News August 20 2019
Mister Spex raises 65 million euros
Online optician Mister Spex has raised over 65 million euros in an equity round led by the Büll Family Office. With the fresh funding, the German company wants to accelerate its international growth and expand its retail network. Mister Spex already has 11 own stores across Germany, but the online optician is looking to expand its network of brick-and-mortar stores. For services like eye tests and glasses adjustments, Mister Spex already partners with over 500 local opticians in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden. More stores, internationalization and investing in logistics “The continued success achieved over the past year yet again underlines how our business model has changed the whole eyewear sector”, founder and co-CEO Dirk Graber said. “The current financing round will enable us to invest in further growth, and we have established three clear strategic priorities: further expansion of our retail store network, internationalization and additional investment into logistics. 11 physical stores, 10 online stores Büll Family Office, which led the equity round, has a long-standing experience in commercial real estate and founder Albert Büll says they will actively support Mister Spex with the expansion of their own store network. Currently, Mister Spex has online shops in ten countries across Europe.
News July 3 2019
Vimeo acquires Magisto, a video-creation automation company
Vimeo is acquiring Magisto, a provider of video-editing and production-automation services, aiming to bulk up its video tool set and expand its global customer base. Magisto, founded in 2009, claims to have 113 million users and that its platform has been used to create more than 450 million videos to date. The company had raised $22.5 million from investors including Qualcomm Ventures, SanDisk Ventures, and Horizons Ventures, according to Crunchbase. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Vimeo is paying an estimated $200 million for Magisto, Israeli business publication Globes reported Monday. Magisto has 75 employees with offices at its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., and offices in Ness Ziona, Israel. IAC-owned Vimeo expects the deal to close by the end of the second quarter. According to the companies, Magisto enables simple and intuitive short-form video creation for any platform. The combination of Magisto’s professional video creation capabilities with Vimeo’s suite of video hosting, distribution and monetization tools will extend Vimeo’s position as the industry’s most complete video-hosting solution, according to Anjali Sud, CEO of Vimeo. Most small businesses don’t have the tools, resources or expertise to produce the kind of video output expected across social media, Sud said in announcing the deal. “Magisto’s proprietary technology enables cutting-edge mobile apps and AI-powered editing tools which, combined with Vimeo’s scale and unmatched creator community, will empower more people to tell compelling stories through video,” she said. Following the acquisition, Vimeo said it will work with Magisto to develop new short-form video creation capabilities for the Vimeo platform. Magisto users also will be able to access Vimeo’s full suite of workflow tools, so they can deploy their videos across platforms with a click of a button and measure performance all in one place. Vimeo says it currently has around 90 million users in over 150 countries. For the fourth quarter of 2018, IAC reported that Vimeo grew paying subscribers 9% year over year, to 952,000. Vimeo’s revenue for the period increased 28%, to $44.2 million, with average revenue per user climbing 22%. Magisto is Vimeo’s third major acquisition, following its deal to buy video-on-demand platform provider VHX in 2016 and live-video hosting provider Livestream in 2017. Under Sud, who was named Vimeo’s CEO nearly two years ago, the company has doubled down on catering to its paying creator base with new features after axing its plans to intro a direct-to-consumer subscription VOD product. Once the acquisition closes, Magisto founder and CEO Oren Boiman and the rest of the company will be joining Vimeo. Boiman will continue to lead Magisto, reporting directly to Vimeo chief product officer and CTO Mark Kornfilt. In a statement, Boiman said Magisto “level[s] the playing field so that any business can move fast and compete in today’s video-first world. We’re thrilled to join Vimeo’s industry-leading platform, and to power their vision to make professional-quality video creation accessible to all.”
