March 26, 2023
9count, maker of Wink and new dating app summer, scores additional funding-featured

Prior to’s sale to Chinese internet firm ByteDance in 2017, Alex Hofmann worked as the company’s president, managing the North and South American regions for the TikTok forerunner. The startup executive’s second act saw the birth of 9count, the company behind successful apps including the mobile dating app summer (formerly Spark), the friend-finder Wink, and others.

Although it can be challenging for new consumer social apps to become widely used, investors have noticed some early momentum with 9count’s apps.

Consequently, the business today discloses new investment from a number of sources, including GGV Capital Redpoint, Signia, Greycroft, Progression, Crosscut Grishin Robotics, I2BF, and Waverley Capital. Only existing investors are a part of the $6 million extension of 9count’s prior $21.5 million Series A financing. The business has raised $27.5 million so far.

Particularly, the stats coming out of summer, which originally began as Spark back in May but subsequently underwent a redesign, thrilled 9count’s funders. Ages 18 and above are the target market for the dating app. Summer’s unique selling point, however, differs from conventional swipe-based dating apps in that it features a grid that shows many individuals at once. This experience is designed to more accurately resemble what it’s like to enter a busy place in real life, such as a bar or a party, for example.

In particular in our stronger countries, Hofmann said TechCrunch, “summer is maintaining customers better than the top applications.” “That just shows us that this product is headed in the correct direction.

The co-founder of 9count claims that only a few months after its introduction, summer already has over 300,000 monthly active users. Summer debuted at the top of the App Store in two regions. Hofmann asserts that based only on growth measures, it is the fastest-growing dating app to appear on the market since Bumble’s launch in 2014. Current investors wanted to double down on the app’s growth when he presented them with these numbers.

After summer comes on Android the following month, the business intends to utilize a sizable chunk of the additional money to support marketing initiatives. This will include a few live events in Los Angeles, the startup’s home city. Although Hofmann said they haven’t yet decided on the precise number of employees they intend to hire, 9count will also utilize the funding to grow its 35-person staff.

9count, maker of Wink and new dating app summer, scores additional funding-1

Investors seem to be more interested in the business model 9count promotes than simply placing a wager on summer’s success alone.

Hofmann and an accomplished product manager named Joe Viola founded 9count in January 2019, but the company isn’t only dedicated to creating and enhancing one particular app. Instead, it is simultaneously co-developing a number of consumer goods, making adjustments based on data and user input, and cross-promoting the applications in its portfolio. The business has also created the motivating app Everland, the social arcade app Juju, the creator-fan connection app Popstream, and other apps in addition to Wink and Summer.

Hofmann is acquainted with this multi-product strategy as a result of his employment at

The team there ran four distinct products, including,, its live-streaming rival, and two less well-known ones. In Asia, where digital giants frequently run numerous businesses, like Tencent, Alibaba, and TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, Hofmann points out that this approach is well-liked.

9count uses a combination of A/B testing, data analysis, and user feedback to test and improve its products in order to reap the benefits of this approach. It also maintains a “labs” segment where it may test out new concepts to see if anything works, and it organises employee hackathons.

According to Hofmann, “the learnings we have from launching new goods are really wonderful.” We may include them into already existing goods or create them as a stand-alone product.

9count, maker of Wink and new dating app summer, scores additional funding-2

In fact, the co-founder claims that it was this approach that inspired the business to create summer in the first place.

He claims that some Wink users had inquired about using the social app for dating. However, Wink also serves kids between the ages of 13 and 17 (who, it should be noted, are not permitted to contact with adult users). Even if some of the older users desired it, the app’s concentration on a younger demographic makes it inappropriate for online dating. The team decided to separate the feature request into its own, brand-new product, the app that is now known as summer, as a result of this.

As of right now, 9count asserts that its brand-new dating app has amassed more than 500,000 downloads, more than a million registered users, and more than 300,000 monthly actives. According to Hofmann, this places it as the sixth most used dating app in the United States and the fourth in Canada. According to Sensor Tower, an app analytics company, Hofmann’s claim is accurate based on App Store and Google Play downloads for July 2022 (TechCrunch validated this).

Additionally, Wink, 9count’s most popular app to date, allegedly has over 2 million monthly active users.

According to the business, over 10 million people are currently using 9count’s app portfolio as a whole. According to Sensor Tower statistics, the total number of downloads for all of their products that have been released to date exceeds 16 million. With over 15 million cumulative downloads, Wink accounted for the greatest portion of this.

9count, maker of Wink and new dating app summer, scores additional funding-3

Hans Tung, managing partner at GGV Capital, a 9count board member and early investor in, stated that Alex and Joe were “building a next-generation social application company at 9count, consolidating disparate products under one banner, with one team to find what works for the next generation.” “We’re thrilled to collaborate with them to bring their vision to life,” he continued. “The team at 9count is primed to enjoy significant growth within their user base.”

The latest investment is another another indication of VCs’ greater readiness to support the sometimes challenging consumer social app business.

Facebook and Meta’s other products have historically been almost tough to dethrone from the top of the App Store. However, TikTok has shown that Facebook’s dominance in the market may be waning. Users of Gen Z are losing interest in the Meta-owned social network as well as their frustration with Instagram’s clutter and ongoing attempt to impose video on them through Reels.

Younger users today are experimenting with a variety of social applications, including the top-rated BeReal, Locket, which offers home screen widgets, and Yubo, a video chat app that competes with Wink. It should come as no surprise that these apps have attracted VC funding. For instance, BeReal’s valuation after its Series B this past spring was $600 million. This month, Locket said that company had closed on $12.5 million in two seed stage financing. And in its 2020 Series C, Yubo made $47.5 million. Despite being an invite-only app, Pinterest’s brand-new experimental Shuffles app has shot to the top of the “Lifestyle” charts in the App Store.

Younger users’ thirst for applications that provide them with “niche” experiences, in Hofmann’s opinion, is what’s driving this trend.

“[9count’s team] looked at the industry and discovered that, in our perspective, there were only truly two large consumer social goods in the previous 10 years. Discord is one, and is another. We came to the conclusion that creating products that connect people might not require a one-product strategy, but rather a multi-product strategy,” the co-founder said. “We notice a tendency toward narrow tastes and aspirations. We came to the conclusion that relatively few items can satisfy a bigger audience and make them happy,” says Hofmann.

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