Bitstrips, the Toronto-based startup behind those inescapable do-it-yourself avatars and comic strips on Facebook, has secured $3 million in funding from Hong Kong venture capital firm Horizons Ventures. The news was announced this morning, appropriately enough, with a comic strip.
Since the launch of the Bitstrips iOS app on Oct. 1, users have created more than 30 million avatars, bringing the total to somewhere north of 40 million (the app was previously available exclusively on Facebook, where members made good use of it). The ubiquity of the Bitstrips quickly became a sore spot for those who were inundated with them by their friends. To address that issue, the company just last month added sharing options to permit users to share within the app, or privately by text or email.
Already Bitstrips is expanding beyond its comic-strip generator roots. The Globe and Mail notes it's become a mobile message and publishing company; French politicians are using the app for political messaging, and it's being utilized as a teaching tool.
“We do have really big plans on where this goes, we see it as not just a joke engine,” Bitstrips CEO Jacob Blackstock tells the newspaper. “We see this as a new medium for self expression. Down the road there’s definitely a lot of monetization options." But for now, he says, “We want everybody to use it. People are making millions of comics every day… we turned the Internet into a comic strip!”