When someone says ‘Social Media’, almost everyone’s first thought is ‘Facebook’ or ‘Instagram’ and it is easy to understand why, given their huge subscriber numbers.
It is also very common for the same people (ie. most of us) to make the mistake of thinking that most social media platforms all serve the same purpose – and although in one sense this is true, it is far from the whole truth.
Social media platforms are almost all the same in two ways: 1) excellent customer engagement and 2) as a platform for pushing advertising.
Customers love one and hate the other, but accept it as a price to pay for the use of a ‘free’ app.
This is not entirely true, however. There are many more social media platforms out there – some with general appeal and some quite niche. Several of these even have something unique to offer to the market.
Here are a list of some of the more significant recent investments into the social media industry that you may not yet have heard about:
Top investments in social media
Elad Gil – Clubhouse
Elad Gil is an entrepreneur, operating executive, and investor or advisor to private companies such as AirBnB, Pinterest, Square, and Stripe. Gil was the VP of corporate strategy at Twitter. He also has years of experience working at Google under his belt, where he founded the mobile team and oversaw operations. Gil was the original product manager for Google Mobile Maps and he also worked on AdSense.
In 2021, Gil invested in Clubhouse. Clubhouse is an invitation-only social media app for iOS and Android where users can communicate in voice chat rooms that can host groups of thousands of people. The audio-only app allows users to have live discussions, with opportunities to participate through speaking and listening.
Craft Ventures – Facebook
Craft Ventures is an early-stage venture fund focused on building companies with great potential. The business-savvy entrepreneurs and investors David Sacks, Bill Lee (Remarq, Social Concepts), Jeff Fluhr (StubHub, Spreecast), Sky Dayton (Earth Link, Boingo) have spent 20 years investing in and building some of the most iconic companies of this generation.
In 2007, David Sacks of Craft Ventures was shrewd enough to invest in Facebook; arguably the most famous social networking service that enables its users to connect with friends and family.
Matt Mullenweg – Forge
Matt Mullenweg is the co-founder of WordPress, an open-source blogging platform on the web. Mullenweg is also the founder of Automattic, the company behind the scenes of WordPress.com, Jetpack, and Audrey Capital, an investment and research company. Mullenweg has received plenty of critical acclaim for his business accomplishments from such publications as Forbes, BusinessWeek, INC., PC World, and Vanity Fair.
In 2016, Mullenweg invested in Forge, an online application designed to simplify capturing and sharing gameplay videos.
Brad Feld – OneRiot
Brad Feld is an American entrepreneur and managing director of the Foundry Group, an early-stage venture capital firm focused on investments in information technology companies. Feld co-founded Techstars, Mobius Venture Capital, and Intensity Ventures. Alongside investing, Feld is the chair of the National Center for Women & Information Technology, the co-chair of Startup Colorado, and a board member of UP Global.
In 2007, Feld invested in OneRiot, a network of mobile apps that analyzes mobile social media activity to determine audience characteristics.
Nihal Mehta – Frrole
Nihal Mehta is an expert in innovating marketing technologies with 12 years of experience and four successful startups. Mehta is also a specialist in the developing adoption of mobile technologies for media properties and consumer brands. Mehta is Co-Founder and Founding General Partner at ENIAC Ventures & India Internet Group.
In 2014 Mehta invested in Frrole, an AI-Powered Next-Gen Consumer Intelligence platform for marketers, analysts, product owners, recruiters, and sales folks.
Chris Sacca – Twitter
Chris Sacca is a successful entrepreneur, advisor, and investor, managing a portfolio of over 70 consumer web, mobile, and wireless technology start-ups via his holding company, Lowercase Capital. Sacca has a talent for envisioning the potential of tech companies, having invested some of the most famous in their seed and early stages, such as Uber, Instagram, and Kickstarter.
In 2007 Sacca took part in a $5 million financing round for Twitter, the renowned American microblogging and social networking service on which users post and interact with messages known as ‘tweets’.
Joe Medved – Hive
Joe Medved is Partner of SB Capital at Lerer Hippeau Ventures. Before this, he was a Partner at SoftBank Capital, focusing on early-stage digital media investments for a decade, with specialisms in digital media, eCommerce, SaaS, and other tech-enabled businesses.
Notably, Medved has invested in Hive. Hive is a productivity platform that drives companies to work forward.
