Picture app Mobli raises $22M to build visual platform

Instagram(s fb) competitor Mobli is known for its celebrity backers including Leonardo DiCaprio, Lance Armstrong, Tobey Maguire and Serena Williams. But the picture and video sharing app has been building more than just hype. As we wrote in July, the New York City-based company is constructing a visual platform where users can find timely images on anything in the world. And now it’s got a big $22 million Series B investment to go after that vision.

The new money includes $20 million from influential Kazakhstan investor Kenges Rakishev with an additional $2 million from existing investors. Rakishev, who recently invested $5 million in cloud platform services provider TriPlay, will join Mobli’s board. The investment brings Mobli’s total funding to $28 million.

The money will be used to help Mobli build out its visual platform and expand its user base. Specifically, the company is looking at more ways to help encourage immediate feedback for content contributors. Mobli has already excelled in this area with the way it encourages users to categorize each picture by location and interest. That allows more people to see and comment on a picture, even if they’re not friends with a user. Mobli wants to make it even easier for its members to get that encouragement for sharing.

That feeds into Mobli’s larger vision of creating a real-time repository of pictures all around the world. By encouraging picture sharing through feedback, Mobli wants to create a resource for all kinds of images that people want to see. Mobli said its efforts are paying off with the number of pictures and videos shared per day tripling over the last two months. 

With just three million members, Mobli is still far behind Instagram’s 100 million users. But if all goes well, Mobli may be competing more with Google image search (s goog) in the future. That’s still a very tall order and will require Mobli to grow a lot more. But with $22 million in the bank, Mobli has got plenty of money to try to make it happen.