It’s no secret that Johnny and Sammy Shahidi are two of Justin Bieber’s closest pals. We see the trio time and time again on social media traveling the world, hanging out with a close circle of friends at MGM boxing events, and spending time with Justin’s younger siblings Jaxon and Jazmyn.
Here is a recent photo from the Bieber family’s tropical vacation to Anguilla, St. Barts.
In case you were curious about what led Johnny and Sammy to become so close with Justin, we did a bit of digging around and stumbled upon some interesting information pertaining to the Shahidi brothers’ past, as well as their business partnerships with high-profile celebrities like Justin Bieber and Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Who are they?
Johnny and Sammy Shahidi are Iranian-American software engineers who grew up in sunny Southern California.
Johnny was recently named “the king of Twitter” by re/code due to anything he tweets being retweeted and favorited thousands of times.
at work w/ @sammy
— john shahidi (@john) February 23, 2015
Sammy is a UCLA graduate, Chief Operating Officer of Shots, and Johnny’s younger brother.
What do they do?
In January of 2010, the two brothers founded RockLive, a San Francisco based venture-backed mobile gaming company. Through their childhood friends Carson and Jordan Palmer (who went on to become NFL quarterbacks), RockLive began developing mobile games in partnership with some of the world’s most renowned athletes such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Usain Bolt, Mike Tyson, and Chad Johnson (formally Chad Ochocinco) from 2010 until the spring of 2012.
The numerous apps they created for pro athletes such as “MadChad“, an Ochocinco-themed iOS mobile game, quickly grew insanely popular earning them notoriety among pro athletes which ultimately helped them tap into the high-profile celebrity space.
How did they meet Justin Bieber?
In an interview with Bothsides TV, Johnny recalls meeting Justin through a mutual friend, celebrity jeweler Ben Baller. In the winter of 2011 while together at a hockey game, Ben alerted Johnny that despite being front row at the game, Justin couldn’t put down the extremely addictive Heads Up game featuring Cristiano Ronaldo that RockLive had created.
It was that same night at around 10:30PM that Justin called Johnny, alerted him that he was a super fan of all his games, and wanted to meet with him ASAP. Once the two met up in central Los Angeles, Johnny shared his vision of creating a positive community and Justin shared the game ideas that he had in mind. The two essentially hit it off, and within a couple years, Justin became an official investor in the Shots app.
What is “Shots”?
In May of 2013, the Shahidi brothers’ co-founded “Shots”, a mobile app dedicated entirely to selfies. In the same year, the two officially renamed the RockLive company to Shots.
Shots is financially backed by a number of popular recording artists such as Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa, but most notably by Justin Bieber and recently retired undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Interestingly enough, the story behind Shots is much more uplifting than it appears on its surface.
In response to the rise in adolescent depression and suicide cases in recent years stemming largely from social media, particularly the ‘Ask.fm’ social network, Johnny and Sammy wanted to create a positive community. The brothers’, who have both been bullied in their past, knew that with the help of celebrity influencers, they could use their brains to do something positive to help fight this epidemic.
How is this any different from already established photo sharing apps like Instagram you may ask?
The idea behind Shots is simple; embrace selfies and videos on a cyberbully-free platform.
Shots strategically tackled the growing phenomenon of endless threads of mean and hateful comments we see everyday on our loved one’s and favorite celebrities Instagram photos by not allowing users to comment on others photos, nor to have a publicly visible follower count. Fortunately, Shots found success in building a safe platform first, and worrying about the virality among its user base second; a strategy not many social apps have done before.
Fun facts about Shots
As of February of 2015, Shots has 5 million users (75% of which are female) and 50% of which use the app daily.
The average age of a Shots user is 16 years old.
To date, Shots has not generated any revenue. However, John Shahidi has noted that advertisers are eager to reach its young user base.
Shots recently raised $8.5 million in new funding led by Chinese VC firm WI Harper with hopes to expand into China in the near future.