Mike Isaac

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Snapchat Closes $60 Million Round Led by IVP, Now at 200 Million Daily Snaps

Snapchat, the ephemeral messaging service that has grown extremely popular over the past year, has closed its $60 million dollar Series B round of venture funding, the company announced on Monday morning.

The round, which valued the company at $800 million pre-money, was led by Institutional Venture Partners, with participation from General Catalyst Partners and SV Angel, and continued pro-rata participation from Benchmark Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners. With the new round, the company has raised around $75 million to date.

“This is almost all about scaling for us, we’re using the money mostly for server builds and hiring purposes,” Evan Spiegel, co-founder of Snapchat, told AllThingsD in an interview. “We’ve been adding awesome engineers at a nice clip so far, but we were at a place where we weren’t able to innovate as fast as we wanted to. This will let us do that.”

Announced in tandem with today’s funding news: A new board appointment. Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, a big fan of the app for more than a year, will join Snapchat’s board as an independent member. Lynton met Spiegel more than a year ago when Lynton’s wife, who is also a fan of the service, reached out to Spiegel over email and invited him to the family’s house for dinner.

While Snapchat has never announced its user numbers, the app has grown to be very popular over the past two years; Spiegel announced that the service boasts more than 200 million snapped pictures and video taken by its users on a daily basis, up from 150 million just two months ago.

That’s a serious growth rate, potentially comparable to competitor services like Twitter’s Vine and Facebook’s Instagram, both of which have updated themselves quite a bit as of late. Spiegel, however, shakes off comparisons and outward concerns of competing apps.

“We really admire the folks at Facebook and Twitter,” Spiegel said. “But one of the reasons we’re in Los Angeles is to avoid looking over our shoulder at other companies like these. We’re heads-down right now.”

Contrary to a report from TechCrunch, the company has not begun to hire a “massive sales team,” Spiegel said — the company just hit 17 employees as of Monday morning — but Snapchat does have a VP of monetization, Philippe Browning. Spiegel refused to give a timeline on when Snapchat would begin to monetize, instead telling us to expect something in the “medium term, not short term.”

“We’re excited about in-app transactions because of what we’ve seen in the Asian markets,” he said. “Native advertising is exciting to us, as well.” Spiegel refused to give any specifics on the product road map.

Something worth noting: I’ve heard chatter about Facebook’s interest in acquiring Snapchat over the past year; the social giant went so far as to clone Snapchat by shipping Poke, a complete rip-off product that ended up failing miserably in terms of use and downloads. I’ve heard Mark Zuckerberg has taken a direct, intense interest in Snapchat, but the startup has rebuffed any suggestion of acquisition offers from Facebook.

“Acquisitions can be pretty distracting,” Spiegel said. “We feel like this is early innings in a highly competitve marketplace. We’re just really focused on building right now.”

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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