DomainGang.com: Sweden’s Game Lounge, a major betting placement company, announced the acquisition of the domain Betting.com. The acquisition is the next step in Game Lounge’s diversification strategy and expansion into the US market. Earlier this year Game Lounge acquired Panorama Partners Ltd (Bettingmetrics), a company with strong product f… Domaining.com
Self-drivedrive mobility startup Zoomcar’s business was shut for two whole months because of the coronavirus lockdown. But as normalcy slowly returns, even before its business as usual, Zoomcar CEO Greg Moran is betting on a 200-300% surge in demand compared to the lockdown period.
Recently, two US astronauts Dough Harley and Bob Behnken rode into space in SpaceX’s automated Dragon Capsule, a capsule designed to take people to and from the International Space Station (ISS). The spacecraft was blasted off successfully after nine years from the United States soil (Kennedy Space Center in Florida). Notably, Elon Musk’s SpaceX became the first private company to launch human beings into orbit.
Zeleros Hyperloop secures €7M!
While the US is ramping up investment in space programs, Spain’s Zeleros Hyperloop on the other side has recently raised €7 million in a financing round. Headquartered in Valencia, Zeleros is leading the development of hyperloop in Europe.
The round was led by Altran, Grupo Red Eléctrica, and also strategic investors at a national and international level, including among others Goldacre Ventures (United Kingdom), Road Ventures (Switzerland), Plug and Play (USA), and the Spanish Angels Capital and MBHA.
Commenting on the announcement, David Pistoni, Chief Executive Officer at Zeleros, said: “For Zeleros it is key to have partners of this relevance and expertise onboard. Their support will accelerate the development of our technologies, unlocking the path towards hyperloop-based routes and corridors in Europe and worldwide. These new funds will boost a major milestone of developing and demonstrating our technologies in a real environment of operation, bringing Zeleros closer to a multibillion market opportunity to be captured in the next decades”.
Best alternative to cover routes between 400 and 1,500 kms!
As per the company, the funding will be used to develop Zeleros’ hyperloop vehicle and its core technologies, which place them as the best alternative to cover efficiently routes between 400 and 1,500 kilometers in distance, with special benefits such as the reduction of the overall infrastructure costs and the operation at safer pressures for passengers.
Pilar Rodríguez, Strategy, Innovation and R&D Director at Altran Spain, participating as lead investor, said: “By supporting Zeleros, Altran is accelerating disruptive innovation in a sector, such as mobility, that is reinventing itself. With technologies like hyperloop, we are changing the future of mobility. Altran has been collaborating with Zeleros since 2017 and will now contribute all of its experience and multidisciplinary talent to help the company accelerate the development of hyperloop technology.”
The following step will be the deployment of the European Hyperloop Development Centre in Spain, including a 3-km test-track to demonstrate the effectiveness of its technologies at high speed.
Won at a competition organised by Elon Musk!
Co-founded in 2016 by David Pistoni (CEO), Daniel Orient (CTO), and Juan Vicén (CMO), after being awarded at the competition organised by Elon Musk (SpaceX) in Los Angeles. Zeleros is partnering with renowned industrial players and research centers worldwide to bring hyperloop into a reality within the next decade.
The Spanish company’s unique technologies integrated into the vehicle enable the implementation of scalable hyperloop routes, reducing drastically the cost per kilometer of infrastructure and operating at safer pressure levels. Currently, it coordinates more than 150 people in the development, including organizations such as Altran, Tecnalia, CIEMAT, Renfe o EIT Climate-KIC.
Creating an international ecosystem!
“Hyperloop is a great development that requires the participation of first-class players and that is why from the beginning we decided to approach our project by creating a collaborative ecosystem. We combine Zeleros’ talented team and technology with the global experience provided by leading organizations in sectors such as railways, aeronautics, infrastructure, and electrification”, says David Pistoni.
This project aims to accelerate the development of the hyperloop industry in Europe, by creating an ecosystem of international industrial, technological, and institutional partners.
Juan Vicén, Chief Marketing Officer at Zeleros, concludes that “This technology will be a crucial tool to strengthen the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals as well as the European Green Deal. Since its creation, Zeleros has been promoting the standardization and regulation of hyperloop systems to ensure the highest level of safety and interoperability to expand the limits of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).”
Every year, a personal Upfront Summit highlight is getting to sit down with experts in a field I care about. Sometimes that’s venture capital generally (like last year’s conversation with Reid Hoffman) and sometimes it’s in a space where I’ve invested (like mobility and city innovation with Bird’s Travis VanderZanden, one of our portfolio founders.)
