SoftBank leads $170m funding in group messaging app IRL at $1.17b valuation

Photographer: Nicky Loh/Bloomberg

Group messaging app IRL, short for in real life, on Tuesday said it raised $170 million in a funding round led by SoftBank Group Corp’s Vision Fund 2 that valued the company at $1.17 billion.

The San Francisco-based startup’s messaging platform works like WhatsApp to create private group chats but also allows for public groups to form, said IRL CEO Abraham Shafi.

Launched in June 2019, IRL said it has over 12 million monthly active users.

The funding will be used to expand the business internationally and put in place a trust and safety team to monitor public groups. Until that team is in place, Shafi said IRL will only make verified groups publicly discoverable.

While there are many messaging apps, Shafi said apart from Chinese messaging app WeChat, owned by Tencent Holdings Ltd, none offered public group chat along with private messaging.

“So the big play is, we really have the opportunity to be the WeChat for the rest of the world,” he said.

IRL could allow ads to promote events or people but this would not be a core revenue stream, he said.

Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.