Instagram for websites? Not exactly. NewHive is more like a cross between MS Paint, Photoshop, and Tumblr. But NewHive’s not just a collage site-making tool. It has a community that’s logged 10 million views of NewHive creations, and that attracted investors. SV Angel, CrunchFund, and some angels just backed its seed so NewHive can build a social media consumption network around self-expression.
Over the last few years, Facebook, Twitter, and other places to share things have rapidly proliferated. Unfortunately, they’ve outpaced the tools for creating things to share. That means we see too many hastily taken photos, shaky videos, and shallow memes that can be made and posted in a few seconds.
NewHive wants to pioneer what co-founder Zach Verdin calls “slow social media”. He describes it as “Creating something meaningful that takes more time and thought than just sharing an image. It has more emotional impact on the people creating it and the people consuming it.”
Slow social media is what you make with NewHive, though its simple but powerful self-expressions tools can be used quickly. NewHive lets you pull in text, links, photos, videos, drawings, music, GIFs, and more to compose one-off website collages. You can also embed things from YouTube, Spotify, Google Maps, and PayPal.
When you’re done you get a unique URL to share your masterpieces around the web. What people create on NewHive ranges from silly to serious, amateur doodles to serious art. Verdin says NewHive wants to make tools accessible to the average Joe, but that professional designers can rely on.
For an example, check out “We Are The Music Makers…”, a GIF, text, and Spotify ode to Willy Wonka.
It’s not enough to be the tool, though. Instagram proved there’s enduring value that’s tough to disrupt in fostering a community around the output of your tool. That’s why the homepage of NewHive isn’t an expression builder, it’s a grid feed of recent expressions from people you follow. Don’t follow anyone? No problem. The official NewHive account will show you the best creations from the community. Or you can browse tabs for humor, art, music, technology, poetry, and more.
The community is still small, as NewHive remains in invite-only beta (we’ve got invites below), but it’s bustling. Together its users have racked up 10 million views of expressions. If you create something of quality NewHive can find you an audience. 13% of NewHive expressions have over 1000 views. Verdin tells me “We all express ourselves because we want to know that were not alone. To have a powerful tool for content creation, you have to have a vibrant community of people who support self-expression.”
The site’s potential to become the home for people who want to consume Internet art has captured the attention of some big names in Silicon Valley. SV Angel joined its new seed round first, and NewHive brought it on to gain access to Ron Conway’s extensive network. Verdin tells me CrunchFund won a spot thanks to “MG Siegler’s deep product expertise and insight” (disclosure: MG and fellow CrunchFund partner Michael Arrington write for TechCrunch).
Howard Lindzon (along with his Social Leverage partner Tom Peterson) was added to the round because Verdin calls him “a hustler, and an amazing CEO I turn to for insights into building the company.” The round is joined by David King, Jonathan Teo, Todd Perry, GenY capital partners, Seth Berman, Steve Katz, Michael Kinsbergen, plus Rothenberg Ventures — the new $5 million fund led by scrappy 28-year-old Mike Rothenberg we recently profiled. NewHive will be taking on others that help you build art and websites like Canvas and Scroll Kit
Though the sum was undisclosed, NewHive will be spending it on expanding its three-person team and product development. Specifically its looking to launch a mobile app with an “auto-upload” feature that pulls photos taken on your device into your NewHive profile for instant use in your collages.
While raising, some investors referred to NewHive as “Instagram for websites”. But Verdin stresses that his service is much more flexible, “NewHive is not a templated tool for creation. It’s not a series of boxes and rigid structures.” Maybe one of its users put it best when she wrote “ it’s so much more than just a blog or social network…it can be ANYTHING you imagine.”
NewHive is still in invite-only beta, but it’s hooking up the first 1000 TechCrunch readers with access through this link.