mmhmm, Phil Libin’s new startup, acquires Memix to add enhanced filters to its video presentation toolkit

Virtual meetings are a fundamental part of how we interact with each other these days, but even when (if!?) we find better ways to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, many think that they will be here to stay. That means there is an opportunity out there to improve how they work — because let’s face it, Zoom Fatigue is real and I for one am not super excited anymore to be a part of your Team.

Mmhmm, the video presentation startup from former Evernote CEO Phil Libin with ambitions to change the conversation (literally and figuratively) about what we can do with the medium — its first efforts have included things like the ability to manipulate presentation material around your video in real time to mimic newscasts — is today announcing an acquisition as it continues to hone in on a wider launch of its product, currently in a closed beta.

It has acquired Memix, an outfit out of San Francisco that has built a series of filters you can apply to videos — either pre-recorded or streaming — to change the lighting, details in the background, or across the whole of the screen, and an app that works across various video platforms to apply those filters.

Like mmhmm, Memix is today focused on building tools that you use on existing video platforms — not building a video player itself. Memix today comes in the form of a virtual camera, accessible via Windows apps for Zoom, WebEx and Microsoft Teams; or web apps like Facebook Messenger, Houseparty and others that run on Chrome, Edge and Firefox.

Libin said in an interview that the plan will be to keep that virtual camera operating as is while it works on integrating the filters and Memix’s technology into mmhmm, while also laying the groundwork for building more on top of the platform.

Libin’s view is that while there are already a lot of video products and users in the market today, we are just at the start of it all, with technology and our expectations changing rapidly. We are shifting, he said, from wanting to reproduce existing experiences (like meetings) to creating completely new ones that might actually be better.

“There is a profound change in the world that we are just at the beginning of,” he said in an interview. “The main thing is that everything is hybrid. If you imagine all the experiences we can have, from in person to online, or recorded to live, up to now almost everything in life fit neatly into one of those quadrants. The boundaries were fixed. Now all these boundaries have melted away we can rebuild every experience to be natively hybrid. This is a monumental change.”

That is a concept that the Memix founders have not just been thinking about, but also building the software to make it a reality.

“There is a lot to do,” said Pol Jeremias-Vila, one of the co-founders. “One of our ideas was to try to provide people who do streaming professionally an alternative to the really complicated set-ups you currently use,” which can involve expensive cameras, lights, microphones, stands and more. “Can we bring that to a user just with a couple of clicks? What can be done to put the same kind of tech you get with all that hardware into the hands of a massive audience?”

Memix’s team of two — co-founders Inigo Quilez and Jeremias-Vila, Spaniards who met not in Spain but the Bay Area — are not coming on board full-time, but they will be helping with the transition and integration of the tech.

Libin said that he first became aware of Quilez from a YouTube video he’d posted on “The principles of painting with maths”, but that doesn’t give a lot away about the two co-founders. They are in reality graphic engineering whizzes, with Jeremias-Vila currently the lead graphics software engineer at Pixar, and Quilez until last year a product manager and lead engineer at Facebook, where he created, among other things, the Quill VR animation and production tool for Oculus.

Because working the kind of hours that people put in at tech companies wasn’t quite enough time to work on graphics applications, the pair started another effort called Beauty Pi (not to be confused with Beauty Pie), which has become a home for various collaborations between the two that had nothing to do with their day jobs. Memix had been bootstrapped by the pair as a project built out of that. And other efforts have included Shadertoy, a community and platform for creating Shaders (a computer program created to shade in 3D scenes).

That background of Memix points to an interesting opportunity in the world of video right now. In part because of all the focus (sorry not sorry!) on video right now as a medium because of our current pandemic circumstances, but also because of the advances in broadband, devices, apps and video technology, we’re seeing a huge proliferation of startups building interesting variations and improvements on the basic concept of video streaming.

Just in the area of videoconferencing alone, some of the hopefuls have included Headroom, which launched the other week with a really interesting AI-based approach to helping its users get more meaningful notes from meetings, and using computer vision to help presenters “read the room” better by detecting if people are getting bored, annoyed and more.

Vowel is also bringing a new set of tools not just to annotate meetings and their corresponding transcriptions in a better way, but to then be able to search across all your sessions to follow up items and dig into what people said over multiple events.

