Wag Labs Inc., a dog-walking start up, has attracted a $300 million investment from SoftBank, and the reaction in some parts has been…quizzical.
WagWalking.com is a start-up focused on pairing dog owners with dog walkers. Dog owners have the luxury of sourcing dog walkers on-demand, monitoring the walk via GPS and receiving behavioural reports.
The dog owner can also receive a photograph of his or her dog after their walk, or even book an overnight stay through the app.
The Los Angeles start-up has received funding in the past – about $68 million – however this latest round dwarfs its previous efforts.
The investment has come directly from Softbank’s Vision Fund, which was founded by Japan’s wealthiest man, Masayoshi Son. The $98 billion fund has attracted significant investment in recent years, most notably from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (a reported $45 billion).
Some of the fund’s more recent investments include $9 billion in Uber (which makes the fund the largest shareholder), $450 million in Compass (a real estate technology company), $5 billion in NVIDIA and an £24 billion stake in ARM (a UK-based manufacturer of microprocessors).
SoftBank Group Corp has also been linked with a number of prominent investments in Saudi Arabia, notably in Saudi Electricity Co and the development of “Neom”, a new city in Saudi Arabia.
The investment in WagWalking.com coincides with the appointment, Hilary Schneider, former CEO of LifeLock Inc., who will replace Joshua Viner as CEO.
She had this to say about the new investment: “We look forward to enhancing our technology and service offerings to enable more people to keep their dogs happy and healthy.”
WagWalking.com has faced criticism over the last few months. In one example, a user accused Wag Labs Inc. of ‘bribery’; she claims the company offered her $2,500 to buy her silence after her dog went missing while being walked by a Wag Labs Inc. contractor.
Wag denied the claim and issued a cease and desist letter.
The Los Angeles start-up aims to revolutionise the pet services industry. It charges about $20 for half-hour dog walking in major cities in the US, and it takes about a 40% commission on each walk.
With investment from SoftBank’s Vision Fund, it will attempt to extend its service offering to new markets.