and it’s been great so far. So, although the company has been around for five or six years, we still think we’re pretty early in the journey, especially in the journey of the company. So acquisition conversations and IPO conversations aren’t really things we talk about.