Sequoia to lead $500M valuation round for Instagram

Krystal Peak · April 6, 2012 · Short URL:

With an expected $50M round coming up soon, more than 30M users, Instagram is keeping up momentum


Everyone is lining up for Instagram -- from Android users to venture capitalists.  Instagram is close to wrapping up a Series B round led by Sequoia Capital, according to reports from All Things D.

The popular photo-sharing app, which just launched on Android this week, is set to receive $50 million at a $500 million valuation, just as we heard rumors of earlier this month.

We reported in early March that Instagram was knocking on big VC doors to raise a $40 million round for a valuation of $500 million. 

The two-year-old company now looks like it will be grabbing $10 million more than early reports stated -- bringing the total funds raised to $57 million. That's some serious dough for a company with near a dozen employees.

The mobile application was able to grow so rapidly with such a small team because it is a photo-sharing app that places most of the content management and work on the side of the user. The app was an instant hit, reaching one million users in only two months after launching in October 2010 and is growing past 30 million users as we speak. 

Just 24 hours after its Android debut, Instagram has seen more than 1 million downloads on Google Play. Instagram was dragging its feeds to enter the Android market and it seems like many people who had been waiting to get into the photo-sharing party rushed to quickly add the application to their phones once it became available. 

When the service was only on iOS devices, Instagram was not having a hard time collecting more than 30 million registered users and already had 430,000 people on its Android waiting list.

The site has gained a lot of traction over its 18 month history with more than 1 billion photos shared and nearly 100 comments added every second on the app-centric service.

The stats from Google Play peg the number of Android downloads between 1 million and 5 million -- and with Android now capturing more than 50% market share of the smartphone market in the U.S., Instagram has the ability to double its usership to near 60 million very soon. That's quite an opportunity, especially since the company employees fewer than a dozen people.

Instagram is a free app which allows users to take photos with a variety of filters to create an aged or tinted effect. Users can then share their pictures with other friends on Instagram, on their Facebook wall or their Twitter feed.

The firm expected to lead this latest round and half billion dollar valuation, Sequoia Capital, is no stranger to funding photo applications. Last year the firm led a $41 million round for another photo-sharing app called Color.

Sequoia partner Doug Leone and Bain managing director Mike Krupka, both even joined Color’s board.

There are plenty of photo sharing services on the market, most notably Flickr, but Instagram has built a strong following of people sharing pics on social media and applying fund filters for vintage-looking snapshots.

But that does't mean that the Android version on the market right now is a replica of the iOS app experience since some of the editing features, including the tilt shift feature are not yet available on the Android app.

The Android app, however, does have one feature not found on the iOS app: “Advanced Camera.” This feature will automatically resize your photo, so you don’t have to recrop the image inside the Instagram interface. 

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom told earlier this month that the app was grabbing 2,000 people each minute following its Android debut.

Instagram has competition from some smaller apps, such as glmps, which combines a video and a photo into one, and Streamzoo, which also allows users to take photos with filters but neither of them has seemed to raise any money. None of the other similar apps have taken off the way Instagram has. At one point it seemed like a new app known as Sequoia-backed Color, which organizes photos by event and location, was going to give Instagram a run for its money when it raised $41 million in March of 2011, but the app didn't take off the way investors had hoped.


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