Contrary to popular belief, celebrities aren’t all “ditzy.” If you’ve heard of them — and if they’ve made a fortune in movies or TV — chances are they are sophisticated, intelligent people who know how to market themselves. After all, there is a lot of competition out there.
So when a celeb like Leonardo DiCaprio sinks a significant sum into the startup Israeli phone app/website Mobli, you have to figure he knows what he’s doing.
Mobli offers a unique and exciting real-time take on mobile video and photography. When you install the app on your phone, or check out the website, you can actually see what someone else is looking at.
According to the company’s website, it all started when founder Moshe (“Moshiko”) Hogeg was at a concert and could barely see the stage because his view was blocked by everyone in better seats holding up their phones to film the show.
“How cool would it be if he could somehow see everyone else’s video from all different angles of the same concert? Not only could he see better videos and photos from better seats, but he could see it from a bunch of different views as it happens!”
Hogeg has been in the social media business almost since its inception. Prior to founding Mobli, he was a social media manager at Nike. A serial entrepreneur, Hogeg also founded Web2sport, where he acquired a soccer team and developed an innovative system to crowd-source its management to fans, eventually selling the product to Israel’s leading sports channel.
See what everyone else sees
Hogeg and his Mobli team realized the technology could be useful in contexts other than rock concerts — such as sports, fashion, news, or just about anything else that interests users. With Mobli, you can see what others are doing in a channel dedicated to a specific interest, and comment on their photos.
You can search for a channel by keyword or location. If a friend is at a wedding, she can take a photo of the event and automatically have it tagged with the location when she uploads it to the Wedding Channel. You can also search for popular events or photos, or for things that are happening in the moment.
Like with any good social media app, you can choose to follow by channel or by user. With DiCaprio’s involvement in Mobli, the app has acquired a touch of “noblesse oblige,” so when you install it, Mobli automatically suggests that you subscribe to Leo’s channel (and channels for other select celebs, like Internet gossip queen Red Carpet Roxy).
You can make your own channel to show off your life to friends, family or even people you don’t know.
“Everyone is on Facebook, which is fine for sharing photos and videos with people you are friends with,” said Boaz Hecht, who until recently was business development VP for Mobli. “The inherent value of Facebook is to close in on the social network that you know. We allow you to expand beyond that network. Mobli enables even people you don’t know to access your photos, Facebook style.”
DiCaprio’s investment was part of a $4 million second round of financing that Mobli received in October. In its two years of existence, the company has raised $5.6 million and has 30 employees, 17 of them in Israel. According to company statements, Mobli is garnering some 10,000 new users a day.