Operator Closes $15M Series B to Fuel Global Mobile Commerce Expansion: Opens New Office and Hires Leadership in China

Company adds Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra to Board of Directors and GGV
Capital’s Hans Tung as a Board Observer; Expands platform to China to
sell Western goods to Chinese consumers

SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Operator, the leading conversational commerce company that makes
shopping as easy as a text, today announced that it has closed $15
million in Series B financing to help fund its global expansion –
starting with China. New investors include GGV Capital, which led the
round, with participation from new investors Formation8, Morningside
Ventures and Horizons Ventures, and existing Series A investors Greylock
Partners and Expa. The company also announced that Hugo Barra, Vice
President of Global Operations at Xiaomi, will join the Operator Board
of Directors, and Hans Tung, Managing Partner, GGV Capital, will join as
a Board Observer. The Board currently includes Operator CEO Robin Chan,
Garrett Camp, founder of Uber and Expa, and Josh Elman of Greylock
Partners.


The financing and Board additions will accelerate Operator’s plans to
build a powerful global commerce network that enables consumers to
easily discover and purchase products through mobile messaging. Operator
also announced today that the company has recruited Yolanda Xue as CEO
of Operator China to lead China operations from its new Shanghai office.
Ms. Xue was most recently VP Merchandising at mobile shopping app Wish.
She brings a wealth of e-commerce operations, acquisition, growth, and
marketing expertise from leading Chinese companies to Operator.

“Operator’s founding team has built everyday products at Twitter,
Facebook and Uber, and they know how to scale globally because it’s in
their DNA,” said Hugo Barra, Vice President, International at Xiaomi. “I
joined the Operator Board to support the team in mobile product strategy
and global expansion into the emerging markets I know well.”

“We look to invest in astute startups like Operator that take the
mass-market-first approach, and understand the value of creating a
global company from the start,” said Hans Tung, Managing Partner, GGV
Capital.Founders like Robin who have a global vision to serve
the world’s middle class have the opportunity to create the next
generation of billion-dollar companies with lasting growth potential.”

According to a survey
of online shoppers
conducted by Tmall Global, Chinese shoppers are
moving beyond their desire for designer labels. They are turning to
Western brands for more common items, buying imported goods that aren’t
available or are too costly to buy locally through international online
shopping websites. This demand for foreign goods is becoming so common
in China it even has a name: it’s called “hai
tao
”, or “ocean search.” Operator’s expansion into China will enable
Chinese customers to buy authentic goods from Western merchants via
messaging with the help of Chinese speaking human operators.

In 2015, the U.S. exported $161.6
billion
in goods to China, making the country the third-largest
importer of U.S. goods. According to a
report
from the Boston Consulting Group released in 2013, 61 percent
of China’s consumers were willing to pay more for a product made in the
United States.

“An important inspiration for Operator is our founding team’s expertise
working in China,” said Robin Chan, CEO and Co-Founder of Operator.
“Chinese consumers will accelerate our entire global platform. If you
want to build a global company, you don’t think of China as an
afterthought; you must start early.”

About Operator

Operator makes shopping as easy as a text. By combining the best AI
algorithms with Operator’s network of shopping experts, Operator is
building a platform that helps people shop for exactly what they want at
any time with a simple text. Operator has been named “Best New App” and
“Editor’s Choice” in the Apple App Store, “Sexiest Product of the Year”
by Product Hunt, “Startups to Watch” by VentureBeat and nominated for
“Best New Startup” by TechCrunch. Operator is available on iOS, Android
through Google Play Early Access, and Facebook
Messenger
.

Contacts

Media Contact for Operator
North of Nine Communications
Stacy
Katz, 310-740-6630
stacy.katz@nof9.com