Wire, A Would-Be Snapchat Competitor From Ex-Amazon Engineers, Raises $1.8 Million

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Wire Labs, a company founded by ex-Amazon engineers Piragash Velummylum and Jordan Timmermann, has raised $1.8 million in seed funding for their new – what else? – mobile messaging application called “Wire.” The app, currently in a private beta release, is targeting the teen audience with photo and video messaging features and promise of real-time feedback.

Investors in the round include Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital, Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff, former Expedia CEO Erik Blachford, former Facebook COO Owen Van Natta, former Facebook general counsel Rudy Gadre, Mike Slade from Second Avenue Partners, Microsoft M&A veterans Bruce Jaffe, Hank Vigil & Fritz Lanman, Decide.com founder Brian Ma, Origin Venture’s Brent Hill, Senator LP executives, and 16 current and former Amazon executives, including former CIO Rick Dalzell.

The company had reported $150,000 in funding back in June.

Wire Labs participated in TechStars Seattle this year, and first showed off Wire last month at the TechStars Demo Day event. There, the company compared Wire side-by-side with Snapchat. Wire’s advantage? Its messages don’t expire for 24 hours, giving users more time to actually view and respond to the content before the message disappears. The messages can also be optionally saved, making the app less about fully “ephemeral” communication and more about just providing private chat.

In addition to the disappearing messages, at the time of the demo, Wire’s feature set also included comments, a feed and support for stickers, the latter which could hint at Wire’s potential business model if things go well.

However, the company isn’t yet offering the public a look at the Wire app, and given that it’s only a beta release, its features could change between now and its official launch.

The app is only described vaguely in the company’s funding announcement, out today, as being “designed from the ground-up for the next-generation of mobile users” and  offering a “great user experience.” That could refer to any of a dozen or so contenders to the Snapchat throne, of course. 

What’s more impressive, perhaps, than this fairly generic-sounding app are the backgrounds of those building it. Combined, the team at Wire Labs worked on Kindle Fire HD, Amazon Instant Video, Amazon Cloud Player and Cloud Drive, Amazon fulfillment, Windows 8 and MSN Messenger.

Velummylum, Wire Labs CEO, was at Amazon for nearly six years, and had prototyped and pitched Cloud Drive and Cloud Player to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos before founding the Cloud Drive team. Meanwhile co-founder and CTO Jordan Timmermann was the lead engineer for Amazon Instant Video on the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD, and helped designed the X-Ray for Movies feature.

There aren’t as many ex-Amazon engineers who leave to create their own startups when compared with other large companies like Apple, Google or Microsoft. That alone should make the progress of Wire interesting to watch.