FaceTune developer Lightrix, which operates more than a dozen subscription-based photo and video editing apps on iOS and Android, now has $130 million in new funding to further grow its business. The company’s newly announced Series D round includes $100 million in primary and $30 million in secondary funding, and is now valued at $1.8 billion. To date, Lightrix has raised $335 million.
The new round was led by New York-based VC firms Insight Partners and Hanako Venture Capital and includes new investors Migdal Insurance, Altshuler Shaham and Shavit Capital. Existing investors Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Clall Tech, Harel Insurance & Finance and Greycroft also participated.
The company’s last round of funding was $135 million before the pandemic, which cast the company as a unicorn.
Based in Jerusalem, Lightrix is best known for its photo-editing app FaceTune, which puts Photoshop-like retouching tools in the hands of consumers. The app quickly gained traction as online influencers tweaked their Instagram photos to look more polished, perfect, and blemish-free. The rise was not without controversy, however, with some arguing how image editing apps like FaceTune took airbrushing too far, contributing to body image issues that, now, Facebook’s internal research indicates. , can have a negative impact on the mental health of adolescents.
But Facetune was only the beginning for Lightrix since it became the mobile editing empire, at a time when everyone is trying to create their best online viewing and compelling content. Over the years, the company rolled out the more powerful FaceTune 2, along with other creativity and mobile photo apps that weren’t focused on selfies. It expanded its product lineup beyond the maker crowd to bring a suite of tools to online marketers and small businesses. And last year, Lightrix more directly responded to the rise in online video as a form of self-expression with a new selfie retouching tool called Facetune Video — essentially the Facetune for the TikTok era.
The company benefited from the COVID-19 lockdown, with more people participating online and manufacturers as a group becoming more well-established as a way for brands to reach consumers. During the peak lockdown, the company saw a 90% increase in usage of its app in the US, meanwhile, downloads of its popular Videoleap video editing app grew by 70% since the start of the pandemic, as also the adoption of TikTok. increased.
In its suite of apps, the company now features 29 million monthly active users, with over 5 million paid subscribers. Its users average about 78 million monthly exports, reflecting the large impact Lightrix has had on the maker economy. In 2021, Lightrix is on track for revenue of more than $200 million and plans to increase that figure to 40% in the coming year.
To do this the company’s strategy will change. Rather than just developing its own apps, it is now looking for potential acquisitions.
“We plan to grow into a one-stop-shop creator platform that supports creators along their journey, from content creation to monetization,” says Zeev Farbman, CEO and co-founder of Lightrix. “To do this, we are expanding our acquisition activity, while developing other services in-house—our overall M&A objective is driving our transition to the Maker platform. To begin with “We are planning three to five acquisitions, each with a budget of tens of millions of dollars. However, if there is enough confidence on both sides, we are looking for bigger ticket size deals,” he noted.
The company will also enhance its technology to develop tools and services that will help all creators with content production and monetization, and it will grow its team.
Currently, Lightrix has 460 employees and plans to add 60 more by the end of 2021. The long-term goal is to grow the team to 1,000 employees by the end of 2023, including developers, designers and marketing. While the majority of this growth so far has been in Jerusalem, over the next two years, the company plans to grow its teams locally in Haifa as well as internationally in London and Shenzhen. It can also connect at other places through M&A.
The UK office is now the largest outside Lightrix’s headquarters, holding 23 people. That number is expected to climb to 35 by the end of the year and closer to 50 or 60 by the end of 2022, with development focused on producing the company’s new photography app plus customer experience and marketing teams, which were previously only in Israel.
In the US, Lightrix is focused on content.
“Our US-based activity will primarily focus on our content efforts providing a broad range of original, acquired and co-created content to inspire, educate and entertain creators throughout the entirety of their careers,” notes Farbman. We do. “This includes written, video, audio, short- and long-form, fun and informative content,” he says.
Investors say Lightrix is likely to rise with the boom in the creator economy.
“The maker economy has changed the way we, as a society, experience social networks,” Pasha Romanovsky, co-founding partner of Hanako Ventures, said in a statement. “Viewers continuously consume information through various content channels every day. Lightrix’s platform enables creators to have a broader, more professional, and higher-quality tool set for customizing content. At a time when we are seeing content creators monetizing content on social media to new levels, it is clear that the Lytrix platform has the potential to create a one-stop shop that will be meaningful to its users,” he said.