June 23, 2021

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Photo App Poparazzi Set To Reach $100 Million-Plus Valuation In Benchmark-Led Round Days After Launch

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Days after reaching the top of Apple’s App Store, Poparazzi and founders Alex and Austen Ma are set to raise funding from venture capitalist investors that will value the buzzy new photo sharing app at as much as $135 million just days after launch.

Benchmark is set to lead the new funding round in Poparazzi, multiple sources tell Forbes, amid interest from a coterie of fellow consumer tech-minded firms whose partners have recently flocked onto the app. The Bay Area-based firm behind Snap, Twitter and Uber has committed to value Poparazzi at more than $100 million, the sources add, with one source saying Benchmark’s offer could invest $13.5 million for 10% of Poparazzi. The round is expected to close at between $15 million and $20 million overall after individual angel investors and previous investors in the app’s parent company TTYL are accounted for.

Benchmark declined to comment. TTYL founders Alex and Austen Ma and seed investor Floodgate did not respond to requests for comment. News of the funding round was first reported by Eric Newcomer earlier Thursday.

Based in Marina del Rey in the Los Angeles area, the Ma brothers founded TTYL after attending UCLA as an audio-based social network inspired, at least in part, by Apple’s AirPods. TTYL raised $2 million in seed funding and the brothers appeared on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in Consumer Technology for 2020.

Ahead of Poparazzi’s May launch, Ma and Ma opened up the app to 10,000 beta test users for a few months, with users posting more than 100,000 photos, per the company’s blog post announcing its general availability.

The app’s central premise: users don’t curate their own profile page, but upload photos of friends; their own profile pages are then developed as those friends posts photos of them back. The app asks for access to a user’s contacts list and automatically follows people already on the app whose numbers a new onboard has saved. The instant networking from Poparazzi can help drive engagement among new users, but also privacy concerns, as TechCrunch recently noted.

The funding in Poparazzi comes not long after another sweepstakes to invest in a hot new photo-sharing app – Dispo – which immediately turned sour. In February, Axios reported that Dispo, an app co-founded by popular YouTube personality David Dobrik, raised $20 million at a $200 million valuation; after allegations of rape against a former associate of Dobrik’s were made public, Dobrik stepped away from the startup and its investor of just a month, Spark Capital, said it would sever ties with the app.

And in a coincidental twist, Poparazzi’s launch and imminent funding round come almost exactly a year after Clubhouse, the audio-based social media app for which TTYL was something of a precursor, raised millions for Andreessen Horowitz at a pre-launch valuation of about $100 million. (The app is now valued by that firm and private market investors at $4 billion.)

While Poparazzi is still lining up angel investors, per the sources with knowledge of its round, the app has already enjoyed a boost from tech influencers invested in the company and not. Product Hunt co-founder and Weekend Fund founder Ryan Hoover tweeted to disclose his fund as an investor; at seed investor Floodgate, Ann Miura-Ko added “they’ve been working and learning for 3 years. Awesome to see this go live,” before quipping she was “too old to understand it.” SignalFire investor and former journalist Josh Constine called Poparazzi “the perfect app for Hot Vax Summer” in a blog post. And investor Chris Paik of Pace Capital, who clarified he’s just an “enthusiast,” called it an app to “define Summer ’21.”

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