The race to be the “Instagram for video” is hotter than ever, and Socialcam, the app that spun out of video sharing pioneer Justin.tv last year and was part of Y Combinator’s winter 2012 class, is hustling hard for the lead. The company has raised seed funding from a group of angel investors that reads like a “who’s who” list of tech and entertainment industry heavyweights.
I’ve been hearing whispers about Socialcam’s crazy angel round for weeks now, and I’ve finally verified the full list of the startup’s seed backers. Unfortunately I’ve not been able to ascertain the exact amount of money the company has raised, though — when I reached out to Socialcam CEO Michael Seibel for more detail today, he would only say that “the list speaks for itself.” (Don’t worry, I’ll keep working on getting that dollar amount.)
I’ve pasted the entire list at the bottom of this post, but some of the names include (in no particular order): Tim Draper, Yuri Milner, Ari Emmanuel, Laurene Powell Jobs, Ashton Kutcher, Brian Chesky, Paul Buchheit, Alexis Ohanian, and many more.
The Battle For Users
Socialcam’s chief competitor is Viddy, an app that also lets users shoot, edit and share videos from their smartphones, and the battle between the two companies is fast and furious. Earlier today Socialcam pulled past Viddy as the top video/photo app in the iTunes app store (see screenshot at right) — but it’s been a horse race of sorts, as the two apps have switched spots on the list several times since I started writing this article.
Now, one detail is very important to understand: These user numbers do not represent the downloads Socialcam and Viddy have as apps on mobile devices — they’re the number of people who have downloaded the apps on Facebook. Both Socialcam and Viddy have enjoyed viral growth on the Facebook platform, as people are curious to watch the videos posted by their friends. But that does not necessarily mean they themselves become avid Socialcam or Viddy users. It takes a bit more commitment to download an app to your iPhone or Android device, and neither company has released those figures yet.
More comparisons between the two apps: Socialcam still has just three full-time employees, compared to Viddy’s twenty-some, though Seibel tells me his company is looking to hire “aggressively” in the weeks ahead. Viddy has raised $6 million in Series A funding and is said to be in the process of raising some $30 more at a sky-high $370 million valuation. Socialcam, again, is staying mum on its exact funding numbers.
Silicon Valley Vs. Hollywood? Not Exactly
Socialcam is based in San Francisco while Viddy is based in Los Angeles, so the apps have reputations for attracting different crowds as investors and users: The Silicon Valley set for Socialcam, the Hollywood crowd for Viddy. But that geographical characterization is increasingly inaccurate. Socialcam has nabbed Hollywood power agent Ari Emmanuel as a backer, and Britney Spears apparently just joined the service this past weekend posting a video of her sons dancing around. Viddy meanwhile counts Twitter co-founder Biz Stone as an investor, and Mark Zuckerberg joined the service yesterday to post a video of his dog.
One thing is for sure: The battle here is far from over — and Instagram itself could still emerge as the Instagram for video — but at the moment it’s pretty fun to watch it all play out.
The Socialcam Angel Backers
As promised, here is the full list of Socialcam’s angel investors:
Brian Chesky – CEO, Airbnb
Jonathan Abrams – Partner, Founders Den
Jason Johnson – Partner, Founders Den
Zachary Bogue – Partner, Founders Den
Michael Levit – Partner, Founders Den
Jeff Kapel – Assistant Coach, Duke Basketball
WME – Ari Emmanuel & Jason Lublin
Trajan Langdon – Retired NBA Basketball Player
Yuri Milner & Felix Shpilman – Startfund
Troy Carter & Allison Streuter – Atom Factory
SV Angel – Ron, David, Kevin, Topher, Robert
Crunchfund – Michael, MG, Patrick
Paul Buchheit – Inventor of Gmail, Founder FriendFeed, Partner Y-Combinator
Garry Tan – Partner Y-Combinator, Co-Founder Posterous
Alexis Ohanian – Partner Y-Combinator, Co-Founder Reddit
Harj Taggar – Partner Y-Combinator, Co-Founder Auctomatic
Paul Graham – Co-founder Y-Combinator
Jessica Livingston – Partner Y-Combinator
Tim Draper – Draper Associates
Stewart Alsop – Alsop Louie
Erik Moore – Angel investor in Zappos
Justin Kan – Co-Founder EXEC, Co-Founder Justin.tv/Twitch.tv
Emmett Shear – CEO & Co-Founder Justin.tv/Twitch.tv
Kyle Vogt – Co-Founder Justin.tv/Twitch.tv
Matt Ocko – Angel Investor
A-Grade Investments – Ashton Kutcher, Guy Oseary, and Chris Hollod
Ronny Conway – Andreessen Horowitz
Justin Caldbeck – Lightspeed
Shervin Pishevar – Menlo Ventures
Laurene Powell Jobs & Stacey Rubin – Emerson Collective
Ram Shiram – Sherpalo, Angel Investor in Google
Shane Battier – NBA Basketball player, Miami Heat
Michael Rapino & Michael Abrams – Live Nation