Does the world need another mobile social app? A new startup called Kibits thinks it does, and its investors (including Google Ventures and Charles River Ventures) seem to agree.
The company’s iPhone (and iPod Touch) app is launching today. At first glance, it may look like another variant on group chat, but co-founder and CEO Matt Cutler says that even though he’s “an active user of multiple group messaging apps,” Kibits is doing something different.
For one thing, it’s designed to “complement real-world interactions.” That means you can form groups based on things like Facebook friendships, calendar appointments, and most interestingly, physical proximity, and that those groups became micro-networks where you can share anything you want. So you can chat, but you can also share videos, photos, locations, and even documents from iCloud and Dropbox. And it’s more persistent, meaning that shared content doesn’t just appear in a chat line and then scroll away.
For example, a group of friends or family members could create a group to stay in touch and share photos and videos with each other. Coworkers could create groups to coordinate meetings and share work material. And using Kibits’ proximity capabilities, you can share create groups on-the-fly at an event — say if you’re at a concert and want to let others see your photos, or if you’re at a meeting and want to share some documents with everyone there.
Cutler admits that Kibits faces some challenges by tackling a broad set of use cases, but he says the tema has worked hard to build a “crisp user experience” that makes it easy to share in any of the above scenarios.
“The goal is that Kibits be a system that everyday people use for the conversations that matter,” he says.
The company is also announcing that it has raised a $1 million round of seed funding from Google, CRV, General Catalyst, Commonwealth Capital Ventures, SOSventures, Launch Capital, the CommonAngels Fund, and a number of angels. The round was actually raised near the beginning of the company’s one-year history, Cutler says, but is only being revealed now.
When asked about Kibits’ business model, Cutler says that initially, the company is more focused on attracting users.
“Over time, if we’re able to drive people to have great experiences, we think there will be ample opportunity for monetization,” he says. “It’s not something we’re thinking super-hard about.”
You can download the Kibits app here.