In 2016, Linktree was born. It may have been created more by accident than design, but that hasn't stopped it from becoming one of the most talked-about startups of recent years. Having recently secured over $45 million in Series B funding, it's well on the way to becoming bigger and better than ever before. If you've ever wondered about the platform that makes Instagram less of a chore and more of a joy, read on for 20 things you didn't know about Linktree.
1. Linktree was created in 2016
As startupnation.com explains, Linktree was started almost by accident back in 2016 when brothers Alex and Anthony Zaccaria teamed up with their friend, Nick Humphreys, to come up with a solution to a problem they thought was just their own. Having worked in the digital space for several years, the three budding entrepreneurs were tired of losing valuable content and click-throughs each time they posted new information to the Instagram bios of the bands and festivals they managed. After deciding the solution would be a launchpad that would help them direct followers where they wanted and give them an outline of their client's current activities, they set out to create the first Linktree platform. It took just 6 hours in total to create.
2. The co-founders already had form
Linktree might be what's made them international names, but the company's founders had already enjoyed successful careers as entrepreneurs long before Linktree was even a concept. In 2011, Linktree co-founders Alex and Anthony Zaccaria established Bolser, an entertainment and culture marketing digital business that creates marketing strategies and campaigns for bands, brands, and festivals. In the 7 years since the company formed, it's enjoyed massive success, attracting clients as diverse and famous as RedBull and YouTube music.
3. It was an overnight sensation
Linktree was created in just 6 hours. It didn't take too much longer for it to become a huge hit. Although its first iteration was relatively simple in comparison to today's platform, word of mouth quickly saw its popularity skyrocket. Within just a few days of its creators sharing the link with friends and a few colleagues in the industry, it had several thousand users. Although the team was obviously delighted, they hadn't anticipated the success or put the necessary backups in place. After it gained 3000 new users overnight, the server ended up overloading and crashing.
4. Instagram slapped it with a ban
By 2018, Linktree had become big business. So big, in fact, that Instagram decided it needed cutting down to size. After deciding it was 'spam,' they flagged all its links accordingly and slapped it with an outright ban. After a public outcry that saw 41,000 complaints come from Linktree's customer base, Instagram quickly backtracked and issued an apology.
5. It's got a huge celeb following
One of the earliest celebs to sign up to Linktree was Alicia Keys. Since then, thousands of big-name brands and public figures have jumped on board the Linktree bandwagon. As a result, it now counts a huge array of beauty and fashion influencers, chefs, publications, artists, and celebs among its customers. Some of the biggest names to go public with their allegiance to Linktree include Jamie Oliver, Vice, Expedia, Eva Mendes, Naomi Campbell, the World Surf League, Billabong, and Yotam Ottolenghi.
6. It's for everyone
Linktree may have a huge following of celebrity fans, but its owners are quick to point out that the platform is for everyone. The bulk of its user base is made up of everyday folk with a micro influence who use social media to earn a little bit of extra income on the side. Speaking to surges.co, co-founder Alex Zaccaria revealed how it's these kinds of people that are proving to be the company's biggest influence. "They really are doers – people like you or me who are on social media, can sense the digital world is changing and want to do a bit more," he says. "Like mom bloggers raising a family and earning a bit of affiliate money on the side, or fitness instructors growing their local community. They are such an inspiring bunch – it keeps us working hard thinking about how we can help them and what they might need next."
7. It was bootstrapped for the first 4 years
For the first four years of its life, Linktree was entirely bootstrapped. By choosing to avoid outside investment and retain full ownership of the business, its founders claimed they could stay 100 percent in control and take 100 percent responsibility for any decision-making - a situation these serial entrepreneurs were clearly very fond of. But times change. By 2020, they realized that outside investment could help them take Linktree to the next level.
8. It received $10.7 million in Series A Funding
In October 2020, the founders of Linktree decided the time was ripe to expand the business, something that could only be achieved by abandoning their self-funded ethos and looking to external investors. It proved a profitable decision. As Business Wire reports, the tech platform raised a total of $10.7 million in Series A funding. The funding was led by Insight Partners, one of the primary investors in Shopify, and AirTree Ventures, an early investor in Canva. Speaking about the decision to look for outside investment, co-founder Alex Zaccaria explained, "From the beginning, we’ve been focused on creating a company cut from a different cloth. We’ve been bootstrapped and profitable from day one, and have achieved a lot in four years with a lean, Melbourne-based team. I am incredibly proud to announce this raise alongside our incredible investor partners, and to leverage their expertise to create something truly unique in the tech sector.”
9. It's just closed $45 million in Series B funding
On March 26, 2021, Linktree announced that it had closed $45 million in Series B funding through Index Ventures and Coatue as well as previous investors. Speaking about the round via Linktree’s website, Alex Zaccaria said, “This funding, and the guidance from investors who’ve helmed the world’s biggest tech companies, will turbocharge our growth in social commerce and ultimately, help us continue to empower brands and creators all over the world.”
10. It's free... but you can pay if you prefer
Linktree has always worked on a free basis. If you want to use it without paying a single cent, you can. If, on the another hand, you're the kind of dedicated social media user who doesn't mind paying a little bit extra to indulge their interest, you might want to consider their Pro package. Available at $6 a month, it comes with additional benefits and features that allow greater creative freedom over your profile, including the opportunity to choose fonts and custom palettes. Pro users are also treated to priority links and integrations with Mailchimp and Facebook, access to social icons, and priority support.
11. It's grown massively
Linktree was a success from day one. But today, the platform is a vastly different thing from its initial iteration as a fix for #linkinbio, and one that's even more successful than ever. It's now a multi-platform tool that can be used to connect followers on far more than just Instagram. These days, it can be used across the entire digital ecosystem, from Twitch and YouTube to Squarespace or Wix. It now has over 9 million users, 90% of which are based outside its home base of Australia.
12. It was banned in Russia
Linktree's temporary ban from Instagram was just the start of things. In 2018, it got banned in Russia for an entire year... although no one, including its founders, really understands why. At the time, several platforms remarkably like Linktree were sprouting up around the country. While some were innovative and perfectly fine, others were clearly just copies. After reaching out to one of the companies that had plagiarized their concept, the founders received news just a week later that Linktree had been banned across the entire country. Although they sense there might be a connection, it's never been completely clarified.
13. Not all users are welcome
While Linktree has built its success on engaging with its users, there are some users that it point blank refuses to have anything to do with.... and for good reason. Speaking to Building a Unicorn, Alex and Anthony Zaccaria recalled how they'd once received a call from the FBI after it was discovered ISIS was using the platform. "We got an email and a call from the FBI saying what's going on here," Alex recalled. "We looked at and it was basically just like some articles that were popping up on Twitter and things about this platform that ISIS were using to spread propaganda and that kind of thing. I mean, it was terrifying at the start, and we did everything we could to block it all and thankfully, they didn't keep trying to use it, we just blocked it. I guess, the learning for us there was really just security and spam measures as a whole."
14. It's an award winner
Linktree has been making waves ever since it started, not least in the awards community. Over the past few years, it's racked up no end of awards and accolades, including a mention on CNBC's 'Upstart 100' list of "brightest, most intriguing, young startups promising to become the great companies of tomorrow," and Fast Company's 'Most Innovative Companies of 2020.'
15. Some people love it
Considering it now has several million users, it's no surprise that Linktree has drawn plenty of positive praise. According to Wikipedia, some of its most arduous fans include social media-themed writer Brooke Ford who's described Linktree as "a smart and free method of increasing the targeted traffic that you need for your business account." It's also been described by various sources as a "tool to monetize Instagram" and a "real-life savior when it comes to boosting up your presence over the Internet."
16. And some people hate it
You can't please all the people all the time, especially when social media is involved. For every positive review that's come its way, Linktree has been hit by another, unfavorable one. Socialfollow has said that while it's not a "bad" tool, "it's not one of our recommended tools at the moment," calling Bio.fm a far superior alternative. Others have derided the platform for hurting the user's website SEO, for constantly crashing, and for failing to provide effective marketing for user's brands.
17. It's a family affair
Linktree was founded by two brothers. It's that close familial connection that, in their opinion, has been one of the secrets to their success. Speaking to Building a Unicorn, co-founder Anthony Zaccaria says "We definitely realized we can definitely just move faster because we've got a very similar brain and know each other's weak spots and strengths and just play to those. So I think it's actually, it's actually quite a good thing we can play off each other."
18. Its future is in question
That Linktree is superbly successful and has a bright future in front of it isn't in doubt. But what is in question is whether it'll launch a public offering. Until October 2020, the founders were eager to keep complete control of the business and any decisions that were made. Now that they've started to seek outside funding, that initial resolve seems to be fading in the interests of expanding the business and increasing its global footprint. The change in direction has let many to speculate that it could soon be going public, but so far, those in the know are staying mum.
19. Chance the Rapper is a fan
Linktree has always had a big celeb following, ever since day one. Never was this more apparent than in 2019, when Chance the Rapper used it to launch his album "The Big Day" as part of his partnership with Lyft. Fans were given the chance to either download it for free or donate to Chicago Public Schools.
20. Its success has taken its founders by surprise
Linktree now has around 9 million users worldwide, with around 10,000 new users signing up daily. It's partnered up with Amazon, received over $55 million in funding, and is used by everyone from Garnier and HBO to the Los Angeles Clippers and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Had you told its founders what their company would become back in 2016, they wouldn't have believed you. Speaking to surges.co, Alex Zaccaria explained how the company's success had taken them by surprise. "The way it took off was total surprise. We just built it to help out our mates and our clients, never for a minute expecting to grow to a business that had customer support, marketing and development teams!" he said.
Written by Allen Lee
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