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Selfie app Shots raises $8.5 million in funding, adds video feature

Major League Baseball among investors in selfie app Shots

The selfie has become big business. 

The photo sharing app Shots recently raised $8.5 million in funding from numerous backers, including Major League Baseball, said John Shahidi, the company's chief executive.

Additional investors in the San Francisco-based company -- founded by Shahidi and his brother Sam -- are WI Harper Group, Launch Fund, Upfront Ventures, Manven Ventures and software guru Dennis Phelps, Shahidi said. 

"Each investor believes in our vision of a positive community. The lead investor is WI Harper, who is also helping us build Shots in Asia," Shahidi said in an email.

The app is just over a year old but already has 5 million users, including investors Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Justin Bieber. More than half the users are on the app daily, Shahidi said.

"This is a huge milestone for us since we’ve yet to spend any money on marketing Shots," Shahidi said. "The user and engagement growth has all been built by the community that we’re proud of."

Mayweather announced the much-anticipated fight with Manny Pacquiao on Shots. He has also used the app to show pictures of his training regimen leading up to the May 2 bout.

Shots continues to add new features, such as three-second videos, as it keeps pace with Instagram and Vine. Another new feature helps find nearby friends. The app is also available on the newly released Apple Watch.

The product is driven by a positive, anti-bullying structure. Comments on photos are not allowed, and users can’t see how many followers others have. 

Shahidi told The Times he's focused on growing the company. 

"We wake up in the morning and rush into the office and stay there until late because building features for our community is what makes us happy," he said. "That’s what we care about and all we can think about right now."

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