February 19, 2013 08:00 ET

Celly Raises $1.4 Million to Bring Emergent Social Networks to Families, Schools & Communities

New Service Enables Groups to Create Networks That Mirror Real-Life Communication

PORTLAND, OR--(Marketwire - Feb 19, 2013) - Celly today announced $1.4 million in funding led by Oregon Angel Fund (OAF) with participation from Upstart Labs, Portland Seed Fund, and individual investors. The investment follows Celly's rapid adoption by organizations that require a more adaptable alternative to today's social networking tools.

"We're excited to be investing in Celly," says Drew Smith, Partner of the Oregon Angel Fund. "They have great momentum and built a novel service that resonates with group communication needs. They have recognized the limitations of existing social networks and designed a compelling product that meets the needs of workgroups, classrooms, community organizations and groups of friends and families."

Unlike existing mobile social networking platforms, Celly is based on a decentralized architecture. This allows for instant, flexible, and scalable communication between people and groups.

"Our key insight is that, in the real world, social networking is emergent," explains CEO Russell Okamoto. "Groups need to form spontaneously, scale gracefully, and combine as interdependent networks."

This emergent phenomenon is common whether it's organizing students in a classroom, blocks in a neighborhood, departments in a business, or activists at a rally. Celly mirrors this evolution. Organizers start lightweight, private social networks, known as "cells," that members can join in seconds from any device.

Cells grow to any size while maintaining coherent group discussions since moderators keep conversations on-topic and free of chat storms, oversharing, and cyberbullying threats. Finally, cells act as social building blocks that stand-alone or link together to form networks that adapt to the size, shape, and sharing policies of any organization. This keeps data secured in private, autonomous groups, yet empowers teamwork across organizations.

Rapid Adoption

Since launching last fall, students, educators, coworkers, and community members have embraced Celly to create more than 20,000 cells. Schools use the service for teacher-student and parent-teacher communications. The City of Portland leverages Celly to keep citizens informed of important activities related to gang activity and neighborhood safety. Hospitals use Celly to communicate two-way messages and emergency alerts. The service also brings together aid workers and community members as part of the Hurricane Sandy Relief effort, making it easier to know where supplies and volunteers are needed.

New iPhone App

Today, Celly is also announcing the availability of an iPhone application. The free app brings a rich experience to iPhone users, while retaining all the flexibility and control of Celly's platform:

  • Easy: Organizers can create cells with one click and invite members to participate from any device that supports SMS or web.

  • Flexible: In addition to basic group messaging, members can send polls, alerts and track topics to share and organize information.

  • Adaptable: Cells can connect to and communicate with one other, reflecting the complexity and flexibility of our 'real-world' social relationships.

Responding to customer demand for international support, both Android and iPhone applications can now be used outside the U.S. (SMS available only in the U.S.).


Celly is looking to expand its team. According to CTO Greg Passmore, "We have many exciting technical challenges ahead of us -- from massive scale to beautiful user interfaces. Our ambition is to build the smallest tool that can have the biggest impact on the most scenarios in the shortest amount of time. We're seeking team members who are motivated by difficult, game-changing challenges, and who appreciate our vision of using software for social good."

About Celly

Celly is a decentralized social networking platform that enables people and organizations to create "emergent social networks" accessible from any mobile device. Based in Portland, OR, Celly powers schools, governments, communities, teams, and political movements around the world. Get started with Celly at, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and our blog.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Lindsay Stril
    VOXUS PR for Celly
    Email Contact
    (253) 444-5443