Eileen Burbidge – Wickr
Eileen Burbidge is a Partner at Passion Capital, an early-stage VC fund based in London. Burbridge has operational experience from her business and product roles at Yahoo!, Skype, and Apple.
Burbidge has invested in Wickr, a free top-secret messaging app allowing its users to send and receive top-secret messages, pictures, videos, audios, and files.
Benjamin Ling – Badoo
Benjamin Ling is a founder and partner at Bling Capital. Ling was previously an Investment Partner at Khosla Ventures, focusing on mobile and Internet, marketplace, consumer health, and data businesses. He is an accomplished executive and angel investor, with senior operating roles at Google, YouTube, and Facebook.
Ling has invested in Badoo, a dating-focused social network, allowing users to chat, make friends, and share interests.
Mitchell Kapor is an experienced entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist. Kapor was one of the first on the tech scene; with his company On Technology designing applications for the Apple Macintosh in the 1990s. Kapor’s VC, Kapor Capital is an investment firm that invests in early-stage tech-enabled startups.
In 2015, Kapor invested in Sovrn Media, a technology publishing platform that offers products and services to online publishers that help them understand, operate and grow their businesses.
Oliver Jung – Parenthood
Oliver is a global investor and entrepreneur based in Tel Aviv and has previously invested in Airbnb, Houzz, and Hoteltonight.
In 2014, Jung invested in Parenthood, a social networking platform designed to connect parents and foster social sharing among them.
Will Herman – Viral Gains
Will Herman is an active angel investor, corporate director, author, and startup mentor. Herman previously worked as an entrepreneur, founding five startups and taking two of them public. Herman is also an adviser at the hardware incubator, Bolt, and a mentor at TechStars.
Herman has invested in Viral Gains, a video ad journey platform that helps marketers create authentic connections with consumers and drive business outcomes.
Oleg Tscheltzoff – Octoly
Oleg Tscheltzoff is co-Founder & CEO at Fotolia, the first-ever global online social stock photography marketplace. Tscheltzoff is a formidable serial internet entrepreneur and a perceptive angel investor with over 30 investments. Before Fotolia, Oleg co-founded Amen, the leading Internet hosting company in France.
In 2015, Tscheltzoff invested in Octoly; a marketing company that empowers influencers to become successful entrepreneurs.
Semil Shah – Rewatch
Semil Shah is a General Partner at Haystack and a Venture Partner at Lightspeed. Haystack is an early investor in startups Instacart, DoorDash, Hashicorp, Hired, Narvar, Giphy, eShares, OpenDoor, Chariot, Navdy, Managed By Q, and others.
In 2021, Shah invested in Rewatch, which offers a private and secure video channel for teams.
Daniel Curran – Muze
Daniel Curran is a Silicon Valley technology executive, who has held the title of acting COO and Vice President of Strategic Planning at Western Digital’s Connex and SANavigator units. He is the founder and CEO of CustEx and an active angel investor with 142 portfolio companies.
Curran invested in the seed round of Muze, the creative messaging app that expands how users can communicate.
Matt Ocko – Akanda
Matt Ocko is the Co-Managing Partner and Co-Founder at DCVC, a venture capital backing entrepreneur, using Deep Tech to solve problems and multiply the benefits of capitalism for everyone while reducing its cost. Ocko has nearly three decades of experience as a technology entrepreneur, operating executive, and venture capitalist.
Ocko has invested in Akanda. Akanda has transferred the PTL role of OpenStack Astara back to its parent company, DreamHost.
Matt Cohler – Path, Edmondo
Matt Cohler is a General Partner at Benchmark. Benchmark focuses on early-stage venture investing in mobile, marketplaces, social, infrastructure, and enterprise software.
At Benchmark, Cohler has partnered with entrepreneurs from across the social, mobile, and cloud industries from around the globe such as Instagram, Dropbox, Quora, and more.
Cohler has invested in the startups Path and Edmondo, Path is a mobile photo-sharing and messaging service for building personal social networks with up to 150 contacts, and Edmodo is a global education network that connects all learners with the people and resources they need to reach their full potential.
Tim Draper – Blue
Timothy Draper is the founding partner of leading venture capital firms Draper Associates and DFJ. Draper has a talent for discerning lucrative startups and has been named dubbed #7 on the Forbes Midas List and Always-On #1 top venture capital deal maker.
