Media & Entertainment

With $1.2M Of Seed Funding, A SoMoLo App For Augmented Reality Fans: Wallit

Comment

From Foursquare to Pinwheel and Highlight and many, many more besides, we’ve seen a lot of apps created for users to share location, information and pictures with friends and like-minded people. So it seems inevitable that to help set themselves apart from the pack, newer launches will start coalescing more and more around particular features.

The latest is Wallit: a new app that, yes, lets users check in at particular locations and leave messages for others; but also has the added bonus of letting users add augmented reality-style photos to get their points across more visually.

Wallit comes from the mind of Veysel Berk, a Berkeley-based post-doc candidate in image processing, who has taken some of his know-how to give the app an AR twist. So far, Wallit has raised a round of seed funding totaling $1.2 million from a host of backers including Masao Tejima, president of OpenTable Japan; ex-HP and Netscape exec Sharmila Mulligan; David Kellogg and Daniel Terry, CEO, Pocket Gems. The angel round also included participation from Storm Ventures, Tenex Capital Fund, DBO Capital and Orrick Venture Fund.

The app works like this: there are a number of “walls” set up around specific places, where people can leave messages for others. They can be in the form of texts, photos, augmented reality photos, videos and audio clips. The idea comes from the places that you might come across at a historical site, where people scribble their names or messages for whomever follows behind.

Users can use the app to see who else is around at the same time as they are, and they can look at walls anywhere around the world, but they can only post to the ones where they are physically located.

The app kicks off today with 700 walls pre-created in different spots around the world — cities include London, Istanbul, Tokyo, Paris, Milan, Rome, San Francisco, NYC, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Miami.

The idea is that this number will grow as usage increases. And while we will see a number of new apps base their debut around the SXSW event in Austin, Wallit is focusing on another key event this week, the launch of the iPad, to bump that figure up in the coming weeks: it will create a “super wall” for all 320+ Apple Stores that will chart the debut of the new tablet — banking on people waiting in lines and socializing using their iOS to boost activity.

To me, Wallit sounded a bit counter intuitive: if you want to be heard, you have to post on a quiet wall, but then no-one reads what you write; on the other hand, if you are on a “busy” wall, how does your update get seen apart from the pack? Berk says that when things get too busy, the posts will be rated via a “social character index”, with certain services like video getting a higher rating than an audio post, or a photo post scoring higher than a text post. Users can also select to view only certain types of posts, for example from their Twitter/Facebook social networks, or their own private networks created in the app. There will also be higher priority placed on posts from higher profile people (e.g., celebrities).

Despite the fact that “Wallit” sounds an awful lot like “wallet,” the company assures me that there is no immediate intention to add an e-commerce element into the mix for the service (never discount a pivot, though..). But that does not mean it does not have a business model, which is this: The app is free for consumers, but it plans to sell a monetization element to brands, the terms of which, Berk says, are still being finalized. The walls for each brand location, or even their super-walls, will allow advertisements, partner promotions and other marketing messages in the form of video, audio and text, he says.

More TechCrunch

Scale AI has raised a $1 billion Series F round from a slew of big-name institutional and corporate investors including Amazon and Meta.

Data-labeling startup Scale AI raises $1B as valuation doubles to $13.8B

The new coalition, Tech Against Scams, will work together to find ways to fight back against the tools used by scammers and to better educate the public against financial scams.

Meta, Match, Coinbase and others team up to fight online fraud and crypto scams

It’s a wrap: European Union lawmakers have given the final approval to set up the bloc’s flagship, risk-based regulations for artificial intelligence.

EU Council gives final nod to set up risk-based regulations for AI

London-based fintech Vitesse has closed a $93 million Series C round of funding led by investment giant KKR.

Vitesse, a payments and treasury management platform for insurers, raises $93M to fuel US expansion

Zen Educate, an online marketplace that connects schools with teachers, has raised $37 million in a Series B round of funding. The raise comes amid a growing teacher shortage crisis…

Zen Educate raises $37M and acquires Aquinas Education as it tries to address the teacher shortage

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

A new self-driving truck — manufactured by Volvo and loaded with autonomous vehicle tech developed by Aurora Innovation — could be on public highways as early as this summer.  The…

Aurora and Volvo unveil self-driving truck designed for a driverless future

The European venture capital firm raised its fourth fund as fund as climate tech “comes of age.”

ETF Partners raises €285M for climate startups that will be effective quickly — not 20 years down the road

Copilot, Microsoft’s brand of generative AI, will soon be far more deeply integrated into the Windows 11 experience.

Microsoft wants to make Windows an AI operating system, launches Copilot+ PCs

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. For those who haven’t heard, the first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule has been pushed back yet again to no earlier than…

TechCrunch Space: Star(side)liner

When I attended Automate in Chicago a few weeks back, multiple people thanked me for TechCrunch’s semi-regular robotics job report. It’s always edifying to get that feedback in person. While…

These 81 robotics companies are hiring

The top vehicle safety regulator in the U.S. has launched a formal probe into an April crash involving the all-electric VinFast VF8 SUV that claimed the lives of a family…

VinFast crash that killed family of four now under federal investigation

When putting a video portal in a public park in the middle of New York City, some inappropriate behavior will likely occur. The Portal, the vision of Lithuanian artist and…

NYC-Dublin real-time video portal reopens with some fixes to prevent inappropriate behavior

Longtime New York-based seed investor, Contour Venture Partners, is making progress on its latest flagship fund after lowering its target. The firm closed on $42 million, raised from 64 backers,…

Contour Venture Partners, an early investor in Datadog and Movable Ink, lowers the target for its fifth fund

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons