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Makers of Chat Fiction App Yarn Raise $13 Million, Add Original From ‘Saw’ Writers

Mammoth Media, the company behind the Wishbone and Yarn mobile apps, has raised a $13 million Series A round of funding led by Greylock Partners, with participation of Los Angeles-based Mammoth incubator Science Inc. The company wants to use the money to further invest in mobile storytelling.

Yarn is a mobile app that tells stories through text message exchanges, essentially allowing viewers to become voyeurs and read in on the chats between a story’s protagonists. These stories are enhanced with video streams and other media, and area increasingly featuring recognizable talent: Last week, Mammoth debuted a new series called “Hack’d” on Yarn that features Musical.ly influencer Kristen Hancher.

The show, which is all about a hacker attacking a social media star, has been produced by some of the writers of the “Saw” franchise. The company also has projects with Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez and Liam Hemsworth in the works. Yarn users have read 36 million stories since the app launched last year, and are currently reading 1.6 billion episodes per week.

Mammoth Media is defining this new generation of mobile media,” said Greylock Partners partner Josh Elman, who also joined Mammoth’s board of directors, in a statement. “It doesn’t look like books, TV, or movies, it is something different. This new form of media is mobile first, where users touch and interact with the content as they experience it.”

Yarn has also been working with brands including Skype to develop sponsored shows, including one titled “Still Searching” that debuted last week.

Perhaps this type of sponsored content will help the app with one of its biggest problems thus far: An over-reliance on paid subscriptions that seems to turn off numerous prospective users. Browse through Google Play’s reviews for Yarn, and you’ll find countless 1-star reviews complaining that Yarn won’t let users watch videos, or even browse the app’s show directory, without committing to a paid subscription that runs anywhere from $2.99 per week to $39.99 per year.

A spokesperson told Variety that new users of the app would get access to the first episode of  “Hack’d” for free until the end of the week.

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