Snapchat raises $13.5 million Series A led by Benchmark Capital

Snapchat, the hot startup that allows you to send and receive photos or videos that sort-of-maybe disappear afterward, has raised a $13.5 million Series A funding round led by Benchmark Capital’s Mitch Lasky, putting the company’s valuation at $60 million to $70 million. The company’s growth hasn’t exactly been controversy-free, but has demonstrated the intense interest right now surrounding messaging apps that transcend the basic SMS.

The funding news was first reported by The New York Times and TechCrunch and was confirmed to us by CEO Evan Spiegel on Friday evening. Om Malik reported in December that Snapchat was getting funded by Benchmark, the firm that was also one of the early backers of Instagram.

“People are looking to communicate in a real way,” Lasky told the New York Times on decision to invest.

The Times reported that Snapchat is now seeing 60 million photos or videos sent per day. Snapchat added video to its product in December, when it was seeing 50 million photos sent per day. Facebook has since rolled out Poke, its obvious competitor to the popular startup in December, but it’s unclear that Poke has really challenged Snapchat’s dominance in the disappearing content realm.

Update: On Saturday, Lasky published a blog post explaining that he’s joined the board of Snapchat and believes the company has real staying power among mobile users:

“We believe that Snapchat can become one of the most important mobile companies in the world, and Snapchat’s initial momentum — 60 million shared “snaps” per day, over 5 billion sent through the service to date — supports that belief. Snapchat’s ramp reminded us of another mobile app Benchmark had the good fortune to back at an early stage: Instagram.”