Lightricks, the Jerusalem-based mobile app development startup, has made its largest ever acquisition with the purchase of the Chicago-based Popular Pays. This deal is one of the first of its kind, because it brings together a leading company on the supply side of the creator economy with a major player on the demand side.
By merging both functions into a single ecosystem, Lightricks has the potential to become a one-stop platform for digital creators who wish to monetize their influence with brand collaborations. Landing engagements for sponsored posts is considered the most lucrative monetization channel for creators, who often struggle to transition from creating content as a hobby to earning a living.
Lightricks initially built its reputation by building world-leading photo and video editing apps such as Facetune, Beatleap, Filtertune and Videoleap. These are tools that creators can use to increase the quality of their content and add their own unique style. In total, their apps have been installed over 600 million times across the world, according to the latest figures publicized by the company. They currently have 24 million monthly active users, and of those 5.2 million are paying subscribers.
After Lightricks’s Series D funding round brought in $130 million and took the company’s total funding to $335 million last September, there had been speculation that an acquisition could be imminent. At the time, the startup was valued at $1.8 billion because investors such as Goldman Sachs Asset Management saw the potential for Lightricks to offer more diverse services to their existing large user base.
Since the Series D round, Lightricks has launched several new features, but two in particular stand out because they are aimed at a wider set of creator needs, demonstrating that the company is keen to diversify beyond facilitating content creation.
Link In Bio allows creators to create highly personalized microsites for free, which they can add to their social media profiles. This helps creators to direct their fans toward their revenue generating products and services. The247 is a recent addition, as a blog where people can discover behind-the-scenes content and exclusive tips from social media megastars and rising creators alike.
Popular Pays fits in with Lightricks’s wider strategy by empowering creators with another method to monetize their content. As a platform that matches brands with creators for collaboration opportunities, Popular Pays has seen considerable growth, with over 100,000 pieces of sponsored content created and over 40,000 creator-brand partnerships to date.
Like Lightricks, Popular Pays grew considerably during the pandemic. Over the course of 2021, the company drove unprecedented revenues while also achieving profitability.
This acquisition means that Lightricks’s creator base will now gain easier access to a wide range of brands, including household names such as Kraft-Heinz. Two of the campaigns by Kraft-Heinz on Popular Pays were “Realistically Gourmet” and “Taming Life’s Chaos.” With these projects, the global food brand worked with 12 content creators and achieved over 8 million impressions.
With the resources of Lightricks now behind Popular Pays, opportunities like these for creators will only increase in the future. Rony Laufer, the Vice President of Business and Corporate Development at Lightricks, shared some interesting ideas of how the two brands joining could create greater monetization awareness for creators.
“When you’re editing, you could see a pop-up saying, ‘Hey, L’Oréal is doing this big campaign for red lipstick, you’re using red lipstick on your photo, do you want to apply?’” Once integrations of this kind have been built between Lightricks products and Popular Pays, many creators who might not have otherwise known how to go about landing brand collaborations will be able to discover them with ease.
As part of the deal, Popular Pays CEO Corbett Drummey will be joining Lightricks along with all 30 of his employees. Corbett will become the Vice President of Brand Collaboration. Lightricks itself already has 550 employees, which is likely to increase through internal projects and further acquisitions.
For Lightricks, this deal represents significant diversification in revenue channels as well, given that creators themselves do not pay for Popular Pays services. Instead, the revenue model involves brands paying a commission to Popular Pays based on the level of engagement that creators are able to achieve.
Understandably, it appears the Lightricks team is excited by the potential of what this acquisition means for their future. “This acquisition is an important step for us, and will help change the game for creators,” Lightricks Co-founder and CEO Zeev Farbman said. “They will reach new levels of success and connect easily with brands through the combination of Popular Pays’ exceptional platform and team with the strength of Lightricks’ creative tools and understanding of the creator community.”