Linktree is poised to become a creator economy giant

LinkTree is “creating a place for people to monetize, grow and curate the ecosystem.”

Linktree co-founder Anthony Zaccaria

Linktree co-founder Anthony Zaccaria talks about the state of the creator economy.

Photo: Linktree

To make a living as a creator, you have to share content to more than one platform. Though creators can make it big on TikTok or Instagram, having multiple sources of income — brand partnerships, merch, subscription platforms — can often be the only way to stay afloat. Linktree knows this better than anyone, said Anthony Zaccaria, its co-founder.

Monetizing content as an independent creator has become a popular career choice, but the market is fragmented. Though creator funds and in-app monetization tools offer ways to make a little cash, brand deals on multiple platforms remain the most profitable way to turn being a creator into a full-time job. Linktree gives creators the opportunity to keep themselves organized, bringing all of the tools they need into one central hub.

“It's all about creating a place for people to monetize, grow and curate the ecosystem, no matter where they're building their audience,” Zaccaria said. “That is the key thing.”

The platform, which was founded in 2016 by Zaccaria, his brother Alex and Nick Humphreys, hit 24 million users last year, with major names like Selena Gomez, Shawn Mendes, Bella Poarch and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson joining in. Now it’s attracted a third round of funding, raising $110 million from a host of venture capital firms and bringing its valuation to $1.3 billion, the company announced Wednesday. It’s also bringing on Mike Olson, former SVP of Growth Initiatives at Twitch, as its president, focusing on U.S. market expansion.

Protocol spoke to Zaccaria about the state of the creator economy, how Linktree works for creators, its recent integrations and the future of the platform.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Can you generally speak to the state of the creator economy as it stands, and where Linktree fits into the space?

Obviously creators as a whole have been a thing for a long time. Thinking back to YouTubers and vloggers, and people monetizing content and monetizing their personalities, that has been around for 10 or 15 years. Particularly through the pandemic, people [are] realizing they can do a whole lot more. Tech enabling that has increased.

We're seeing people really find ways to monetize their passions, their hobbies, their side hustles, whether it's creating and building something physical or purely just through content. And I think we're seeing a new economy rise up and a new source of revenue for people, whether people make this a full-time living, whether it's through platforms like Twitch or YouTube or TikTok being a secondary source of income.

We see ourselves playing a big part of that, as a platform-agnostic place for everyone to curate their ecosystem, whether they're digital talent that lives in the world of YouTube or TikTok, or they live in the physical and digital world where they have physical goods and they're making products a bit selling through Etsy or Amazon, but they're also using content to promote and build their audiences.

What kinds of creators use Linktree the most?

We have over 23 million users worldwide. For verticals or user groups, there are just over 250 [groups] on the platform that self-identify when they sign up. We're pretty evenly split across those verticals. There isn't really one that makes up the majority. We say that we're platform-agnostic and we have a use case and value prop across the spectrum.

Do people that are bigger on different platforms use Linktree differently? What is Linktree doing to help facilitate all of their needs?

We don't see different use cases by platform, whether you're TikTok, Twitter, Instagram. What we see as different is the type of user on that platform. So if you're a musician that is bigger on Instagram, how you use it might be different to someone who's producing educational content on TikTok or a realtor who might be showing their listings on TikTok or a gamer on Twitch. Regardless of the platform you're coming from, Linktree is still this place that unifies your whole ecosystem, everything you care about, what's important, relevant and recent for you.

For example, as a musician, we see our music users using our music-link functionality, which integrates Songlink/Odesli, which we acquired last year. That allows artists to embed their … Spotify link or any other platform and it will show all the streaming services that the song or album is available on in the country that the user is in. They integrate our Bandsintown link, which we just recently partnered with, to show tour dates, or they might use our Shopify integration to show their merch.

Does Linktree plan to expand from individual and creator uses to enterprise uses?

Absolutely, and we have. Over the last year, we've seen the small business vertical itself grow about 327%, and brands — like Red Bulls or Qantas, those kinds of big names — using the product [have grown] over 500%. So we're sort of seeing brands really use it and drive their audience to the links in profiles to either go to Shopify or sign up to see new content. So we're seeing that as a big growth area. We already have quite a few users on enterprise plans, which is discounted pricing for bulk accounts. But we’re continuing to build functionality for brands, or even just users that want to manage and control multiple user profiles in one spot … whether it's integration with payments or marketing tech or whatnot.

Does Linktree plan to get into the crypto/blockchain space? If so, what will that look like?

Web3 as a whole aligns with our vision of empowering creators. We're not necessarily pivoting to be a Web3 company and changing everything about what we do, but continuing to build on our vision of empowering creators to curate the digital universe. There is some specific functionality and integrations and tools that are coming down the line that we'll be rolling out over the next couple of months as well that are in a similar space to what we're doing already. I can't talk about the specifics on the partnerships and integrations, but they will be coming soon.

We’re building functionality that will help service the NFT community, service Web3, service crypto, while still being true to what Linktree does without necessarily all of a sudden pivoting. We're already used by a lot of the Web3 community: Bored Ape Yacht Club, for example, use[s] Linktree. So we still have a product that can straddle Web 2.0 and Web3 quite easily.

What does Linktree plan to do with the funding?

