Home Articles Harbottle’s 99designs sets out to shape its future

Harbottle’s 99designs sets out to shape its future


You could say it’s all about numbers, even the names!

99designs, an online graphic design marketplace that claims to be the largest of its kind in the world, has acquired 12designer, a similar startup in Germany that claims to be Europe’s second largest. Financial terms of the Australian’s company’s first acquisition were not disclosed but the deal revealed its ambitions for sure.

The Australian company, founded by Mark Harbottle, has the backing of Accel Partners, which last year led a $35 million Series A funding round. Understandably, it is seeking growth in hurry and is targeting local acquisitions to scale up, especially in the non-English regions of the world.

“This acquisition enables us to build significantly on our existing momentum and resources in Europe and gives us an ideally situated base in Berlin,” said 99designs CEO Patrick Llewellyn. “As the tech startup and design hub of Europe, there is no better place from which to implement our aggressive regional growth plans.”

Europe is the way to go

The Berlin-based 12designer, founded by Eva Missling, has a community of more than 20,000 professional designers throughout Europe and offers services in German, Spanish, French, Italian and English. It is backed by Spain’s Grupo Intercom.

For some time now, Germany has been on 99design’s horizon. Even though it had only an English-language site, European small businesses and startups accounted for about 15% of the 155,000 graphic design contests, reflecting strong potential. Today, 99designs considers Germany its top non-English language market, its fifth largest overall and one of its fastest growing.

99designs believes the 12designer acquisition will allow it to better meet the needs of European customers by providing support in their own languages and time zones.

“We believe their deep regional marketplace expertise and multi-lingual capabilities will prove instrumental in accelerating our delivery of truly localized world-class design services to European businesses and designers,” said Llewellyn.

Subsequent to the acquisition, the company named Missling as its new general manager in Europe. She is expected to optimize localization of 99designs services for European markets, accelerate growth in Germany and across Europe, and build a 99designs team in Berlin. She will also continue to oversee 12designer, which will operate as a stand-alone site for now.

“The combination of 99designs’ global reach and resources, 12designers’ regional experience, and the enormous multilingual talent pool here in Berlin will be a win for Europe’s small business owners and designers alike,” said Missling.

99designs claims to be the world’s largest online graphic design marketplace with a pool of 175,000 graphic designers in 192 countries. It has paid out more than $35 million to designers over the past four years.

The SitePoint Group, founded by Harbottle and Matt Mickiewicz, is a backer of 99designs.com and Flippa.com, a marketplace for buying and selling web sites.

Photo caption: Patrick Llewellyn with the 12designer team.