Consider it the invisible unicorn.
Despite having been around for four years, the online marketplace startup OfferUp is reportedly on the verge of reaching unicorn status — reaching a valuation of $1 billion — without a lot of people in Silicon Valley (or anywhere else) having previously taken notice of the company, according to GeekWire.
Sharing a report from venture capital database PitchBook that shows that OfferUp has been working on a $73 million series C funding round since March that values the startup just north of $800 million, GeekWire attests to have heard from knowledgeable sources that the valuation actually exceeds $1 billion.
The outlet notes that those whispers have generated a great deal of buzz in Seattle, where OfferUp is based, with some angel investors worrying they’ve missed out on an opportunity by not having gotten in with the startup on the ground floor and others believing the company to be substantially overvalued.
OfferUp itself — namely, its CEO, Nick Huzar — is refraining from comment either way.
GeekWire (which itself has reached out for an interview with Huzar, who politely declined) shares that OfferUp — a mobile app that connects individual buyers and sellers of any number of personal items, making it a competitor to marketplace sites like Craigslist — has never publicly announced a single funding round or put out a press release (nor is there even a press section on its own site).
The outlet offers the theory that contributing factors to OfferUp’s publicity aversion could be the difficulty in taking on Craisglist with a mobile app, as well as questions about profitability (like Craigslist, OfferUp is a free service).
Marc Andreessen — whose venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz is a backer of OfferUp — for one, does not seem concerned about those issues, seeing only promise in the startup. He told The New Yorker back in May: “What if all this selling online — eBay and Craigslist — goes to mobile? How big could it be?”
Should OfferUp eventually emerge as a genuine competitor to Craigslist — validating the belief of people like Andreessen — or fail to scale — confirming the naysayers’ concerns — remains to be seen. But if the CEO of the possible unicorn startup holds firm to his very low-profile approach, it’s likely he won’t say a word about it in the interim.
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