Market Overview

EyeEm Scores $6 Million Investment to Take Down Instagram

EyeEm, a new photo community and marketplace app, deposited a $6 million investment this week.

The round was led by Earlybird Venture Capital, but some of the funds were provided by two existing EyeEm investors -- Wellington Partners and Passion Capital.

"We've already had successful launches in Russia, Japan, the U.S. and Brazil, and we're seeing very active engagement in these countries," Florian Meissner, co-founder and CEO of EyeEm, told Benzinga.

"We're definitely investing a lot of time and resources to rolling out internationally. We already have the app localized in 20 languages, [and] there's 20 more to come in the next couple of months."

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Meissner said that he is particularly excited about the company's initial goal, which was to get the team to a point where EyeEm could "focus on providing our community with tools and this marketplace to not only become a profitable company but also really create personal wealth for our users."

That "wealth" will come from EyeEm's plans to monetize user photos. Instead of taking a royalty-free license with every image that's uploaded to the app, EyeEm will pay users a fee for their images.

The company has not yet finalized it monetization policy, so Meissner would not tell Benzinga how much it plans to pay users. But Jason Whitmire, one of the partners at Earlybird Venture Capital, said that EyeEm would pay more than other royalty-based websites.

"We see a huge opportunity in the market space…as a way of becoming the Getty Images of the smartphone generation, selling images that are not available [on other sites]," said Meissner.

Red Bull, Vice Magazine and Lufthansa have already taken advantage of the platform, which is growing at a rate of one million users per month. Each of those brands created a "Photo Mission," which is described as a "real-time photo contest, which we can cater toward our users and their interests."

For example, if Nike (NYSE: NKE) wanted to launch a tennis shoe in Poland for women within the 19-to-25 age demographic, the shoemaker could start an EyeEm Photo Mission. Nike could use this to encourage women to take photos, which may be of value to the company in promoting its products. The shoemaker could award contestants with a pair of the new shoes and/or a trip to Wimbledon.

EyeEm is currently available for Android and iOS, but there could be more versions on the way.

When asked about developing a version for Kinect, the motion-sensing camera for Xbox One and Xbox 360, Meissner said that EyeEm is open to the idea.

"We do have a beautiful library of content, so it's something we'd be interested in exploring," he said. "We have a Google TV (NASDAQ: GOOG) app that's out there, and it's just a beautiful discovery device that runs in the background of such screens. It's pretty cool."

Instagram may not have earned a dime before it was acquired by Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), but EyeEm is already cashing paychecks.

"The good thing is we're already making money," said Meissner. "For me, there would be nothing more beautiful than turning this into a sustainable company.

"That's actually our goal -- to really build the best and most beautiful mobile photo community out there that becomes profitable."

Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ

Posted-In: Earlybird Venture Capital EyeEmNews Entrepreneurship Success Stories Startups Tech General Best of Benzinga

 

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