June 26, 2019
Want a shoutout from Brett Favre ($500), Gilbert Gottfried ($150), Stormy Daniels ($250), Tommy Lee ($350), Teresa Giudice ($200), or Dr. Pimple Popper ($100)?
Cameo, the Chicago-based startup that lets users buy personalized video messages from celebrities, has raised $50 million to help fuel an international expansion and further develop its app, The Chicago Tribune reports.
Most of Cameo’s shoutouts are booked through its website, CEO and Co-Founder Steven Galanis told the news outlet. The startup has been building its product development team and working toward relaunching an improved app.
“We want to make it something super engaging, that when you’re on the ‘L’ going to work, you’re opening Cameo instead of Instagram,” he told the Tribune in an interview.
Since Cameo launched more than two years ago, the startup has drawn attention for its quick and affordable access to celebrities. Last year, it joined tech giants such as Apple, Amazon, and Airbnb on Time’s list of 50 “Genius Companies.”
But the company has not made it this far without running into some problems: In late 2018, it was reported that an account associated with an anti-Semitic group had tricked several celebrities into making Cameo videos using coded anti-Semitic language. Galanis quickly responded, calling the videos a “wake-up call.”
Cameo employs about 100 people, more than 65 of whom work out of its Windy City headquarters. Galanis said he plans to bolster the company’s international employee ranks, and wants to add European soccer players, Bollywood actors, and K-Pop artists to its celebrity roster.
Currently, the site offers video greetings from thousands of athletes and B-, C- and D-list celebrities. Consumers can pay as much as $350 to receive a greeting from rapper and TV star Ice-T, or $200 for former Chicago Bears player Mike Singletary.
This month’s round of funding brings the total amount Cameo has raised to $65 million. Galanis declined to disclose the valuation to the Tribune-however
Menlo Park, California-based investor Kleiner Perkins led the round of funding. Other investors included media and tech investor The Chernin Group, venture capital firm Spark Ventures, Bain Capital, and Lightspeed Venture Partners.
Research contact: @chicagotribune