Jacob Blackstock launched a tester version of Bitstrips in the App Store in early October. It was a “stealth” launch for friends and family to work out the app’s kinks, but the world found out. Two weeks later, Bitstrips was the no. 1 app in 40 countries and showed no signs of stopping — even though it barely worked. The app was supposed to let users quickly create humorous comic strips featuring digital avatars of their friends, but Blackstock’s servers were crashing hard. After six years the business was finally taking off.
“We suspect it’s one of the fastest-growing apps ever,” says Blackstock, who is known by friends and colleagues as “Ba.” Like Snapchat right out of the gates, Bitstrips is charming because it’s a bit sloppy, somewhat buggy, and wasn’t manicured by a star designer born and raised in Silicon Valley.
Like Draw Something, it lets users express themselves in a casual new way. It’s also viral — to date, users have created over 30 million comic avatars on Bitstrips for iPhone and Android. One such Bitstrips user is Solina Chau, one of the 100 most powerful women in the world, according to Forbes, and an investor at Hong Kong’s Horizons Ventures. Chau recently led a $3 million round in Bitstrips.
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