The Pulse Smartpen, a James Bond-style gadget, is the latest example of technological whizkiddery to attract venture capital investment.
The product is the brainchild of California-based firm Livescribe, which has just closed a $7.5 million Series B funding round led by Switzerland's Aeris Capital just a month after its Series A round collected $11.1 million from venture firms inc luding Silicon Valley's VantagePoint Ventures Partners and Lionheart Investments.
The pen records an audio version of conversations that are being noted down. The notetaker can then digitally transcribe the notes onto a computer and compare the written contents with the audio, ensuring that – as the firm's advertising tagline claims – you “never miss a word”. The company was launched in 2007 with seed capital of $23 million provided by VantagePoint: “We launched the company at a consumer market targeting students. There are around 18 million college students in the US alone,” says Tom Bevilacqua, a managing director of VantagePoint.
The pen, which went on sale last September in US university bookstores and on Amazon.com, has exceeded sales expectations, Bevilacqua says, “even in spite of the horrible economy”.
Cash from the funding rounds will be used to expand the retail distribution of Livescribe into Europe and Asia. It will also fund the development of an “application store” system – not di s s imi lar to Apple's – where programmes can be downloaded into the pens to aid different professions.
LIVESCRIBE AT A GLANCE
Headquarters: Oakland, California
Financing: Seed ($23 million); Series A ($11.1 million);
Series B ($7.5 million)
Investors: VantagePoint Ventures Partners, Lionheart Investments, Aeris Capital
THE 10 MOST ACTIVE US VENTURE CAPITAL FIRMS IN 2008
|Firm||Location||No of Deals|
|1. Draper Fisher Jurvetson||Menlo Park||96|
|2. New Enterprise Associates||Baltimore||82|
|3. Polaris Venture Partners||Waltham||77|
|4. Kleiner Perkins Caulfield||Menlo Park||74|
|5. Venrock Associates||Palo Alto||60|
|6. U.S Venture Partners||Menlo Park||59|
|7. Intel Capital||Santa Clara||58|
|8. InterWest Partners||Menlo Park||54|
|9. Domain Associates||Princeton||49|
|10. Sequoia Capital||Menlo Park||49|