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Facebook acquires Seattle virtual reality gaming company BigBox VR, makers of Population: One

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Big Box VR co-founders Chia Chin Lee (left) and Gabe Brown. (GeekWire Photo / Taylor Soper)

Seattle startup BigBox VR, the company behind multiplayer virtual reality game POPULATION: ONE, has been acquired by Facebook.

Facebook was drawn to BigBox due to the popularity of POP: ONE, which has been one of the top-performing titles on the Oculus platform since it launched last year and racked up $10 million in revenue within a few months. Facebook and its VR-focused subsidiary Oculus plan to help BigBox accelerate its vision for the game and also other projects.

“We continue to invest in content that fosters social connection, and we believe POP: ONE delivers this experience to the VR community in spades within a super fun gaming experience,” Mike Verdu, vice president of content for Facebook Reality Labs, wrote in a blog post.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

This is Facebook’s third acquisition of a Seattle-area company — others include Rel8tion (2011) and Atlas Solutions (2013) — and represents another VR studio swooped up by the tech giant, adding to its purchases of Downpour Interactive, Ready at Dawn, Sanzaru Games, and Beat Games.

Facebook already has a large presence in the Seattle area with more than 7,000 employees. It has two Facebook Reality Labs offices in the region.

Founded in 2016, BigBox is led by co-founders Chia Chin Lee, a game industry vet who led teams at Sony and Disney, and Gabe Brown, who met Chin Lee while the two built a popular Facebook game — Marvel: Avengers Alliance — at Disney’s Seattle-area gaming studio.

POP: ONE borrows mechanics from popular battle royale games such as Fortnite or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds that have been immensely popular among PC and console gamers over the past several years. It is unique given the game is built for virtual reality, allowing gamers to climb, fly, and shoot as if they were actually doing so in real life.

BigBox previously had a partnership with Oculus Studios. It plans to continue supporting non-Oculus platforms including SteamVR headsets such as HTC Vive and Valve Index, and POP:ONE will receive regular updates, according to a blog post.

“We are fully focused on POPULATION: ONE! We have a lot planned, but we’re not ready to share details yet,” the blog post reads.

BigBox has around 30 employees, according to LinkedIn. The entire team will join Oculus Studios, including the founders.

“BigBox VR may be small, but they are a mighty, nimble team of game industry vets who seamlessly nail the game development duality of craft and data-driven live service,” Verdu wrote in his post.

The company raised one investment round, reeling in $5 million three years ago in a seed round led by Bay Area venture capital firm Shasta Ventures that included participation from GSR Ventures and PSL Ventures.

BigBox’s first title was Smashbox Arena, a team-based action VR game once described as a “Counter-Strike meets Mario Kart” experience. It served as a test of sorts to see how online multiplayer would work in virtual reality.

Virtual and augmented reality have not yet reached mainstream as some predicted but large tech companies such as Facebook and Apple continue investing in the technology, and investors keep making bets.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.geekwire.com/2021/facebook-acquires-seattle-virtual-reality-gaming-company-bigbox-vr-makers-population-one/

Start Ups

Kenyan foodtech startup Kune raises $1M pre-seed for its ready-to-eat meals service

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While there has been a wave of innovation in food tech worldwide, it’s still in early days for Africa. There are only a handful of African food-tech startups, and a year and a half’s worth of global pandemic has added a couple to that list.

Kune is one of the most recent food-tech startups, and today, the six-month-old Kenyan-based company is announcing that it has closed a $1 million pre-seed round to launch its on-demand food service in August.

Pan-African venture capital firm Launch Africa Ventures led the pre-seed round. Other investors that took part include Century Oak Capital GmbH and Consonance, with a contribution from ecosystem management firm Pariti

Founded by CEO Robin Reecht in December 2020, Kune delivers freshly made, ready-to-eat meals at arguably affordable prices. When Reetch first came to Kenya from France in November 2020, it wasn’t easy to get affordable ready-to-eat meals.

“After three days of coming into Kenya, I asked where I can get great food at a cheap price, and everybody tell me it’s impossible,” he told TechCrunch. “It’s impossible because either you go to the street and you eat street food, which is really cheap but with not-so-good quality, or you order on Uber Eats, Glovo or Jumia, where you get quality but you have to pay at least $10.”

