Kevin Ma launched sneaker blog Hypebeast from his Vancouver bedroom in 2005. Since then, the company has grown to be much more than the passion project of an Air Jordan fanatic. Hypebeast is the linchpin in a network of websites chronicling what’s cool in pop culture; together, they generate more than 8 million unique visitors per month.
Chasing the latest trends in sneakers and streetwear taught Ma what consumers want from these categories, and in 2012, he launched HBX, an online marketplace that sells monied millennials the Adidas they were just geeking out about on Hypebeast. By 2015, the annual revenues of HBX, which also stocks edgy brands like Raf Simons, Opening Ceremony, and Hood by Air, were $7.2 million. Hypebeast has also been growing its creative services division, which helps brands such as Gucci and Adidas produce advertising for both Ma’s sites and others’. In April 2016, eyeing international expansion—Hypebeast is headquartered in Hong Kong but 54% of its business comes from the U.S.—Ma took the company public.
Ma plans to use the company’s new influx of funds to provide better customer service at HBX and gain a foothold in markets in Southeast Asia, Europe, and beyond. While Hypebeast started out reviewing shoes and clothes, going forward, it’s more likely to provide those pieces to consumers rather than tell them what to buy from on high.