Cameo, the digital marketplace for purchasing greetings and interactions with celebrities, has lured PayPal PYPL to its latest funding round, an addition meant to bolster an increasing focus on expanding overseas.
Adding PayPal will better intertwine the payment processing company and the startup while Cameo works on software to efficiently dispense earnings from its platform to international celebrities, some of whom live in countries not served by competing firms such as Stripe, says Cameo CEO and cofounder Steven Galanis.
“We think they will help us manifest our vision in a big way—the vision of building technology that will enable each and every talent on Earth, to have a personal relationship with every one of their fans,” Galanis says.
Cameo has raised a $100 million Series C, a slug of cash placing a roughly $1 billion valuation on the company, according to estimated data from PitchBook. It brings four-year-old Cameo’s total bankroll to nearly $170 million, a sum taken from investors like SoftBank, Google Ventures and United Talent Agency. The new billion-dollar valuation represents a significant leap from its previous valuation of $300 million.
Gross revenue, the total amount of bookings on Cameo, from abroad represents over a quarter of such sales in 2020, up from 17% a year earlier. Cameo would like to see more the figure grow to more than 50% over the next few years. So far it has mainly attracted interest in English-speaking countries with more recent growth coming in Germany, France and Italy, Galanis says.
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The startup is best known as a place to hire celebrities to create virtual greetings, like birthday wishes. These cost anywhere from $5 to upward of $1,000 for the most famous faces on Cameo, like Richard Dreyfuss, Ice T and Tony Hawk, who was also an investor in the Series C. Cameo takes 25% of gross bookings, good enough for an estimated $25 million or so in net revenue last year. It has recently expanded its offerings to include the ability to book a one-on-one conversation with a celebrity and allow stars to set up a subscription-based fan club. The startup further hopes to broadly roll out a marketplace it’s currently testing where small- and medium-sized business hire celebs for bespoke content.
To help celebrities manage what’s going on, Cameo is newly introducing a central dashboard, Wallet. There, they’ll be able to review individual transactions, a fan’s purchase history, study breakdowns of what Cameo products drive their income and more quickly move earnings into bank accounts.
“As people are making more money on cameo, we need to start allowing the talent to have tools to run their businesses as effectively as possible,” Galanis says.