A major Wall Street CEO has ties to an Australian startup trying to take on Snapchat

A 2006 photo of Ken Moelis (left) at a charity fundraiser with actress Jennifer Love Hewitt and producer Jeffrey Kramer. Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Australian social media startup Bomb’d says it wants be the next Snapchat, but its founders have been trying to keep their identity a secret, along with the names of their investors.

However, it looks like some Wall Street heavy hitters are involved, including Ken Moelis, founder and CEO of Moelis and Company, a New York investment firm with a market value of $US1.4 billion and 17 global offices, including Sydney and Melbourne.

Moelis has a personal worth estimated at around $400 million.

Kenneth David Moelis, and Abhinav Gattani, his senior vice president, have minority stakes in Bomb’d, company records show.

The two jumped into the startup after it launched in late November last year, with an ASIC update on 11 January 2016 listing them as shareholders. It’s not clear how much they actually invested for a 0.5% stake, but it does coincide with the expansion of Bomb’d into the US last week.

Bomb’d is an “on demand” social media network where, rather than waiting for someone to post, you send a “bomb” to a friend with a 3-hour expiry to trigger. When the “bomb” is triggered by the person receiving it, their camera counts down from 7 and automatically takes a picture sent back to the “bomber”.

Business Insider has been attempting to confirm further details on the company since we first wrote about it last Thursday, but a number of people who appear to be involved in the business ceased responding to our questions.

Asked for updated details on subscriber numbers last week, a spokesperson for the company told Business Insider: “The team in the US are so inundated with Spring break and everything going on over there, they haven’t been able to provide a screenshot [of active subscriber numbers]”.

“I’m continuing to follow up with them, but not sure they are going to be super responsive on this given they are in the midst of a huge launch.”

Last Friday Business Insider revealed the previously anonymous people behind Bomb’d as who we revealed on Friday are duo Jayson Hornibrook and Markie Bryant.

The main backer of Bomb’d appears to be Jamie Olsen of CMB Capital. Olsen is the third director of Bomb’d, alongside Hornibrook and Bryant. CMB Capital lists the company under its portfolio on its website.

Olsen confirmed via phone his involvement, but said he did not want to discuss any details about Bomb’d or its investors.

Hornibrook and Bryant also run Peazie, an online marketing agency they founded in 2011. A fortnight ago, they announced it had snared third rounding funding from global investors including former HMV chairman and Emap boss Sir Robin Miller, along with a number of local media executives. Peazie CEO Thomas Mahon told Startup Smart the business had raised $2 million across three rounds.

Last week, Bomb’d claimed the platform was worth $10 million.

A screenshot of the Bomb’d account.

“Bomb’d received a $10 million post-money evaluation before even launching at Schoolies,” a spokesperson for the company said.

The startup also claimed it had 11,000 active users within three weeks of its launch last November. Snapchat had just 3000 in the 21 days after it launched but is now starting to threaten Facebook with its growing popularity.

Snapchat’s 8 billion daily video views have increased five-fold over the past 12 months. Bomb’d is trying to position itself for a similar growth path.

When Business Insider analysed Snapchat two years after launch, 400 million messages were changing hands daily, with an estimated 60 million installs and 30 million monthly active users.

Snapchat now has 100 million daily active users and the company is estimated to be worth more than $US19 billion. Meanwhile, Facebook, which grew out of college campuses, now has in excess of 1 billion users.

It’s those sorts of numbers that appear to have lured Bomb’d to the US, where it opened an office in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, last week and is targeting the 150,000 college students heading on Spring Break.

For now, the app is just for Apple phones, with an Android version set to be released shortly.

We’re still waiting to hear back from Moelis.

Now read: This Australian startup thinks it can beat Snapchat.

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