Reetch noticed a gap in the market and sought to fill it. The next month, he decided to start Kune. The goal? To provide affordable, convenient and tasty meals. It took a week to develop a pilot, and with a ready waitlist of 50 customers in a particular office space, his plans were in motion. Kune sold more than 500 meals ($4 average) and tripled its customer base from 50 to 150.

Customers were particularly excited about the product and Kune raised $50,000 from them to continue operations, Reetch said. After that, however, the orders became too large for the small team that they couldn’t keep up; at one point, it received 50 orders per day. Thus, instead of advancing with a momentum that could break down, the team took a hiatus.

“We had started to mess up the order because, you know, it’s complicated to get food right when you’re just in a small kitchen setting. So I said okay, that there is no point doing that, and the demand is so high and better to do things right.”

The next months were spent restructuring the company, making hires and building a factory to produce 5,000 meals per day. Then, when the company was ready to raise, Reetch said he saw the same enthusiasm from customers and investors. In two months, Kune closed this round, one of the largest in East Africa, and is one of the few non-fintechs to have raised a seven-figure pre-seed round on the continent.

In a fast-growing and crowded restaurant and food delivery marketplace in Kenya, Kune wants to offer a new way for busy people in Nairobi to access meals by finding a balance between Kibanda pricing (usually referred to as the typical local roadside food shop) and on-demand food delivery prices from global companies.

Kune applies a hybrid model, combining both cloud and dark kitchen concepts. Kune meals are cooked and packaged in its factory and delivered directly to online, retail and corporate customers.

The hybrid model speaks to why Launch Africa cut a check for Kune. And according to the director of the firm, Baljinder Sharma, “leveraging the cloud kitchen model and owning the entire supply chain provides a massive growth and scaling opportunity for Kune Africa.” He added: “We are looking forward to seeing the business take off and grow.”

Kune plans to fully launch in August after its new factory is completed. Per details on its site, the company is promising customers that delivery will be done on an average of 30 minutes daily.

To achieve this, Kune ensures that it owns the entire supply chain, from cooking to packaging to delivery with its own drivers and motorbikes. “Our strategy is to internalize all production and human resources capacities,” he stated. That’s where Kune will put most of the funds to use going forward. In addition to the factory, which costs about 10% of the total investment, Kune will be looking to build a huge team. Reetch tells me that judging by how operations-heavy Kune is, the team size will reach 100 come December.

Once launched, the company will build its own fleet of 100 electric motorcycles by early 2022. In addition, there are plans to hire 100 female drivers.

Currently, Kune showcases three different meals daily: two continental dishes and one foreign meal. In the coming months and quarters, Kune’s offerings will cut across microwavable meals, weight reduction meals and retail meals to target European and U.S. clients. For the latter, Reetch is enthusiastic about exporting the African food culture to Western countries. As someone who travels a lot, the CEO thinks Kenya, unlike other countries, doesn’t have a strong food culture. He references food media like TV shows where various meals and cuisines and tutorings on how to cook food are showcased. Reetch wants Kune to be the go-to for such programs in Kenya.

“In Kenya, we don’t have any culinary show. So we are going to take that position as the culinary major of Kenya, and how do you create this? By creating amazing content, which we plan to do by creating videos and writing articles on how to cook or maybe just food business in general.”

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/16/kenyan-foodtech-startup-kune-raises-1m-pre-seed-for-its-ready-to-eat-meals-service/

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Kenyan foodtech startup Kune raises $1M pre-seed for its ready-to-eat meals service

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While there has been a wave of innovation in food tech worldwide, it’s still in early days for Africa. There are only a handful of African food-tech startups, and a year and a half’s worth of global pandemic has added a couple to that list.

Kune is one of the most recent food-tech startups, and today, the six-month-old Kenyan-based company is announcing that it has closed a $1 million pre-seed round to launch its on-demand food service in August.

