Celebrity Shout-Out App Cameo Buys Merch Maker Represent

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Celebrity Shout-Out App Cameo Buys Merch Maker Represent

Cameo, the app for buying personalized video messages from celebrities like "Succession" actor Brian Cox or "Tiger King" star Carole Baskin, picked up Los Angeles-based celebrity merchandise retailer Represent for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition announced on Monday is Cameo's first since it launched in 2017 and it gives the company a toehold in the lucrative world of celebrity merchandise. Represent has created merchandise for Jennifer Lopez, Ed Sheeran, Kendall Jenner and Leonardo DiCaprio. Cameo would not disclose how much it paid to buy Represent.

But, Cameo CEO Steven Galanis told dot.LA that the move is an effort to build celebrity loyalty on the platform by creating a stream for "passive income."

The more than 40,000 performers on Cameo set their own pricing, which can range from $15 to several thousand dollars per video. On the pricier end, $997 will get you a quick digital shoutout from the "Wolf of Wall Street" himself, Jordan Belfort. Cameo is planning to eventually offer bundles that would let users buy both a regular Cameo video and a piece of merchandise at once.

"Right now everything that they do on Cameo requires additional work for additional pay," Galanis said. "We're going to be able to bring this (merchandising) capability in-house to the thousands of talent we work with and that's a really exciting thing, it helps them make passive income for the first time."

The company said 1.3 million videos were purchased last year. Some of their top celebrities making the short videos can bring upwards of $100,000 in income each year. Cameo takes a 25% cut of video booking fees.

Galanis said the business saw a huge uptick in demand during the pandemic as actors and performers flocked to the app while sets were shut down because of COVID. Their annual revenue skyrocketed in 2020 by 450%. Now, Cameo is determined to keep talent on the app engaged by offering them another, easier way to make money.

West Hollywood-based Represent launched in 2014 and since has shipped over 4 million products to people in over 165 countries, according to the company.

Most recently, it developed exclusive merchandise for the "Friends" reunion show thanks to a cozy relationship with NBC.

What makes Represent so valuable to Cameo is its former parent company. Represent was bought out in 2016 by global apparel company CustomInk for roughly $100 million, according to Pitchbook. The deal gave Represent access to CustomInk's existing supply chain, production network and shipping infrastructure, which is now a huge boost for Cameo.

"We do not have the capabilities at the current company to go and build these massive loop logistics," Galanis said. "We're really bringing (Represent) in to invest deeply in this business and to help use our relationships and our resources to unlock what we think are pretty massive growth opportunities here."

Under the merger, Represent's chief marketing officer Bobby Maylack will become Cameo's chief creative officer.

The merger will double Cameo's European head count, Galanis said. Both companies are operating remotely, but Represent will keep their West Hollywood office.

Cameo raised $100 million in a Series C round this March, bringing its total funding to $165 million. At the time of the March raise, Cameo's valuation was $1 billion.

Editor's note: dot.LA co-founder Spencer Rascoff is an investor in Cameo.


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