Draper has invested in Blue; an app that allows you to connect with and get to know the people around you using Bluetooth.
Geoff Yang – Ask.com
Geoff Yang is a Founding Partner of Redpoint Ventures. Yang has an impressive investment portfolio including Ask Jeeves, Clicker, Efficient Frontier, Excite, Machinima, MySpace, and TiVo.
Yang had the perceptive insight to invest in Ask.com, the famous question answering-focused web search engine that delivers answers from the web and real people.
Salim Mitha – Connect
Salim Mitha is a partner at Powerhouse Capital, an LA-based venture fund dedicated to investment opportunities in technology, media, entertainment & interactive gaming.
In 2014, Mitha invested in Connect, a location-powered messaging app that brings together friends from your phone and social media.
Kevin Mahaffey – Sendbird
Kevin Mahaffey is CTO and Founder of Lookout, as well as an angel investor with 74 portfolio companies. Mahaffey was featured as one of Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30.
Mahaffey has invested in Sendbird, a messaging-as-a-service API that provides chat, voice, and video messaging for mobile apps and websites.
Garry Tan – Patreon
Garry is a designer, engineer, and founder turned early-stage investor, co-founding Initialized Capital in 2012. Initialized Capital has invested at the earliest stages of companies like Coinbase, Flexport, Instacart, and Cruise.
In 2014, Tan invested in Patreon at its seed stage. Patreon is an online platform connecting musicians and other artists with their fan base.
Brian Hirsch – Just Sing It
Brian is a co-founder and Managing Partner of Tribeca Venture Partners. Hirsch has invested across a broad number of sectors during his career including Fintech, Enterprise, and SMB SaaS, marketplaces, healthcare, MarTech, and real estate tech.
Hirsch invested in the funding round of Just Sing It. Just Sing It is a smartphone app enabling users to sing and share songs on Facebook and Twitter.
Ty Danco – Fam
Ty Danco is a retired entrepreneur and angel investor. Danco founded eSecLending in 2000.
Danco invested in Fam, the first-ever group video app for iMessage
Jaan Tallinn – Fleep
Jaan Tallinn is Partner at Ambient Sound Investments, where he spearheads strategy as well as researching and reviewing potential portfolio companies. Tallinn is considered to be one of the foremost experts on P2P technologies.
Tallinn invested in Fleep, a flexible messenger that integrates with email and lets you store and share files easily.
Joe Caruso – 1Mind
Joe Caruso is the owner of Bantam Group; an angel investment group that is passionate about seeing its portfolio companies become successful.
Caruso has invested in 1Mind, a social discovery app for discovering new friends and sharing interests.
Niko Bonatsos – Snapchat
Niko Bonatsos is a managing director at General Catalyst, a venture capital firm with approximately $5 billion in total capital raised. Bonatsos centres his investment strategy on first-time technology founders with the desire to create innovations with the potential to benefit millions of consumers or business end-users.
Bonatsos invested in Snapchat, one of the most popular social networking apps in developed regions such as North America and Europe.
Richard Chen – 9GAG
Richard Chen is a recognised seed-stage investor with investments in MyLikes, Rixty, ChaiLabs, Liftopia, DealBase, Lefora, Yotify, Minted, Aardvark.
Chen invested in 9GAG, a website that features user-generated videos under various categories.
Thibaud Elziere – Families
Thibaud Elzière founded Fotolia and eFounders. eFounders partners up with founders and bring them their operational expertise to build the first version of the product and acquire the first customers.
Elziere has invested in Families. Families is an app designed to bring together all the members of a family in a single mobile application, as well as to help them be aware of the events taking place from friends and relatives, such as anniversaries and birthdays.
Dharmesh Shah – Rekindle
Dharmesh Shah is co-founder and CTO of HubSpot. Prior to HubSpot, he was the founder and chief executive officer of Pyramid Digital Solutions, a software company, which was acquired by SunGard Data Systems in 2005. Shah is an active player in the Boston area entrepreneurial community and an angel investor in over 40 startups.
Shah has invested in Rekindle. Rekindle has developed an app that taps into the contact graph to connect people with lost connections and friends of friends, as well as facilitate introductions between relevant business contacts.
