Itsme app co-founded by NI developer, raises $15.2m funding

  • Photo: (c) Itsme

    A new social media app, which was co-founded by a Northern Irishman, has raised $15.2m in Series A funding, led by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

    Itsme allows users to connect with one another based on similar interests, through digital caricature avatars of themselves.

    The idea stemmed from Portstewart native, John Mullan and his US co-creator, Aakash Sastry, who became friends via a computer graphics Reddit forum back in 2017.

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    Despite having never met in person and being halfway round the world from one another, they wanted to create a platform where other likeminded strangers could form online friendships like theirs.

    “We wanted to create a way to unlock connections around the world where you’d be able to be comfortable and confident meeting new people,” Sastry told Forbes.

    From its inception, Itsme has implemented a Trust and Safety team of staff to regulate the social media site, which Ohanian said “exemplifies what this second wave of social is going to get right.

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    “[It’s what] the first wave wasn't really prepared for,” he continued, referring to how tech giants such as Facebook and Twitter have come under scrutiny for not regulating content posted on their sites enough (such as online trolling and fake news).

    Itsme users can either use the app’s Instant function to pair them with others based on interests, or browse a public feed of other people online.

    Instant matches users by assessing the interests they chose when they first registered an account (such as ‘Netflix’ or ‘LGBTQ+’).

    ItsMe says it now has four million registered users, trading five million messages a day, with the average user spending about half an hour daily on the platform.

    In April 2021 alone, it had over 600k US downloads and part of its organic success has been due to micro-video app, TikTok, with teens posting clips of themselves there chatting on Itsme using the #Itsmeapp hashtag to generate 334.3m views to date.

    The social media start-up’s first significant funding round was led by Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six venture capital fund, Third Kind Venture Capital, Allen & Co. and others. 

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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