With the future of VR unfolding at the moment, many have clearly seen the use of the technology playing out on gaming computers and home consoles. Starbreeze, a company based in Stockholm, Sweden similarly sees the potential of VR. But instead of going for 3D game engines like most companies, the startup has, on the other hand, decided to pursue what fits into their mode of production – that is taking VR on a high-end headset, designed for amusement parks and IMAX theaters, in what known today as the StarVR headset.
Consolidating the company’s status in the VR scene, this week the company has made some major new acquisition – announcing last Tuesday that it has purchased Nozon, a Belgium-based visual effects studio for 7.1 MEUR, which roughly translates to about US$7.78 million. The deal was closed with 4.6 MEUR (approximately US$5.05 million) in cash with the remaining 2.5 MEUR as newly issued Starbreeze B-shares, worth about US$ 2.74 million. Additionally, both parties have also agreed on a capped ten-year earn out for Nozon founders based on PresenZ future financial performance.
Looking at Nozon, it is a VFX and 3D animation company that produces feature films, where among some of the company’s portfolios include animated feature films such as Asterix, the Mansion of Gods, and Minuscule which has won the César for Best Animated Movie in 2015. Yet essentially, the company’s emphasis is on developing VR cinematic using an in-house tool, PresenZ which was the tool that ultimately led to this partnership between Starbreeze and Nozon.
Introduced in 2015, PresenZ is a revolutionary technology, known for its function to be able to deliver high-quality blockbuster computer graphics (CG). Its main feature, however, lies in its ability to create an interactive parallax in virtual reality which allows viewers to move their heads with a six degrees of freedom in a pre-rendered animated video. Essentially, it enables a degree of positional tracking and when being in a movie scene. In other words, the tool facilitates a better immersion experience. Just imagine looking down the rabbit hole with Alice in Wonderland.
“PresenZ technology for multiple virtual reality applications will allow for room scale scanning and virtualization, and high-quality computer graphics rendering at an almost movie-level polygon count. The technology’s parallax capabilities will greatly complement the high fidelity of the StarVR HMD with its 210-degree field of view,” said Bo Andersson Klint, the CEO of Starbreeze.
Besides that, Starbreeze‘s immersive virtual reality cinematic experiences are scheduled to be out later in the year. As the company has already partnered with IMAX to deliver new cinematic video content to location-based pods in movie theaters and shopping malls. On the same vein, with Facebook announcing its VR social networking experience last month and EXA Global, the first VR theme park in Southeast Asia slated to launch early next year, the world is becoming lively with virtual reality and its endless possibilities.
“The future of VR is undefined but it is easy to imagine with this technology, where a space can be scanned and rendered in high-quality CGI. And with Nozon joining Starbreeze family, it is possible to imagine with the applications it houses that you could render a space like the Louvre in Paris or Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, and provide interactive guided tours.” the CEO of Starbreeze further adds.
For more information, please visit http://www.starbreeze.com/
By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media
According to a report by Bloomberg, instant messaging app, Snapchat is reportedly planning to raise a targeted amount of US$4 billion in its initial share sale.
With this, the sale may value Snapchat higher than its initial US$20 billion valuation that it has received in its earlier funding this year, at an amount of US$25 to US$35 billion. But no final decision nor details has been made public, thus the size of the IPO may still be subjected to changes.
But despite the variations that may occur in the lead up to an IPO, the company which recently has changed its corporate name to Snap Inc. is in the process of preparing filings for a listing. It aims to sell their shares in the first quarter of next year. Earlier this month, the company has also confirmed that Snap has hired Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs to lead its IPO.
Additionally, as due to the company’s revenue which is less than US$1 billion, the company plans to file their IPO documents with US Securities and Exchange Commission confidentially. Snap Inc. declined to comment regarding these speculations.
But from previous records, the Los Angeles-based company after its last funding round held in May, has already reached a private market value of US$18 billion. With the ongoing plan of IPO, this would mean that Snap Inc would mark the highest social media company since Twitter Inc. sold its shares in November 2013.
By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media
Carousell, a mobile commerce platform for the operations of classifieds marketplace, after the recent acquisition of Malaysia-based personal safety app “Watch Over Me”, has announced again yet another acquisition. This time, it’s a Singapore-based used car marketplace known as Caarly.
Founded in 2014, Caarly’s operations are similar to Carousell wherein it is a mobile application which facilitates online trading. But the company, different from Carousell, instead focuses on cars. That is the application enables car dealers and individual sellers to use a smartphone app to take photos and list their cars on Caarly’s online marketplace. The enterprise currently boasts a partnership with more than 200 car dealers in the city-state.
The reason behind this acquisition is because the Singapore-based peer-to-peer marketplace noticed that there was an increase in users who were looking to sell and buy cars on the site.
Siu Rui Quek, the co-founder and CEO of Carousell, further elaborates the motive underpinning the acquisition, saying that “Carousell has grown over the last 4.5 years, and so have our users. Over 50 per cent of them in Singapore are now over 25 years old, and have significantly more purchasing power. We’ve seen how their evolving needs have resulted in more listings and greater demand in higher value verticals like cars.”
