×

Hooked, a celeb-backed startup that produces serialized “chat-fiction” for smartphones, is going big with its first long-form story on Snapchat.

“Dark Matter” is a five-chapter sci-fi mystery thriller set in present-day Silicon Valley. It premieres Friday (Oct. 26) in Hooked’s Publisher Story on Snapchat’s Discover Page, with subsequent chapters released daily through Oct. 30.

The multimedia series, produced for Snapchat’s vertical orientation, blends the chat-fiction format — presented as a text-messaging thread — with custom illustrations and a voiceover “reminiscent of 1940s radio dramas,” according to Hooked. “Dark Matter” is longer than Hooked’s usual fare: The pilot clocks in at about 4,700 words, with 32,000 words total for the series. Most Hooked chapters are around 1,000 words each.

“Dark Matter” was penned by Hooked staff writer Elyse Endick. The story follows Tasneem (Taz) Singh, a South Asian American senior at Stanford, who seeks to uncover the mystery behind her twin sister’s sudden death and, in the process, discovers she has a secret power that allows her to interact with paranormal entities — or “dark matter.” Each chapter follows a “monster of the week” format and can be consumed as a standalone experience; a broader narrative arc spans all five installments.

Separately, Snap earlier this month unveiled an expansive slate of original scripted shows and docu-series, as it looks to boost user engagement with premium-produced, TV-like material. On Thursday, Snap reported 186 million daily active users for Q3, a decline of 2 million from the prior quarter, but beat Wall Street financial expectations.

Hooked has a standard revenue-sharing deal with Snap for “Dark Matter” for advertising sold against the series. The series will be available in seven languages on Snapchat: English, Arabic, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese and Norwegian.

Founded in 2014, Hooked is bankrolled by a laundry list of entertainment and sports celebs as well as Hollywood players. It has raised $15 million from investors including Ashton Kutcher, Chernin Group, Charles King, Greg Silverman, Jamie Foxx, Snoop Dogg, Mariah Carey, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and LeBron James.

Hooked said it plans to release additional seasons of “Dark Matter” over the next year. Co-founder and CEO Prerna Gupta labeled the “Dark Matter” launch “a pivotal moment for our company, as we redefine storytelling for the Snapchat generation and deliver even deeper, more compelling narratives to our rapidly growing user base.” Prior to Hooked, she worked at Smule after it acquired Khush, the developer of music app Songify, of which she was co-founder and CEO.

To date, Hooked has released over 1,000 original stories that have been read by 100 million people worldwide across its app and Snapchat combined. The company claims to have over 40 million monthly unique users, with 60% returning to read its content at least twice weekly. One of the company’s most popular stories is thriller “Where Is She,” which has been read over 16 million times across platforms.

The San Francisco-based company (whose website is hooked.co) is not to be confused with another startup named Hooked (hookedapp.com), which offers special offers from college-town eateries.