Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Cinemagram Raises $8.5M Led by Menlo Ventures

Have you heard that VCs are taking more of a wait-and-see approach to investing in fast-growing mobile apps so they don’t find themselves plunging into a Draw Something or a Viddy just in time for the downslope?

Well, not all of them.

Cinemagram, a mobile social network for short, hybrid photo-videos, has received $8.5 million led by Menlo Ventures and including Atlas Venture, Khosla Ventures and Real Ventures. The round closed last week.

Cinemagram saw extreme growth over the past couple of months, adding 100,000 or more new users per day. That curve has flattened a bit, admitted co-founder Temo Chalasani — the daily numbers of sign-ups are in the tens of thousands now.

“It’s reasonable and healthy, as opposed to before, where it was an incredible spike,” Chalasani said of the app’s growth.

Further, many of those users are sticking around for long periods of time. The average daily visitor watches at least 50 “cines” per day, Chalasani said.

So why is Cinemagram different from and better than other shooting-star mobile apps? Chalasani believes that Cinemagram’s two-second cines are an ideal format for mobile.

The default Cinemagram format is for the tiny clip to play over and over again automatically. It’s not so novel if you’ve ever seen an animated GIF. Unlike full-length videos, which can be tedious to create and watch from phones, two seconds is not much of an investment.

Chalasani said these short clips should appeal to publishers and content creators, who can target mobile audiences with promos for their full-length material. A lot can be communicated in just two seconds, he noted. For instance, some Cinemagram users have taken to filming touchdowns when they’re watching football, and then posting them.

Another Cinemagram user has recorded, over the past month, his brother Jake’s progress after being hospitalized with an induced coma after falling down concrete steps. Where in the early days Jake’s progress was as little as moving his thumb, just yesterday he sat up and laughed.

The investors who participated in Cinemagram’s Series A round had previously provided $1 million in bridge funding for the company over the summer. Shervin Pishevar from Menlo Ventures is now joining Cinemagram’s board.

“We’re streaming tens of terabytes a week of data, so the funding will go towards that,” Chalasani said. Plus, the five-person Cinemagram team has just moved from Montreal to San Francisco, where it’s looking to hire. And they still need to make an Android app.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald