99designs Receives $35 Million in Venture Capital Funding

No matter how you feel about those crowd-sourced, spec-based design outlets that have sprung up en masse over the last few years, one in particular has just gotten a big boost. Late last week, 99designs announced that it has received $35 million in funding from Accel Partners, the venture capital firm responsible for helping companies like Facebook, Etsy and Groupon grow and take over the world. The basic model for the business is that a company submits a brief, designers create samples based off that brief of logos or websites or whatever needs designing, and then the company picks a winner. Where the criticism lives is that sites like these devalue the design profession, as there are often hundreds of designers vying for small paychecks (some of the site’s examples show, for instance, that 1335 designs were submitted for a logo project that paid out just $605 in total). The “submit and see if you win” also toes the line between essentially working for free and the standard RFP, something that doesn’t always sit well with the no-spec crowd. We ourselves have specifically singled out 99designs over the years, from discussing their partnership with SXSW in 2009 and best-selling evangelist author Rick Warren using the site to crowdsource his latest book cover. But like them or not, this $35 million investment shows they’re here to stay. What’s more, according to Techcrunch, 99designs had been actively pushing away capital groups before signing on with Accel, so profitable had they been even without them.