Back at TechStars Seattle Demo Day one month ago, my favorite pitch was from Wire CEO Piragash Velummylum. I loved his energy, and more importantly, I was intrigued by the idea behind his company’s unique mobile messaging app.
It seems investors feel the same. Today, the young Seattle startup announced a $1.8 million seed round from a flurry of investors like Vulcan Capital, Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff, former Expedia CEO Erik Blachford, former Facebook COO Owen Van Natta and Seattle entrepreneur Rudy Gadre, just to name a few of the nearly 30 people backing the upstart.
So what is Wire? At first glance, it looks like another Snapchat — private messaging with photos and videos over smartphones. As you may recall, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel reportedly turned down a $3 billion buyout offer from Facebook earlier this month.
During his pitch last month, Velummylum demonstrated how Wire is different.
“Wire is about building intimacy — it allows you to see the message,” Velummylum said at Demo Day. “You can see the photos, you can read the text … you can get instant feedback.”
Velummylum, who spent nearly six years in digital media and cloud computing at Amazon, said that Wire is big on craving acknowledgment. It gives people — specifically teenagers — the fastest, easiest, most meaningful way to get acknowledgment from best friends.
“This was built from the ground up for the next generation of mobile consumers: Generation ‘Touch,'” Velummylum explained last month. “They live on their phones … and want the phone to express themselves.”
Wire, founded by Velummylum and his ex-Amazon colleague Jordan Timmermann, is also big on private messaging and removing the need to post pictures publicly.
“It’s about private, real talk,” Velummylum said. “It’s not about a popularity contest. You can say what you want and not care about what others think.”
Wire is similar to Snapchat in that its messages expire after 24 hours, but it does allow you to save the messages forever with a “favoriting” mechanism.
Velummylum wouldn’t tell us much more about how the product works or how the company plans to make revenue, but he noted that Wire is in private beta at several local high schools.
Check out Wire’s pitch from Techstars Seattle Demo Day in October here: