- Poparazzi topped the free apps chart on the Apple’s US App Store after debuting on Monday.
- Venture capitalists have been buzzing about the app that could challenge Instagram and Snapchat.
- Here’s how the new platform that bans selfies and filters works.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A photo-sharing app that bans selfies launched on Monday, generating buzz online and quickly topping the free-downloads chart on the US App Store.
Poparazzi operates as a social-media platform that mimics a paparazzi shoot. It only allows users to take photos of other people. It doesn’t allow filters, follower counts, captions, or photos taken by a phone’s front-facing camera.
In other words, Poparazzi is all about “hyping up your friends,” as the company advertises. SignalFire investor Josh Constantine dubbed the platform “the perfect app for Hot Vax Summer.” Other venture capitalists compared the app’s debut to the launch of popular apps like Clubhouse, Snapchat, and even Facebook.
Here’s how Poparazzi works
A user’s Poparazzi profile is divided between the photos they take of their friends and the ones that are taken of them. The profile also shows which users most frequently catch them on camera.
On the app, users simply take a quick photo and then tag their friends. The photos are designed to be candid and the app doesn’t allow for cropping, adding captions, filters or edits.
Tagged photos do not appear on a user’s account unless the accounts are following each other, though the app automatically follows everyone in an individual’s phone book when it is downloaded.
Each profile also gets a “pop” score, which tracks how many photos you take.
Overall, unlike most social-media apps like Instagram and Snapchat that focus on adding more filters and elements, Poparazzi is all about restricting features and simplifying the platform.
The company wrote in a blog post that they were inspired to create the app as way to develop a more authentic social-media presence for users.
“We built Poparazzi to take away the pressure to be perfect,” the company wrote in a Medium post announcing its launch. “We did this by not allowing you to post photos of yourself, putting the emphasis where it should’ve been all along: on the people you’re with. On Poparazzi, you are your friend’s paparazzi, and they are yours.”
How to get started with the app
The platform is clearly targeted toward Gen Z. When you sign up the app flashes candid pictures of high schoolers and college students at parties. It’s akin to the early days of Snapchat.
The onboarding process is designed to introduce users to a “new age” of social media. It provides haptic feedback, as if you’re actually taking the pictures flitting across the screen.
“Let’s get it poppin’,” highlights the screen, as users are directed to set up their accounts.
The sign-up process is very standard. All it requires is your name, age, and phone number. The app then asks for access to an individual’s camera, contacts, and notifications.
Poparazzi allows users to create their own profile pictures, but once you’re on the app your profile is defined by your friends and how they see you through the lens of a camera. There is massive incentive to invite new users to the app, as a user’s presence on the platform is entirely dependent on having friends on Poparazzi and there is not a lot to do on the app without friends.
On the app, users can take quick photos called “pops” or tap on the camera icon multiple times to create stop-motion-like GIFs.
Poparazzi does not allow captions or comments, but you can provide reactions, as well as find and follow new accounts. Unlike Instagram, the app stays away from follow counts, but each user’s profile shows the number of views they’ve gotten on their Poparazzi pictures, as well as the number of reactions to their photos.
People are given the option to delete and untag pictures they do not want on their profile. They can also block users who they don’t want “popping” pictures of them and prevent the accounts from tagging their name.
You can, however, take photos of people that are not yet on the app by labeling them with the individual’s name. The photos will create a profile that friends can later claim and will appear as a shell profile with the tag “this profile is not claimed yet.”
Poparazzi also allows users to upload photos from their phone, as well as share photos from the app to Snapchat or across other social-media platforms.
To date, Poparazzi is only available for Apple devices on the App Store, though the company plans to eventually release it for Android devices as well.
The app seems to have taken social-media by storm and many investors are saying it could represent a “new age” for social media.
Social media buzzed with news of the app after it was released
The app was created by founders Alex and Austen Ma. They have reportedly raised over $2 million in funding led by investing firm Floodgate, but their list of investors is relatively unknown.
After the app’s debut, many VCs took to Twitter to promote the app, generating speculations as to who else could be funding the new social media platform.
“Poparazzi from @chinesemamba & co. is lighting up the App Store,” Danny Trinh the head designer of Zenly tweeted, reminiscing about when he helped launch SnapChat. “I’m nostalgic because *checks date* 10 years ago, I worked on a small app just for photos of friends. Poparazzi is a lot more fun :).”
-Danny Trinh (@dtrinh) May 24, 2021
Andreessen Horowitz investor Andrew Chen also hyped up the app.
-Youcef Es-skouri (@YoucefHQ) May 25, 2021
Weekend fund investor Ryan Hoover tweeted that his firm was a Poparazzi investor. Hoover also appears in a picture on the app’s onboarding video, where he is seen lounging by a pool.
-Ryan Hoover (@rrhoover) May 24, 2021
The app’s debut was so popular that the platform crashed at one point.
“Things have been pretty hectic the last 24 hours,” the app’s developer, Alex Ma, told Insider’s Margaux MacColl over email. “Just trying to keep our servers from melting!”