Whatifi launched on Tuesday with $10 million in its pocket. The Los Angeles-based group video app allows viewers to choose the direction of movies screened. Each Whatifi film is broken into short segments that, at crucial moments, require watch parties to decide together what happens next. Viewers can invite up to nine friends to watch, and chat, about the interactive movie together.
Co-founder Jaanus Juss, who previously worked as an interactive play developer in Estonia, told The Hollywood Reporter that the startup’s target audience is teens and college-aged adults.
“When you move the weight of the storytelling from the stage to the audience, it’s much more impactful and meaningful for them and they experience it in completely different ways than the writer originally ever envisioned,” Juss told The Hollywood Reporter.
The app so far has two movies released, named Anatomy of a Decision and As Dead as It Gets, which offer a combined 80 different endings and storylines. The company said it will release more movies later this year.
In early testing in New Zealand, Sweden and Singapore, founders told The Hollywood Reporter that 90 percent of users who finished a narrative started a new one. The average user watched four different endings per movie, they said.
In addition to launching the app, Whatifi has also opened a story development and production arm named Whatifi Studios. It is currently holding a script writing contest for screenwriters and directors, which will gift writers and directors $35,000 in prize money and an additional $200,000 to make their movie in 120 days. The startup will name five winners.
Andreessen Horowitz led the round, with participation from Matrix Partners. The startup is also backed by ex-Netflix CFO David Wells, PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, and former Tesla and Lyft exec Jon McNeill, among others.