The social future of commerce – our investment in Linktree
Alex, Anthony and Nick are helping creators share and manage their online content.

Commerce is evolving — from a world where creators were separated from consumers by middlemen, to a world where creators can connect directly with their fans to build global businesses in every niche imaginable.

If you’re on a social network, chances are you’ve come across Linktree. Their product is used by some of the most recognisable brands and individuals in the world including Selena Gomez, Redbull, Gary Vee, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Miley Cyrus (and John Henderson and Jackie Vullinghs!). They’ve championed the #BlackLivesMatter movement, empowered entrepreneurs to build their own businesses and connected audiences across every major social platform.

Linktree looks simple at the outset — a selection of links on a page — but the elegant simplicity of its UI is intentional. Alex, Nick and Anthony have blown us away with the depth and sophistication of their product thinking. They are laser-focused on a delightful user experience which reveals a depth of functionality and integrations only at the moment the user needs them.

Their recent YouTube, Twitch and Mailchimp integrations are just the beginning of a roadmap designed to help creators grow and monetise their audiences online. We’ve seen their plans and are excited about what’s to come…

We believe that Linktree represents the social future of commerce. Linktree will empower creators to sell to their fans, friends and family without friction. No more middlemen.

The evolution of commerce from offline to online to social

The fundamental building blocks of commerce have always involved:

1) Creators who produce physical or virtual products

2) Customers who buy those products.

To be a successful creator, you need to both create something of value and attract the attention of your target customers.

That may sound easy, but in reality it can be extremely hard. You not only need the tools to be able to create the perfect product for your niche, but also the marketing prowess to find your ideal audience and capture their attention over the long term.

Old world middlemen

Traditionally, in the offline world, a range of middlemen exist to solve the problem of finding your ideal audience:

Record labels bridged the gap between fans and musicians. Gyms bridged the gap between trainers and consumers. Restaurants bridged the gap between a chef and their guests. And perhaps most importantly — department stores, malls, catalogues and shops build the connection between product creators and the buying public.

That started to change with the internet.

Online middlemen

As commerce moved online, a number of marketplaces emerged to help aggregate attention online. An electronics manufacturer could find demand for their product on Amazon and eBay, while a video creator could find an audience for their content on YouTube.

However, by using one of these platforms the creator lost control of the user experience. On Amazon, the buyer’s journey is uniform so it’s hard to stand out and the creator can’t capture valuable customer data to help retain those customers and strengthen the customer relationship over time.

Arming the rebels

To put the power back in the hands of creators, new tools are emerging to help creators run their online businesses — Shopify for e-commerce, Teachable for online courses, Substack for writers and OnlyFans for photo/video creators building subscription businesses.

Getting the attention of customers

But these creators still need to find audiences at a time where digital advertising is prohibitively expensive.

Building a captive audience without resorting to advertising usually means two things — content and community.

So there’s also a large opportunity for tools that can help individual creators find new fans and build loyalty among their existing fans across every niche you can imagine online. Companies building here include Circle for communities and Community for direct conversations with fans.

So where does Linktree fit in…?

Creators rarely find their audience in one place and monetise through one tool.

They connect with their audience wherever they are. The average US consumer has 8.9 social accounts!

Listeners might discover an artist on Soundcloud, YouTube and TikTok. But, in a world where websites require dozens of clicks and are usually out-of-date, how does that artist direct the listener to the streaming platform, gig or merch they are talking about today?

Linktree is the connection layer that enables the progression from where you find customers to how you monetise them.

Today, Linktree has >8m users and is adding >25k new users per day. It is used by individuals and businesses across all sizes and sectors — from Jessica Alba and Selena Gomez, to The Guardian and the LA Clippers. While the US remains their largest market, Brazil and Indonesia are #2 and #3 demonstrating the global scale of the opportunity.

Tomorrow, Linktree will be the online front page for every individual creator and business.

Put your Linktree wherever your audience is and help them discover all your best content and products. If you’re a creator, why use clunky tools like Wordpress or single-purpose tools like Shopify when you can update your content, streaming and e-commerce content daily within your Linktree?

We feel very fortunate that Alex, Anthony and Nick chose us to co-lead their first investment round alongside Insight Partners. As their Australian partner, we’re already mobilising our network to help them hire the very best talent, attract the smartest advisors, and continue building an organisation capable of running hard at their colossal vision.

If you’re building software that serves creators looking to build a direct relationship with fans, engage a niche community, and monetise their skills, we’d love to speak to you.

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