The terms of the deal are undisclosed. But the entire Caarly team will join Carousell, being positioned in the car classified vertical. Both applications will proceed as normal, as existing Caarly users can continue to use the Caarly platform to list their inventory with a simple 1-tap post to cross post to the car category on Carousell.
Acquiring Carrly will help Carousell improve its used car classifieds as well as bring car dealerships into its platform. The startup has plans to start releasing their used car listing from dealers in Singapore and eventually into its other markets. To date, the platform is currently available in 14 cities.
Additionally, Carousell has also made an announcement on Thursday that it has appointed former PropertyGuru managing director, Winnie Khoo as the general manager for its Singapore and Malaysia operations as well Rakesh Malani who is the former CFO of the Indian adtech firm Komli Media to join the team.
With this new development, of acquisition and new hires, it seems that the mobile classifieds platform strategy is moving towards implementing a sustainable monetization model.
For more information, please visit https://sg.carousell.com/
By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media
A great cup of coffee can boost productivity. It is also the stuff in which team culture are made of. Thus, having a great cup of coffee in the office is always a good investment for both employers and employees. However, the purchase of an expensive coffee machine though exciting at first has always ended up with the machine sitting there to collect dust. People just get bored if it is not with the right coffee taste.
A Singapore startup founded by Eugene Chen and Keyis Ng on May 25 intends to change just that. By opening a new web and mobile platform – coffee lovers can shop for Australia’s best coffee beans, freshly roasted with just a click. This startup is known as Cafebond and it targets Singapore growing market for specialty coffee, aiming to be the supplier to this demand by making specialty coffee more accessible.
To date, Cafebond has made accessible the taste of coffee from 14 of Melbourne’s top cafes-cum-roasters, such as Small Batch Roasting Co and Code Black Coffee Roasters. On another list, the startup also include deliveries from World Barista Champion Sasa Sestic’s Roastery and Cafe as well as Ona Coffee in Canberra.
Cafebond.com offers a web and mobile platform that crosses geographical borders as it connects coffee lovers with the best coffee brands in the world. It aims to bring better coffee tasting experience to office workers, so that they can taste and buy unique specialty coffee beans and blends from roaster-owned cafes from London to Melbourne, Singapore to Beijing, in one easy checkout process. But above all, these coffee beans are sold at an affordable price.
“What Cafebond does is bring the shipping cost down to make these beans more affordable,” said co-founder and CEO Keyis Ng, “Because to ship a 250g bag of beans from Australia to Singapore using DHL or TNT will easily cost up to S$30 to S$40 dollars, which is more than the cost of the beans,” Ng shared, explaining that the flat delivery fee regardless of the size of the order, is made possible using a consolidation shipping algorithm.
The startup is invested by Quest Ventures, China’s leading venture capital firm and is incubated with Infocomm Investments, the investment subsidiary of Singapore government’s tech agency IMDA (Info-communications and Media Development Authority).
Cafebond.com is also one of the four startups hand-picked by Microsoft Singapore to be co-located within its Asia Pacific Headquarters and is currently part of DBS Hotspot 2016, the startup support programme by DBS Bank which is one of Asia’s largest bank.
For more information, please visit https://www.cafebond.com/
By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media
Looking to redefine the standard of living, California-based HOMMA is a startup that sets out to innovate our concept of housing. It aims to craft the vision of a new lifestyle and reimagine our daily living. But for the sake of a better picture, just think of it as “a housing-version of Tesla”.
To accomplish this, HOMMA looks to create an AI-based software and service that will connect homes. The startup is founded by Takeshi Ted Homma who has been an entrepreneur since his student days working with the early internet doing web design and development. Following this, he also played an active role at Sony and Rakuten. It is later in 2015 that he made the decision to quit and pursue this startup, named after himself, HOMMA.
“It took 100 years for the telephone to become the IPhone. 100 years later and Ford Cars have evolved into Tesla. But what about homes? Have they changed in the course of a 100 years?” Takeshi Homma, the founder of HOMMA explained in an interview with The Bridge, “Actually, I really thought someone would appear and solve this problem, but no one showed up so I’m going to do it.”
Thus, with the motto written on their website, “Redefining our standard of living,”, the startup aims to work on an ambitious project that will create a new vision of the future with regards to the necessities of life. Additionally, they also aim to solve the connectivity issue that arises due to devices from different manufacturers and multiple apps for different purposes.
The startup recently launched their seed round funding on October 24. The seed round was participated by Mistletoe, B Dash Ventures, Genuine Startups, 500 Startups Japan, East Ventures, Draper Nexus and architectural firm KMDW. On the other hand, individual investors included Hiroshi Mikitani, the co-founded and CEO of Rakuten, Tomohito Ebine, the founder of Opt, Shintaro Yamada , CEO of Mericari, Hirokazu Mashita, founder and director of M&S Partners, Hiroaki Yasutake, Kotaro Chiba, co-founder of Colopl, Hollywood-based film producer Masi Oka.
For more information, please visit http://hom.ma/
By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media