SAN FRANCISCO (TheStreet) -- If sharing a selfie seems like a ridiculous form of communication, then you're most likely not a user of mobile application Shots, the latest craze among teens and the hot-girl startup all the venture capitalists want a piece of.
Here's why: Just a little more than a year after launching, Shots has racked up 3.5 million registered users who view 740 million photos a month. The average active user spends, on average, 22 minutes per day with the app, the company told TheStreet. Impressive, no? But here's the kicker that has Silicon Valley types in a tizzy: 45% of users are active on a daily basis. By comparison, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Facebook's third-quarter earnings call people around the globe spend around 21 minutes a day on Instagram.
Those are the kind of stats that attract the interest of social media heavyweights such as Twitter (TWTR) , which seems to have set its eyes on acquiring the young company. Twitter likely won't be able to successfully woo Shots as the startup is in the midst of raising financing, TheStreet has learned, and appears determined to go it alone for the time being. As it stands, Shots' seven-person team, which operates out of a small office in the South of Market district in San Francisco, is backed by $2.7 million in funding from a hodgepodge of venture capitalists and celebrities, including Justin Bieber.
When reached for comment regarding a potential Shots acquisition, a Twitter spokesperson said the company does not comment on rumor and speculation.
For the uninitiated, Shots is a photo-sharing app created by brothers John and Sam Shahidi, who previously built mobile apps for celebrities through their company, RockLive. Shots started its life as a selfie-only service called "Shots of Me," and, with Bieber as an early investor, the company initially seemed like the archetype of everything wrong with Silicon Valley startups. Indeed, it was treated as a joke in the tech press.
Silly though they may sound, selfies are no joke. Taking photographs of oneself is a legitimate form of communication, just like sending 140 character updates, Alitimeter Group Principal Analyst Brian Solis told TheStreet. Sorry haters, but Solis, who studies trends in digital media, says selfies are here to stay.
"I think a lot of people misinterpret selfies. [The form of communication] is a way of saying, 'Here I am. Here's what I'm doing. Here's what I'm feeling'," he said. "Any network that promotes connectivity around that type of communication is really going to win."
A year after launch, Shots looks to be winning in the selfie realm, which means the joke is on us. It's the Shahidi brothers' turn to do the laughing -- well, they would be laughing if they weren't, at least on the surface, dead-set on living up to the no-judgement philosophy intentionally embedded in the app they've built.
"If the app is about not judging, then we can't be about judging. I won't judge or say anything bad about anybody," CEO John Shahidi told TheStreet.
Shots, after all, was designed to offer the virgin daiquiri equivalent of liquid courage for youngsters too intimidated by the prospect of nasty comments to post pictures of themselves. Unlike its predecessors in the social realm, Shots is a comment-free zone where you shouldn't have to worry about mean-spirited remarks that make you feel insecure. Plus, there should be no anxiety around keeping up with the proverbial Jones', since there are no follower counts.
"There are three things you never want to be criticized: your face, your name, and your family members," Shahidi said, "because we were born with these three things."