If you need to get rid of something in a jiffy, you can’t go wrong with Letgo. It’s one of the largest digital marketplaces for used goods, with tens of millions of repeat visitors a month and more than 75 million downloads to date. (ComScore named it one of the fastest-growing apps in the U.S.) And today it has added two new features — a machine learning-powered insights tool called Reveal and video attachments.
“The most popular two-way marketplaces, like Airbnb, got there by focusing on simplicity, and that’s what’s behind Letgo’s thinking and success as well,” cofounder Alec Oxenford wrote VentureBeat in an email. “These new features are the result of listening closely to users and finding new ways to use technology and smart design to make buying and selling secondhand much simpler. We developed Reveal to take the guesswork out of selling secondhand because we know it can sometimes be tricky to figure out what something is worth. And we added video listings as a new tool — in addition to photos — to show off whatever you want to sell and capture potential buyers’ attention.”
Letgo Reveal, as alluded to by Oxenford, is an artificially intelligent (AI) tool that leverages computer vision to recognize items and suggest prices, titles, and categories on the fly. It draws on the hundreds of millions of listings in Letgo’s catalog to distill the publishing process into two steps: Take a picture of your item and tap a button. Reveal takes care of the rest.
“Reveal is a mix of real-time image recognition that identifies what you’re looking to sell plus language and market models that generate a title, price, and category by instantly analyzing what your camera sees and comparing it with similar listings across our marketplace,” Oxenford said. “[It’s] designed to work instantly regardless of what you point it at … AI is much more efficient at our scale, plus it allows us to continue expanding what Reveal can do. We view it as a new platform that we can keep building on to make the insights it displays more precise. Because of our size, with hundreds of millions of listings since we launched, we’re in a unique position to do something like this and keep innovating with it.”
Letgo’s second new feature is video listings. Starting today, users can attach short clips to their classifieds, which appear alongside photos in listing pages, search results, and the app’s home feed.
A new medium opens the door to potential abuse, but Oxenford said that Letgo’s AI tech and team of human listings reviewers will remain as vigilant as ever for offensive content.
“We … use [AI] to … moderate the marketplace, to keep Letgo a secure way to buy and sell, and to personalize the experience,” he wrote. “Those will continue to be areas we’re focused on.”
Letgo, for the uninitiated, is sort of like Craigslist. Users create profiles they use to post personal ads for secondhand knickknacks, complete with photo galleries, titles, and a suggested price. More than 200 million listings have been published since launch, the company claims, and deal hunters have exchanged more than 3 billion messages in the app.
Letgo competes against startups such as OfferUp and Mercari, but also with the likes of Facebook Marketplace and eBay. Still, it holds its own — gross merchandise sales on the platform exceeded $20 billion in January 2017, and it reportedly raised $100 million from “existing investors” in November, putting it at a valuation of over $1 billion.
In its last publicly announced funding round in January 2017, Letgo raked in $175 million from Naspers, Insight Venture Partners, Accel,14W, Eight Roads Ventures, Mangrove Capital Partners, and FJ Labs. Earlier this year, it expanded its marketplace to include housing rentals.