Snapchat Raises $13.5M In First Round Of Venture Funding

By Alexandra Burlacu email: | Feb 10, 2013 12:00 PM EST

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Snapchat, the social media start-up that inspired Facebook's competing app Poke, has closed its first round of venture funding at $13.5 million.

Basically, Snapchat is an app designed to let users send self-destructing pictures and videos that disappear after a set time.

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Benchmark Capital led the funding of the app. According to the New York Times' (NYT) Jenna Wortham, Benchmark Capital values Snapchat at $60 million to $70 million, prompting the impressive cash infusion.

"I started hearing Snapchat in the same context as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook," NYT quoted Benchmark's Mitch Lasky, whose teenage daughter brought Snapchat to his attention. "That got me curious."

Lasky further suggested that the expiration date on content sent via the app allows people to feel more confident and not worry about a digital self that pervades time frames. In turn, this allows for a more authentic experience, in Lasky's opinion.

"People are looking to communicate in a real way. The real self, as opposed to the projected self. That was the piece that resonated the most with me," he told the NYT.

As various reports indicate that Facebook may be losing its edge when it comes to teenage users, venture capitalists are hunting for the next Facebook or Instagram. Facebook itself is well-aware of the issue with youngsters.

"We believe that some of our users, particularly our younger users, are aware of and actively engaging with other products and services similar to, or as a substitute for, Facebook," the social networking giant recently said in its 10-K annual report. "For example, we believe that some of our users have reduced their engagement with Facebook in favor of increased engagement with other products and services such as Instagram."

According to Wortham, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg met the Snapchat team back in December, a couple of weeks before the social networking giant launched a Snapchat knockoff called Poke.

While Facebook's Poke climbed rapidly in Apple's App Store at first, now it doesn't even make the Top 200. Snapchat, meanwhile, sits comfortably on the #22 spot, closely behind Instagram which sits at $19 but ahead of Facebook Messenger, which ranks #29. Twitter's Vine, meanwhile, sits at #42. 

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