Rap moguls and startups collide once again in this new commercial for Fancy, a Pinterest competitor. The ad, a low budget affair that shows Damon Dash introducing Fancy to Cam'ron as a way to sell $450 jerseys, debuted yesterday on WorldStarHipHop—an atypical launching pad for tech marketing—and has already been viewed almost 4 million times.
Like Pinterest, Fancy is a photo-sharing website and app, except that Fancy is more focused on selling the items in the pictures. The New York-based company, which used to be called The Fancy, is best known for its celebrity connections—like Ashton Kutcher, Nas, and Kanye West—as well the company's willingness to try different ways of making money.
Fancy recently raised a bubblicious $53 million from American Express, Will Smith, and Ukranian hedge fund billionaire Len Blavatnik at an unconfirmed $600 million valuation, perhaps spurred by the rumor that Apple was interested in acquiring the startup. The startup previously received investment from Allen & Company, Jack Dorsey, Chris Hughes, and Bob Pittman back when CEO Joe Einhorn—a man Forbes once called hard to take seriously because he uses the word "dope" so often—was pitching "the Facebook of Things."
Rather than the prevailing scale-first-profitability-later model, Fancy has experimented with paying users for sharing, crowd-sourced monthly subscription boxes, and something called a "reverse Groupon" which lets users indicate whether they're interested in buying the item in a photo, as a sign of demand. That last tactic only pays off if merchants sign up to sell the item. (I didn't say they were great ideas, just that Fancy has tried them.)
In July, a source told Bloomberg that Fancy was making $3 million in revenue a month, but there is no comment about profitability. The company's Tumblr says it brought in around $700,000 on Black Friday from roughly 4,750 orders at an average of about $150 per order.
In 2012, Einhorn told Forbes he spends next to nothing on marketing and advertising, although I've seen a number of Facebook ads for Fancy. Quantcast and Compete show low traffic for the site. According to AppAnnie, it's currently ranked no. 140 overall and no. 8 in the lifestyle category in the iOS Store.
— Nasir Jones (@Nas) June 20, 2013
Nas has referred to Fancy as "one of" his businesses and West is an advisor. I've reached out to Fancy to ask whether Cam'ron and Dash, who owed $2 million in unpaid taxes as of May, were paid for the spot or are somehow affiliated with the company and will update the post if I hear back. While you're waiting, please enjoy the Atlantic City hotel vibe.
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