Exclusive: 4chan founder Christopher Poole (a.k.a. moot) is announcing a round of funding today for his new startup, Canvas. Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson has led a $3 million series A round of funding, with all of the company’s previous angel investors participating, including SV Angel, Lerer Ventures (who led Canvas’ seed round), Andreessen Horowitz, Founder Collective, and Joshua Schachter. Canvas had previously raised $625,000 in seed financing.
Canvas is a place for people to post media (i.e. images, video) and start a discussion. Canvas, which launched in beta in January and is still invite-only, is similar to 4chan in some ways, except that content is archived, and people create accounts. Users can still stay anonymous, with communities and interactions built around sharing and photoshopping images.
As Poole told us a few weeks ago at TechCrunch Disrupt, We want to re-imagine what the modern message board would look like … It’s less about the product and more about the community.
One of the more killer features that Canvas offers, according to Poole, is the ability to remix images. The image editor on the site lets users do simple photo and image editing in the browser, which is awesome for meme propagation. Canvas has also recently added basic oEmbed support for a few sites, and will continue to add support for other sites over time.
Poole has said that he built Canvas into a separate venture-backed company as opposed to porting over the existing 4chan users onto the new platform because he believes the Canvas can be its own sustainable community. He says that while the Canvas and 4chan communities will eventually overlap, he doesn’t want to force the communities to interact.
Poole tells us that while the company is still in private beta (the site will be released to the public in a few months), he’s impressed with the growth and engagement of the community since January (he declined to reveal specific engagement numbers). Apparently, demand to get in is so high, that Poole has had to throttle back the number of people he is letting in even on a private basis. One of the reasons Poole has restricted the number of users on the site is because he wants a small, core group to define the norms and early usage patterns of the site.
The startup currently has five employees (including Poole) working on Canvas out of its Manhattan offices, including lead developer Timothy Fitz; senior software developer Michael Rooney; designer and frontend engineer Dave Mauro; and office manager Eunsan Huh. FYI, Moot actually went to California to recruit his team and brought them to New York. And the company is hiring, in case you are interested.
The new funding will be used to grow the team and scale the product, says Poole. He adds that he’ll also “keep an eye out for opportunistic investments,” for Canvas.