(Bloomberg) -- Social commerce startup Flip — an online marketplace featuring product review videos made by shoppers — has raised $144 million in fresh funding as it seeks to take on the likes of Amazon and TikTok. 

Led by Streamlined Ventures, the funding round brings Flip’s valuation to $1.05 billion and includes a $50 million investment from advertising software firm AppLovin Corp., the companies said Thursday.

Flip is trying to differentiate itself by offering only brand name products promoted via video reviews made by shoppers. Users browse reviews of a range of products, including $100 DeLonghi espresso machines, $50 OtterBox cell phone holders and $38 Maison Louis Marie candles. What items shoppers see is based on a questionaire they fill out when signing up. 

Founder and Chief Executive Officer Noor Agha said Flip aspires to be “the last honest place on the internet” by showing reviews from shoppers who actually bought the product. Reviewers earn money based on views and related product sales. Flip levies a commission on each sale and charges brands to make reviews of their products more visible in the app.

Flip falls somewhere between Amazon.com Inc., which shows a mix of name brand products and generic competitors in response to search results, and ByteDance-owned TikTok, which randomly sprinkles shopping videos into users’ social media feeds. 

About 5 million people have downloaded the Flip app, according to Agha, who declined to share sales figures. Flip appears to be targeting a more affluent shopper than discount shopping app Temu, which has quickly become a US phenomenon by offering low-cost goods shipped directly from China.

AppLovin, which appeals mostly to mobile game developers, aims to use the Flip investment to help broaden its reach into e-commerce. The company’s Axon technology can be a powerful tool for small companies to manage their digital advertising budgets, so Flip makes an ideal partner, according to CEO Adam Foroughi. AppLovin’s software helps direct mobile app advertising to users who are most likely to download it. 

Ullas Naik, a general partner at Streamlined Ventures in Palo Alto, was an early investor in both companies and introduced the CEOs. The partnership between the companies lets Flip apply AppLovin’s artificial intelligence tools to its advertising business so it won’t have to spend years building its own technology, he said.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.