The founders of Letterboxd, Matt Buchanan and Karl von Randow, have recently made a significant move. They’ve sold a controlling share in the platform, which they began out of their passion for movies. This recent deal has placed the company’s valuation at over $50 million.
Maintaining Control and Integrity
Despite selling a majority of the business, the two New Zealand natives emphasize that not much is expected to change. They retain their leadership roles and are excited for the next phase of the company. Von Randow stated, “We are not suddenly going to have four new bosses.” They’ve chosen to work with the Canadian investment firm Tiny due to its hands-off approach, allowing founders to seek assistance when necessary.
Future Expansion: Incorporating TV Shows
Letterboxd is considering a significant expansion — the introduction of TV shows to the platform for users to rate, review, and monitor. This has been in planning for some time and isn’t a direct result of the Tiny investment. Buchanan mentioned some challenges and concerns, especially from fans who worry that the platform might be overwhelmed by TV show binges. The aim, however, is to introduce TV without undermining the current movie-focused user experience.
Journey of Letterboxd
Starting in 2011, Buchanan and von Randow launched Letterboxd as a side project alongside their web design studio. The platform experienced a surge in users during the COVID-19 pandemic, and currently boasts over 10 million registered users. They welcomed their first full-time employee in March 2020, and now the company has nearly 20 full-time staff members, alongside several freelancers and part-timers. This growth prompted the founders to seek mentorship and collaboration, leading to their partnership with Tiny.
Choosing the Right Partner
Over the years, Letterboxd has had its share of buyout offers. But the founders were selective. Buchanan highlighted the importance of remaining independent from the industry to maintain their unique position. With Tiny, they found a partner who appreciated the unique niche that Letterboxd holds between studios, filmmakers, and its community.
About Tiny and Their Approach
Tiny, under the leadership of Andrew Wilkinson, operates with a distinct business philosophy. They prioritize investing in companies that promote positivity, boasting satisfied employees and customers. Their portfolio consists of several cash-flow positive businesses. Unlike some investment firms, Tiny does not enforce partnerships between its investments, ensuring the autonomy of its portfolio companies.
Wilkinson’s Personal Connection
Wilkinson’s personal interest in movies solidifies the alignment between Tiny and Letterboxd. As a devoted movie-goer, his passion for cinema aligns well with Letterboxd’s mission.