And Descript, which originally built a tool to edit audio tracks, earlier this week launched a video component, letting users edit visuals and what you say in those moving pictures, by cutting, pasting and rewriting a word-based document transcribing the sound from that video. All of these have obvious B2B angles, like mmhmm, and they are just the tip of the iceberg.

Indeed, the huge amount of IP out there is interesting in itself. Yet the jury is still out on where all of it would best live and thrive as the space continues to evolve, with more defined business models (and leading companies) only now emerging.

That presents an interesting opportunity not just for the biggies like Zoom, Google and Microsoft, but also players who are building entirely new platforms from the ground up.

Mmhmm is a notable company in that context. Not only does it have the reputation and inspiration of Libin behind it — a force powerful enough that even his foray into the ill-fated world of chatbots got headlines — but it’s also backed by the likes of Sequoia, which led a $ 21 million round earlier this month.

Libin said he doesn’t like to think of his startup as a consolidator, or the industry in a consolidation play, as that implies a degree of maturity in an area that he still feels is just getting started.

“We’re looking at this not so much consolidation, which to me means market share,” he said. “Our main criteria is that we wanted to work with teams that we are in love with.”

Startups – TechCrunch

CapitalBox acquires the Dutch SME lending business from Spotcap Netherlands B.V.

SME

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent 99% of all businesses in the EU, and therefore form the backbone of Europe’s economy. They employ around 100 million people, as well as account for more than half of Europe’s GDP. Besides, SMEs bring innovative solutions to challenges like climate change, resource efficiency, and social cohesion and help spread this innovation throughout Europe’s regions.

CapitalBox acquires Spotcap Global

In the recent development, Ferratum Group’s subsidiary CapitalBox, an online pan-European small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) funding platform, has acquired the Dutch division of Netherlands-based fintech Spotcap Global as part of its own ongoing European expansion. The parties involved have agreed not to disclose the purchase price of the acquisition.

With this development, CapitalBox will gain access to Spotcap Nederland’s market knowledge, existing network, and its underwriting expertise. Besides, the acquisition of the Dutch lender builds on CapitalBox’s footprint and gives the fintech startup deeper access to the Netherlands – home to more than 1.1 million SMEs.

According to the fintech startup, Spotcap NL will continue under the brand name CapitalBox. The transition will take place in the coming months. The Spotcap brand will continue to thrive, but only as a Lending-as-a-Service provider helping financial institutions globally to digitise their SME lending with the LendSuite proposition.

Scott Donnelly, CEO of CapitalBox says, “By pooling our knowledge and teams, we (CapitalBox) will be stronger than ever and better able to finance SMEs that want to grow. This is especially important when our economies return to normal and conventional banks continue to fail to serve the all-important SME segment. 

The existing Spotcap NL distribution channels will allow CapitalBox to increase its average loan size at low customer acquisition costs. Ferratum plans to merge Spotcap NL to the Dutch business of CapitalBox, subsequently also rebrand the business CapitalBox.

Currently, CapitalBox claims to be the market leader when it comes to fintech SME lending in six European countries, namely the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the UK, and Lithuania. It provides – within one day and through its own credit platform – loans to SMEs of up to €350,000, with a term of up to 36 months.

Lending-as-a-Service

Spotcap is a multinational fintech operating as a direct lender and a Lending-as-a-Service provider. Founded in 2014, it has issued more than €400M in credit lines operating as a direct lender to SMEs in the UK, Netherlands, Spain, Australia, and New Zealand.

In addition, it has developed a strong partner network across the Netherlands involving many specialised SME advisory firms, including accountants and tax advisors which connects the business to high-quality SMEs looking for tailored and flexible financing.

The company has helped multiple organisations, such as BAWAG Group in Austria, Cembra Money Bank in Switzerland, and buy-now-pay-later provider Zip Co in Australia and New Zealand region, to launch straightforward financing for SMEs in their respective regions.

Image credit: Spotcap

Startups – Silicon Canals

Juniper Networks acquires Boston-area AI SD-WAN startup 128 Technology for $450M

Today Juniper Networks announced it was acquiring smart wide area networking startup 128 Technology for $ 450 million.