News July 2 2019
Contentsquare acquires Clicktale to create the definitive global leader in experience analytics
Combination Sets the Bar for Behavioural Insights Critical to Compete On Digital Experience Contentsquare, a leading digital experience insights platform trusted by brands like AccorHotels, Sephora and Walmart, announced today it has acquired Israel-based experience analytics company Clicktale, another leading digital experience platform, with clients such as Dell, RBS and T-Mobile. This combination creates the definitive global leader in the experience analytics market. The combined entity serves 600 enterprise clients around the world, including 30% of the Fortune Global 100, showing strong market presence in the U.S., Europe and Asia, and a global community of 12,000 users comprised of analytics, e-commerce, e-merchandising, content, marketing, UX and IT professionals. Just last week, Contentsquare announced the acquisition of Pricing Assistant, an innovative pricing optimisation and merchandising solution, making this the company's second acquisition. Contentsquare and Clicktale both go beyond traditional web analytics and heat-maps to give e-commerce and digital teams a granular understanding of customer behaviour on their web, mobile site and app. They collectively analyze nine trillion digital interactions every day to provide ready-to-use KPIs, benchmarks and recommendations many prestigious brands rely on to improve their digital conversions, revenue and loyalty. Together, Contentsquare and Clicktale provide the richest set of behavioural data, solutions and innovations to empower companies to understand how their digital experiences perform and prioritise the improvements that matter most. "The combination of Clicktale and Contentsquare heralds an unprecedented goldmine of digital data that enables companies to interpret and predict the impact of any digital element -- including user experience, content, price, reviews and product -- on visitor behaviour," said Jonathan Cherki, Founder and CEO of Contentsquare. "Increasingly, this unique data can be used to activate custom digital experiences in the moment via an ecosystem of over 50 martech partners. With a global community of customers and partners, we are accelerating the interpretation of human behaviour online and shaping a future of addictive customer experiences." While they share a common mission rooted in behavioural data science, solutions from Clicktale and Contentsquare are highly complementary. Clicktale's focus has been to help digital teams see and solve issues to reduce friction in the buying journey, while Contentsquare empowers the discovery of formerly unseen opportunities to improve conversion and optimise content performance. "Clicktale boasts a heritage of driving meaningful insights for its customers while forging a path in digital experience innovation," said Shlomi Hagai, CEO of Clicktale. "Contentsquare and Clicktale are exceptionally compatible. By combining our resources, we unlock the next level of digital experience success for our customers." Product as well as research and development teams are working aggressively to deliver a joint augmented platform combining the best functionalities of each product. Research and development resources will be integrated and expanded with teams working together in Paris and Tel Aviv. In total, the combined company now has more than 550 employees, with 170 people in R&D, including strong expertise in A.I. Since its founding, Contentsquare has experienced tremendous growth, including during the last year, in which it experienced 100% year over year growth; raised $60 million of Series C capital; and acquired Pricing Assistant. Contentsquare has raised $120 million over the last three years from Eurazeo, Canaan, Highland Europe and H14. Existing investors of Clicktale, including global investment firm KKR, will become investors in Contentsquare. About Contentsquare Contentsquare is a digital experience insights platform that helps businesses understand how and why visitors are interacting with their app, mobile and websites by analysing trillions of micro-behaviours -- such as hovers, scrolls and clicks -- each day. Contentsquare empowers every member of the digital team to easily measure the impact of their actions, and make fast and productive data-driven decisions to optimise the customer journey. Founded in 2012, Contentsquare has more than 400 clients worldwide, trusted by major brands such as AccorHotels, GoPro, Sephora, Walmart, and offices in London, Munich, New York, Paris and San Francisco. For more information, visit contentsquare.com. About Clicktale Clicktale tells the story of what your digital customers see and do, so you can help them achieve their goals. The leader in experience analytics, our platform and customer experience expertise transform millisecond-level behaviours and gestures into visualisations and insights worth millions of dollars. An enterprise-class platform, our architecture processes large, unpredictable workloads, and maintains stringent security and performance requirements. We offer deep integrations with over 50 vendors to extend the value of your marketing technology ecosystem. With a powerful combination of rich behavioural data and intuitive visualisations — enriched by layers of human intelligence — the world's most prominent brands rely on Clicktale to drive superior experiences on every digital channel.
