Mobile startup Frankly has been steadily growing its user base amid a wave of self-destructing messaging apps with an app that lets you send text messages to other users that disappear after 10 seconds. Today, the company is announcing it has secured $12.8 million in funding from JJR Private Capital, Stanford-StartX Fund and SK Planet. Frankly had previously raised $6 million from SK Planet in a round announced just over a year ago.
In total, the company has now raised nearly $22 million since its founding.
During this time, Frankly has grown its user base to over 1.7 million, having doubled over the past six months. It currently ranks #256 in the Social Networking category on iTunes (U.S.) according to App Annie – which isn’t great, but far ahead of some its competitors like Confide (#773), while behind others like Wickr (#178).
The company also released an updated version of its application, Frankly 3.0, earlier this year, which allows users to send disappearing messages to non-Frankly users through the use of personalized links. That change smartly addressed one of the problems that has arisen from the overabundance of mobile messaging apps out there – not everyone is using the same one and cross-communication is not possible at this time.
Frankly’s links, when clicked, can be opened by any user through a webpage on their desktop PC or mobile phone.
With the additional funding now in tow, Frankly is announcing how it plans to turn “ephemeral” messaging into a business: it’s launching its own SDK.
This customizable SDK will be made available to other application developers looking to introduce a social chat component into their own apps. Frankly says it’s already working on integrations with “global brands” related to its SDK efforts, but didn’t share names. Other partners are now also invited to participate in the program by reaching out to the company directly.
According to Frankly CEO Steve Chung, Frankly will be able to announce a major brand partner in the next 30 days, and will book its first revenues this year, though small. More partners are in the pipeline, he says.
“We are trying different and creative models with different partners and exploring the best offering together that make sense for both parties,” Chung replied when asked what Frankly was charging its SDK partners.
Clearly investors are betting on the possibility of selling Frankly’s technology itself, more so than its growth in the consumer market.
One investor, Ron Schmeichel of JJR Private Capital, alluded to this, saying in a prepared statement, “…with their new SDK initiative, we believe there are enormous market opportunities ahead to become a disruptive leader in their category.”
The market leader in ephemeral messaging, however, is Snapchat – even if Frankly positions itself as the text-based client to Snapchat’s photo-centric app.
The 20-person company is also planning to use the new funding to “aggressively” hire, says Chung.