Socialcam, the “Instagram for video” iPhone app that spun out of user generated video pioneer Justin.tv last year, has had a pretty crazy past week. A Hacker News post aimed at recruiting engineers for the company said that the app added four million new users over the past weekend alone — I’m hearing rumors that Socialcam’s total user count may have pushed past 10 million — and the company is part of the most hotly pursued YC classes from an investor standpoint. You’d think that Socialcam’s three-person team would be totally overwhelmed.
Well, they probably are — but they’re still apparently shipping lots of app updates. This latest one, made today, has two main tweaks that seem small but helpful. Now when users click on a video it plays right within the app’s main feed rather than sending them to a different viewing window; and videos start loading right when a user hovers over them. Essentially they’re both aimed at making the app faster to use.
When reached by phone this afternoon, Socialcam CEO Michael Siebel confirmed that his company was indeed responsible for the Hacker News post, so the four million user number is actually legit — he declined to give any more detail on Socialcam’s total user numbers, or on its funding situation. (Don’t worry, we’ll keep working on it.) But that’s because according to him, Socialcam’s main focus is not on numbers, but on making sure the users it has attracted stick around for the long term. He was quick to point out, also, that this is the third app update Socialcam has made since YC demo day on March 27. “We’re not just looking for distribution. We want the app to be better for everyone, to make sure that we take all the pain out of both making and watching videos,” Seibel said. “My goal is to make the process of taking and watching videos as easy as it is for photos.”
It’s smart for Socialcam to keep its eye on the ball, being that it is certainly not the only game in town when it comes to the suddenly very hot mobile video space. Since Instagram’s $1 billion sale to Facebook earlier this month, the hunt for a similar app for video has been especially intense — and smartphone users, the media, and of course venture capital investors are all on the trail. Viddy, which is currently at the top spot in the iTunes store, just raised a $6 million round from some super high profile investors; Mobli has also attracted some star-studded investors and users; and other apps such as Tout and Klip are in the mix as well.
It’s fun to watch from an industry perspective, but for users, this environment is especially good news. There are some real technological challenges in making sharing video as accessible as photos, so it’s good to have some earnest energy in the space to hopefully deliver a real solution to the problem.
Check out TechCrunch TV’s interview earlier this month with Socialcam CEO Michael Seibel: