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Is Flipagram Los Angeles' latest breakout app start-up?

Snapchat, Tinder and Whisper get rattled off in the Los Angeles technology community as the area’s biggest app start-ups.

From there, it’s trickier deciding who else belongs. Now Flipagram is making a strong case that it does.

The video-sharing app company disclosed Thursday that it raised $70 million in funding a year ago from two of Silicon Valley’s most prominent venture-capital firms, Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Sequoia has invested in message-board app Whisper and Kleiner in entertainment app Snapchat.

Flipagram also announced that as of Thursday its tens of millions of users can access millions of songs to place as background music in their creations. After over a year of negotiations, the start-up recently finished deals, terms of which were not disclosed, with nearly all of the major music publishers and recording studios.

“My thinking was, ‘Why couldn’t you put music to cherished memories?’ It seems very simple, but it’s not for the music industry,” Flipagram Chief Executive Farhad Mohit said. “Getting global rights was very difficult.”

Flipagram launched in November 2013 as a simple video-editing app that allowed users to stitch together videos, photos and text, then share the clips to other social networks. The app’s since become a social media destination unto itself.

The company doesn’t limit the length of videos to a few seconds, making it more attractive to some than Vine, Instagram and Snapchat. On the other end, the step-by-step nature of the app makes it easier to use than YouTube’s video tools and more powerful than Facebook’s.

Flipagram hosts how-to guides, tributes to friends and funny productions. Celebrities such as Britney Spears, Madonna and Garth Brooks have also used it to promote themselves. Brooks, for instance, garnered 174,000 listens of a song from one of his posts.

More than 14 million videos were made each month in the first three months of the year, and the app had about 33 million monthly users by its first birthday, or about as many as Snapchat had at age two. The videos tend to be short -- about 30 seconds on average. Many users are women younger than 25.

Mohit said it’s not his job to judge where Flipagram fits into the Los Angeles community.

“We’ll let our numbers speak for themselves,” he said. “I certainly think they are impressive in their first year.”

But part of the reason for finally revealing the big investment was to gain more credibility as Flipagram recruits employees, he said. The company sometimes had to go into “hand-to-hand combat” to convince candidates that it had major backers.

Sequoia Chairman Michael Moritz and Kleiner general partner John Doerr joined Flipagram’s board of directors, the first time the pair has served together in such a capacity since their firms invested in Google in 1999, Mohit said.

Flipagram makes a tiny amount of money from a fee charged to remove a watermark from the videos and from a commission when someone buys a full copy of a song. But the plan is to eventually include advertising. Special to Flipagram is that videos include a “call to action,” enabling videomakers to paste a link to another website. That could make it a standout for advertisers.

Chat with me on Twitter @peard33

 

 

 

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