In 2021, app developer Matt Moss created a photo-sharing app to keep in touch with his long-distance girlfriend – and now it has over 30 million registrations.
On Monday, the app, now called Locket Widget, received a Cultural Impact Award from Apple’s annual App Store awards.
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Moss told Contractor that the idea started as a romantic gift with low ambition, and he didn’t expect it to explode — but now he hopes to continue making it easier for people to connect more intimately on social media.
Here’s how it went from a private app to a 10-employee business with $12.5 million in venture capital users worldwide.
What is Locket Widget?
Locket Widget is an app that creates a mini screen in the corner of your iPhone. You can upload photos to a “locket”, which are then automatically shared and updated with the locket on the screens of family and friends.
“It makes the phone feel much more personal to use,” Moss said.
When you sign up, the app asks you to choose 10 “best friends”, with a maximum of 20 people. You can also create separate lockets for a close friend or significant other.
It launched on Apple’s app store on New Year’s Day 2022. He also posted a video about Locket on TikTok.
@locketcamera Tag the person you want to do this with… #locket #widget #locketwidget ♬ original audio – Locket
The company’s early videos received millions of views. He claimed that led to others posting about it organically, then waves of interest in the app and, he said, about 2 million signups within two weeks.
The company raised $10 million in April in a round led by Sam Altman, now CEO of OpenAI and former president of Y Combinator. Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger also participated in the round, which led to a $2.5 million friends and family round. It now has nearly 10 employees, nearly 2 billion photos shared, and users worldwide including Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and Thailand.
For busy social media apps, it’s common to raise a bunch of money before you have a seemingly viable revenue stream (or, it was before the tech rout of 2022). Clubhouse raised $100 million in January 2021, at the height of a pandemic-fueled audio obsession, less than a year after it launched in April 2020. BeReal has $30 million in the bank.
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“We actually took a more conservative fundraising strategy than a lot of companies in the social space,” Moss said.
Still, there is currently no publicly visible mechanism for Locket to monetize.
Moss said he is focused on growing users on a consistent basis and improving the app. When they did, they could add “features that people might consider paying for, or something like that, at that point,” he said.
Who is Matt Moss?
Matt Moss is one entrepreneur who started developing apps in secondary school. He attended Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference a few times.
He met his girlfriend, Ava, while he was a student at the University of California at Santa Barbara, but he graduated before her (in June 2021), so he built an app that would allow them to share photos with each other while dating for a long time – distance.
For six months, the couple had their own private photo-sharing app.
“Over time, we ended up sending like hundreds of photos back and forth, using the app pretty much every single day,” he said.
Then their private app caught the attention of Ava’s friends, he said, who started asking if they could use it.
“After enough people started asking, we decided — might as well put it out there and see what happens,” he said.