This marks the second AI-fueled networking company Juniper has acquired in the last year and a half after purchasing Mist Systems in March 2019 for $ 405 million. With 128 Technology, the company gets more AI SD-WAN technology. SD-WAN is short for software-defined wide area networks, which means networks that cover a wide geographical area such as satellite offices, rather than a network in a defined space.

Today, instead of having simply software-defined networking, the newer systems use artificial intelligence to help automate session and policy details as needed, rather than dealing with static policies, which might not fit every situation perfectly.

Writing in a company blog post announcing the deal, executive vice president and chief product officer Manoj Leelanivas sees 128 Technology adding great flexibility to the portfolio as it tries to transition from legacy networking approaches to modern ones driven by AI, especially in conjunction with the Mist purchase.

“Combining 128 Technology’s groundbreaking software with Juniper SD-WAN, WAN Assurance and Marvis Virtual Network Assistant (driven by Mist AI) gives customers the clearest and quickest path to full AI-driven WAN operations — from initial configuration to ongoing AIOps, including customizable service levels (down to the individual user), simple policy enforcement, proactive anomaly detection, fault isolation with recommended corrective actions, self-driving network operations and AI-driven support,” Leelanivas wrote in the blog post.

128 Technologies was founded in 2014 and raised over $ 97 million, according to Crunchbase data. Its most recent round was a $ 30 million Series D investment in September 2019 led by G20 Ventures and The Perkins Fund.

In addition to the $ 450 million, Juniper has asked 128 Technology to issue retention stock bonuses to encourage the startup’s employees to stay on during the transition to the new owners. Juniper has promised to honor this stock under the terms of the deal. The deal is expected to close in Juniper’s fiscal fourth quarter subject to normal regulatory review.

Startups – TechCrunch

Size matters: German ecommerce company acquires Swiss mobile body scanning developer Fision

ecommerce

The global virtual fitting room market size was valued at $ 2.44B (approx €2.08B) in 2019 and is projected to reach $ 10B (approx €8.5B) by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 20.1% during the forecast period.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the footfalls at the physical stores have been reduced substantially and sales have dramatically declined. Most consumers favor online shopping, resulting in a strong demand for e-commerce platforms. This, in turn, is expected to increase the growth of the virtual fitting room market size.

In a recent development, a German e-commerce giant Zalando has acquired Zurich-based software company Fision for an undisclosed amount. This development should allow both shoppers and brands to determine clothing sizes more precisely and reduce the number of returns.

The Fision team will continue to be based in Zurich while fully integrating with Zalando. The investment underscores Zalando’s commitment to one of its key markets, Switzerland. 

The ecommerce company also opened up an additional talent venue in Zurich – one of Europe’s technology hotspots. Its ambition is to build up a new tech hub in Zurich, growing the site to more than 150 jobs over time.

Meepls

Founded in 2015, Fision has developed technologies that generate accurate 3D virtual bodies and clothing models on its platform ‘meepl’.

According to the company, its app uses visual computing and artificial intelligence to allow customers to discover their body measurements and create personalised 3D body profiles, personal meepls. It requires a smartphone or a tablet to get started, utilising two images of the body, height and gender. As an alternative to the 3D body scan, meepl provides the option to create a 3D body profile using only 4 attributes (height, gender, age, and weight) that allows easy and fast size recommendation anywhere.

Fision AG was founded by a team of ETH Zurich graduates in engineering with the vision to enhance the customer journey of online shoppers and to reduce the cycle of waste in the industry.

Solving a problem in the fashion industry 

Fision was founded with the vision to enhance the customer journey of online shoppers and to reduce the cycle of waste in the industry. “Customers will get size advice earlier in their relationship with Zalando. At the same time, we can create a feedback loop between brands and consumers designed to drive customer loyalty and in the long run reduce waste,” says Stacia Carr, Zalando’s Director of Engineering – Size and Fit.

According to Zalando, one of the biggest challenges the fashion industry faces is helping customers find the right fit the first time.

Sizing systems across categories, regions, and brands vary dramatically, creating confusion and unnecessary returns for customers. The ecommerce firm claims to help by using the purchase and returns history to provide size advice on 50 percent of all items ordered. 

As per Zalando, Fision’s technology integration into its platform will take size advice to the next level: from one based on fit feedback and garment measurements to one that is more personalised using both garment and body measurements.

