By the beginning of last year, six-year-old startup Cameo was on a tear. Pandemic-induced lockdowns in 2020 had spurred demand for the personalized video messages celebrities sell on its website and app. Co-founder and CEO Steven Galanis was gearing up for a major expansion that would more than triple its workforce from pre-pandemic levels and give him the confidence to claim Cameo could be publicly traded within 18 to 36 months. But as pandemic restrictions loosened last year, cooling demand for online work and entertainment, strains emerged in the business.
When 2021 ended, Cameo had booked about $100 million worth of transactions between celebrities and individual Cameo customers, its main business, up just 8% from 2020, according to an internal document viewed by The Information. (The company keeps roughly 25% of those transactions as revenue.) Including sales from other businesses, such as the merchandise maker Represent it acquired last year, the value of all customer transactions rose 37% to $132 million.
Even that was far short of Galanis’ projection in June 2021 when he told The Information the company was aiming to book $200 million to $300 million of customer orders last year. Growth slowed precipitously from 2020, a year in which Cameo had said its video shoutouts business grew more than fourfold.