Fresh Capital

Snapchat, the So-Called Sexting App, Reportedly Raising $8 M. From Investors Who Backed Instagram

Unsafe sexting for $8 million, Alex

xl_Snapchat_for_iPhone_app_624Looks like we aren’t the only ones obsessed with Snapchat, the app that lets you share photos with a self-destruct button of 10 seconds or less. Over at GigaOm, Om Malik reports that Snapchat is rumored to be raising an $8 million round from Benchmark Capital “at a pretty generous pre-money valuation.” He says the app, which was launched by two Stanford students who met at a frat, is rumored to have a valuation “close to $50 million.”

The eye-popping sum, for what the media likes to call “that teen sexting app,” is noteworthy because the deal is reportedly being done by Facebook mafioso Matt Cohler, who was also responsible for Benchmark’s investment in Instagram, which made the firm about $180 million after the sale to Facebook. This would be Mr. Cohler’s first investment in 2012.

Sand Hill Road investors are eager to get in on the next big thing before late-stage investments that come with a hefty price tag. And Snapchat, which claimed last month that it’s being used 30 million times a day, would seem to offer just that. But as Betabeat–and many, many others– has pointed out, Snapchat’s best-known use case (sexting) is a no good, very bad idea.

There’s the ability to screenshot a pic, and public profiles that show who you Snapchat the most often, with potentially ruinous features bubbling up as the app, which is currently No. 5 for free apps in the iTunes, gains traction. For instance, Betabeat recently discovered that since there’s no verification for the phone number you associate with an account, you can easily enter someone else’s phone number. Then, when users are searching for friends from their contact list, that screen name shows up as linked to the person’s phone. Sounds like a Mean Girls prank just waiting to happen.

We maintain the app is still makes an excellent anti-Instagram, ideal for opting out of the personal brand curation in favor of sharing goofy photos. But as our dinner companion, who kindly requested we stop talking about Snapchat, remarked last night, silliness has a short shelf life. “Any app that’s just for fun, you’re like: That’s fun … and now I’m done!”

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com