Urturn, the startup formerly known as Webdoc, has announced a $13.4m funding round and launched its official iPhone app.
The funding comes from Balderton Capital and Debiopharm Group, with Balderton’s founding partner Barry Maloney joining Urturn’s board.
It’s a big round for a European startup, which looks set to put Urturn’s “self-expression” service firmly on the global map – with Balderton having previously invested in startups like Bebo, Lovefilm and Betfair.
Music Ally readers should know the company well: we’ve been writing about Webdoc/Urturn since its launch early in 2011, including its rebrand and relaunch in January this year.
The service has been used by a number of music marketers in their digital campaigns: for example virtual tour posters that can be remixed and shared on by fans. But Urturn in 2013 is about much more than marketing: it’s trying to be a new platform for people to create and share photos, messages and memes easily both on Urturn itself, and bigger social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
It uses “templates” to do this, making it quick and easy for users to create and share their own memes, essentially – or just music, fashion, products etc that they like. Part of Urturn’s plans for its new funding round are opening up its API for external developers to create templates for its users to play with.
“While existing social platforms have focused on connecting people and all provide finite ways for interacting online, we’ve focused on how people interact – providing an ever-growing variety of rich and playful ways for our users to express themselves,” says CEO Stelio Tzonis.
“We believe our mobile app will make Urturn more accessible and enable people to share Expressions more spontaneously.”
Since the relaunch, it has still proved popular with artists, with the likes of Alicia Keys, David Bowie, One Direction, Green Day, Union J, Ellie Goulding and Kendrick Lamar all running campaigns on the service. There are also some fun unofficial things bubbling up, such as a ‘Daft Punkify’ template that slaps the French duo’s famous helmets onto any photograph.
Tzonis tells The Guardian that Urturn is currently appealing to the kind of teenagers and young adults who are often predicted to be drifting away from Facebook, with around 60% of its usage coming from women.
“The kind of usage we have on Urturn reflects the usage on social networks: music, celebrities, lifestyle, design, fashion. Our audience is first US, then UK, and then South America, and it’s teens and young adults talking about these topics,” he says, claiming that Urturn’s feature where people can remix other users’ content for their own purposes is appealing strongly to this demographic.
“We have seen teens totally get it, immediately. We didn’t have to educate them. They understand that the Your Turn button means it’s their turn to express themselves. And that’s the reason celebrities are using us: they want to engage, rather than just post one piece of content that is replicated with shares and retweets.”