Fred Wilson recently said he thinks the next great wave on the web will be like the cultural revolution, and that smart investors will find a way to fund that sea change, but he wasn’t sure yet if he knew how.
Perhaps Wilson was teasing the new $3 million round in Chris “Moot” Poole’s Canvas, a start-up that lies close to the beating heart of internet unrest. Union Square Ventures led the round, with participation from SV Angel, Lerer Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Founder Collective, and Joshua Schachter.
Poole’s claim to fame is 4chan, and like that creation, Canvas is a message board. The difference is that Canvas is all about images and includes native tools for remixing memes at high speed. Poole has also talked about wanting to keep the community away from the darkest, most vile tendencies for which 4chan is infamous, starting with Facebook login as the only option for users to register.
Interestingly, 4chan and Tumblr, another Union Square investment, have had a series of tiffs over the past year or two, as the user communities exchanged accusations and DDOS attacks. While neither has a business model firmly in place, both are great examples of a networked of highly engaged users, which is what Union Square looks for in an investment. Canvas hopes to accomplish the same, but it remains to be seen if a community like that can spring up without the veil of anonymity.
Fred Wilson is clearly hoping things don’t stay too clean. He blogged that, “There aren’t any filters on Canvas. You see what is happening there in real-time. Sometimes the result is inspiring. Sometimes the result is provocative. I liken it to real world creative communities like the Lower East Side of NYC when I arrived here in the early 80s. The most interesting creativity comes from places that aren’t always manicured and sterile.”