Investment in AR
Chroma co-leads $5m funding for reborn Blippar
Chris van der Kuyl: advanced and innovative technology (pic: Terry Murden)
Scottish tech investors Chris van der Kuyl and Paddy Burns have followed up the this week’s launch of Chroma Ventures by co-leading a $5m funding round for Blippar, the revitalised augmented reality company.
Sir Tom Hunter’s West Coast Capital and Canadian entrepreneur Anthony Lacavera, through his Globalive Capital investment firm, have joined the pre-Series A round.
The new investment will help reinforce Blippar’s position in AR and will be used to further develop the company’s technology and accelerate its growth in key markets including the US, Europe and Asia.
The investment will be seen as an endorsement of the strategy for reborn Blippar whose early investors pulled out after it burned through $130 million, claiming a $1.5 billion valuation and trying to crack the consumer AR market.
The new investors join existing shareholder Candy Ventures, the investment firm founded by British entrepreneur Nick Candy who rescued the business by acquiring its assets in a patent sale and re-positioning it as a B2B company in the AR space.
Sir Tom Hunter: ‘strong progress’
At its height Blippar employed 340 staff, and is now down to 10% of that figure. However, it has all the IP and assets from its previous incarnation, and AR technology is now being used in several key areas such as live events, retail, FMCG, automotive, healthcare and education.
Faisal Galaria, CEO of Blippar, said: “We are very excited to have attracted investors of this calibre to Blippar. Not only is this a solid vote of confidence in Blippar’s technology from some of the most highly regarded industry veterans and business minds, but it also demonstrates sustained validation of the UK tech sector post-Brexit.
“2020 was a transformative year for Blippar with a 200% increase in revenue quarter on quarter, continued strengthening of the senior leadership team, and delivery of cutting-edge AR campaigns for major global brands including OnePlus, Kellogg’s and Dr Pepper.
“We have leveraged our 10 years of investment, provenance, and technology leadership in the AR space to come back leaner, more focused and better than ever before.”
Mr van der Kuyl, who has also joined the Blippar board as a director, commented: “The immersive nature of AR makes it one of the most important use cases for the gaming industry.
“Blippar’s AR technology is by far the most advanced and innovative that I’ve seen in years and there is huge potential for AR to power the ultimate gaming experience of the future. We look forward to being part of the Blippar journey.”
Sir Tom Hunter added: “Blippar has demonstrated strong progress with the turnaround plan put in place by Faisal and the team, and the business is now well placed to maximise the opportunities presented by the growing AR ecosystem hence we are delighted to invest.”
Anthony Lacavera is credited with changing the face of Canada’s communications technology landscape. He was the founder of WIND; one of Canada’s four mobile operators, and other leading telecoms businesses including Yak and OneConnect.
He is the founder and chairman of Globalive – a global investment firm that has raised over CAD$2 billion in the telecommunications industry. Over the past 15 years, Globalive Capital has invested in over 100 companies in the tech, media and telecoms industries and has 45 companies currently in its venture portfolio.
He said: “We partner, invest and build companies that are committed to innovating and developing technology to improve and change industries. Blippar is exactly the kind of business we get excited about.
“With the AR tech stack now available on over 4 billion mobile phones and with 5G rolling out globally, the timing for AR is now. Blippar is incredibly well positioned to lead the transition from a 2D to an immersive 3D world leveraging its experience in Computer Vision, Machine Learning, AI in addition to augmented reality.”
In addition to Chris van der Kuyl, tech entrepreneur Justin Cooke has also been appointed to the Blippar board. Chief content & partnerships officer of FutureLearn, Mr Cooke is a venture partner at tech investor Northzone, and an adviser and investor in numerous fast-growing technology businesses.
The UK Government secured a minority equity stake in Blippar in 2020 through the Future Fund match funding scheme.
Since launching in the UK in 2011, Blippar’s technology has been used by brands such as PepsiCo, Porsche, Pearson, Burberry, Cadbury, L’Oréal, GSK, Rugby World Cup and Procter & Gamble to create experiences which deepen awareness and consumer engagement.