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Once-hot photo-sharing app Poparazzi is shutting down

Poparazzi, the once-hot photo-sharing app that hit the top of the App Store in 2021, is shutting down. The company announced the news via a Medium blog late last week, informing users that the app would be discontinued and users had until June 30, 2023 to download their content. Last year, Poparazzi's founders at TTYL Inc. said the app had grown to 5+ million total installs and confirmed its raise of $15 million in Series A funding.

Though Poparazzi had felt at the time like an overnight sensation, co-founder and CEO Alex Ma and his brother, co-founder Austen Ma, had spent three years developing apps and pivoting to achieve the success they generated with Poparrazi's launch. In a 2022 interview with TechCrunch, Alex said Poparrazi was actually the 11th or 12th app that was generated by those efforts. Among those was the audio social network, TTYL, a sort of “Clubhouse for friends," which their company is also named for.

Poparrazi, however, generated a lot of hype soon after its release, climbing the charts to reach No. 1 on the App Store. The concept behind the app was a photo-sharing-focused social network that essentially took Instagram's tagging feature and turned it into the entire experience. On Poparazzi, users could tag their friends but couldn't post photos of their own. The idea was that this would create a more authentic type of social network, as photos wouldn't necessarily be the polished, perfected images that fill Instagram, but rather the casual moments that make up people's real lives.

Image Credits: Poparazzi

Last June, the company confirmed its $15 million Series A raise led by Benchmark's Sarah Tavel, who beat out a16z for the deal. The startup had previously raised $2 million in seed funding, led by Floodgate, in a round that included other investors like SV Angel, Shrug Capital and various angels. At the time, Poparazzi said its funds would give its team of 15 a runway of over two years.

But soon, there were signs that Poparazzi's time could be coming to an end.

In August 2022, TechCrunch spotted the team was now dabbling with a new app, Made with Friends, that offered a twist on Poparazzi’s original concept of social networking profiles crafted by a user’s friends. Made with Friends instead asked its users to post all sorts of content to their friends' profiles, not just photos. For example, they could post text-based content like answers to questions or prompts, as well as videos. The app had been available as a pre-release at that time, but it's since been removed from the App Store sometime after March 26 of this year, app intelligence firm Apptopia confirmed to TechCrunch.

Usage for Poparrazi had also been slowing post-launch, the firm noted. It estimated there were 6.2 million lifetime installs for the app, but it now has only around 2,000-3,000 monthly active users (MAUs) after reaching a height of 4 million MAUs previously.

In its blog post, Poparrazi didn't confirm its future plans, if any, only noting the impending shutdown and thanking its community and supporters.

"We’ve been incredibly blessed to work with an amazing team of passionate designers, engineers, and marketers to help bring this movement to life. And none of this would have been possible without the backing from the most supportive, world-class group of investors," wrote Alex Ma, in the announcement. "To our community, we are so grateful for the support and belief that you have shown us throughout our journey. Your enthusiasm and passion for Poparazzi has been the driving force behind everything we’ve done. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

TTYL Inc. has been asked for comment. Alex Ma responded, after publication, that while the company didn’t have an official statement to share, they could confirm it was winding down and would be returning capital to investors. The team, however, will stay together and work on other projects.

Updated 5/1/23, 8:53 pm et with company response.