Solving the problem of size and fit represents a huge potential to transform fashion e-commerce for the benefit of both customers and brands. Customers will be able to generate precise body measurements which they can use to receive even more accurate size advice, and purchase items they know will fit.

“Brands, for the first time, can gain a deeper understanding of how well their assortment addresses the size and fit needs of a target audience which in the long run will enable them to produce better fitting garments.

About Zalando

Zalando is an online platform for fashion and lifestyle. Founded in Berlin in 2008 by David Schneider, Rocket Internet, and Robert Gentz, the company has more than 34 million active customers in 17 markets, offering clothing, footwear, accessories, and beauty products. The platform’s goal is to become the starting point for fashion.

Image credits: Zalando

Startups – Silicon Canals

Size matters: German ecommerce company acquires Swiss mobile body scanning developer Fision

ecommerce

The global virtual fitting room market size was valued at $ 2.44B (approx €2.08B) in 2019 and is projected to reach $ 10B (approx €8.5B) by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 20.1% during the forecast period.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the footfalls at the physical stores have been reduced substantially and sales have dramatically declined. Most consumers favor online shopping, resulting in a strong demand for e-commerce platforms. This, in turn, is expected to increase the growth of the virtual fitting room market size.

In a recent development, a German e-commerce giant Zalando has acquired Zurich-based software company Fision for an undisclosed amount. This development should allow both shoppers and brands to determine clothing sizes more precisely and reduce the number of returns.

The Fision team will continue to be based in Zurich while fully integrating with Zalando. The investment underscores Zalando’s commitment to one of its key markets, Switzerland. 

The ecommerce company also opened up an additional talent venue in Zurich – one of Europe’s technology hotspots. Its ambition is to build up a new tech hub in Zurich, growing the site to more than 150 jobs over time.

Meepls

Founded in 2015, Fision has developed technologies that generate accurate 3D virtual bodies and clothing models on its platform ‘meepl’.

According to the company, its app uses visual computing and artificial intelligence to allow customers to discover their body measurements and create personalised 3D body profiles, personal meepls. It requires a smartphone or a tablet to get started, utilising two images of the body, height and gender. As an alternative to the 3D body scan, meepl provides the option to create a 3D body profile using only 4 attributes (height, gender, age, and weight) that allows easy and fast size recommendation anywhere.

Fision AG was founded by a team of ETH Zurich graduates in engineering with the vision to enhance the customer journey of online shoppers and to reduce the cycle of waste in the industry.

Solving a problem in the fashion industry 

Fision was founded with the vision to enhance the customer journey of online shoppers and to reduce the cycle of waste in the industry. “Customers will get size advice earlier in their relationship with Zalando. At the same time, we can create a feedback loop between brands and consumers designed to drive customer loyalty and in the long run reduce waste,” says Stacia Carr, Zalando’s Director of Engineering – Size and Fit.

According to Zalando, one of the biggest challenges the fashion industry faces is helping customers find the right fit the first time.

Sizing systems across categories, regions, and brands vary dramatically, creating confusion and unnecessary returns for customers. The ecommerce firm claims to help by using the purchase and returns history to provide size advice on 50 percent of all items ordered. 

As per Zalando, Fision’s technology integration into its platform will take size advice to the next level: from one based on fit feedback and garment measurements to one that is more personalised using both garment and body measurements.

Solving the problem of size and fit represents a huge potential to transform fashion e-commerce for the benefit of both customers and brands. Customers will be able to generate precise body measurements which they can use to receive even more accurate size advice, and purchase items they know will fit.

“Brands, for the first time, can gain a deeper understanding of how well their assortment addresses the size and fit needs of a target audience which in the long run will enable them to produce better fitting garments.

About Zalando

Zalando is an online platform for fashion and lifestyle. Founded in Berlin in 2008 by David Schneider, Rocket Internet, and Robert Gentz, the company has more than 34 million active customers in 17 markets, offering clothing, footwear, accessories, and beauty products. The platform’s goal is to become the starting point for fashion.

Startups – Silicon Canals

Stripe Acquires Nigeria’s Paystack For $200 Million For Expansion Across The Continent – Black Enterprise

Stripe Acquires Nigeria’s Paystack For $ 200 Million For Expansion Across The Continent  Black Enterprise
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News