Wag raises $300M round from SoftBank as dog walking service takes on Rover

You’d be smiling, too, if you were this loved. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

SoftBank is betting big on Wag.

The Japanese tech giant this week announced a $300 million investment in the Los Angeles-based dog care service via its SoftBank Vision Fund.

Founded in 2015, Wag had previously raised $68 million. The massive cash infusion from SoftBank, the sole investor in this round, will help Wag take on Seattle-based Rover, another growing tech company in the dog sitting industry.

Wag calls itself “the country’s largest on-demand mobile dog walking and dog care service companies.” Rover says it is the “nation’s largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers.”

Founded in 2011, Rover has raised $155 million and counts more than 140,000 sitters on its platform across 10,000 cities. It acquired another rival, DogVacay, this past March. Rover raised a $65 million round this past July to help fuel international expansion.

Wag operates in more than 100 cities across the country; the investment from SoftBank could help it expand internationally. The company, which faced Uber-like scrutiny last year, estimates that the pet services industry is $69 billion in the U.S., and $180 billion globally.

Both companies are capitalizing on increasing pet ownership with peer-to-peer online marketplaces that offer an alternative to asking a family member or friend for help, or having to use a traditional kennel.

We’ve reached out to Rover for comment and will update this story when we hear back.

Wag also announced this week that former LifeLock and Yahoo executive Hilary Schneider will take over as CEO, replacing co-founder Joshua Viner.

Asked about competition from Rover, Schneider told Recode that both companies can succeed in this market, noting that “we think about pet services broadly.”

“Wag! is a clear leader in the rapidly growing global market for pet care services, and we’re delighted to support their mission and team,” SoftBank Investment Advisers Managing Partner Jeffrey Housenbold said in a statement.