Pan-African venture capital firm Launch Africa Ventures led the pre-seed round. Other investors that took part include Century Oak Capital GmbH and Consonance, with a contribution from ecosystem management firm Pariti

Founded by CEO Robin Reecht in December 2020, Kune delivers freshly made, ready-to-eat meals at arguably affordable prices. When Reetch first came to Kenya from France in November 2020, it wasn’t easy to get affordable ready-to-eat meals.

“After three days of coming into Kenya, I asked where I can get great food at a cheap price, and everybody tell me it’s impossible,” he told TechCrunch. “It’s impossible because either you go to the street and you eat street food, which is really cheap but with not-so-good quality, or you order on Uber Eats, Glovo or Jumia, where you get quality but you have to pay at least $10.”

Reetch noticed a gap in the market and sought to fill it. The next month, he decided to start Kune. The goal? To provide affordable, convenient and tasty meals. It took a week to develop a pilot, and with a ready waitlist of 50 customers in a particular office space, his plans were in motion. Kune sold more than 500 meals ($4 average) and tripled its customer base from 50 to 150.

Customers were particularly excited about the product and Kune raised $50,000 from them to continue operations, Reetch said. After that, however, the orders became too large for the small team that they couldn’t keep up; at one point, it received 50 orders per day. Thus, instead of advancing with a momentum that could break down, the team took a hiatus.

“We had started to mess up the order because, you know, it’s complicated to get food right when you’re just in a small kitchen setting. So I said okay, that there is no point doing that, and the demand is so high and better to do things right.”

The next months were spent restructuring the company, making hires and building a factory to produce 5,000 meals per day. Then, when the company was ready to raise, Reetch said he saw the same enthusiasm from customers and investors. In two months, Kune closed this round, one of the largest in East Africa, and is one of the few non-fintechs to have raised a seven-figure pre-seed round on the continent.

In a fast-growing and crowded restaurant and food delivery marketplace in Kenya, Kune wants to offer a new way for busy people in Nairobi to access meals by finding a balance between Kibanda pricing (usually referred to as the typical local roadside food shop) and on-demand food delivery prices from global companies.

Kune applies a hybrid model, combining both cloud and dark kitchen concepts. Kune meals are cooked and packaged in its factory and delivered directly to online, retail and corporate customers.

The hybrid model speaks to why Launch Africa cut a check for Kune. And according to the director of the firm, Baljinder Sharma, “leveraging the cloud kitchen model and owning the entire supply chain provides a massive growth and scaling opportunity for Kune Africa.” He added: “We are looking forward to seeing the business take off and grow.”

Kune plans to fully launch in August after its new factory is completed. Per details on its site, the company is promising customers that delivery will be done on an average of 30 minutes daily.

To achieve this, Kune ensures that it owns the entire supply chain, from cooking to packaging to delivery with its own drivers and motorbikes. “Our strategy is to internalize all production and human resources capacities,” he stated. That’s where Kune will put most of the funds to use going forward. In addition to the factory, which costs about 10% of the total investment, Kune will be looking to build a huge team. Reetch tells me that judging by how operations-heavy Kune is, the team size will reach 100 come December.

Once launched, the company will build its own fleet of 100 electric motorcycles by early 2022. In addition, there are plans to hire 100 female drivers.

Currently, Kune showcases three different meals daily: two continental dishes and one foreign meal. In the coming months and quarters, Kune’s offerings will cut across microwavable meals, weight reduction meals and retail meals to target European and U.S. clients. For the latter, Reetch is enthusiastic about exporting the African food culture to Western countries. As someone who travels a lot, the CEO thinks Kenya, unlike other countries, doesn’t have a strong food culture. He references food media like TV shows where various meals and cuisines and tutorings on how to cook food are showcased. Reetch wants Kune to be the go-to for such programs in Kenya.

“In Kenya, we don’t have any culinary show. So we are going to take that position as the culinary major of Kenya, and how do you create this? By creating amazing content, which we plan to do by creating videos and writing articles on how to cook or maybe just food business in general.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/16/kenyan-foodtech-startup-kune-raises-1m-pre-seed-for-its-ready-to-eat-meals-service/

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Post-IPO, Nazara makes its first acquisition

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India’s home grown Nazara Technologies announced on Thursday that it has signed a binding term agreement to acquire majority stake in PublishME. PublishME is the largest mobile game publishing agency in the Middle East and Turkey. Nazara will invest approximately INR 20 Crore for acquiring 69.82% stake in the company.  The deal will be done through primary and secondary transaction and the deal will be done through Nazara’s subsidiary company.

This is Nazara’s first acquisition post its successful IPO listing earlier this year. Nazara’s share price opened strongly on Thursday, trading at INR 1677 on NSE, nearly 0.84% jump from yesterday’s closing. There is every likelihood that the market might greet this news positively and the stock’s price might jump further during the inter-day trading.

Publishme is a full-service games marketing and publishing agency which works extensively with gaming publishers in Turkey and the MENA region. According to its official website, the company counts high profile clients like Asus, NVIDIA, Gillete and Epic Games.

Techpluto was unable to gather information about PublishMe’s existing investors, most of whom will now get a exit.

Nazara already has a presence in the international market, especially in Africa and North America. Following this acquisition, it will consolidate its presence in the middle eastern region. Besides, for the first it will foray into Turkish market.

Commenting on the acquisition, Nitish Mittersain said “MENA is a key geography for us and this acquisition will help us in establishing ourselves as a key player in the region. We are excited to have someone with deep regional knowledge and capabilities like Özgür and his team join the ‘Friends of Nazara’ network”

Nazara had announced its financial results for FY21 only few weeks back. The company announced that its operating revenues grew by 84% YoY to Rs. 4,542 Million while its EBITDA grew by 508% YoY to Rs. 596 Million. The company’s profit after tax or PAT stood at Rs. 136 Million in Fy21.

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Source: https://www.techpluto.com/post-ipo-nazara-makes-its-first-acquisition/

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Pioneer Square Labs pairs with Dance Church to build out Seattle company’s on-demand platform

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Dance Church was founded in 2010 by Kate Wallich, center in white top, and has added Clara Siegel, seated in black top, as CEO. (Dance Church Photo)

Pioneer Square Labs is trying out some new moves when it comes to spinning a company out of the Seattle startup studio and venture capital firm.

PSL is partnering with Dance Church, the Seattle-based creators of a high-energy, dance-focused movement class that was founded in 2010. The COVID-19 pandemic turned the dancing to livestreaming — and attracted a large new audience of participants — and now Dance Class is launching a dance-on-demand product called “Dance Church Go” with PSL’s help.

Dance Church Go is a membership platform where users can get access to a library of online classes for $19 a month or $199 per year. A live-only option allows users to pay as they go for access to live classes.

The move to pair with PSL and gain key expertise comes as Dance Church has added former Facebook Product Manager Clara Siegel as CEO. Siegel was also previously a senior product manager at Tableau and Amazon. At Facebook, she managed products on the Messenger and Gaming teams.

Pioneer Square Labs typically comes up with an idea and finds CEOs to launch a company, or it partners with entrepreneurs who come to the studio with their own idea. The deal with Dance Church and founder Kate Wallich is unique.

“In the case of Dance Church, Kate had a big ambition to evolve her in-person dance classes — that had built an obsessed following! — into a global scale technology platform,” said PSL Partner David Zager. “The resulting spinout is the marriage of everything Kate had built on the in-person classes, plus the time, resources, and investment from PSL.”

PSL launched its startup studio in 2015, has raised $29 million to date and spun out more than two dozen startups along the way. PSL raised $100 million for its second venture fund in March.

Dance Church is known for its carefully curated playlists and the professional dance artists who drive the experience. During the pandemic lockdowns when people were searching for ways to exercise and connect with a community, Dance Church launched a livestream alternative to its in-person classes.

“I have always said that I want Dance Church to be as big as it wants to be,” Wallich said in a news release. “When we were turning 50+ people away at the door for classes, and then getting thousands of emails and DMs during COVID, I knew we needed strong infrastructure to intentionally scale our 10+ year old organization along with the needs of the community.”

In partnership with Nordstrom, Dance Church is also returning to its in-person format with a national tour. The tour will make a stop at The Seattle Center on July 10.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.geekwire.com/2021/pioneer-square-labs-pairs-dance-church-build-seattle-companys-demand-platform/

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