GroupMe co-founder unveils Splice, a music collaboration app with $2.75 million in the bank

By Erin Griffith , written on October 9, 2013

From The News Desk

In August, the co-founders of GroupMe, Steve Martocci and Jared Hecht, left the company to work on separate startups. As first reported by PandoDaily, Martocci partnered with former LivingSocial and Sony Playstation engineer Matt Aimonetti to build a music collaboration app. He has been thinking about his next move for some time, having bought the domain for back in April. (Hecht's startup is in the early stages and will be related to finance in some way.)

Today Splice officially launches with $2.75 million in venture funding led by Union Square Ventures. True Ventures, Lerer Ventures, SV Angel, First Round Capital, Code Advisors, David Tisch, Rob Wiesenthal, and Seth Goldstein also invested.

Martocci's investor pool includes a few repeat buyers. Lerer Ventures (a PandoDaily investor), SV Angel, First Round Capital and David Tisch were all happy enough with their ROI on GroupMe that they backed him for a second time.

Yesterday I published an analysis of what happened to GroupMe, Martocci and Hecht's hot messaging company. It didn't quite live up to its founders' expectations after it sold to Skype in 2011, partly because Skype turned around and sold itself to Microsoft.

But the main reason GroupMe struggled inside a large was company because that's just how most startup acquisitions go. The same thing happened to Dennis Crowley when he sold his first company, Dodgeball, to Google, and Evan Williams when he sold his first company, Blogger, to Google. Both of them got frustrated and left to form new companies, and both of those companies have turned down acquisition offers in lieu of building much bigger companies. I'm talking, of course, about Foursquare and Twitter. Martocci may follow a similar path.

Both Foursquare and Twitter are portfolio companies of Union Square Ventures, the lead investor in Splice. Partner Andy Weissman, who will join the board of Splice, has always wanted to be a rock star, he writes. But he can't really play guitar, and his day job is investing in startups. Thus, a music deal.

Fred Wilson at Union Square has led the firm's other two music deals. One of those deals, Soundcloud, is thriving, and the other,, is struggling. Turntable rode the most feverish hype cycle I've ever seen, and then crashed at the same speed. Since then, Turntable launched a music recommendation app called Piki, which was shut down after six months to refocus on launching a new version of Turntable.

Turntable's co-founder Seth Goldstein, who left last year to start an electronic dance music news site called DJZ, is one of Splice's investors. He was also apparently an entrepreneur-in-residence at Flatiron Partners, the firm Fred Wilson started before Union Square Ventures.

Turntable is now run by Goldstein's co-founder Billy Chasen, who co-founded and built Chartbeat under the Betaworks umbrella. Betaworks invested in GroupMe. Andy Weissman co-founded Betaworks. It's all connected.

When GroupMe sold, one investor got four different checks from the sale because, in addition to angel investing in the company, he'd also backed a number of funds that had invested. Silicon Valley is a small, interconnected and often incestuous world. But clearly, New York is worse.

Splice has one "strategic" angel investor from the music industry: Rob Weisenthal, the COO of Warner Music Group. No real dots to connect there.

Anyway, the product.

The music tech category is one of the most challenging. Even interesting, smart companies struggle because so little about the industry is rational. Splice aims to beat the odds by solving a problem beyond "I want to listen to music for free." The site offers editing, collaboration and sharing tools for actually making music, while also handling the nuts and bolts of managing digital music files, and helping electronic artists keep track of the samples they're using by tracing the "DNA" of a song.

It's a cool premise, although it comes not a minute too soon -- thanks to unofficial Molly spokesperson Miley Cyrus, alongside the introduction of Brooklyn's baby DJs, we may be approaching peak EDM.

Splice is available in private beta, with sign-ups available on its site.

[Image via Wikimedia commons]