The Real TechStars of New York

Timehop, Your Own Personal Way Back Machine, Lands $1.1 M.

timehop Timehop, Your Own Personal Way Back Machine, Lands $1.1 M.

Social media’s dominion over the Internet tends to skew conversation toward the real-time. Facebook may have dropped the What are you doing right now? but the emphasis remains. Investors, however, are eager to back something that bucks that trend. Timehop, an app that culls your Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter history to answer the question What were you doing a year ago today?, just announced that it picked up $1.1 million in funding. The round was led by OATV and joined by Spark Capital. Also participating? TechStars, where co-founders Jonathan Wegener and Benny Wong worked on a Craigslist competitor called Friendslist, which flopped.

Fittingly for the app, which was born as 4 Square & 7 Years Ago during a Foursquare Hackathon at General Assembly last February, the round featured some bold-faced names as angel investors, including Dennis Crowley, Naveen Selvadurai, and Alex Rainert from Foursquare, GroupMe co-founders Steve Martocci and Jared Hecht, as well as Rick Webb and Kevin Slavin.

The funding will be used to add two or three more more engineers to Timehop’s “small team of hotshots,” Mr. Wegener explained by email. Mr. Wong, “a true Ruby on Rails master” and Timehop’s CTO, “came from Gilt Groupe where he single-handedly build the entire Gilt City product and then built the engineering team around it too,” he said. Lead designer Rachel Nash is a veteran of both The Barbarian Group and Big Spaceship. As for Mr. Wegener himself? He was “formerly doing product management for a bunch of awesome startups and launching awesome subway apps.”

Mr. Wegener’s Foursquare connection—Timehop initially only pull check-ins from the app—started before that fateful hackathon. “I had a whole series of apps I called Moresquare that I presented at the North Brooklyn Breakfast Club once,” he explained. Months before building the first iteration of Timehop, “I showed them to a friend who worked at Foursquare and he thought I should come present them to the team. So I did!”

It took awhile for Mr. Wegener and Mr. Wong to realize they needed to switch gears away from Friendslist and toward Timehop, “an easy to understand product that’s simple yet powerful.”

“Timehop wasn’t intended to be giant and ambitious—it was almost an artistic expression at first, a tiny little one-day fun project. Benny and I doing what we’re good at which is hacking together something quick that excites people!” Mr. Wegener wrote. The encouraging tweets and “love letters” to the product were constant. “But it was only months later that we started to realized we had accidentally solved a really important thing that hadn’t been done before: we had made a compelling product that lets people reconnect and re-experience with their digital pasts. And there’s a big opportunity in that.”

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