Social File Sharing Start-Up Minus Raises a Mini-Round, but Hopes to Go Plus-Sized

Last we heard from file sharing start-up Minus, the two-man team was still early in the development of their product.

How early? Founder John Xie was still in the dorms.

Now the minimalist Web service has raised a $1 million round from IDG Capital, which follows the $200,000 it has taken in since its founding in October 2010.

The first big check written out of the funding account was $117,000 for the purchase of he domain name.

Xie characterized the overall round as “really a bridge round … we anticipate raising more in a year or so.”

Just to refresh, Minus began as little more than a well-made demo of some of HTML5’s drag-and-drop features (which Google has now added to Gmail).

Since then, the product has expanded to include drag-and-drop sharing of just about any kind of file, via the sharing method du jour — pretty little shortlinks.

Other technical improvements include user accounts, a player for music files right in the browser and the ability to download a gallery of files as a .zip.

Of all the improvements, though, the seemingly natural addition of user accounts may turn out to be the most important feature as Minus matures.

With its new cash, technical co-founder Carl Hu hopes Minus will become “the place to share collections of files, socially.”

That’s a tall order, even if you ignore the legal gray area that this kind of file sharing might occupy.

As it is now, files that are uploaded to Minus live on its servers, which may create exactly the kind of legal headaches that person-to-person, torrent-style sharing was designed to avoid.

Legal sand traps aside, Minus’s intention is to “get social.”

But since getting that doesn’t mean anything in particular these days, I asked Hu to explain:

“Reddit really inspires me. It’s a really vibrant way to discover new content,” he said. “The way it scores content, comments and users is something we will be adding.”

He added that the vision moving forward is to leverage Minus’ super-simple interface to let users explore the content that has been uploaded, and connect with people who share things they like.

You can see Xie and Hu talk about their future in the video below, which I shot on a short visit to Minus’ mini-funding-sized office, complete with a recreation area and Hu’s ultranerd competition chess set.

Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik