SINGAPORE - To drive global expansion, Singapore-based influencer agency Gushcloud International on Wednesday (Sept 18) said it has raised US$11 million (S$15.1 million) in a funding round, while making several senior appointments, including bringing on board hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons as president.
Mr Simmons is the co-founder of Def Jam, an American music label managing world renowned artists such as Justin Bieber and Kanye West.
In his new role as Gushcloud International president, he will be tasked with helping the group navigate global expansion and expand its portfolio of America-based talents and clients. He will also facilitate the setting up of the group's talent agency headquarters in Los Angeles.
With the LA headquarters, the group looks to better meet the needs of its US-based creators, celebrities, and influencers, and build an international roster for "export" into South-east and North Asia.
Gushcloud International's US$11 million funding round was led by GDP Ventures, with other participating international investors KB Investments (KB Financial Holdings), Golden Equator Capital and Korea Investment Partners (via GEC-KIP Fund), and Kejora Ventures. Strategic individual investors include Mr Simmons.
This is the group's first round of funding after its co-founders Althea Lim and Vincent Ha bought back the company from former parent Yello Digital Marketing Global, a Korea-based digital marketing group.
To prepare for an "aggressive" next phase of growth - the company has also announced changes in its senior management - promoting Ms Lim and Mr Ha to group chief executive and chairman of the board respectively.
Ng Siang Hiang, the former CEO of Gushcloud Agency, the group's agency division, will become global brands director where he will head up brand advertising and marketing in America.
Former Hong Kong venture capitalist Andrew Lim will take on the role as chief financial officer, while Kuik Xiaoshi takes on the role of chief strategy officer. Gushcloud in Asia will be led by the Oddie Randa, director for sales and marketing (SEA) and Chloe Lim, group business and legal affairs director.
Aside from global expansion, growth drivers Gushcloud is looking into are content creation and co-ownership of intellectual property with its talents; social commerce brands and distribution driven by influencers; and leveraging data for a more algorithmic approach to talent growth.
Ms Lim added: "At Gushcloud International, talent is at our core. One of the biggest challenges facing digital talents is long-term career sustainability. Hence, we need to look beyond influencer marketing and be able to create innovative solutions for the talents to keep growing."
Antonny Liem, GDP Ventures partner, said: "We chose to invest in Gushcloud International because it is an industry leader with presence in key markets. We also believe in the power of influence these digital talents hold and are excited to see the potential of other revenue streams coming out of this model."
He also cited the success of social commerce brands such as Kylie Cosmetics, Huda Beauty, and Ruhnn which have the "upside when a digital talent builds a social brand".
With the new investors and partners, Mr Ha added that Gushcloud can now leverage its network of talents and "cultural intelligence" to achieve growth in coming years.
"America is home to the world's biggest talents and brands, while China to the world's key platforms, technologies, and largest world audience," he said.
Gushcloud International is currently present in 10 countries - Singapore, US, China, Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam.