FiftyThree, Makers of Sketching App ‘Paper,’ Score $15M in VC Funding

Mobile design outfit FiftyThree, which makes iPad notebook app Paper, has raised $15m (£9.6m) in a Series A funding round.

The Apps startup which released its first product March of last year, a sketching app called Paper that became successful, racking up some 8 million downloads to date and earning the distinction of Best iPad App of 2012 from Apple.

The funding round was led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from Highline Ventures, Thrive Capital, SV Angels and Jack Dorsey, Twitter co-founder and chairman as well as chief executive of payments startup Square

“With their partnership we’ll be able to expand our software, service, and hardware teams to take on bigger questions around collaboration and physical creation,” FiftyThree said in an announcement.

“Our goal is to build essentially a suite of mobile tools for creativity,” says FiftyThree founder and Microsoft vet Georg Petschnigg, which means for all intents and purposes, FiftyThree has just begun. Well, Microsoft just debuted Office for iPhone, but an app that defined productivity on desktops — ported to mobile — doesn’t seem to be what Petschnigg has in mind. “It’s about imagining the right solution,” he says, “and that takes time.” …

According to Dixon – who co-founded Hunch and joined Andreessen Horowitz last year – the company didn’t need to raise money, “but decided that the opportunity was so large that it made sense to accelerate their efforts with additional capital and resources.”

Paper enables people to scribble, draw and take notes on virtual pages, then share them via email, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Paper makes its money from in-app purchases of specific features like Sketch, Write and Mixer for £1.49 apiece.

With the latest update to the Paper app, FiftyThree added a “Made With Paper” stream to provide new users and creators with inspiration for the types of projects they can embark upon. But there’s more to do, the team believes. Paper is just the first in what is likely a series of applications and tools that the startup plans to make available.

In a blog post announcing the funding, the team said it wanted to enable more social collaboration for creators which could enable them to work on projects together. It also hopes to build tools that go beyond just expressing oneself on the iPad or other tablets. That includes building hardware to create more physical tools for creation.

The Paper iPad app is currently available for free download in the Apple iTunes Store.

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