If a GIF and a Vine had a baby, it would a Coub, a new media format that has become pretty popular in Eastern Europe and is looking to creep into American Internet culture.
The Russian company behind it, also named Coub, announced today that it has landed $2.5 million as its first round of institutional funding to help it expand into North America.
Riding the wave that GIFs, memes, and the like have put in motion, Coubs are short loops of video or images that can be set to audio or full-length songs, sort of a Vine video that has more customization options. Coubs can easily be embedded or shared online.
“It’s a new media format our users use to express their feelings or react to things happening in the world,” Coub head of business development and communications Masha Drokova told VentureBeat. She added that the team looks at Coubs as a more open format than what’s out there.
And if you take a stroll through the website, you can see the wide variety of Coubs users are creating, some using music, some not, and some looping video they shot while others loop cribbed shots from popular movies and television shows.
The format lends itself pretty well to promoting media content, according to Drokova. This is also one way Coub could monetize: Partnering with media companies to have their movies, shows, and music made available to the Coub community in exchange for organic and sometimes viral exposure. Coub links back to the original source of a video, for added promotion. Automatic video-editing app Magisto recently partnered with Discovery Communications to let Magisto users throw in material from its repertoire.
Coub said it has experimented with advertising but would like to find a unique monetization play for its product.
But with GIFs, Vines, memes, and so on already available, is there space in the market for yet another way to loop video and sound?
Surprisingly, Coub already has 50 million unique visitors per month, up from only 8 million last year, and is rather popular in Eastern Europe as previously mentioned.
“We have a different format from GIF but similar use and audience and culture, so the success of GIF is a sign that we’re going in the right direction,” said Drokova.
The company is also currently working with several major publishers such as BuzzFeed and Business Insider, which have been experimenting with embedding Coubs into their content, another sign of Coub’s possible viability in our media pop culture.
But in addition to pouring resources into expanding awareness of its offering, Coub also plans to get an Android app out soon, in addition to the iOS app it already has, to beef up its mobile presence. “We’re not strong on mobile because Android is really strong,” co-founder and chief executive Anton Gladkoborodov told VentureBeat.
Gladkoborodov has a background in the Russian media industry. He previously founded Lookatme.ru, a large independent media company, as well as a design studio, among other ventures.
The new funding comes from Vaizra Investments Fund, headed by VK.com co-founders Lev Leviev and Vyacheslav Mirilashvil, who have previously invested in Face.com, RebelMail, Yik Yak, and BloomThat, to name a few. VK.com is a popular social network in Europe with more than 100 million active users, according to its site.
Coub was founded in 2012 by brothers Anton and Igor Gladkovorodov and Mikhail Tabunov and is based in Moscow with offices in New York City. The company previously raised $1 million in seed funding from Phenomenon Ventures and Brother Ventures.
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