Cameo, the video platform that enables fans to purchase personalized video messages from their favorite influencers, athletes, and reality stars, has just closed a seismic $50 million funding round.
Cameo did not disclose its valuation in the wake of the Series B, which was led by Kleiner Perkins with participation from The Chernin Group, Spark Ventures, Bain Capital, and Lightspeed Venture Partners (which led the company’s $12.5 million Series A in November).
Cameo is growing at lightning speeds. The 26-month-old company has facilitated 275,000 personalized greetings from a total of 15,000 celebrities to date — up from 85,000 greetings from a total of 5,000 stars last November. Company revenues have increased by a multiple of five within the past six months, CEO Steven Galanis tells Tubefilter. (Roughly half of the 15,000 stars on the platform are social media influencers, who charge between $50 and $100 per video).
Subscribe for daily Tubefilter Top Stories
Some of the platform’s biggest moneymakers right now — who can take home between five and six figures monthly for filming 30-second shoutouts, birthday greetings, and even marriage proposals — include Snoop Dogg (who was a Series A investor), footballer Antonio Brown, and Charlie Sheen, Galanis says. And three of the platform’s five most-booked performers are cast members of Bravo‘s The Real Housewives Of New York City — including Sonja Morgan, Dorinda Medley, and Luann De Lesseps.
But in terms of total output, early adopters like Cody Ko (who was the roommate of Cameo co-founder and fellow OG Vine star Devon Townsend) — as well as Evan Breen and Nick Coletti — take the cake. Breen, for his part, has been booked over 4,000 times.
We’re In The “The Top Of The Second Inning”
New funds will be allocated to expanding Cameo’s domestic and international footprint (particularly in the U.K. and Australia). Galanis says 30% of the company’s revenues currently hail from abroad.
Headquartered in Chicago with 66 staffers, Cameo opened a 20-person office in Los Angeles in February, and plans to aggressively build out its product development and design teams on the West Coast, with the intention of tripling its headcount there by year’s end. Galanis says the company intends to onboard “world class” product managers, designers, and engineers so that Cameo is on par with the other social video platforms du jour, including YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, and the like.
“It’s the top of the second inning at Cameo,” Galanis said in a statement. “We have an ambitious roadmap that includes developing new, rich conversation features, bolstering our talent roster in key verticals, and aggressively scaling our global presence. Our co-founder Martin Blencowe, who is British, is even moving back to London to oversee international expansion.”
The company is also planning to overhaul its look and interface across desktop and mobile. Cameo will unveil a new iOS app in coming months, after it made the critical decision to remove the ability to purchase Cameos on i)S two months ago due to the fact that Apple takes a massive 30% cut of any in-app purchases. (While its Android app still facilitates bookings, Galanis tells Tubefilter that the majority are transacted on the mobile web; iOS only represented 6% of bookings before the capability was removed). The redesigned iOS app will enable users to purchase Cameos via a new digital currency model. It will also tout a more compelling, content-based feed.
Finally, Galanis says, the company will be using new funds to launch its first-ever marketing push, which will roll out within the next 90 days.
What Makes A Cameo Star?
Generally speaking, Cameo creators must have at least 20,000 Instagram followers in order to be eligible to vend shoutouts (the company also accepts referrals from stars who are already on the platform). Creators can set their own pricing — from $5 to $2,500 per video. Top creators on the platform are producing 15 to 20 Cameos daily, Galanis says. Cameo pockets 25% of the fee, with the creator taking home the remaining 75%.
Galanis tells Tubefilter that follower counts don’t necessarily correlate with success on Cameo. Monetary success depends on a number of factors — including pricing strategy (influencers might count younger fans who would spend less per shoutout, for instance), and a knack for the medium, which lends itself to an authentic, comedic acumen that packs a 30-second punch. Two of the most-requested personalities across all verticals who have yet to join, says Galanis, are Casey Neistat and David Dobrik.
In addition to being a monetization channel, Galanis also sees Cameo as a personal brand booster — given that the clips typically turn their recipients into even more rabid admirers. Additionally, recipients share their Cameos on social media most of the time, which spreads the reach of a creator’s work and also serves as a commercial of sorts for future bookings.
In another boon for discovery, Cameos are also free-to-watch on the company’s website, where viewers can come to browse other peoples’ shoutouts.
“In the same way that Vine and YouTube made different celebrities, Cameo is creating its own breed of digital stars,” Galanis says.