News June 19 2019
Roli’s newest instrument, the Lumi, helps you learn to play piano
There has been a longstanding gulf between the consumption of music and the creation of it: not everyone has the time or money to spend on lessons and instruments, and for those in school, many music education programs have been cut back over the years, making the option of learning to play instruments for free less common. Still others have had moments of interest but haven’t found the process of learning that easy. Now we’re seeing a new wave of startups emerge that are attempting to tackle these issues with technology, creating tools and even new instruments that leverage smartphones and tablets, new hardware computing innovations and new software to make learning music more than just a pastime for a select few. In the latest development, London startup Roli is launching a new interactive keyboard called the Lumi. Part colourful, sound-sensitive lightboard and part piano, the Lumi’s keys light up in a colorful array to help guide and teach you to play music. The 11-inch keyboard — which can be linked with one or two more of the same to add more octaves — comes with an iPad app that contains hundreds of pieces, and the two are now selling for $249 alongside a new Kickstarter to help drum up interest and offer early-bird discounts. The Kickstarter campaign blew through its modest £100,000 goal within a short while, and some of the smaller tiers of pledges are now sold out. The product will start shipping in October 2019, the company says. As you might already know, or have guessed by the reaction to the kickstarter, this is not Roli’s first rodeo: the company has made two other major products (and variations on those two) before this, also aimed at music making. First came the Seaboard, which Roli described as a new instrument when it first launched. Taking the form factor of a keyboard, it contained squishy keys that let the player bend notes and create other effects alongside electronic-based percussive tapping, as you would do with a normal keyboard. Its next product was Blocks: small, modular light boards that also used colored light to guide your playing and help you create new and interesting sounds and beats with taps (and using a similarly squidgy surface to the Seaboard) and then mix them together. Both of these were interesting, but somewhat aimed at those who were already familiar with playing pianos or other instruments, or with creating and playing electronic music with synthesizers, FX processors and mixers. (Case in point: the people I know who were most interested in these were my DJ friends and my kids, who both play the piano and are a little nerdy about these things.) The Lumi is in a way a step back for Roli from trying to break new ground by conceiving of completely new instruments, with new form factors built with the benefits of technology and electronics in mind. But it’s also a step ahead: using a keyboard as the basis of the instrument, the Lumi is more familiar and therefore more accessible — with an accessible price of $249 to go along with that. Lumi’s emergence comes after an interesting few years of growth for Roli. The company is one of the select few (and I think the only one making musical instruments) to be retailed in Apple stores, and it’s had endorsements from some very high-profile people, but that’s about as mainstream as it has been up to now. The startup’s founder and CEO, American-born Roland Lamb, is probably best described as a polymath, someone who comes across less as a geeky and nervous or (at the other end) ultra-smooth-talking startup founder, and more like a calm-voiced thinker who has come out to talk to you in a break between reading and writing about the nature of music and teaching a small philosophy seminar. His background also speaks to this unconventional manner. Before coming to found Roli, he lived in a Zen monastery, made his way around the world playing jazz piano, and studied Chinese and Sanskrit at Harvard and design at the Royal College of Art. Roli has always been a little cagey about how much it has raised and from whom, but the list includes consumer electronics giants like Sony, specialist audio makers like Onkyo, the music giant Universal Music Group and VCs that include Founders Fund, Index and LocalGlobe, Kreos Capital, Horizons Ventures and more. It’s also partnered with a number of big names like Pharrell Williams (who is also an investor) in the effort to get its name out. And while it has most definitely made a mark with a certain echelon of the music world — producers and those creating electronic music — it has not parlayed that into a wider global reputation or wider accessibility. After bringing out instruments more for a high-end audience, the Lumi seems like an attempt to do just that. That seems to be coming at the right time. Services like Spotify and YouTube — and the rise of phones and internet usage in general — have transformed how we listen to music. We now have a much wider array of things to listen to whenever we want. On top of that, services like YouTube and SoundCloud furthermore are giving us a taste of creating our own music: using electronic devices, we can go beyond what might have been limitations up to now (for example, having never learned to play an instrument in the traditional sense) to get stuck into the craft itself. The Lumi is also tapping into another important theme, and that is of music being “good for you.” There is a line of thought that says learning an instrument is good for your mind, both if you’re a younger person who is still in school or indeed out of school and looking to stay sharp. Others believe it has health benefits. But realistically, these beliefs don’t get applied very often. Roli cites stats that say that only 10% of adults aged 18-29 have played an instrument in the past year, and of those that played as children, some 80% say they quit by age 14. Putting this together with the Lumi, it seems that the aim is to hit a wider swathe of the market and bring in people who might want to learn something like playing an instrument but previously thought it would be too much of a challenge. Roli isn’t the first — nor likely the last — company to reconsider how to learn playing the piano through technology. The Chinese company ONE Music Group makes both smart pianos with keyboards that light up, as well as a strip that you overlay on any keyboard, that also corresponds to an iPad app to learn to play piano. An American startup called McCarthy Music also makes illuminated-key pianos, also subscribing to the principle that providing this kind of guidance to teach muscle memory is an important step in getting a student acquainted with playing on a keyboard. The Lumi is notable not just because of its cost, but its size — the single, lightweight keyboards have a battery life of six hours and can fit in a backback. That said, Roli is hoping there will be a double audience to these in the longer term, bridging the divide between music maker and listener, but also amateur and pro. “Many people would love to play an instrument but worry that they don’t have the talent. Through our research, design, and innovation at ROLI, we’ve come to believe that the problem is not a lack of talent. Rather, instruments themselves are not smart enough,” said Lamb in a statement. “What excites me most is that the intelligence of LUMI means that there’s something in it for everyone. On one hand my own kids now prefer LUMI time to movie time. On the other hand, several of the world’s leading keyboard players can’t wait to use LUMI in the studio and on the stage.”