It's obviously super exciting. We've got such a big product vision, and the capital is really to execute on that vision. The team really is the first part to help execute on that. We’re at about 240 employees now and will likely be somewhere between 450 and 500 by the end of this year, with a bigger focus on the U.S. as well as some other global markets that are emerging for us. A lot of it is really going into the team, and also reinvesting back into the team to continue to ensure our employee experience is top of class.

Can you expand a little bit more upon how you're planning on building your product vision? In the near future, what is that going to look like for users?

We've done some recent ecommerce functionality, so we’ll continue to build upon that … [with] deeper functionality and partnerships with some other like-minded businesses. We [recently] did a partnership that has been in the works for a while, but we've pushed ahead with it because of the situation in Ukraine, with GoFundMe and allowing folks to create a GoFundMe link within their Linktree profiles so they can drive donations for Ukraine. So we’ll continue to build upon that sort of area.

Is an IPO or public debut in Linktree’s future?

To be honest, I think we're still pretty early. We were bootstrapped up until we took funding at the start of 2020 and profitable to that point. We did that all ourselves, we took on venture to help us grow and scale. We have a big vision and that has been great so far. So whilst the business has been around for five or six years, we still feel we are quite early on in the journey, particularly in the venture journey. So acquisition conversations and IPO conversations aren't really things we're talking about.


How 'Zuck Bucks' saved the 2020 election — and fueled the Big Lie

The true story of how Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s $419 million donation became the 2020 election’s most enduring conspiracy theory.

Mark Zuckerberg is smack in the center of one of the 2020 election’s multitudinous conspiracies.

Illustration: Mike McQuade; Photos: Getty Images

If Mark Zuckerberg could have imagined the worst possible outcome of his decision to insert himself into the 2020 election, it might have looked something like the scene that unfolded inside Mar-a-Lago on a steamy evening in early April.

There in a gilded ballroom-turned-theater, MAGA world icons including Kellyanne Conway, Corey Lewandowski, Hope Hicks and former president Donald Trump himself were gathered for the premiere of “Rigged: The Zuckerberg Funded Plot to Defeat Donald Trump.”

Keep Reading Show less
Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.

Sponsored Content

Why the digital transformation of industries is creating a more sustainable future

Qualcomm’s chief sustainability officer Angela Baker on how companies can view going “digital” as a way not only toward growth, as laid out in a recent report, but also toward establishing and meeting environmental, social and governance goals.

Three letters dominate business practice at present: ESG, or environmental, social and governance goals. The number of mentions of the environment in financial earnings has doubled in the last five years, according to GlobalData: 600,000 companies mentioned the term in their annual or quarterly results last year.

But meeting those ESG goals can be a challenge — one that businesses can’t and shouldn’t take lightly. Ahead of an exclusive fireside chat at Davos, Angela Baker, chief sustainability officer at Qualcomm, sat down with Protocol to speak about how best to achieve those targets and how Qualcomm thinks about its own sustainability strategy, net zero commitment, other ESG targets and more.

Keep Reading Show less
Chris Stokel-Walker

Chris Stokel-Walker is a freelance technology and culture journalist and author of "YouTubers: How YouTube Shook Up TV and Created a New Generation of Stars." His work has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian and Wired.


From frenzy to fear: Trading apps grapple with anxious investors

After riding the stock-trading wave last year, trading apps like Robinhood have disenchanted customers and jittery investors.

Retail stock trading is still an attractive business, as shown by the news that crypto exchange FTX is dipping its toes in the market by letting some U.S. customers trade stocks.

Photo: Lam Yik/Bloomberg via Getty Images

For a brief moment, last year’s GameStop craze made buying and selling stocks cool, even exciting, for a new generation of young investors. Now, that frenzy has turned to fear.

Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev pointed to “a challenging macro environment” marked by rising prices and interest rates and a slumping market in a call with analysts explaining his company’s lackluster results. The downturn, he said, was something “most of our customers have never experienced in their lifetimes.”

Keep Reading Show less
Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers crypto and fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at or via Google Voice at (925) 307-9342.


Broadcom is reportedly in talks to acquire VMware

It hasn't been long since it left the ownership of Dell Technologies.

Photo: Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Broadcom is said to be in discussions with VMware to buy the cloud computing company for as much as $50 billion.

Keep Reading Show less
Jamie Condliffe

Jamie Condliffe ( @jme_c) is the executive editor at Protocol, based in London. Prior to joining Protocol in 2019, he worked on the business desk at The New York Times, where he edited the DealBook newsletter and wrote Bits, the weekly tech newsletter. He has previously worked at MIT Technology Review, Gizmodo, and New Scientist, and has held lectureships at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London. He also holds a doctorate in engineering from the University of Oxford.


Should startups be scared?

Stock market turmoil is making VCs skittish. Could now be the best time to start a company?

Dark times could be ahead for startups.

Photo by Startaê Team on Unsplash

This week, we break down why Elon Musk is tweeting about the S&P 500's ESG rankings — and why he might be right to be mad. Then we discuss how tech companies are failing to prevent mass shootings, and why the new Texas social media law might make it more difficult for platforms to be proactive.

Then Protocol's Biz Carson, author of the weekly VC newsletter Pipeline, joins us to explain the state of venture capital amidst plunging stocks and declining revenues. Should founders start panicking? The answer might surprise you.

Keep Reading Show less
Caitlin McGarry

Caitlin McGarry is the news editor at Protocol.

Latest Stories