Twitter once tried to buy Shots for $150 million to score its 3 million rabid teen users, a source tells TechCrunch. But the Justin Bieber-funded selfie app developer dreamed of a different destiny, where it would become the “Saturday Night Live” of the mobile generation.
The Shots app grew to a peak of almost 8 million users, but ultimately it was too difficult to compete with Instagram and Snapchat. Despite ashift to comedy and acquisitions like lo-fi video capture app Camcorder and music video maker Mindie, the Shots team decided they were better off as a content creator.
Social media stars from Vine, Instagram, and Snapchat befriended the startup. The Bieber affiliation gave it credibility, and co-founder John Shahidi’s “I’m on the creator’s side” stance fostered trust with multi-million view video makers like King Bach, Lele Pons, and Rudy Mancuso. Shahidi discovered that as long as these web celebs kept pumping out funny skits, their fans would follow them from one social media platform to the next.
So over the past few months, Shots has rebranded as Shots Studios , and turned its focus from apps to the content people share on them. It’s taken stars who built their fame in still Instagrams, 6-second Vines, and off-the-cuff Snapchat clips, and helped them shoot high-production four-minute YouTube videos.
The result? Millions of views per video, strong ad revenue, and according to a source close to the company, sudden partnership interest from Facebook, Netflix, and Verizon that could potentially spill into acquisition talks.