Holler, described by founder and CEO Travis Montac as “a conversational media company”, simply announced that it had raised $ 36 million in Series B funding.
You may not know what conversational media is, but there is a good chance you have used Holler’s technique. For example, if you added a sticker or GIF to your Venmo payments, the holder actually manages the app’s search and suggestion experience around this media. (You can see the “Slightly powered holder” by the identifier at the bottom of the window.)
Montac told me that the company initially started in 2016 as a news and video content app before focusing on messaging. Messaging, he argued, is “the most important experience for people online”, because it is “where we communicate with those who are closest to us.”
He continued, “It seemed odd that we hadn’t seen much innovation in the text messaging experience since the first text message was sent in 1992.”
So Holler works with partners like PayPal-owned Venmo and Meat Group to bring more compelling content to the messaging side of their apps – or as Montac puts it, the startup aims to “enrich conversations everywhere” .
He is both an art and a science. The art involves creating and curating the best stickers and GIFs, while Science Holler’s suggestion takes the form of AI technology, which will recommend the right content based on user interactions and contexts – those stickers and GIFs you send to the dating app Want is probably different from what you do in a work-related chat. Montac said that this context-focused approach allows the company to provide smart recommendations in a way that also respects user privacy.
He said, “I believe that the future is the reference, not the identity.” “Because I don’t really need to know about Anthony, I just want to know that someone needs lunch. If I know you’re in the mood for Mexican food, then you should know the last 10 times you’ve been If you go to a Mexican restaurant, you don’t have to know every aspect.
Holler monetizes this content by partnering with brands such as HBO Max, Ikea and Starbucks to create branded stickers and GIFs that form part of the company’s content library. Montac said the startup has also worked with brands to measure the impact of these campaigns across a variety of metrics.
He said that Holler’s content now reaches 75 million users every month, compared to 19 million users a year ago, while revenue has grown by 226%. (Apparently, the company saw significant revenue growth for the first time last year.)
The startup has now raised more than $ 51 million in total funding. Series B was led by CityRock Venture Partners and New General Market Partners, with participation from Gingles, Interplay Ventures, Relevance Ventures, Torvue Ventures and WorldQuant Ventures.
“Holler is more than a groundbreaking technology company,” CityRock’s managing partner Oliver Libby said in a statement. “Under the visionary leadership of Travis Montac, Holler boldly stands for a new era of ethics in social media, and also deeply embodies the values of diversity, inclusion and belonging.”
Montac (who, as a black tech CEO, wrote a post for ClearTips last year about bringing more diversity to the industry) said Holler would use the funds to develop its products and advertising model. For one thing, he said that although stickers and GIFs were an obvious starting point, the company is now looking to explore and create new media formats.
“We want to invent a new type of content consumption paradigm,” he said.