A while back, Dixie D’Amelio, the social media star, noticed something strange happening online: Somtimes her fans would repost her own images with retouched ones noticeably better than her originals.
“I would post a picture, and two seconds later, there’d be a whole different edit out there,” she says. “I watched the people who follow me creating these amazing edits, and I was always fascinated by it.”
Eventually, she and the other members of her celebrity family, including her equally famous sister, Charli, and father Marc, realized some of those followers were using apps from an under-the-radar Israeli startup, Lightricks. Now, in a bit of can’t-beat-’em-join-’em spirit, the D’Amelios have struck a deal to become advisors and brand ambassadors for Lightricks in exchange for equity in the company and an upfront cash payment, negotiations that began late last year. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
For Lightricks, an alliance with the D’Amelios will be helpful as the company makes a push for greater recognition—and more users—in America and elsewhere amid a packed field of competitors. (The U.S. accounts for about 40% of its 30 million users.) Lightricks, which was founded in 2013, has several popular photo- and video-editing apps, such as Facetune and Videoleap. Last September, it raised fresh capital from investors like Greycroft and Goldman Sachs, a $130 million round valuing the company at over $1 billion. But it remains little known outside of its native Israel and hopes tying itself to the D’Amelios will help bolster its profile.
Lightricks needs all the star power it can get: It hopes to shift from making software for amateur social media users to users interested in earning money as social media creators, like the D’Amelios have. This presses Lightricks up against giant corporations like TikTok and Instagram’s parent company, Meta, both of which offer their own suite of in-app editing tools, and smaller companies making similar software, like VSCO. To take on the bigger companies, other social media startups have taken the same route, hitching themselves to celebrities in the space. Triller, another short-form video app, has doled out millions to TikTok celebrities to get them to use and promote its technology; it also gave equity and a chief strategy officer title to TikTok star Josh Richards to get him to shill the app and advise on its features.
For the D’Amelios, the tie-in is more straightforward. They’ve sought to expand the family’s commercial potential beyond TikTok, the origin of Charli and Dixie’s fame. (The pair ranked No. 1 and No. 2 on our latest list of the top-earning TikTokers, collectively earning over $25 million in 2021.) In December 2020, Charli struck a similar deal for equity in Step, joining in $50 million Series B financing for the banking-for-teens app. The sisters also have a lucrative joint venture with Hollister for Social Tourist, a line of teen clothing.
First up for Lightricks, the D’Amelios have counseled the app on a new feature it plans to launch next month, a so-called link-in-bio tool, essentially an easy-to-construct Web page for creators to house content from across social media, says Lightricks founder and CEO Zeev Farbman. “We want Lightricks to be associated with creators,” he says. “And creator success.”