- Japanese telecom giant SoftBank has invested $US300 million in dog-walking startup Wag.
- Additionally, Hilary Schneider, who most recently led LifeLock through its $US2.3 billion sale to Symantec in 2016, is taking over as Wag’s CEO.
- Schneider is replacing Wag cofounder Josh Viner as CEO. However, Viner will stay involved with the company, as will his brother and cofounder Jon Viner.
Dog-walking-on-demand startup Wag is getting a new CEO and a big infusion of cash.
On Tuesday, the company announced it’s received a $US300 million investment from Japanese telecom giant SoftBank. It also announced that veteran tech executive Hilary Schneider will be taking over as its CEO.
Schneider, who most recently served as CEO of identity protection company LifeLock and led it through its 2016 sale to Symantec, will take over from Wag cofounder Josh Viner. Viner and his brother and cofounder, Jon, will remain with the company, running its product, digital marketing, growth, and technology efforts, with all other aspects of the business reporting to Schneider.
“We’re staying on full-time and running various departments,” Jon Viner told Business Insider on Tuesday.
For her part, Schneider said she views the management of Wag as an equal partnership between herself and the two brothers.
With the new funding, Wag will join an exclusive club of beneficiaries of SoftBank’s mammoth $US93 billion Vision Fund that includes Uber, WeWork, and Slack. The investment will give SoftBank a 45% stake in Wag, according to Recode.
Wag and SoftBank declined to comment on the portion of the company SoftBank will hold after the funding round.
The timing of the funding and Schneider’s hiring were coincidental, and Wag started its search for a new CEO before starting discussions with Softbank, spokespeople for both SoftBank and Wag told Business Insider.
With Schneider and the new funding in place, Wag plans to move on to bigger things. In the 100 US cities where Wag is available, its customers use it more frequently than Uber riders use the app-based taxi service, according to Schneider. Wag is betting that kind of customer loyalty and love will translate in other countries; the company plans a global expansion soon.
“In the US alone, the pet services marketplace is about $US70 billion,” Schneider said. “The US represents less than 40% of the global marketplace. It’s a very large marketplace.”
SoftBank’s interest in Wag is a clear recognition of the untapped potential of the market for on-demand dog services, Jon Viner said.
“We’re excited about partnering with SoftBank,” he said. “They’re very smart investors, and the size of the investment is a validation of the size of the dog service marketplace and the unique position that we’re in.”
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