Poparazzi, a photo-sharing app, is expected to reach a valuation of $100 million or more in a benchmark-led round days after launch.
Poparazzi and its founders Alex and Austen Ma are set to raise funding from venture capitalist investors, valuing the buzzy new photo sharing app at up to $135 million just days after launch.
Benchmark is expected to lead a new funding round for Poparazzi, multiple sources tell Forbes, amid interest from a coterie of other consumer technology companies whose partners have recently flocked to the app. Benchmark, the Bay Area firm behind Snap, Twitter, and Uber, has committed to value Poparazzi at more than $100 million, according to sources, with one source estimating that Benchmark’s offer could amount to $13.5 million for 10% of Poparazzi. After taking into account individual angel investors and previous investors in the app’s parent company TTYL, the round is expected to close at between $15 million and $20 million.
Benchmark did not respond to a request for comment. Alex and Austen Ma, co-founders of TTYL, and seed investor Floodgate did not respond to requests for comment. Eric Newcomer broke the news of the funding round earlier Thursday.
TTYL was founded by the Ma brothers in Marina del Rey, Los Angeles, after they graduated from 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 were named to Forbes’ 2020 list of the world’s 30 Under 30 in Consumer Technology.
Prior to Poparazzi’s May launch, Ma and Ma made the app available to 10,000 beta testers for several months, with users uploading more than 100,000 photos, according to the company’s blog post announcing the app’s general availability.
The app’s central premise is that users do not curate their own profile pages, but rather upload photos of their friends; their own profiles are then developed as their friends respond with photos of them. The app requests access to the user’s contacts list and automatically follows users already on the app whose phone numbers are saved by a new onboard. As TechCrunch recently noted, Poparazzi’s instant networking can help increase engagement among new users, but it also raises privacy concerns.
Poparazzi’s funding comes on the heels of another sweepstakes to invest in a hot new photo-sharing app – Dispo – that quickly went 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; following the public disclosure of rape allegations against a former associate of Dobrik, Dobrik stepped away from the startup, and Spark Capital, the app’s investor of less than a month, announced it would terminate its relationship with the app.
Poparazzi’s launch and impending funding round occur almost exactly a year after Clubhouse, the audio-based social media app for which TTYL served as a precursor, raised millions for Andreessen Horowitz at a pre-launch valuation of approximately $100 million. (The app is now valued at $4 billion by that firm and private market investors.)
While Poparazzi is still looking for angel investors, according to sources familiar with the round, the app has already benefited from both invested and uninvested tech influencers. Ryan Hoover, co-founder of Product Hunt and Weekend Fund, disclosed his fund as an investor via Twitter; at seed investor Floodgate, Ann Miura-Ko added, “they’ve been working and learning for three years.” It’s incredible to see this go live,” she said, before adding that she was “too old to understand it.” In a blog post, SignalFire investor and former journalist Josh Constine dubbed Poparazzi “the perfect app for Hot Vax Summer.” And Pace Capital investor Chris Paik, who clarified that he is merely a “enthusiast,” described it as an app that will “define Summer ’21.”