Instagram is reportedly in the process of securing new round of funding that values the 16-month-old company at a staggering $500 million — 20 times what the company was valued at a year ago. Although the $40 million round has drawn a lot of interest from investors, many of the top VC firms have decided to stay away due to the high valuation and the fact that Instagram still needs to prove that it can turn popularity into profit. The 9-man company currently has over 15 million users and is working on bringing its popular app to the Android market.
Financing to Value Instagram at $500 Million [The Wall Street Journal]
One year ago we featured a novel new device called Instaprint, a location-based photo booth that lets people create instant prints of Instagram photos by simply tagging them with a specific tag. It constantly scans Instagram for its tag, and when a photo is found the image is immediately printed out as a Zink print. Now Breakfast, the company behind the prototype, is trying to turn it into an actual product. They’re trying to raise half a million bucks through Kickstarter and a $400 contribution effectively preorder one.
The mobile photo sharing space is hot right now, with services like Instagram, Picplz, and Path growing like weeds. A new contender called Color is causing some buzz after successfully raising a whopping $41 million… before even launching. The company has seven notable founders who have either started successful companies in the past (e.g. Lala and BillShrink) or have held executive positions at them (LinkedIn). Among the investors is Sequoia Capital, one of the most influential and successful firms in Silicon Valley and the firm that funded Google. They gave Color more than they gave Google.
Shooting photos or video remotely may get a whole lot easier if a startup company named Satarii is able to raise enough funding ($20K) for their idea — a camera base called the Satarii Star that automatically keeps the lens pointed at a remote sensor. We could waste our breath explaining how it works and all the different applications it could be useful for, but the video above does quite a good job.
So far they’ve built a functional prototype that they showed off at CES, and raised about half their target funding. If you’d like to jump in on the project, visit their IndieGoGo page here.
Satarii Star Accessory (via Engadget)
LensVector, a Silicon Valley startup working on novel lens technology, has received its latest round of funding from In-Q-Tel, a not-for-profit venture firm that invests for the sole purpose of boosting US intelligence capability by providing the CIA with state-of-the-art information technology.
So what’s LensVector developing that CIA would want? Lenses that focus electronically with no moving parts.
Here’s a diagram by LensVector showing how their tiny autofocus lenses work compared to traditional technology:
Rather than using mechanical parts to focus a lens, LensVector uses electricity to align liquid crystals to a desired shape, which focuses light to a particular point.
Given the CIA’s interest in this technology, it must be working pretty well. Hopefully we’ll see this introduced to consumer cameras that need it (i.e. cell phones) soon.
A fun fact: another startup that received In-Q-Tel funding was Keyhole, Inc., the geospatial data visualization company that was acquired by Google in 2004. Their flagship product, Earth Viewer, was turned into Google Earth.
Real time photo sharing service TweetPhoto has raised a $2.6 million Series A investment from a group of investors led by Canaan Partners.
The San Diego-based startup is one of the closest competitors of TwitPic, the most popular photo sharing service for Twitter. As long as Twitter doesn’t compete in this space with 3rd party sites by starting its own service or acquiring one of the services, the future looks bright for TweetPhoto. Last year, TwitPic raked in $1.5 million in revenue and turned down an offer “much higher than $10“.
Although TweetPhoto still lags behind TwitPic in terms of traffic, TweetPhoto is attempting to ensure its growth and survival by spreading its eggs across multiple baskets. Unlike TwitPic, TweetPhoto has expanded to support other social networks including Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Foursquare.
GigaOM also reports that the company is thinking about changing its name, and will likely do so at some point in the future.
Real time photo sharing is just getting started and, if the investors are correct, we should be seeing much more growth and innovation in this space in the near future.