Baobab Studios is a startup that creates VR animation. It is currently working on INVASION! and ASTEROIDS!, two of its top VR application which are available on all major VR platform. Previously, the startup caught media attention when it was announced that their 6-minute VR animated short, “Invasion!” was going to be made into a feature-length animated film by Hollywood production studio Roth Kirschenbaum.
INVASION! is an award-winning VR animation about two aliens and their plans to take over the Earth, until they encounter a pair of adorable bunnies, in which the player will be one of them. The animation is created by the founder of Baobab Studios and the director of Madagascar, Maureen Fan as well as narrated by American actor, Ethan Hawke.
Today, the company once again make the headlines as they made an announcement that it has ended its Series B round with a funding worth US$25 million. The round was led by Horizon Ventures with participation from Twentieth Century Fox, Evolution Media Partners, China’s Shanghai Media Group, Youku Global Media Fund and LDV partners.
Existing investors such as Comcast Ventures, HTC and Samsung has also contributed to the funding. With the end of this round, the company has become one of the largest single funding rounds for a virtual reality creative studio to date with an accumulated total funding of US$31 million.
The new funding will be used to expand its executive team whereby Larry Cutler, the Pixar’s technical director for Toy Story 2 and Monsters Inc, will join the team as the chief technology officer (CTO) to help lead and produce great content.
Baobab Studios aims to create VR animations that can inspire a sense of wonder through compelling stories, believable characters, immersive worlds, beautiful art, and high-quality animation, inspiring people to dream.
“We believe that the story should always come first and that the technology should work to serve the story,”said Maureen Fan, the CEO of Baobab Studios
But this is just only part of the VR entertainment industry, as VR continues to expand its reach into gaming experiences and even theme parks. The Void from United States, Zero Latency from South Australia, and the upcoming EXA Global that is slated to open in Malaysia early next year has all announced that VR is here to transform our reality. Then again, VR is more than just a new way for hardcore video gamer to immerse in all the technical gizmos that these entertainment park can wow users with, what matters at the end of the day is also great content.
“We are in the midst of a virtual reality revolution with the technological advancements that provides us the opportunity to develop immersive experiences and encapture audiences like never before.” says Daniel Tan, the CEO of Next Unicorn Ventures.
For more information, please visit http://www.baobabstudios.com/
By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media
Since 2008, Glassdoor has given workers a platform to discreetly share information about their salaries and work environment. After collecting user-submitted data for eight years, Glassdoor now has 33 million monthly users and an amassed reviews, ratings and salary information for around 600,000 companies in 190 different countries.
Harnessing the data that it has collected, from its salary database and company particulars, Glassdoor has now introduced a tool called “Know Your Worth”. And as its name suggests, the tool is built in order to help people determine their worth in compensation.
Furthermore, talking about salaries can be quite uncomfortable and difficult for some which is the very reason why Glassdoor has released this tool. Besides that, the aim is also to create the most transparent jobs and recruiting marketplace.
The tool is free and operates using machine learning algorithms to analyze factors such as job title, experience, company and location in order to provide the user a chart that shows the user’s value in context of their local labor market worth. Moreover, the users’ market values and pay ranges are tracked and updated every week.
Additionally, this tool benefits employers as well, as job seekers will more likely have a realistic salary expectation. This salary transparency, in turn can also translate into better recruitment and higher retention rates.
“The goal is to help people understand fair pay, period,” Scott Dobroski, community expert at Glassdoor said, “Also, it can help eliminate existing pay gaps, whether it’s through gender or ethnicity. Moreover, when you know what you’re walking into and you understand and believe you’re getting paid fairly, employees tend to stick around longer ”
Meanwhile, the late-stage startup brings in revenue by offering paid products and services for employers, such as job listings that targets job seekers who match certain variables like skill level and experience. To date, the company currently has about 4400 employers using its paid services.
As Glassdoor continues to invest in machine learning, its services will improve. The company, currently houses more than 15 data scientists and staff. It also received US$ 40 million in a recent Series H round of funding, bringing its total funding to US$200 million with investors including Google Capital, T. Rowe Price, Sutter Hill Ventures and Tiger Global.
For more information, please visit https://www.glassdoor.com/index.htm
By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media
Boarding the virtual reality shinkansen is a Tokyo-based startup known as VRize. But this company is not into the VR world of entertainment or social networking, instead the startup is running an ad business that utilizes the virtual reality space. More specifically, VRize is providing a 360-degree VR ad network for enterprises.
