Dispo 2.0

I am proud to announce Dispo’s Series A, joined by investors including Seven Seven Six, Unshackled Ventures, Endeavor, 35 Ventures, and F9 Strategies. I want to use this opportunity to thank Katelin Holloway, Alexis Ohanian, Lissie Garvin, and the entire Seven Seven Six team, who are building the pre-eminent venture capital firm of our generation. How, the tech Twitterati ask? By making essential recruiting calls that closed candidates, by having the courage to never question backing our team and mission, by building a diverse firm and not just talking about it. Our team, our community, and I will forever be grateful.

Our newest advisors and investors are some of the foremost creative and cultural figures of our time. Annie Leibovitz and Raven B. Varona will hold us to a higher standard of photographic excellence. Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Cara Delevingne, and Sofia Vergara represent the paragon of authenticity. In her seminal collection of essays, On Photography, Susan Sontag writes, “Photographs cannot create a moral position, but they can reinforce one—and can help build a nascent one.” It is thrilling to have such geniuses around the table to ensure that Dispo fulfills its commitment. These superstars have spent their careers standing for what they believe in; now, with their support, it is our time to use the power of photography to make a difference.

Raising money is often celebrated, but in reality it is just a commitment to achieve the next set of goals. We have promises to keep, and miles to go before we sleep. While we continue to be inspired by our remarkable product and community, now more than ever our team is unified, motivated, and filled with a renewed sense of purpose. This team is exceptional. They are activists, survivors, and believers. They are rebels with a cause, who come from the top tech companies in the world. They’ve poured their hearts and souls into this codebase. And the product they created is magical. The current team founded our company with the firm belief that people should have the right to live in the moment to create memories and be themselves. As we continue our growth, I have never been more confident that we stand at the dawn of a new era, a time where our product can restore joy and authenticity to life, online and IRL. And I know we have the team to do it.

In 2013, inspired by the voter registration movements of the sixties, I quit my job as a banker and moved to Alabama to co-found a grassroots healthcare movement. Open enrollment for the first year of the Affordable Care Act ended March 31, 2014. The political atmosphere was hostile. There were bright spots, though: Days when you had slept three hours but still felt electrified by the rush of purpose; nights when you wept with joy at the profundity of the experience. March 29 was one of those days. The last weekend of enrollment, a friendly county commissioner in Mobile convinced the local gospel station, WGOK Gospel 900, to secure public awareness airtime for an enrollment event at St. Stephens AME Church in Crichton. We arrived to set up at 9am for a 10am start, and there was already a line of 92 people. We had just eight volunteers. We gave out numbers and called everyone we knew to help. Our volunteer team rallied to the cause. People started successfully registering for health insurance. They called their friends and neighbors. The line got longer and longer. Against the odds, our team was accomplishing the unthinkable. The pews of the church filled, and one woman in line got up to the organ and started playing spirituals. As I called around number 300, she jokingly interrupted her rendition of Hezekiah Walker’s “Every Praise” to ask if I wanted to join in. The church erupted in laughter. Though there was a lot separating us— our age, our race, our religion— funny enough, I knew that one. It’s a very simple, repetitive song. At the top of my lungs, buoyed by a team of brilliant, indefatigable, and passionate activists, exhausted and smiling and hopeful, I sang.

I left Alabama to attend grad school at Stanford, where I quickly realized the only necessary condition for launching a start up is a functioning cell phone. I learned from the legends of Silicon Valley: Design Garage with David Kelley, Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital with Eric Schmidt, and Blitzscaling with Reid Hoffman. Tired of running a non-profit, which is 75% soliciting donations, I sought to build a for-profit company with a profound mission.

Today, big social media reigns. A new era of start ups must emerge to end the scourge of big tech’s destruction of our political fabric and willful ignorance of its impact on body dysmorphia and mental health. Imagine a world where Dispo is the social network of choice for every teen and college student in the world. How different a world would that be? Dispo can and must do better. Our resolves are strengthened. With our product, team, and community we have a chance to build differently, creating a company on our terms and our values. Hope springs eternal, and Dispo is ready.

Credit: Jaimar Viray

この度、DispoのシリーズAラウンドについて発表できることを大変嬉しく思います。私達はSeven Seven Six、Unshackled Ventures、Endeavor、35 Ventures、F9 Strategiesをはじめとする投資家の皆様からの出資やご支援によって成り立っています。また、この場をお借りしてKatelin Holloway、Alexis Ohanian、Lissie Garvin、Seven Seven Sixのチームの皆様に感謝申し上げます。

我々の新規アドバイザーや投資家の皆様は、時代を創り上げてきた方々でもあります。世界的なフォトグラファーであるAnnie LeibovitzやRaven B. Varonaには、Dispoにおいてより魅力的な体験をユーザーに提供できるように知見や経験をお借りしたいと考えております。またKevin DurantやAndre Iguodala、Cara Delevingne、Sofia Vergaraは我々の模範となるような方々で心から信頼しております。

Susan Sontagによるエッセイ“On Photography”の中に以下のような一節があります。



Team Dispoは一流のテクノロジー企業から集結した極めて優秀なメンバーで構成されており、チーム全員がDispoに愛と魂を注いで魅力的なプロダクト開発を続けています。「誰もが自分らしく、一瞬一瞬を大切に生きるべきだ(Live in the moment)」という信念のもと、当社を設立しました。多くの人たちがDispoを通じて人生をより豊かに心から楽しむことができる新しい時代の幕開けに立っていると、私は確信しています。

1960年代の有権者登録運動に感銘を受けて、私は2013年にバンカーの仕事を辞め、アラバマ州に拠点を移し、ヘルスケアの市民運動を立ち上げました。ACA(Affordable Care Act: 通称 オバマケア)導入の初年度の公開登録は2014年3月31日に終了しました。当時の政治的状況は好ましいものではありませんでしたが、そんな中でも明るい話題もありました。

皆さんにも、数時間しか睡眠時間がない日が続いているのに目標に向かってエネルギーが湧いたり、ひょっとしたことで涙が出るほど嬉しかった経験があるのではないでしょうか。私にとって3月29日がそのような印象的な日だったことを、今でも思い出します。その日は保険加入できる最後の週末でしたが、委員会のある方がWGOK Gospel 900というローカルラジオチャンネルで、オバマケアに加入できるラストチャンスであることや申し込みができる場所について市民に伝えるべく動いてくれたのです。朝10時の開始に向けて私達が1時間前に現場に到着した時には、すでに92人の方達が列を作っていました。私達のボランティアチームは、米国が抱える保険問題を改善すべく具体的なアクションを起こそうと集まったメンバーです。たった8人のチームでしたが、並んでいる全員に整理券を配り、彼らの家族や友人達にも連絡をしてもらった結果、時間が経てば経つほど長蛇の列をなしていきました。私達にとって想像もしていなかった状況に強い感銘を受けたことを覚えています。

教会のベンチは集まってきた人々で満席になると、ある1人の女性がオルガンを取り出し霊歌を演奏し始めました。私が整理番号300番を呼んだ際、その女性が「ヘゼキアー・ウォーカーのEvery Praiseを一緒に歌わない?」と冗談を交えながら近づいてきました。そのユーモアの溢れる一言で、年齢や人種、宗教を超えて教会全体が一瞬にして笑いに包まれました。情熱的で最高なチームメンバーや教会中の人々と一緒になって、シンプルで繰り返しの多いその曲を大声で合唱し続けました。