Benchmark partner Bill Gurley is expected to join the startup’s board.
VC firm Benchmark has a strong track record of finding and investing in the best social media companies around — the firm has board seats at Twitter, Snapchat and Nextdoor, and also invested in a little-known photo sharing app you may have heard of called Instagram.
Now the firm has its next bet: Marco Polo, a small video messaging app run by a company called Joya Communications.
Benchmark was the lead investor on Marco Polo’s recently closed funding round, according to numerous sources who also say that Benchmark partner Bill Gurley is expected to join the startup’s board.
Marco Polo raised around $20 million, and is now valued somewhere near $100 million post-money, according to multiple sources. Gurley, who also a board member at companies like Nextdoor and Uber, didn’t reply to numerous emails and calls. We weren’t able to get in touch with Joya, either.
The app seems pretty simple — users can send each other short video messages with text or filters added on. That’s about it. Some people must be using it though. Since summer, Marco Polo has routinely been ranked as a top 5 social media app in the U.S. App Store, according to App Annie.
The video messaging space is popular right now, and industry sources point to Snapchat as the reason. As Snapchat has become more and more public with features like Discover and Stories, investors are looking for products that might be able to use the same video messaging idea in a more intimate way. House Party is one example. Sequoia Capital also invested in a similar video messaging app called Tribe just last month.