DMEXCO

Investment Round: Monzo, Layer, Bigscreen, Zappar and AirMap

Tyrone Stewart

Funding rounds and investment aren't just the lifeblood that keeps technology firms alive and growing. They're also fantastic indicators of which ideas and technologies are catching the interest of the business world and have the potential to impact the mobile marketing industry as a whole.

Investment Round is our weekly update on which firms have secured new funding, which areas are seeing the most financing, and who is putting up the cash that enables these firms to pushing the capabilities of mobile marketing further.

Monzo raises £19.5m in Series B funding
App-only bank Monzo has raised £19.5m as part of a £22m funding round to be completed through crowdfunding. The investment came from Thrive Capital, Passion Capital, and Orange Digital Ventures – Orange’s early-stage corporate investment arm.

Last year, Monzo made £1m through crowdfunding in 96 seconds – the fastest crowdfunding round in history.

“We’ve been determined to do another crowdfunding round and so, as part of this raise, we’ve reserved a further £2.5 million for our community, who can invest at the same valuation as Thrive, Passion, and Orange and take the total raise to £22 million,” said Tom Blomfield, Monzo CEO.

“There was so much demand last year that many people missed out, so we’ve taken extra steps this time to ensure as many people as possible have a fair chance to invest.”

Layer secures $15m in Series B funding, and confirms acquisition of Cola’s assets
Layer, a customer conversation platform, welcomed a $15m (£12m) funding round led by Greycroft Partners. The round was completed by Microsoft Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, CME Group and existing investors SV Angel, AME Cloud Ventures, Promus Ventures, CrunchFund, Fuel Capital, and more.

In addition to the funding, Layer also acquired the assets of messaging app service Cola – which launched last year – with the intention of integrating its capabilities into its customer conversation platform. The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Bigscreen VR receives $3m in financing led by Andreessen Horowitz
VR social productivity app Bigscreen, which creates ‘an immersive, social computing experience, accepted $3m in funding led by Andreessen Horowitz – who’s general partner Chris Dixon will work closely with the startup.

Bigscreen’s VR telepresence platform aims to balance entertainment and productivity with its platform built for users to experience web content in a shared environment. It can be used as virtual living room to movies, play videogames, and more, as well as being used by teams to collaborate in virtual offices.

“These are early days in VR and AR, and we’re here for the long run. This funding will allow us to accelerate our development plan and pursue our long-term vision,” said Darshan Shankar, Bigscreen CEO, in a blog post.

“We aren’t building a content company or a gaming company. We aren’t building the ‘metaverse’ and our goal is not to build a social network. Instead, we aim to build a platform that enables people to use existing content, apps, and games in VR, and to socialize and hangout in a shared virtual space with their friends and co-workers.

Other investors in the funding round included True Ventures, Presence Capital, Ludlow Ventures, David Bettner, and SV Angel.

Zappar closes $3.75m Series A round
AR experiences developer Zappar has secured $3.75m in a Series A funding round, led by London investment house Hargreave Hale, and completed by You & Mr Jones and iDreamSky.

Zappar aims to use the financing ‘to accelerate the development of several new products along with its international expansion’.

"This funding round is another great milestone for the business,” said Caspar Thykier, CEO of Zappar. “Zappar’s mission is to democratise augmented reality. AR represents an exciting future for consumer engagement connecting devices to the world around us.”

Zappar boasts having worked with over 200 partners in retail, television, film and packaged goods industries so far.

AirMap brings in $26m to keep the skies safe
AirMap, a provider of unmanned traffic management (UTM) technology for the drone ecosystem, has received $26m in a Series B funding round. Investors in the round included Microsoft Ventures, Airbus Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, Rakuten, Sony, and Yuneec.

The funding is intended to help AirMap bring its technology and solution to more markets worldwide – as it opens offices in Berlin and at the NASA Ames Research Centre in Mountain View, California.

“Drones are proving their value today, but this is just the beginning,” said AirMap co-founders, Ben Marcus and Gregory S. McNeal, in a blog post. “People will soon benefit from the magic of flight in their everyday lives when drone flight is high-scale, low-cost, and highly reliable. Drones must be able to fly safe, efficient routes, react and adapt to changes in their flight environment in real time, and exchange critical information with others in the airspace.”