A startup that built its business on Snapchat is going all in on Instagram with DJ Khaled's help



DJ Khaled's show "The Bless Up" and photographer Cam Kirk's show "MyAtlanta" are new WeBuyGold series.

  • The startup Naritiv built its business connecting brands to Snapchat influencers
  • Now it wants to launch a media brand - WeBuyGold - focused on ephemeral music content
  • It's ditching Snapchat for Instagram, where it believes it can more quickly find an audience

Not too long ago, if you were a media entrepreneur planning to go after young, mobile-glued-millennial consumers, your first inclination would be to go to Snapchat. It was where DJ Khaled was famously chronciling his life, after all.

Now, one of the early pioneers in building Snapchat content is moving onto Instagram. And it is bringing DJ Khaled along for the ride.

The Los Angeles-based startup Naritiv built its business on Snapchat, becoming one of the first companies to help connect marketers to influencers on the budding social app in late 2014.

Now the firm is attempting to entirely shift its business model by becoming a digital publisher rather than a marketing services firm. To that end, it's recently rolled out a new media brand: WeBuyGold.

To get WeBuyGold off the ground, the firm is shifting its focus from Snapchat to rival Instagram.

yeezy dj khaled

Jason Merritt/Getty

The cool kids

According to Naritiv cofounder and CEO Daniel Altmann, the decision to plant its flag on Instagram was driven by the explosive growth in Instagram Stories, the Snapchat-inspired feature that now reaches 200 million users a day, as well as the back-end data and analytics offered by the Facebook-owned app. It's those tools that make it easier for media companies to build audiences, figure out what content is working and ultimately make more money.

Plus, Altmann said he's been intrigued by Instagram's live video offering, and more importantly the talent using the photo-centric platform. That includes DJ Khaled, an artist known for exploding on Snapchat. The hip hop mogul last month started working on a series project with WeBuyGold and is serving as the company's creative director.

"As a media company, Instagram can almost mimic what was once the role of a website," said Altmann. "It's becoming a place where you can be comprehensive on your phone. Plus, we've just been tracking how dynamic the platform is. Over the last year, they keep doing things that intrigue us and we are consistently using it in different ways."

The vision for WeBuyGold is to create a music-centric digital media outlet for a generation of consumers who are glued to their phones for entertainment and don't care much about appointment TV. And while WeBuyGold will have a presences on multiple social apps, Instagram is the focus for now, despite Naritiv's Snapchat roots.

WeBuyGold's investors include Third Wave Digital, Disney, Techstars, and Greylock Partners.

Friends, not brands

Overall, Snapchat has a different philosophy than Instagram, which by its nature makes it easy to find brands and follow them. Snapchat executives have said that they want the app to encourage user creativity, which can be inhibited by having businesses reach out to users in the same manner as their friends.

Red Bull
"Snapchat wants friends, not brands," said Altmann.

A small digital company shifting to Instagram is hardly going to shake Snapchat's foundation. Naritiv has raised $4.3 million to date and has seven employees. Still, it's a small example of the momentum Instagram has gathered since co-opting stories and continuing its staggering growth. That growth is more glaring in light of Snapchat's slowing user adoption.

Prior to its new incarnation as a publishing company, Naritiv, has helped hundreds of advertisers connect with digital influencers, including Marriott, Red Bull and the cable network Freefrom.

The startup, which was born out of a Disney incubator program, emerged as part Snapchat-specializing ad agency and part tech company. It sold a proprietary analytics product to Hootsuite earlier this year.

But Altmann said the plan was always to push into the media business eventually, while still working with advertisers by weaving them into content. He said that WeBuyGold has several music and lifestyle-oriented series in the works for Instagram, including an attempt at reviving Saturday Morning cartoons and a show featuring the Instagram artist Cam Kirk, who is known for photographing musical artists.

"We believe that ephemeral and mobile content are one in the same,"Altmann said. "When we made the decision to switch, we said 'let's create a new type of media company.'"

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