Photo-based life-blogging phenomenon DailyBooth just revealed that it’s raised around $6 million in venture capital to grow the young company dramatically. The upshot: Your next status updates may be photos, not text.
Explaining DailyBooth is as hard as explaining Twitter–it’s a micro-blog, based on photos. First, you upload a photo of yourself from your iPhone or webcam to show to a huge list of people you don’t know what you’re up to right at that moment. Erm…. Then you try it, and the rapidly growing DB community (which already has uploaded more than 14 million photos–“booths”–and 47 million comments, according to the site) quickly embraces you, cuddles up to you, adds “likes” and comments on your photos, and responds with photos of their own. Then you get it. Think of it as sharing your daily life via a number of quickly snapped photos of yourself, much as Twitter’s all about writing about what you’re up to.
The company has grown very quickly from its initial roots in January 2009, fueled by its community (which is so passionate that early financial backers Y Combinator shied away from renaming the site for fear of alienating its userbase). Timing for the latest round of funding couldn’t be more perfect, since Apple’s just revealed the iPad 2 with a front-facing camera that’s perfect for DB users.
The new Series A investment round was led by Ignition Partners, with cash also coming from Sequoia Capital and a “group of Angel investors,” which includes Digg cofounder Kevin Rose and Flickr cofounder Caterina Fake, according to DailyBooth’s press release. As part of the cash deal, Ignition’s Chris Howard is joining DB’s board, which will help DB consolidate and project its image. Howard’s experience (as revealed by his Ignition bio) includes 10 years in “advertising and marketing, focused on startup brand development.”
What will the cash be used for? We spoke to CEO Brian Pokorny, and he explained the “key points of the fund raising are to expand the team and power the whole front-facing camera experience.” DailyBooth is “really looking to build the social software, and the unique kind of interactions that can persist from this new piece of hardware that has never really happened before.” The site is, he says, is “at the cusp of this change in hardware, this change in behavior” and aims to “power the software that allows this communication to exist.”
Indeed, DailyBooth promotes itself as one of the few social media sites that uses the front-facing camera on smartphones, though it was initially reliant on webcams on PCs. Rear-facing camera apps are exemplified by Twitpic and Instagram, where users communicate the things they’re seeing at the moment, but DailyBooth is more about its users lives in context–a front-facing camera affair. Pokorny highlighted that a “lot of the history of the site has been through web interfaces and front-facing cameras on laptops.” That’s interesting because users can communicate from their rooms or workplace, but the hardware has shifted significantly since the company debuted in January 2009, and mobile Net connections on camera-equipped smartphones allows people to, Pokorny thinks, “continue the conversation and also just share a richer part of your life as you’re out and about.”
DailyBooth’s plan is to operate across all platforms, including tablet PCs based on Android and future iOS devices like the iPad 2 and iPhone 5, and capitalize on the trend for lifecasting or microblogging via its core photo-status meme. Pokorny noted that DailyBooth will probably hone its web interface for simplicity and optimize its app for mobile devices, developing from its webcam-based roots. After all, a friendly status update from your desk is all very well, but adding in context from your life–such as trips to the airport–is a much richer kind of interaction, adding details that will probably appeal to the community.
And video? Video messaging isn’t in the immediate future, as “it’s still early days for the front-facing camera.” While more and more people will get used to the notion of self-imaging as more handsets with the facility go on sale, there are “places for video that do video really well online,” but there “aren’t a lot of places” that let the community interact DailyBooth-style.
Image courtesy DailyBooth, co-founders Ryan Amos and Jon Wheatley on left and right, Brian Pokorny center.
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