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Kajabi’s 1st Acquisition Boosts Digital Entrepreneurs

Add Startup Vibely For Digital Creator Services

Kajabi LLC, one of Orange County’s better-funded privately held software companies, has made its first acquisition in its 12-year history, buying Silicon Valley startup Vibely in another key step in helping people package their money-making ideas for the internet and digital ventures.

The Irvine-based company’s online software platform is aimed at turning small- and medium-sized businesses and individual entrepreneurs into “creators.”

Kajabi says it’s the platform for creators to build, manage and monetize their content and services on hundreds of topics ranging from coaching new parents, teaching people how to establish a business, yoga training, cooking and even foraging for mushrooms.

Belmont-based Vibely takes things one step further with a platform that lets them “build and lead vibrant communities” of creators.

“By enabling creators to build and lead vibrant communities, Vibely further empowers creators to build real relationships with their customers,” Kajabi CEO Ahad Khan told the Business Journal on Oct. 27.

$2B Valuation

The purchase is Kajabi’s first since its founding in 2010, and financial terms were undisclosed.

Vibely raised $2 million in seed funding from investors during the pandemic, Forbes magazine reported in March of last year.

Kajabi’s expansion comes as literally tens of thousands of people use websites and other digital offerings to profit from their ideas online, also including coaching, membership communities, podcasts, newsletters and more in what it has dubbed the “knowledge economy.”

Kajabi raised $550 million last year, when its valuation was cited at over $2 billion.
Vibely, to be rebranded as Kajabi Communities, lets creators own the path to their content and grow their communities at scale.

“Think of us as the center of your universe, in which you can integrate your constellation of socials, events, income streams like merch, and initiatives into one-place,” Vibely founder and CEO Teri Yu told Magnetic Magazine last fall.

Subscription Model

Kajabi charges users a flat monthly subscription fee.

Khan notes that most creator platforms charge users a percentage of the revenue that they generate on the platform. This can get prohibitively expensive as creators become more successful.

“Another caveat to some creator platforms like Patreon is that unless you have a well-established brand and following, you will not get the traffic needed to profit,” he told the Business Journal.

Khan explained that social media sites do not allow creators to truly own their audience and brand, as they are at the whims of algorithms and the potential to have their accounts blocked.

He says Vibely gives creators “control over how they choose to run their businesses.”

“The stark reality is that the vast majority of creators aren’t making a living wage from the great content they produce,” according to Khan, who took over the CEO role at Kajabi last year from company co-founder Kenny Rueter, who now serves as executive chairman.

$4.1 Billion

Kajabi says over 60,000 creators have made more than $4.1 billion in revenue on the Kajabi platform from more than 60 million customers.

The company says its annual recurring revenue is “north of $100 million.” Annual recurring revenue is a measure favored by companies providing-subscription-based services and products.

Kajabi says its customers earn, on average, over $30,000 per year in revenue. This includes creators working full-time on their businesses and working on their businesses as a side hustle.

A Kajabi subscription costs $119 per month billed annually for the basic service, while the pro service costs $319 per month on the same annual billing terms.

There are numerous competitors in the online and digital creator space, including Udemy Inc. (Nasdaq: UDMY) of San Francisco with a market cap of about $2 billion; Ruzuku of North Carolina; Podia Labs Inc. of New York; Thinkific of Canada; and Passion.io of Germany.

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Kevin Costelloe
Kevin Costelloe
Tech reporter at Orange County Business Journal
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