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Lapse Raises $30 Million to Revive the Charm of Old-School Photography

ByHuey Yee Ong

Mar 4, 2024
Lapse Raises $30 Million to Revive the Charm of Old-School Photography

In the digital age where analogue cameras have become a pricey hobby, a startup named Lapse is offering a nostalgic yet innovative solution. Lapse has developed an app that mimics the traditional film camera experience on smartphones, where users capture photos and wait for them to be “developed” without the option for immediate edits or retakes. This unique approach allows for a more authentic and surprising photography experience, reminiscent of the past.

The Charm of Nostalgia Meets Modern Technology

Lapse’s appeal lies in its ability to blend the charm of analog photography with the convenience of modern technology. The app provides an experience reminiscent of using a film camera, where users must wait to see their photos develop, thus reintroducing the element of surprise and anticipation that is often lost in the instant gratification of digital photography. This unique feature has attracted millions of users, driving Lapse to capture 100 million photos each month and consistently rank in the top 10 of the U.S. app store for photographic apps. The startup’s success has led to a significant financial milestone: a $30 million funding round co-led by renowned investors Greylock and DST Global Partners, with contributions from existing supporters GV, Octopus Ventures, and Speedinvest. This recent investment boosts Lapse’s total funding to over $42 million, valuing the company at around $150 million.

The recent infusion of $30 million in funding, co-led by renowned investors Greylock and DST Global Partners, marks a new chapter in Lapse’s journey. With previous backers such as GV, Octopus Ventures, and Speedinvest also participating, Lapse’s total funding has now surpassed $42 million, valuing the company at around $150 million. This financial backing is a testament to the confidence investors have in Lapse’s potential to redefine the photo-sharing experience. The funds will support Lapse’s vision to enhance the app’s features, including the treatment of “unedited” photos and expansion into video content. CEO and co-founder Dan Silvertown expresses a desire to explore monetization strategies that diverge from the conventional advertising models prevalent in social apps, aiming for a more user-centric approach.

Future Ambitions: Enhancing the User Experience

Lapse’s roadmap for future development is centered around significantly enhancing the user experience by:

  • Expanding photo-related features: Building on its core concept, Lapse aims to introduce more functionalities that enrich the photography process within the app, making each photo capture and share a more immersive experience.
  • Branching into video content: Recognizing the growing demand for video in digital content consumption, Lapse plans to extend its unique analog-inspired approach to video capturing and sharing.
  • Exploring behind-the-scenes photo treatments: Despite the app’s emphasis on unedited photos, Lapse is looking into sophisticated processing techniques to ensure each photo’s authenticity and aesthetic appeal is maximized. This includes:
    • Utilizing computer vision to optimize photo composition and subject appearance.
    • Incorporating around 12 different processing steps to enhance the overall quality of the captured images.
  • Leveraging modern technology: By integrating advanced technological solutions, Lapse seeks to bridge the gap between the nostalgic appeal of analog photography and the convenience offered by modern digital platforms.

Ethical Growth and User Engagement

Despite its success, Lapse has faced criticism for its initial growth-hacking strategies, including forced invites. However, CEO Dan Silvertown emphasizes that these early tactics were essential for building a user base in an app designed for sharing with a small circle of friends. Today, Lapse has evolved beyond these methods, finding its virality and offering more “journaling” characteristics that allow users to build private or shareable albums. This shift towards a more user-friendly approach reflects Lapse’s commitment to ethical growth and genuine engagement.

Lapse’s growth comes at a time when consumers are increasingly wary of the personal data they relinquish on mainstream social apps. The market dominance of platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook has shifted towards a broader focus, often at the expense of personal, real-life sharing. Lapse’s commitment to a simple, authentic photography experience positions it as a potential leader among apps seeking to offer alternatives to the feature-heavy platforms dominating the market.

As Lapse continues to grow, its investors see vast potential. Greylock’s general partner, Jacob Andreou, highlights the void left by platforms that have shifted from personal sharing to broader content dissemination. Lapse’s emphasis on genuine, friend-focused sharing represents a return to social media’s roots, promising a fresh direction in the digital era.

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Featured Image courtesy of Lapse on App Store

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.