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Facebook ‘Like’ button inventor invests in Lapse, the shared disposable camera for friends not followers

Lapse Founders
Lapse Founders

The algorithmic advertising hooks, influencer-leveraged social graphs, and UX that begs for constant scrolling of social media apps have led to viral success and mass-market engagement for the major companies. However, there is still a market need for tools that allow us to generate things like images and share them with a select group of friends without all the additional social baggage.           

Lapse, a London-based invite-only social disposable camera app that lets friends in group chats shoot images together that are all a mystery until they “develop” the next day, has raised $11M in its seed funding round. Lapse has so far raised a total of $12.4M.

The funding round was led by Octopus Ventures and GV (formerly Google Ventures). The round saw participation from Speedinvest and a number of high-profile angels – including Soleio Cuervo, the designer who invented Facebook’s Like button.

The funding comes just four months after Lapse secured a $1.4M pre-seed round led by Speedinvest, with angels including Matt Robinson, founder of Nested and GoCardless, Ian Hogarth, founder of SongKick, and Claire Nooriala, VP EMEA, Snap Inc.

The Inception

Lapse was formed in 2019 by brothers Ben and Dan Silvertown. As the founders prioritise product development, user experience, and controlled growth, the app is now invitation-only.

Ben Silvertown and his brother Dan created the app to let people live in the present when capturing and sharing images, inspired by their experience using a point-and-shoot film camera while travelling in Vietnam in 2019. They seek to liberate photography from the “like” anxiety caused by superficial analytics and the pressures of social media.

The app was released in September 2021 after completing its 10,000-user beta test in less than a week. Lapse claims to have taken a million photos in less than a month, with some users taking 200 snaps every week.

Lapse is one of the apps gaining traction among users and investors for specifically attempting to turn some of the mechanisms we’ve come to identify with social media on their heads.

“Lapse does not allow you to review, edit, or curate photographs in the ways that other platforms do.” The emphasis is on enjoying the moment rather than attempting to show it off. People are photographing and sharing photographs on Lapse that they would not have otherwise. “By removing the need for perfection and the mental barrier that exists when we analyse images, we open up a whole new universe of more’real’ photos,” stated Ben Silvertown, co-founder of Lapse.

How does it work?

Lapse members form private chat groups with their friends, and each group has a “roll” of 36 shots, similar to a roll of photographic film. Anyone in the group can shoot images on that film, but no one can view them until they are “developed” 24 hours after the initial shot. The entire roll is then displayed in the chat as an animated montage known as a Lapse. Members of a group can respond to and comment on images, as well as save or export individual shots or the entire Lapse. To enhance the point-and-shoot experience, all images are processed in-app using Lapse’s unique image processing engine, which was built and tested in collaboration with more than 30 experienced photographers to reproduce the distinct appearance of film.

“The social media landscape is shifting from media’ to social.’ Because public networks like Instagram and TikTok are so dominated by creators and influencers, your true pals are drowned out. Lapse’s mission is to own the opposite end of the spectrum, where sharing is more casual, intimate, and deliberate – genuinely social, not just for likes. “Lapses are valuable records of spontaneous and honest experiences that should be shared discreetly among friends rather than broadcast to distant and nameless followers,” Dan Silvertown remarked.

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