- Over the past two years, link-in-bio startups have collectively raised over $200 million.
- Now, as the market cools, these startups are vying to differentiate themselves.
- Insider spoke with founders, VCs and influencers about following the link-in-bio space.
On the heels of the boom in the creator economy, “link-in-bio” businesses have seen their own boon. But these startups may soon have to do battle.
Since 2020, more than ten companies have launched link-in-bio tools. Creators use these unique URLs in their social media profiles to direct followers to landing pages with several other links and apps.
“Where there is success, inevitably competitors will appear,” said Anthony Zaccaria, co-founder and president of Linktree, which is widely considered a leader in the field.
At least seven startups in this space have raised venture capital funds — collectively more than $200 million over the past two years — according to data from Crunchbase. But as the funding market cools, link-in-bio startups are racing to compete and differentiate themselves.
Only a handful of these tools have risen to the top as creator favorites, and even fewer are likely to survive the wave of mergers and acquisitions in the creator economy that industry leaders are predicting.
“A lot of these link-in-bo businesses aren’t going to last very long,” said Nate O’Brien, content creator and
, which recently invested in link-in-bio company Beacons. “The name of the game over the last five or six years has been growth at all costs.”
Insider spoke to 19 industry experts, including founders, VCs, and creators, to understand where the link-in-bio space is heading — and what startups will need to do to succeed.
“There are so many”
Link-in-bio companies were founded as early as 2016 to circumvent the fact that
– specifically Instagram – only allowed users to include a single URL in their profiles.
Six years later, there are at least 30 companies offering link-in-bio technology, including tech giants like Shopify. In March this year, the space hit its first unicorn, Linktree, which raised $110 million in a late Series B round at a valuation of $1.3 billion.
“There are so many of them,” said Jon Youshaei, a content creator investor and angel who also recently invested in bio-linked startup Beacons. Many of these tools “feel and look the same,” he added.
Linktree is the most frequently used in-bio link service, according to data obtained by Insider from
HypeAuditor and Traackr platforms. It’s also the only URL more common in Instagram bios than links to YouTube, Facebook, and Etsy.
According to HypeAuditor’s analysis of nearly 2 million Instagram influencer profiles, Linktree accounted for nearly 16% real link in bio real estate, followed by Linkin.bio (0.96%) and Beacons (0.74%).
Prime time for mergers and acquisitions looms
With so many companies offering similar solutions, founders, users and VCs agree that the space is crowded – and mergers and acquisitions are normal.
“There will be consolidation at some point,” Linktree’s Zaccaria said, adding that “mergers and acquisitions are definitely part of our roadmap.”
Evy Lyons, CMO of influencer marketing platform Traackr, agrees, saying that’s the nature of a booming market. She likened this space to the M&A race in the marketing automation industry nearly a decade ago.
These movements are already underway.
As early as 2019, website builder Squarespace acquired Unfold, a biography editing and linking tool. In 2021, Linktree acquired the music-specific in-bio link platform Songlink/Odesli. And last March, Lightricks, which is behind the link-in-bio tool Ltx.bio, acquired Popular Pays, an influencer marketing platform.
Last month, influencer marketing company Mavrck bought Later, a startup known for its content planning features and in-bio linking tool, Linkin.bio. The tool directly manages conversion and click-through rates, which Mavrck CEO Lyle Stevens says played a key role in Later’s acquisition.
“They have this foundation of analytics and insights already baked into their user experience,” Stevens said, which is in line with the fact that data is increasingly important for influencer marketing.
It’s also possible that these bio link tools will be picked up by larger social media platforms, such as TikTok or Meta-owned Instagram – although less likely as the platforms have started working on their own solutions. .
TikTok allows creators to link directly to their YouTube or Instagram pages in their bios, and Instagram has expanded to include buttons such as “view store”, “book” and “contact” in profiles.
Instagram also confirmed to Insider that there is an internal prototype for adding multiple links to a profile – but the tool is not publicly tested.
Link-in-bio tools will need to evolve to succeed
As consolidation continues and some companies come out on top, those with the largest user bases and creator favorites are poised to succeed.
“It’s still in that gold rush phase where people can still come in and build a successful business,” Christopher Nam, head of online investment banking at UBS, told Insider. “The question is, how can you continue to build it sustainably? And can you be profitable doing that?”
Right now, Linktree is a clear frontrunner, with over 24 million active users, according to the company’s recent report. Report “Defining the creator economy”, which surveyed over 9,500 of these users.
Who understands this user base is also increasingly a sign of success, with creators being a valuable asset.
“If these big companies are buying these tools, it’s more about buying the community that belongs with it rather than the tool themselves, because they’re all relatively similar,” said Night Ventures investor Emily Herrera. (Night Ventures invested in Beacons in 2021, before Herrera joined the venture capital firm.)
Startups try to attract creators by creating features that help them earn money or by partnering directly with them.
“As the space becomes increasingly crowded, aesthetics and functionality aren’t everything,” said micro-influencer and designer coach Zara Khan. “Being the one stop shop for everything is a game changer.”
Lightricks, for example, offers tip pot in its landing pages, and earlier this year signed a partnership with the D’Amelio family, giving them equity in the company and having them serve as advisers. .
Koji’s landing pages, meanwhile, include apps and widgets that help creators make money, like “Shout Out,” which is the company’s version of Cameo. Beacons help creators create media kits, and just earlier this week Linktree added NFT tools.
Stan.store, which Khan uses, aims to be a storefront solution allowing creators to sell directly through their link in bio, without having to create a full website. She uses it to sell courses and other services.
What seems inevitable is that these companies will have to do more than just aggregate links to get to the top.
“The most interesting companies treat this as an entry point rather than an end game,” Youshaei said.