Peoople buys 21 Buttons, the startup that conquered influencers

The industry of influencers, recommendations, or also called social commerce. If before the pandemic you had success on your hands, now you are at the top. Peoople knows a lot about this success, the social network of recommendations founded by David Pena, which since March 2020 has seen its numbers grow as explained to Hipertextual a few months ago. The confinement by the coronavirus and a change in the routines of an advertising limited to the walls of a house has triggered alternative models to reach the target audience.

On the other side of history, the company that opened the world of recommendations in Spain. 21 Buttons, founded in 2015, was a pioneer in understanding the functioning of the social commerce market. Also the first that offered a way of monetization to the universe of influencers making your clothing recommendation activity have an impact on your pockets. Now, the one that opened the sector in Spain has been acquired by the second in discord. As El Confidencial has been able to advance, Peoople has bought 21 Buttons for an amount that has been kept confidential.

Present in 30 countries, mainly in Europe, the company founded by Marc Soler and Jaime Farres is fully integrated into the Peoople business, more focused on Latin America. In this way, they stop competing for the same market segment to offer a single proposal.

Together they now manage almost 28 million users and more than 15,000 reviews of all kinds of products.

21 Buttons, a startup of influencers but without media hunger

21 Buttons was, since 2015, one of the most striking events on the entrepreneurial scene in Spain. For the first time, a local social network managed to dazzle the great characters of Instagram: the influencers. Led by María Pombo or Dulceida, it was very common to see them name their profile on 21 Buttons more than once a day. However, it was rare to see its founders appear in the press. They preferred to dedicate themselves fully to the development of their application, they said if an interview was requested.

Despite everything, they did manage to get on the financing rounds bandwagon. In 2017 they raised 8.5 million euros in a third investment round led by Kibo Ventures, JME and Samaipata. The latter repeating after an operation months ago of 3 million euros. In the summer of 2020 they achieved 11.5 millions, also from the same funds, with the aim of financing the new era of the company. One that wanted to differentiate itself from Peoople, the company that has just now bought them.

The journey of 21 Buttons ends 5 years after its foundation, absorbed by the second company to try its luck in the sector

After this came the bad news for 21 Buttons. In 2019 they announced the dismissal of 50% of their workforce of almost 170 employees. They were looking for, they said, a new business model to be reflected in your income statement. They went from affiliate marketing to subscription marketing without much success. They tried to get into the business of buying fashion for 48 euros a month based on the trends of the influencers.

In fact, the biggest problem with 21 Buttons, and what differentiated it from Peoople, was the object of its business. The latter is based on the recommendations of all kinds of products, despite the fact that its popularity has gone hand in hand with fashion and influencers. In the background they have kept alive that other universe of more mundane recommendations. Something that even It has earned them a contract like in Movistar + to investigate the topic of recommendations on streaming platforms together with Aura. In this sense, David Pena told Hypertextual a few months ago that entering the influencer sector was more of a business opportunity of the moment as a result of chance than a focus of the company.

In any case, the icing on the cake for 21 Buttons came in 2020. The coronavirus was not kind to the accounts of a company that already had problems. In fact, industry sources suggest that 21 Buttons was having a bad time already in summer of last year. In December of that same year, it was known that the startup had exposed the private data of many influencers due to a problem within the application. A list of 400 invoices between 2016 and 2020 where tax data, profiles, information and articles from influencers from all over the world were displayed.

Now, the journey of 21 Buttons ends 5 years after its foundation, absorbed by the second company to try its luck in the social commerce sector in Spain.