When Mixed Media Labs raised a $5 million round last November, it raised quite a few eyebrows. After all, the money came from Andreessen Horowitz, the VC firm which had backed Instagram. To be fair, they backed Instagram when it was still known as Burbn — before it became what is now a massively popular mobile photo-sharing app. Still, there’s no question that Mixed Media Labs’ PicPlz product was a direct competitor. And Andreessen Horowitz sided with them, while Instagram found other investors.
Specifically, PicPlz has been spun off as a separate company that will be run by Ali Aydar, a former executive at Napster, imeem, and yes, Mixed Media Labs. We had been hearing for weeks that PicPlz was being shopped around for potential cash deals as Mixed Media Labs sought to focus on what’s next. But ultimately, they decided to simply spin off PicPlz as a separate company while maintaining some ownership.
Reached for comment, Caldwell confirmed the PicPlz spin-off, but declined to discuss the deal further beyond expressing his excitement about what his team is working on next.
So what is Mixed Media Labs working on next? All we know for sure is that it’s inline with the initial goal of a broad idea in the app space. Specifically, we’ve also heard that there will be a strong focus on a business model from day one, unlike PicPlz.
Meanwhile, PicPlz will live on as a service, but Caldwell and the rest of the Mixed Media Labs team will not be involved any more.
The move away from PicPlz comes at an interesting time in the mobile photo sharing space. While Instagram continues to gain users rapidly, other players like Path and Color have been preparing other products as well. Path recently launched their first “joint” — hipster/Dr. Dre lingo for “side project” — With. Color Labs, meanwhile, is said to be preparing an entirely new app after Color failed to catch on in the way they had hoped.