Since 2009 Visual Meta GmbH has been operating multiple shopping platforms across Europe under the brands LadenZeile and ShopAlike.
On their websites, Visual Meta incorporates products from thousands of online retailers with the focus on fashion, furniture and lifestyle. The advanced product search allows users to find the desired products quickly and compare items.
People can use the product search in 16 countries all over the world and Visual Meta works with more than 6,000 partners. Their clients vary from online shops such as Amazon and Zalando, to manufacturers such as Esprit and other exclusive specialty shops.
The company is based in Berlin and is part of Axel Springer SE, a leading European Media Company. Visual Meta employs approximately 140 people.
Robert M. Maier and Johannes Schaback founded Visual Meta in January 2009 in a back room in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg. In April 2009 the daddy of the family, LadenZeile.de, was launched. The idea came to life while discussing with the brothers Oliver, Marc and Alexander Samwer. Rocket Internet was the major investor in Visual Meta until December 2011.
The aim was to become a meta search engine for fashion – a search engine with the possibility to shop – without providing the shipping and storage dimensions. The team quickly grew to around 40 people, which is a stark comparison to the current day. Visual Meta presently employs close to 140 people divided between IT, business development, marketing, country management, finance, and quality and content management.
In 2011 the business model was rolled out to France, Italy and Spain. Currently, the ShopAlike or Shoppala branding exists in 16 countries, including the original German branding LadenZeile.
Visual Meta was established by founders Robert M. Maier and Johannes Schaback with the help of various business angels who shared the commitment for the visual shopping concept.
In December 2011 the publishing group Axel Springer bought a majority share of Visual Meta. Michael von Stern, Head of Commerce in Electronic Media Management Division of Axel Springer SE, commented the acquisition of shares in late 2011 as:
Visual Meta is market leader, profitable, shows strong growth, led by its founders and therefore an excellent addition to our Performance Marketing Portfolio.
After the takeover Robert M. Maier and Johannes Schaback act as managing partners in the long term.