XIHA Life secures $1m and adds Jaiku's Engestrom to board

Since leaving Google last October, former product manager and Jaiku co-founder, Jyri Engeström has moved his young family back to Helsinki and started rooting around for the next thing to work on. Aside from working on his wife Ula’s long term project to create a hyperlink for any physical object, Thinglink, he’s also been seeking angel investments.

Today he joins the board of XIHA Life which is run out of Sunnyvale, California, Switzerland and Finland. At the same time the startup has announced a $1 million seed round. Veraventure led the round, joined by other angels and the company founders. Jani Penttinen, XIHA Life co-founder and CEO, says the money will be used to push the mobile platform and international growth.

I caught up with Jyri at the DLD conference in Munich today where he explains XIHA Life:

Jyri Engeström from Mike Butcher on Vimeo.

XIHA Life is a multilingual, cross-cultural social network deisgned for users to share travel tips, pictures, music, videos, games, you name it. But whereas this might look like some kind of Facebook clone, it’s a little smarter than that. It’s actually closer to a kind of “Babelfish” social network where you can socially network with people who don’t speak your language, nor you their’s, since everything is auto-translated. Users can do all the usual social things, as well as upload unlimited HD video.

Despite its rather odd sounding name, XIHA has 700,000 members who come from over 200 countries, with no country accounting for more than five percent of total traffic. It also also announces a developer program later this week.