«Software is eating the world»: this well-known phrase from the most famous Silicon Valley investor, Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, and especially co-founder of Netscape, the American company that pioneered World Wide Web with its Netscape Navigator web browser. He is right, Marco, because these little geniuses of computer science are constantly thinking about where to put the digital world, where we would rather need him to let go the digital grape. Two Britons have embarked on a mission to make another Marco envious (the one we hear a lot about these days): making the world happier and healthier. Let’s see … The funniest thing in history is that they just found investors with $ 25 million to help them keep doing the job.
The application (called Calm), since it is a smartphone app, was voted application of the year in 2017, and this had to be convincing to evaluate the company for an amount of $ 250 million. But above all: Calm announces it has reached more than 21 million users, and has generated $ 22 million in sales in 2017 (or $ 40 million, according to the media that tells their story, and they do not agree on this subject ). Finally a startup that raises money, but especially who wins! What a refresh … It will cost you $ 12.99 a month, $ 4.99 a month if you commit to the year and $ 299.99 for life. By the way, what does it do? Calm creates audio that addresses «the most important mental health issues of the modern era»: stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia. The app contains over 100 hours of audio for several days, with stories to bring you sleep, meditation lessons, nature sounds, videos and music for meditation. Finally, from there to pretending to become the mark of the 21st century, and becoming the «Nike of the mind», what does it mean? Last anecdote: One of the founders, Michael Acton Smith, was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) as part of the 2014 New Year’s Awards for Services to the Creative Industries, one of the most young people to have received the award. My Gosh!
We spoke last week about a big fundraiser in Silicon Valley for an investor, VC (venture capitalist). You think I groan when I read in the French press that Silicon Valley is dead. It’s the turn this week of Lightspeed Venture Partners to raise $ 1.8 billion with two funds. One for the left pocket, the other for the right pocket, no doubt. Lightspeed is known to have been one of Snapchat’s early investors. We lack details, but I am sure that the money will be well placed, and will make many happy and happy not being able to want to change the world too. The investor has so far made 624 investments in startups.
Coincidence calendar, another neighbor investor, General Catalyst, raises its ninth fund of $ 1.375 billion. His last raise dates back to 2016: it’s crazy how money flows in the Bay Area! The objective will be as much to serve the companies at the beginning of their activity as for the most confirmed ones. After Battery Ventures and its $ 1.4 billion in February and Sequoia which postulates for a set of funds worth $ 12 billion, it is to close the cackle to the pessimists of the corner which envisaged a fall of the activities of VC in full Trumpitude. Ben is missed, and it’s good for startups, go, let’s be positive.
You know the term «deadpool», in the language of startups? This is where companies that do not have the pleasures of a Chapter 11, which means a judicial recovery in French corporate law, but the sudden death, without passing through any rescue plan, will end. It happens every day next to you. For Shyp, it’s done. Based in San Francisco, created in July 2013, $ 62 million raised and gone up in smoke. Had to try, right? Shyp had tackled a very big problem: the delivery of the parcel in its first phase, that is to say the one that normally takes you to the nearest post office. Or the UPS or Fedex office, in the United States.
«In my opinion, I find it amazing how many of these startups do not really make money. And VCs are able to raise funds to finance these businesses that may not work in the long run. This is how Kevin Biggon, CEO of Shyp, spoke in 2016. He still believed in the potential of this market: «Consumers liked the product. Small businesses loved it. But what we have not done is build a sustainable business from day one. » Um yes ?! It must be said, with its fundraising, the startup had deployed its services in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. It’s called a big gap, and despite concentrating again on its base in the Bay Area, it was probably too late to give the illusion of profitability at a time when the balance seemed to be emerging. When an investor’s trust is lost, it is the write-off that takes shape in the accountancy of the latter, ie the registration of a provision for loss which signifies the beginning of the end. «The investment we received, all we got, was not justified in relation to the level of activity where the company was. And I think it really hurt us. Expectations were too high. We had a lot of capital. We had to spend it. And I do not think we were ready to do it. We grew up prematurely. «. Good conclusion from the CEO, for those who understand.
Hardware is hard
GoPro, which has been selling action cameras since 2004, is launching a new model that costs $ 200 in design similar to previous Hero 5 and 6 models. Performance in video capture and image quality is better, voice control and digital stabilization and sealing up to 30 feet have been added.
Yet, there is little (January 2018), GoPro announced the removal of 250 jobs, or 20% of its workforce, from 1,700 in 2016 to 1,000. These layoffs followed a series of poor results, due in particular to competition from cheaper products. GoPro also announced the stopping of its Karma drone and its withdrawal from the sector.
At the same time, Moment (no, I do not ramble, it’s the name of the startup) is launching products on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter a product that fits on your iPhone, your Samsung Galaxy or your Google Pixel to produce videos from another dimension. Why ask to develop cameras while the smartphone has proven for a long time its usefulness in this area. Just improve it a bit, and that’s what the merry band of creators named Moment offers. Based in Seattle, Moment is a collective of photographers, videographers, designers and engineers who «believe the world is better when you get lost and follow your goal.» Definitely. And so they offer this Moment Filmmaker Collection, consisting of an iPhone X battery case, anamorphic lens, a filter holder and a cardan counterweight. Their anamorphic lens makes it possible to develop a wider focal length in the horizontal direction and a longer focal length in the vertical. Phew. You can now capture a super-wide angle image with the inherent shallow depth of field and perspective of a telephoto lens. It’s the holy grail of cinema, with your smartphone. These good people raised more than a million dollars for this project, and perhaps more, the campaign ending April 20th. That said, the misadventures of Giroptic, other stars of Kickstarter and specialist camera, which ended in the gutter, reminds us that in the world of hardware, we must be careful in its predictions.
Telegram is not a business like any other. The Durov brothers, co-founders of the company, are at the origin of VKontakte, the social network of Russian origin, which they left to the hands of men close to Putin, after having claimed a certain mistrust and distrust with regard to the political regime of their country. They then embarked on their new venture: Telegram. Nikolai Dourov created a new communication protocol on which he was going to found Telegram, while his brother Pavel provided financial support for the project through his US-based Digital Fortress fund, which he created while still managing VK. The two brothers, opponents of Vladimir Putin, wanted to develop a way to communicate out of sight of the FSB, the Russian secret service responsible for internal security affairs. The creation of an account is similar to WhatsApp. It is possible to access his account and receive his messages on both mobile and computer, to create a pseudonym without disclosing his phone number. Nothing special in appearance, except that recently the two brothers decided to raise funds for the development of the company through an ICO. Blockchain, Bitcoin, ICO … The world of new technologies is becoming harder to follow and understand. An Initial Coin Offering (ICO) is a fundraising method that works by issuing digital assets that can be exchanged for cryptocurrencies during the start-up phase of a project. These assets, called «tokens» (digital tokens), are issued and exchanged using blockchain technology (a storage technology and information transmission without control organ). The ICO market is regularly singled out for its speculative tendencies that are sometimes considered irrational, for the relative legal vacuum in which it operates, and for the lack of transparency of certain operations. The Securities and Exchanges Commission of the United States declared on July 25, 2017 that Blockchain companies must obey the federal laws, which has the consequence of putting the ICO under surveillance, especially after the fraudulent theft committed during the transaction. Ethereum, a cousin of bitcoin (the other virtual currency of the cryptographic currency type). So the 2 brothers decided to go through an ICO to raise funds (rather than a traditional fundraiser), with a total of $ 1.7 billion raised to date (for details of this statement to the SEC, it’s this way). It will not please Putin, who is always looking for lice in their heads with Telegram. So with all these sub in addition, Vladimir …