Yubo, a social media platform aimed at Generation Z, has raised $47.5m in a Series C funding round to expand into new markets and add new product features.

Existing investors Idinvest, Iris Capital, Alven and Sweet Capital led the funding round, along with new investors Gaia Capital Partners.

The cash injection will be used to fund new features for the app, which is designed for people between the age of 13 and 25 to create live interactive video discussions.

This will include a YouTube integration, in addition to new activities and games. An integration with Snap will give Yubo users access to Snapchat’s camera and augmented reality lenses.

Yubo, which launched in 2015, plans use the funding to continue growth into new markets, including Southeast Asia, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

Yubo is already available in the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and France. It added Latin America this summer. It aims to open offices in “every key region”, having opened its first UK office in London earlier this year.

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The French startup also plans to grow its workforce to ten times its current size.

Yubo upends traditional social media models

It has managed to attract 40 million users since its launch in a highly competitive market where incumbents such as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat dominate.

Unlike its Silicon Valley rivals, Yubo has shunned the advertising model and instead users pay to subscribe to the app and to unlock items.

The startup says it is on course to bring in $20m in revenue this year – double that of 2019.

“2020 has been a significant year for Yubo, and we are thrilled to be ending the year on such a high,” said Yubo CEO and co-founder Sacha Lazimi.

“Five years on from the launch of the platform, we are proud to have created a new social space for young people centered around real-time, one-to-few conversations. Yubo is creating a space where they can hang out and find out about the world and themselves.”

Yubo does not allow users to follow or like people, diverting from the traditional social media model. Instead its focus is to encourage conversations and games in rooms of 5 to 10 people.

The company said engagement is up 400% year over year. However, with a young demographic and high growth comes the need for robust moderation. In response to this, Yubo will use the funds to build new safety features, such as age verification and regional safety helplines. It will increase its work with educational tools and key partnerships with NGOs, Yubo said.

Jerry Murdock, co-founder of Insight Partners, will become an independent member of the Yubo board, although he isn’t investing in the company.

“Yubo has an innovative and differing business model among other social media platforms and manages the difficult task of connecting with Gen Z all around the globe,” said Murdock.

“The app has quickly established itself as a leader in the highly competitive US market, as well as in all English-speaking countries. I strongly believe its innovative approach to socialising online will make it the must-have social space of tomorrow.”

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