News June 12 2019
Bux raises additional $12.5m
as it gears up to launch
‘zero-commission’ investing app
Bux, the Amsterdam-based trading app that wants to make investing fun, has picked up an additional $12.5 million in new funding. Venture capital firms Velocity Capital and Holtzbrinck Ventures led the round, which also includes debt financing from Kreos Capital. It brings total funding to $35 million since being founded over five years ago. The newly raised capital will in part be used to launch “STOCKS,” the company’s planned app for “commission-free” investing. Bux is also disclosing that it has already spent some of the funding on the acquisition of online broker ayondo markets Limited (AML). Ayondo is the back-end provider the startup has been using to power its existing trading app BUX, while the merger arguably puts Bux squarely in the “neo-broker” territory and up against the likes of London-based Freetrade. “The acquisition of AML marks the first acquisition by BUX since its founding in 2014,” says the Dutch company. “To-date, the partnership with AML has allowed BUX to fully focus on creating an app that removes the complexity from the financial markets and simplifies the trading experience. It has allowed BUX to reach a base of over 2 million users in just over four years across 9 European countries”. By bringing its brokering in-house, Nick Bortot, CEO and founder of Bux, says it gives the company control over “the full value chain,” including a full brokerage license, back-end technology and operation. This, he believes, will enable Bux to service customers better going forward, and make it much easier to quickly launch new features. It’s a similar argument made by challenger banks that have built out their own banking stack, and echoes the thinking behind competitor Freetrade’s decision to acquire a broker license very early on. “We will additionally add 50% to our future revenues, as we will keep servicing other clients of AML,” adds Bortot. On track to launch this summer is STOCKS, Bux’s commission-free investing app that is quite different to the BUX app that offers a “gamified” trading experience and generates revenue per trade. “Our current trading app allows users to trade in CFDs on stocks, indices, forex and other ﬁnancial products for the short term with limited leverage,” explains the Bux CEO. “STOCKS will allow users to invest in companies for the mid to long term and allow them to invest in real shares commission-free [as opposed to CFD trading]. It will offer a unique combination of a simplified investing experience along with a vibrant community where they can follow, learn from fellow investors and explore new investing opportunities. This unique combination will be unlike anything that will be in the market once we are live”. Meanwhile, Revolut, the fast-growing banking app, is also planning to launch a free trading feature, although Bortot is sceptical about how successful that will be. “At this time Revolut has not yet launched their zero-commission trading service,” he says, [and] we are convinced that brokerage and banking are two completely different animals. It requires different skills, expertise, regulation, etc. “Therefore, similar to what we have seen in neo banking, we will see the rise of 2 to 3 pan-European neo brokers over the next few years (we anticipate 2 to 3 as a matter of scale across Europe). In order for these mobile brokers to be successful across the whole of Europe, and become true neo brokers, it will be crucial for them to be able to easily adapt their services to other languages, but also to different legal systems, local tax systems, local KYC regulations, etc. Europe is very fragmented and not a one size fits all geography”. To that end, Bux says its soon-to-launch STOCKS app currently has over 100,000 users on the waitlist. Netherlands and Germany will get access to the new app first, followed by a broader rollout across Europe “in the coming year”.
News May 31 2019
Francisco Partners, IGP to acquire live broadcasting startup LiveU for $200m
LiveU develops live broadcasting and streaming technologies negating the need for an outside broadcasting van, as the video is transmitted directly to the broadcaster's server over cellular networks. San Francisco-based private equity firm Francisco Partners Management LLC and Tel Aviv-based Israel Growth Partners (IGP) Ltd. have agreed to acquire Israel-based live broadcasting company LiveU Ltd. for approximately $200 million, the companies announced Tuesday. Francisco Partners and IGP are acquiring all of the company’s assets along with its co-founders and management team. Founded in 2007, LiveU develops live broadcasting and streaming technologies negating the need for an outside broadcasting van, as the video is transmitted directly to the broadcaster's server over cellular networks. LiveU has around 230 employees in Israeli central town Kfar Saba and in its North American office in New Jersey. According to the company, no cutbacks are expected as a result of the acquisition. LiveU has raised $50 million to date from investors including Canaan Partners, in which newly elected Knesset member Izhar Shay served as a managing general partner, Viola Ventures, Pitango Venture Capital, and Lightspeed Ventures.