Zirra Spotlight on Slash

Founded in 2015, Slash is headquartered in New York, New York. The company offers a keyboard that allows users to share media and information without leaving your conversation, thereby alleviating the need to switch between multiple apps to send a single message. The keyboard allows users to search within top tier sites such as Giphy, Spotify, YouTube, Contacts, Weather, and Foursquare. On a more general level, Slash seeks to bring the user from idea to action as quickly as possible.

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Zirra Rated Slash


Founder & Executive Profiles: Slash has a strong founding team. Together the two co-founders are extremely experienced in BD, marketing, software development, and search engines. Additionally, both co-founders have previous experience in serving in the executive leadership of various businesses. Co-founder and Chief Business Officer Sean Besser currently also serves as a Mentor at Amplify.LA and MuckerLab, and as an Investor at Connect.com. He was the Head of Platform & BD at Peel, the EVP of BD, Media Partnerships, Operations & Strategy at GetGlue, the VP BD, Corporate Development & Strategy at Rovi, VP BD at Blockbuster, VP BD at Movielink, worked in BD, Marketing & Strategy at TiVo, among a variety of other roles. Sean holds an MBA from UC Berkeley, and a law degree and a BA in Journalism and Communications from the University of Southern California. Co-founder and CEO Cem Kozinoglu also concurrently serves as a co-founder and Board Member of Boomset Inc. Previously he worked as a Senior Search Consultant at Microsoft, a Senior Software Engineer at Fast Search & Transfer, and the Founder at Turkvista (Turkey’s first search engine). He holds a BS in Computer Science from UMass Amherst.

Competitive Position: While there have long been third party keyboards available for Android devices, Apple only recently allowed third party keyboards for iOS. There are currently dozens of available keyboards to download – most focusing on a specific niche. Slash’s main attraction is that they allow their users to searching on various apps and websites without leaving the message. We identified a direct competitor to be Thingthing Ltd., which also focuses on allowing their users to search from within a message. Thingthing Ltd. was founded in 2015 and is headquartered in London, England. They have raised $427.54K across two rounds from 5 investors. The company has 10 employees, and their app has a rating of 4.5/5.0 based on 193 reviews. While G-board, a keyboard by Google, has similar a similar concept in that users can search Google without leaving their messaging app, G-board doesn’t let users search other sites (whereas Slash does) and G-board has the financial and operational benefits of being backed by Google. For these reasons, we have identified G-board as an indirect competitor, along with many other apps.

Market Forecast & Exit Indicators: While there are many companies operating in the space and it is definitely an active market, there are no concrete predictions about the future of the market, which may be simply due to the market being quite young. However, that there is competition in the space, and established players such as Google are entering the market, one can assume that the market is on a positive trajectory. There are no specific exit indicators for Slash at this time.

Professional & Customer Reviews: On Google Play, the app has received 100K-500K installs and a rating of 4.0/5.0 based on 2,631 reviews. On iTunes, the app has a rating of 4.0/5.0 based on 276 reviews. Reviews of previous versions point to issues in Slash’s spell check abilities, but they note that these issues have been resolved in later versions of the app. It also doesn’t sound like the app works seamlessly if the user is using Textra for their messaging app. Negative reviews also point to not being able to swipe. Many negative reviews are written by former G-board users who intend to return to G-board. Positive reviews say that it’s a great concept, with great capabilities, but that improvements are needed. Even reviews with 5 starts point to improvements such as a swiping feature, and being able to adjust the size of the keyboard.

Investor Positions: Slash has received investments from several prominent investors. There were six contributors to their Seed funding round in which they raised $1.3M: Alex Chung, Betaworks, Galvanize Ventures, Paul Sethi, Social Starts, and Wayne Chang. Betaworks was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in New York, New York. The firm has made at least 135 investments in 114 companies, from which there have been 41 acquisitions. Galvanize Ventures was founded in 2011 and is headquartered in Denver, CO. The firm handles over $10.2M and has made at least 62 investments in 50 companies. Social Starts was founded in 2012 and handles over $60M. The firm is headquartered in San Francisco and has made at least 219 investments in 181 companies, of which 19 have been acquired. Paul Sethi is CEO at Redbooks, and Wayne Chang founded Crashlytics which was acquired by Twitter for over $100M in 2013. Alex Chung, Co-Founder & CEO of Giphy, is an investor in Slash Keyboard, which has integrated Giphy into their keyboard search capabilities.

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Assaf Gilad

An ex-journalist from Calcalist, a leading business and tech news outlet in Israel, I'm now writing about startups for Zirra.com.