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Video Storytelling App Flipagram Raises $70 Million, Scores Major Music Deals


“Necessity is the mother of invention”, the adage typically goes.  What about when the services in question are inherently novel or seemingly frivolous?  Did Instagram solve a need that smartphone users didn’t appreciate they had – that is, sharing pictures of their lives with their friends?  Facebook seemed to think so, gobbling them up at a significant price.  In today’s society, “need” is likely a somewhat different definition than in marketing ages of old, though if one can create a product, perhaps the need will follow and rearrange the order of that famous saying.  Just recently raising $70M in a Series B from a handful of investors, as well as adding to their board Michael Moritz and John Doerr, previously together on Google’s, Flipagram is clearly an app to monitor and might be creating its own need.

It is a two year old, free app which allows users to make videos, ranging from thirty seconds on average and up to one minute in length, along with an editing tool that can bring in photos, text, links, and offers users the chance to comment on and like the videos both within the app as well as externally.  The app automatically slices taken videos into one second strips, allowing for the users to pick and choose in the editing process to create the perfect scene.  What the app is going for, and how it differentiates itself from Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and Snapchat, to name a few, is both the intention and the user interface.  The CEO, Farhad Mohit, founder of Shopzilla, explained to Forbes that Flipagram exists to help people tell intimate, personal stories that have more lasting emotional resonance than a Tweet, Snap or a single Instagram photo.  In addition, making a YouTube video can be intimidating, so on the user’s side this allows for the ease of use they’re accustomed to with the aforementioned apps, though this time it will be in the service of making something he hopes will allow users to “memorialize” events, such as weddings, birthday parties and other large life events.

music +camera+ instagram +twitter=  . . . 

Beyond the intent of meaningful exchanges, what will truly distinguish Flipagram from the other sharable media apps, it appears, is its connection to music, with the company having reached deals aligning it with major labels and publishers (Universal, Sony, Warner), granting a catalog of millions of songs to users from which they can apply to their videos as well as purchase via the app.

Already a seeming success, Flipagram averaged 14 Million videos per month in the first quarter of 2015, and has users ranging from Deepak Chopra to Britney Spears.  Additionally, there are options to search for videos by channels, similar to YouTube, as opposed to a strictly “find my friends” search feature.

Personally, I had not heard of this app but really like the idea of it.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re entering a saturation point with the apps that specialize in brevity – you can’t get much shorter than some Snapchats, I feel like – and this might mark the turning point of people wanting to inject more meaning and emotional honesty into what they share.

Some questions I pose to the class are – does this app seem like a thoughtful marriage of the services being provided by other, existing apps, namely the text and video options of a SnapChat with the introspective quality more associated to certain Instagram photos or YouTube videos all soundtracked by available music?

If so, is there any way it’s not a success?  If not, what would be a more interesting synthesis?

An additional question would be – and this is more for anybody currently using the app and down the line potential issues – are users limited to the catalog of songs available on the app?  If one were to purchase a song legitimately through iTunes, for instance, and wish to use it in a video but that artist is part of a studio not associated with Flipagram, does that eliminate the opportunity to use that song?


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