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Retro ‘a good long shot’ bet to avoid fate of doomed social media apps


Your chances of creating a new, blockbuster social-media app may be slim, but the chances that your idea – whatever it might be – will raise cash from venture capital investors aren’t necessarily bad.

Retro – a new app that’s focuses on connecting users with their family and closest friends – has bagged an investment from Josh Kushner’s Thrive Capital – as well as an obligatory signup from his supermodel wife, Karlie Kloss.

Kushner’s record with social media is formidable. He famously turbocharged his career when he bought a major slug of Instagram right before it was scooped up by Facebook for $1 billion.

Nevertheless, some tech investors noted that Retro is also looking to avoid a graveyard of similar “close family and friends” apps that briefly gained popularity before quickly flaming out. Among them: BeReal, Locket, BestFriendsNetwork, BlueSky, Spill, Lemon8 and Plurk.

“To be fair these things are always long shots,” one venture capitalist told On The Money. “BeReal was a good long shot that didn’t work out. Retro seems like a good long shot as well.”


Retro CEO Nathan Sharp
Paola Morrongiello

Even Mark Zuckerberg’s new “Twitter Killer” app Threads appears to be losing momentum after signing up a staggering 100 million users in its first five days. On Thursday, The Post reported its number of active users has plunged by more than half.

Many prospective users say they’re too exhausted from social media overload to consider signing up for a new app. 

“It could be the greatest app in the world but at this point, I wouldn’t have the energy to join,” one burned out social media user said.

Another tech insider said the interest from venture capitalists is a combination of seeing lots of opportunity in the space and “investors desperately trying to invest in something they are familiar with.”

But the source added it’s too soon to say where everything lands, “It’s unclear to me how this shakes out.”

“Perhaps room for multiple networks at the semi-personal level and one dominant player in the role of town square.”

Retro has yet to officially launch on the app store — a select group is allowed to beta test the app before its launch.

Retro’s CEO Nathan Sharp helped launch Instagram stories in 2016 while the company’s CTO Ryan Olson worked as Instagram’s director of engineering. The app has also received undisclosed investments from Dylan Field, Scribble Ventures, Box Group, Imaginary Ventures, Coalition, Conviction, Copper, and Positive Sum. 

It aims to connect small groups of close friends, allowing them to share recent adventures or whatever may be happening. It’s the new version of inviting friends over to see a slideshow of photos from your vacation – a mildly updated version of what Instagram used to be, according to Sharp.

“One of the things that Retro does to make that process easier is you don’t have to ask yourself — which message thread do I have to share this to?” Sharp said in a recent interview with TechCruch. “And manage three to four to five threads of different, non-overlapping groups of friends.”



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