Fourteen months ago, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who knew what Cameo was, much less someone who’d used the product.
Today, that couldn’t be further from the truth, and customers around the world are signing into Cameo to pay for personalized messages from celebrities of all stripes: athletes, musicians, television personalities, influencers and more. And, according to the company’s product team, video messages are just the beginning.
Here’s what’s coming up next for the company.
EMPLOYEES: 25 in Los Angeles, 85 in Chicago
WHERE THEY DO IT: LA & Chicago
WHAT THEY DO: Cameo’s community of celebrities and influencers provide personalized video shoutouts to their biggest fans via the company's mobile app.
NOTABLE PERKS: Cameo’s celebs aren't just on their app — they’re in their office. Once a month, Cameo welcomes a fan favorite to meet employees onsite. The office also hosts live music monthly.
Mike Kim, Head of Design
As the head of Cameo’s design team, Mike and his team of creatives create branded experiences and communications that meaningfully impact the business.
BEYOND WORK: Mike tries to maximize his non-working hours with his daughters and wife. And on the weekends, he enjoys building things with his hands.
Talk to us about your career journey before Cameo. What excited you about the prospect leading the design effort at the company?
I've been a designer for over 20 years after I cut my teeth in San Francisco during the first dot-com era. I've always been focused on the web and product design space, and I’m fascinated by how technology, business and design work together to create experiences.
I'm entrepreneurial by nature, which is why I’ve always been attracted to startups. Over the last ten years, I've worked in various capacities, from business development, director of UX, founding partner and now as the head of design for Cameo. What excited me about Cameo was the simplicity of the business model and the empowering nature of the co-founders. There was so much traction, yet so much to be done from a design perspective. I saw that I could come in and deliver immediate value.
How has your team changed in the time you’ve been at Cameo? How have you played a role in those changes?
When I first joined Cameo, there were two product designers and a content designer who reported into marketing. Now, I have eight designers across product, content and copy. I've intentionally scaffolded my team so that everyone has someone they can learn from. My role has been to mentor, offer direct feedback, listen to their needs and provide for them. I'm proud of how much we have learned to trust each other.
What excited me about Cameo was the simplicity of the business model and the empowering nature of the co-founders.”
Cameo recently secured a substantial funding round. How do you see this affecting your team?
We all feel extremely fortunate to have one of the world’s best VC firms take the lead in our latest round. With this infusion of cash, we can focus on the really tough problems at the core of our business, attract world-class talent and expand our international footprint. The pressure is still on, but now we're in a much better position to succeed.
Devon Townsend, Co-Founder and CTO
As CTO, Devon oversees Cameo’s product, engineering, design and data functions. He’s also a member of the company’s founding team.
BEYOND WORK: Devon grew up sailing and credits the sport with training him for the world of startups. In his own words: “In sailing, as in startups, communication is hugely important. The difference is failure to communicate on the water means you get hit in the head by the boom.”
You’ve been with Cameo since the beginning. Talk to us about the company’s founding. How did you get to where you are today?
Initially, we explored building a marketplace where you could do any activity with any athlete in the world. You could go golfing with Michael Jordan. We explored a ton of “activities,” and for me, a former Vine influencer, the idea of being able to send a short video to a fan seemed like such a fun and scalable idea. It was something I knew I would love and my fans would love. We started on that product and quickly expanded our roster to include anyone with fans — it’s been a wild ride ever since.
Why is this specifically an exciting time to be at Cameo?
We just raised $50 million and are entering a new phase of hyper-growth. We have the team, resources and mission to scale our impact in a way that’s never really been done before.
We’ve always been resource constrained, but the magic of product-market fit means that because we’ve made good decisions along the way, we’ve grown really aggressively. With these resources, we’re able to hire the best leaders in the world to build a truly world-class product while expanding to new markets.
I’m excited to continue to break down barriers so that talent and fans can connect in more meaningful ways.”
How has the company changed since Cameo was founded? What are a few of the signs of the company’s growth?
One of our key values is: “Fight for Simplicity.” We’ve fought to stay focused and keep our operations and product lean. Probably the biggest shift I’ve noticed recently is that when I meet someone, they almost always know what Cameo is. Just a year ago, almost no one had heard of us. Today, we’re having a real impact on the world.
Jake Allen, Head of Product
As Cameo's head of product, it's Jake’s job to build and manage the product team, lead the development of Cameo’s product strategy and operating frameworks, and help teams build products that drive results for the business.
BEYOND WORK: Jake loves to cook and loves wine. In his own words: “I’m not convinced this makes me a better leader at all, but it definitely makes my fiancee happy.”
You were originally hired as a product manager at Cameo. Talk to us about your journey to leading the product effort at the company.
It’s definitely been fun and a little bit crazy. A few months back, we grew the company by a quarter — in one day — when nine new people started on a Monday. That kind of growth is obviously exciting, but it also brings a pretty formidable set of challenges. One of the best things about being at a hyper-growth company is that you’re constantly faced with new challenges.
What exciting challenges does the Cameo product provide? How is this specific to your product?
Cameo is carving out a really fun space in consumer tech. It’s a marketplace, so in a lot of ways, it resembles platforms like Airbnb or Uber. It’s also in the entertainment space, so it also has a lot of the dynamics of platforms like Youtube or Twitch. And finally, it’s also a fairly social product, so it tends to resemble apps like Snapchat or Instagram.
This unique combination means we can focus on delivering incredible experiences to our users, and we don’t have to optimize for page views or serve ads to our customers — that’s incredibly liberating for us, but it also means we need to innovate new experiences and find new ways to monetize them.
A big part of our focus is on finding new ways for our talent and customers to connect.”
How does Cameo foster an environment for tech innovation?
Fostering innovation is, in my experience, usually something people have to do or talk about as a corrective measure when they feel they’re missing it. We don’t have that problem. The products we’re building every day are brand new things that don’t exist anywhere in the world — sometimes you’re the one pushing the edges, and sometimes you’re the one trying to keep up with your team. That keeps it fun and challenging.
Talk about a product you’re working on right now and where you see it in the next six months to a year. How is this emblematic of the company’s growth overall growth trajectory?
A big part of our focus is on finding new ways for our talent and customers to connect. We’re calling them “conversational” experiences. If you view our product as a brief conversation between two individuals, how do we find ways to make that conversation more enriched, and how do we find fun new ways to facilitate that conversation?