Coub, the Russian startup that lets you create Gif-like short looped music videos, has raised $1 million from local VCs Brothers Ventures and Phenomen Ventures.
The site, which lets users upload videos or extract them from YouTube or Vimeo, clip them to 10 seconds and loop them with music, currently claims 8 million unique visitors, up from 5 million in June. Most of those users are from its home turf in Russia, although the service is beginning to pick up a little steam elsewhere.
The new capital — its first external round — will be used to further build out its website, grow the team and to reach new audiences as it aims to take the viral site global. This includes plans to open a U.S. office. Perhaps crucially, money will also be spent taking Coub mobile. As it stands, the service is primarily a desktop web offering, unlike other loop-based video mobile apps such as Vine or Instagram’s new video feature.
Also unlike Vine, Instagram or something like Cinemagram, Coub as it exists today is mainly designed to let users remix or ‘edit’ existing videos, not create new ones from their phones. That’s seen it used by media companies as well as purely User-Generated Content. Coub videos also tend to be quite polished, and due to the emphasis on adding music, have a music video-esque feel. Think more YouTube and less Vine. That said, the site is designed to have the same virality as all of the aforementioned services; Coub videos can be embedded or shared on social networks, blogs, and other websites.
“We discovered this media format and now we are observing its evolution,” Coub co-founder Anton Gladkoborodov tells TechCrunch. “It already has traditions, own memes, genres and sub-formats. We made a tool that you can use in different ways. It could be an artistic tool, a way of self-expression and getting attraction. On the other hand, coubs also have a professional usage, for example, as an illustration in media, or as an animated photo on an online store.”
The potential for media brands or e-commerce companies to use Coub may point to whether or not there is money in those loops. However, for now, Gladkoborodov says the focus is on growing the service’s user-base. “We don’t make money yet,” he says. “We have a product designed to be viral, when we get enough users, we will find the way to monetize it. Of course, we are already developing ways to make money with our service and we have some interesting thoughts about it, but they are at the early stage right now and it is too early to talk about it.”