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‘Micro-YouTube’ Startup Emoticast Banks $5 Million From Sean Parker, Ynon Kreiz, Will.i.am, Other Investors

Variety logo Variety 3/29/2017 Todd Spangler
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Emoticast, a U.K.-based startup whose apps generate music-based entertainment GIFs for mobile messaging, announced a “super angel” funding round of $5 million.

Investors in Emoticast include entrepreneur and Napster co-founder Sean Parker through Strangeloop Ventures; producer and Black Eyed Peas founding member will.i.am; DJ and producer David Guetta; Ynon Kreiz, former CEO of Disney’s Maker Studios; Jason Epstein, board member for Rhapsody International, parent company of Rhapsody and Napster; Nicole Junkermann through Montilla International; Alan Cannistraro, ex-Apple engineer and founder and CEO of video-app startup Rheo; and Archer Gray, a media production, finance and venture investment company.

London-based Emoticast’s TuneMoji apps and bots let mobile users share entertainment content across messaging platforms including Apple’s iMessage, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Kik. Emoticast has worldwide licensing deals with Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group, as well as with major publishing groups including Sony ATV, Warner Chappell Music, Universal Publishing Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and PRS/Impel. The company also plans to widen its focus beyond music GIFs to encompass film and TV.

Emoticast was founded in 2014 by James Fabricant, former director of business development and media for Myspace Europe, who calls the company “the micro-YouTube for messaging” built on premium licensed content.

“The backing of such high-profile individuals from the worlds of music, technology and entertainment is validation of the company’s success in catalyzing partnerships across the entertainment and messaging industries,” Fabricant said in a statement.

For the TuneMoji app, Emoticast has produced original content directly with music stars including Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran in addition to licensing songs for shareable GIFs. In April, under an exclusive collaboration with Kik, Snoop Dogg will take over TuneMoji’s bot on the service and let users share custom Snoop music GIFs.

“By partnering with Emoticast, we enable our music to enrich billions of daily messaging interactions and we create new avenues for value creation and unique marketing for our artists and songwriters,” Ole Olbermann, chief digital officer and EVP for Warner Music Group.

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