Today, in addition to VRize Ads, the startup has also announced the launch of another new service, VRize Video along with the news that it has secured a round of seed funding from Japanese investment firm B Dash Ventures and Japanese web marketing company Speee. The amount of the funding has not been disclosed, but according to sources, it seems that the company has raised a six-digit sum in terms of US dollars.
To date, VRize is working on two applications, one being VRize Ads, an application launched earlier in August which produces VR ads that can be distributed in three different formats including 360-degree video ad, over 150-inch large-screen feel video ad and 3DCG video ad.
On the other hand, VRize Video is a content management system for VR which will allow companies to develop VR applications, that is including in-app video clips for several VR platforms such as Oculus, PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, GearVR and Daydream.
In addition to the distribution of VR apps including 360-degree and 2D video clips, VRize also plans to improve the system by adding several other features such as live-streaming and in-app analysis.
VR is on the rise, with Mark Zuckerberg latest keynote offloading many considered a “crazy demo” of VR, especially taking photos in an virtual reality and share it on “real-reality”, and Malaysia’s Havson Group is on it’s way to building the first ever VR theme park in Malaysia, who has recently won South East Asia Champion at Create@Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) Cloud Startup Contests, the world is seeing a revelation of new possibilities.
“The lines between virtual reality and “real” reality is getting blurred”, says Daniel Tan, CEO at Next Unicorn Ventures.
VRize is a startup that provides VR advertising network, a solution that will help VR content producers and game developers to better monetize. The idea behind this startup was inspired by Immersv, operating on a similar business overseas. Besides that, VRize also aims to move the ad networks in the web field to the VR field. In any case, VRize is the first and true VR ad network in Japan, providing VRize Ads and VRize Video services. For more information, please visit http://vrize.io/
By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media
Eyeing the huge unexplored niche and opportunity in child development space, many entrepreneurs in India have developed different kind of apps to cater the needs of new parents. Here are some of the most innovative startup which allow parents to learn about their child’s development, that is addressing this market are BabyBerry, Tinystep, mycity4kids and Parentlane.
BabyBerry: BabyBerry is a pregnancy and parenting app, all rolled in one. It helps parents to keep track of their baby’s overall growth and development by providing a 360 degree experience, covering things such as vaccination charts, growth milestones, and also convenient features such as the ability to buy evaluated and recommended products and services.
Tinystep: Founded in September 2015 by IIT-Kanpu alumnus Suhail Abidi, Tinystep is a platform that connects parents with a community of parents as well as child services providers. In a recent news this Spetember, Tinystep has raised approximately US$501k from Flipkart.
mycity4kids: Vishal Gupta founded mycity4kids in 2010, an online marketplace where parents can search for information related to kids services, from services for throwing kids parties to venues for family entertainment. This startup has raised US$3 million funds in its Series A round held earlier this year.
ParentLane : Parentlane is an app that leverages data science and machine learning to map child development and deliver personalized recommendation to the parent community engaging on the platform. This app mainly focuses on child development up till the age of 8 years old.
Hence, it is undeniable that social media covers almost every aspect of one’s daily life, that is including the connections and the sharing of experiences of being a parent.
With children product and services market in India exceeding US$20 billion, growing at a CAGR of at least 20 percent and parents using such services to obtain parenting tips, the growth of startups in this domain are very optimistic.
Organization: Unicorn Media
Tokyo’s Uzabase, the startup behind the corporate profile database Speeda and business news update curating app NewsPick has recently announced its IPO application has been approved by the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE).
Founded in 2008, Uzabase is currently working on two applications. The startup’s first app, Speeda was invented by its founding members who are bank investments experts. The app is designed to collect news update and business analysis from think tanks and provides them to finance businesses.
On the other hand, Newspick is an intuitive business news reading and sharing application. It serves the purpose of news curation and was offered back in September, 2013. The company has set NewsPick apart from other competitors through only curating news topics by notable economic news outlet.
Hence, from 21st October onward, the startup will be listed on the TSE Mother Market on Friday. Additionally, the company plans to offer 543, 000 shares for public subscription and selling 114,000 shares in over-allotment options for a total of 193,000 shares. With this, the company expects an initial market cap of 17.78 Billion yen (approximately US$177 Million).
Prior to this IPO announcement, the company has previously secured US$4.5 million from several Japanese companies and VC firms in a series C round held on the August of 2014.
For more information, please visit http://www.uzabase.com/en/
Organization: Unicorn Media