Following a COVID-driven boost, the popular AllTrails resource for hikers, bikers, climbers and anyone else who enjoys the outdoors, announced today it's raised $150 million from the growth fund of global private equity firm Permira to further accelerate its business. Prior investor Spectrum Equity will continue to be the company's largest shareholder, following this transaction.
Like many companies, AllTrails benefitted from how the pandemic impacted consumer behavior. Amid lockdowns and social distancing measures, many people rekindled their interest in exploring the outdoors and connecting with nature -- and they turned to AllTrails' extensive collection of over 300,000 hiking, running and mountain biking trails to find where to go.
"COVID was an accelerant of a trend that we’ve been seeing for years," explains AllTrails CEO Ron Schneidermann. "Even pre-pandemic, nearly a third of the global population regularly participated in some sort of outdoor recreation. And in almost every country in the world walking for recreation or exercise is by far the most popular activity. When you add in trail running, mountain biking, camping and backpacking, those numbers only go up," he said.
The past 18 months drew more users to the AllTrails mobile app, which now has more than 40 million downloads and 30 million registered users across 190 countries. During the past 12 months, over 100 million users also visited AllTrails.com to find a trail. While the company doesn't typically disclose its revenue or paid subscribers on an ongoing basis, it did celebrate crossing the 1 million paid subscriber milestone back in January.
Although COVID lockdowns (for now) have largely ended, demand for AllTrails hasn't subsided, the company says.
"As the world opens back up, we’re seeing the staying power of this connection to the outdoors," says Schneidermann. "This stickiness is manifesting itself in terms of app usage and frequency, and across the board improvements in sign-up rates, user-generated content contribution rates, freemium conversion rates and subscriber retention rates," he adds.
AllTrails didn't need to raise capital, however -- it's been profitable since 2017. Rather, the company chose to bring in new funding to help it accelerate its existing momentum. The funds will be used for product development, to build out the AllTrails team and to expand its community internationally.
Today, about two-thirds of AllTrails' users are in North America, but it's seeing some of its highest rates of growth across Europe, Asia and Latin America.
Schneidermann says this is also the third year in a row where the company will be doubling headcount, primarily driven by investments in R&D and product development. Currently, it's hiring in roles across engineering, design, finance, operations, product and more.
Image Credits: All Trails
The AllTrails app -- which today offers search, discovery, reviews and a wide range of maps that work offline -- will get an upgrade in 2022.
At present, the app is more utilitarian than it is social, despite the user-generated content in the form of trail reviews and photos. People contribute to this resource so others like them can benefit from their tips -- like if a trail gets muddy after a rain, if it's too steep for families hiking with little kids, if it's crowded on weekends and so on. Meanwhile, the trail photos help people get a sense of what a trail is like and what sort of scenic views they may have in store. But many AllTrails users still turn to other networks -- like Facebook Groups -- for inspiration about where to go hike or bike.
With the new funding, AllTrails plans to invest in its product, and has a range of new features coming in the year ahead for both free and paid users alike -- including those that aim to help the community better connect.
"We think that there’s a big opportunity in improving the search and discovery experience via personalization, elevating the on-trail navigation experience, expanding access to more users around the world by supporting additional languages and creating more ways for our community to interact, share their experiences, and inspire each other," Schneidermann says.
The company believes Permira -- which has backed Klarna, Minted, Zwift and others, and recently helped to acquire McAfee -- will be particularly helpful in expanding AllTrails' global footprint.
"Continued international expansion is a huge priority for us, so we’re especially excited to tap into the global resources that Permira brings to the table," notes Schneidermann.
With the transaction, Bruce Chizen, senior advisor to Permira and former CEO of Adobe, joins Gretchen Howard, COO of Robinhood, on the company's board of directors.
The company had previously raised $75 million from Spectrum Equity in October 2018.