February 17, 2012

Little Monsters Raise Millions for New Social Community 'The Backplane'


The architects behind Lady Gaga’s social media campaign have raised around $4.5 million to scale ‘The Backplane’ and accelerate its goal to become the world’s most popular home page.

A Wall Street Journal blog reported Backplane Chief Executive Matthew Michelsen targeted a list of investors to help the social network scale operations, hone the product and hire engineers In part to maintain top talent in the start-up.

Michelsen said that he’s kept costs low and has spent less than $1 million so far to develop the community platform that will ultimately combine calendar, email and social networking functions including Facebook and Twitter, as well as photo sharing and multilingual chat functions.

The deal was structured to create more flexibility when Backplane begins its Series B funding round, an event Michelsen anticipates could occur quickly. He reportedly declined to speculate on an amount or timing and said that he trusts his investors to help guide company growth and financial needs.

Investors participating in the Series A round include Sequoia Capital, Greylock Discovery Fund, Battery Ventures, Formation 8 and Advance/Newhouse Investment Partnership. Existing investors who invested $1.8 million include Google Ventures, Founders Fund Angel, Menlo Ventures, SV Angel, i/o Ventures. An early investor, TomorrowVentures, is a venture firm affiliated with Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Raising money will hopefully make hiring an easier task, which has grown to become the biggest difficulty for growing start-up companies. According to Michelsen, the company is looking to hire very senior people to work for The Backplane.

Designed for Lady Gaga fans, Backplane’s first site is littlemonsters.com. The home page greets users with a mosaic of picture tiles, which users can then like, comment on and message others in the community in multiple languages. The popularity of the site has reached hundreds of thousands of users.

Aside from closing the new round of financing, Backplane also finalized the acquisition of Backplane co-founder Joey Primiani’s Cortex, a Web sharing platform powering Backplane’s social syndication.

In spring 2012, a public release is expected with additional Backplane communities launching throughout the year. With offices in Palo Alto and Los Angeles, Backplane currently employs 15 people now, but is currently hiring about one engineer a week.  




Edited by Jamie Epstein



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