I’ve spent a lot of my career thinking about digital and online video (with investments in companies like Maker Studios) so for that reason amongst many, I was excited to open the Upfront Summit a few weeks ago by interviewing Meg Whitman about Quibi and the digital media space.
Of course you’ve probably known of Meg as a business leader for many years, formerly as President and CEO of Hewlett Packard and the CEO of eBay before that, but since late 2018 she has been the CEO of Quibi (joining founder Jeffrey Katzenberg as the first employee). Between the heavy hitters at the helm, the more than $ 1.4B raised (more on that later), and the A-list names they’ve signed up for their first batch of content, they’ve certainly raised a lot of expectations and more than a few opinions. So I was excited for the audience to have the chance to hear from Meg in advance of Quibi’s April 6th launch.
I encourage you to watch the entire 30 minute video (below or here) both for insights into Quibi and understanding how a leader like Meg thinks about innovation, but I’ll also pull out a few highlights.
Why (and who) she thinks will pay for premium Quibi content
In a world of Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and YouTube, why would a customer choose to pay the $ 4.99 monthly subscription (or $ 8 ad free) for Quibi? Meg shared the perspective that Quibi is targeting a different kind of viewing experience (mobile-only video, which she say is only 10% of the viewing for other streaming services and virtually none during the day) and a different kind of content than what exists currently.
They’re primarily thinking about 7 AM — 7 PM mobile viewing of movies, lighter scripted and unscripted programming, and daily news/sports/politics, in the kinds of 10-minute content chunks you can consume on your commute or waiting at the dentist. Hence, her analogy of content like “The Da Vinci Code” which had 464 pages and 105 bite-sized, fully realized chapters. In essence, you’re not intimidated by the size of each episode so you dig in and might just read 8 chapters in a sitting before realizing you read 35 pages. And so it is with video.
(Quibi = “quick bites”). But unlike some of the existing mobile video on YouTube or IGTV which typically costs at most $ 1-5K/minute to produce, Quibi is focusing on high-quality production value content, spending up to $ 100K/minute on some programming (in line with typical streaming services like Netflix.)
“We would argue that our movies are world-class movies, just designed entirely for mobile.”
She also spoke about how they’ve seen premium content creators respond creatively to Quibi’s unique portrait — landscape format, and how they’re banking on what could be seen as a constraint to really produce unexpected, innovative content. For example, she spoke about how Steven Spielberg wanted to create a horror-based program that viewers could only watch at midnight. To time-restrict content requires an entirely new platform, one that only Quibi can support to date.
How Quibi is a technology platform first and then a content platform
Being an investor in LA and having seen a decade’s worth of video startup ideas, one of the reasons many video startups fail is because they think they can just distribute content online the way they’ve done it offline for a hundred years, without the innovation of technology. (And of course there are the Silicon Valley video startups who think it’s all about the tech and ignore the storytelling.)
Meg spoke about how Quibi first built out the technology platform and only then exposed it to content creators, and how technology is primary to the platform both in content creation as well as how customers will experience the content. That includes things like:
Structure of the “turnstile” content — the content needs to be originally filmed and edited to deliver a seamless portrait and landscape edit, with the sound synced. This is an entirely new way of filming
Personalization — to provide a curated feed new each day, they’re not just tagging every piece of content, they’re metatagging each frame of content to get viewers what they want, faster
Interactivity — by designing or mobile consumption, they can eventually take advantage of every aspect of the phone including the camera, the touchscreen, the gyroscope, etc.
“There’s a long history in Los Angeles and Hollywood of technology enabling new ways to tell stories … We’ve created a really interesting technology platform that has inspired creators to do things in a completely different way. ”
She also spoke about the importance of 5G and why they think Quibi will be a perfect use case for the technology.
Why they raised so much initial funding
As I said in the interview, we at Upfront come from the land of small first rounds of financing. But Quibi has raised $ 1.4 billion and counting, before they’ve ever released a piece of content (I jokingly called it a $ 1 billion seed round). Why?
Meg shared their reasoning that Quibi would face two big challenges. First, given their unique format, they would have no existing library of content. But when you’re serving up 10 minute bites of content you can’t launch with just four shows. So they felt they needed to invest heavily in creating a breadth of high-quality content from day 1.
Second, no one had ever heard of Quibi, so they felt they needed to spend a lot of money on marketing to build the brand and awareness. If you watched the Oscars recently, you probably saw ads for a few Quibi shows — definitely a big and expensive promotional bet for a “startup”.
“We decided that to give ourselves a real fighting chance to make this work, we had to raise enough money to be able to create, at launch, a completely immersive experience.”
April’s launch will give us a lot more insight into Quibi’s big bet but I appreciated having the chance to hear Meg’s vision for the service. I hope you’ll enjoy the interview as much as I did.