Rajan Anandan – StepOut, PopXO
As a leader at Sequoia Capital India, Anandan is focusing on developing its early-stage program Surge, into the world’s top scale-up program for startups by acting as an investment advisor and mentor to the programme’s founders.
Anandan has invested in StepOut and PopXo. Stepout is a social networking platform that enables Indians to meet and socialize with people in the locality. PopXo is India’s online community for women that deals everything from fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and work.
Bradley Harrison – Sverve
Bradley Harrison is the Founder and Managing Partner at Scout Ventures. Harrison has a passion for the technology, media, and entertainment sectors.
Harrison has invested in Sverve, a social media influencer marketing platform.
Dave Samuel – 9GAG, TextNow
Dave Samuel is the Founding General Partner at Freestyle Capital. Freestyle Capital is a venture capital firm that focuses on early-stage technology companies.
Dave Samuel has invested in 9GAG and TextNow. 9GAG is a website that features user-generated videos under various categories TextNow is the only app that offers free nationwide cellular service messaging supported by ads, for North America.
David Sze – Facebook
Davis Sze is the General Partner and Co-Senior Managing Partner at Greylock, a VC which invests in entrepreneurs that focus on consumer and enterprise software companies.
Sze was an early investor in Facebook, the popular social networking service that enables its users to connect with friends and family.
David Beisel – Parsec
David Beisel is Co-Founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. NextView Ventures invests in companies that use technology to drive a brighter collective future.
In 2020, Beisel invested in Parsec, an application that gives you access to your technology, work, and games from anywhere, across any device.
Walter Winshall – Reveal, FullContact
Walter Winshall is the Principal at Collaborative Seed & Growth Partners, an investment firm specializing in the commercialization of early-stage technology.
Winshall has invested in Reveal and FullContact. Reveal is a global provider of eDiscovery, compliance, and risk technology. FullContact creates an amazing customer experience with SaaS-based identity resolution and consumer insights.
David Ambrose is Managing Director at Steadfast Venture Capital, an early-stage investment firm based in New York City.
Ambrose has invested in Circle, a global internet finance company, built on blockchain technology and powered by crypto assets.
Steve Anderson – Instagram, Path, and Twitter
Steve Anderson is the founder of Baseline Ventures; an investment company that aims to help founders build and grow their early-stage companies into change-effecting enterprises.
Anderson has invested in Instagram, Path, and Twitter. Path is a mobile photo-sharing and messaging service for building personal social networks with up to 150 contacts. the renowned Twitter is the famous American microblogging and social networking service on which users post and interact with messages known as ‘tweets’. Instagram is a free photo-sharing application that enables its users to take photos, apply filters, and share them on social networks.
Jim Scheinman – AltspaceVR
Jim Scheinman is the Founding Managing Partner at Maven Ventures, a venture capital firm investing in seed-stage consumer software companies.
Scheinman has invested in AltspaceVR, a virtual reality software company that has been acquired by Microsoft.
Kevin Colleran – Houseparty
Kevin Colleran is the Managing Director at Slow Ventures. Slow Ventures invests in companies central to the technology industry and those on the edges of science, society, and culture.
Colleran has invested in Houseparty, the face-to-face social network that brings empathy to online communication.
Adam Rothenberg – 9GAG
Adam Rothenberg is a partner at BoxGroup, an early-stage investment fund that invests in technology companies.
Rothenberg invested in 9GAG, a website that features user-generated videos under various categories.
Charles Hudson – about.me
Charles Hudson is the Founder & Managing Partner at Precursor Ventures, a Micro VC that invests in people over products at the earliest stage of the entrepreneurial journey.
Hudson has invested in about.me, an online platform enabling users to create and maintain a curated page for self-expression.
Rick Marini – Reddit, Snapchat
Rick Marini is the Founder and Managing Partner at Protocol Ventures. Protocol Ventures is the leading digital asset fund of funds in the space with a hybrid liquid and venture style strategy.
Marini invested in Reddit, the online platform that enables users to submit links, create content, and have discussions about the topics of their interest. He also invested in Snapchat, one of the most popular social networking apps in developed regions such as North America and Europe.
Peter Xu – Friended
Peter Xu is the Managing Partner at Elysium Venture Capital, an investment management group focused on global technology opportunities.
Xu has invested in Friended, a social networking app that allows users to connect with new people to make friends.
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