Wish, a startup that likens itself to “an AdWords for shopping,” has raised $19 million in financing led by GGV Capital and Formation 8. Existing seed investors also participated, including Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang. Additionally, Hans Tung, managing director at GGV Capital joined the company’s board of directors.
Wish allows you to view a feed of goods specifically tailored to you and add them to various lists on the platform. Every time you add to a list or recommend an item, the app’s natural language processing and machine-learning tech learns the types of things you’re interested in and then shows you more of it. On the merchant side, Wish treats Wishlists as intent data and allows shopkeepers to run highly targeted offers through the platform, because of the simple principle that customers are more likely to buy something they’ve already expressed a desire to buy. The company also recently expanded this technology to user’s closets.
Launched by former Google, Yahoo and Facebook employees Peter Szulczewski and Danny Zhang, Wish believes that the best way to connect consumers to items they would want to purchase is through an algorithm combined, of course, with an engaging mobile experience. And of late, the company has focused increasingly on the price sensitive or “value-shopper.” In fact, the startup is seeing around 30 million signals per day that they are taking into account to deliver a more personalized experience.
Szulczewski explains that Walmart, Target, and TJMaxx represent approximately $420 billion in annual U.S. sales. Wish has the opportunity to help capture some of this market in personalized, mobile commerce, where most people are living. After only a few years, Wish is topping the charts as a mobile-only shopping app on the iOS and Android app stores, and has more than 25 million users in 50 countries, with repeat customers making up approximately half of all purchases.
Another interesting aspect to the service’s model is that it is specifically targeting retailers on sites like Alibaba to sell items on the platform to allow them to target Western mobile consumers. Szulczewski adds that half of Wish’s market is divided evenly between Europe and North America. Of course, with the focus on recruiting Chinese retailers and merchants, having a global-focused investor like GGV, who invested in Alibaba early, should be a real asset.
“We built Wish to deliver a fantastic shopping experience for the hundreds of millions of people around the globe who like to shop as entertainment on their smartphone – we think of it as a personalized shopping mall in your pocket. Building this kind of personalized experience requires a global operation and we have been global since Day 1,” said Szulczewski. “
Our investor base has a strong global focus, and we are excited to work with Hans and welcome his experience with China, and specifically Xiaomi, in helping us to grow Wish as a global leader in the mobile commerce space.”
“Peter and Danny have a terrific understanding of the mechanics of creating a scalable online marketplace. They’ve built a beautiful application that is delighting millions of consumers every week, said Tung. “In many ways, they are creating a mobile Taobao for the western world.”
For Wish, 25 million users is no small deal, so it’s no surprise that investors are looking to bet on it. And with the international expansion, it sounds like it has a clear path to larger growth with GGV as a partner.