Video communication: Wonder is announcing a funding round of $11m, led by EQT Ventures and with strong participation from earlier investor Blueyard

On EQT Ventures’ investment in Wonder, bringing next gen group interactions online

Jenny Dreier

Today, Wonder is announcing a funding round of $11m, led by EQT Ventures and with strong participation from earlier investor Blueyard. Wonder revolutionizes traditional video communication, making large online gatherings fun, interactive, and sociable. Launched early 2020, Wonder has grown to more than 200,000 monthly users, adding 30% week-on-week.

Zoom fatigue is real. But, come on, imagine a lockdown in a world where we were still beholden to fax machines and emails. We can, of course, be glad that the pandemic hit in a time where tech allows us to interact with people over video. Online video communication was a >$14b market in 2019 and has seen a massive rise in 2020. COVID-induced lockdowns propelled an accelerated shift and helped establish it in all areas of social interaction, professional as well as private, while technology has reached a level of sophistication that enables widespread use.

While the pandemic has certainly accelerated this trend, it has also highlighted a glaring challenge within this new normal. Existing formats don’t work for larger social gatherings. They are basically the same as twenty years ago, in the early days of Skype. While marginal improvements in UI/UX and performance have already spawned billion dollar opportunities (e.g. Zoom) and are great for smaller meetings, these tools don’t allow larger groups to effectively gather and communicate. They just don’t feel natural enough. Wonder fills that gap.

Unlike other video conferencing and online event tools, Wonder is focused on natural interactions that mirror real-life dynamics of group gatherings. Users navigate a 2D space with a bubble that shows their photo and can join group conversations and broadcasts — coming and leaving seamlessly. The product is fun to use, accessible and intuitive. It gives us back some part of what we are missing dearly when working from home: the casual chat, the bumping into each other, those magic moments that just don’t happen in a Zoom conversation. Companies like SAP, NASA, Deloitte and Siemens as well as universities and research groups, e.g. from Harvard, use it on a weekly basis. Literally everyone I told about Wonder in the last weeks had some kind of use case they immediately thought of. I even heard of weddings in Wonder!

A first version of Wonder was actually created a couple years ago after Leonard (one of Wonder’s co-founders) had taught himself to code. Friends and family who tried it were excited, but Leonard believed that the tech wasn’t quite ready to allow for a pleasant experience. He put it away and worked on something else for the time being.

In early March, Stephane, Pascal and Leonard were working together on something totally different (ironically, a platform to organize in-person events) when COVID hit and Leonard remembered his old project. Now the timing was right. Video communication had become mainstream with the available technology and infrastructure advancing to change the entire work-from-home dynamic. Even to the most ardent opponents of video conferencing, the future was here.

When I first tried Wonder in May, at a networking event, the product was simple — but the general idea was intriguing. I dropped Stephane a note and well, here we are.

The team is moving incredibly fast since: In the few months since they launched, the Wonder team has built a strong product with a data driven and customer focused approach — combining stability to host huge events with strong usability. And users love it: they are growing 30% week-over-week with strong virality and very impressive retention. And yes, I am holding back all those puns about 2020 and virality.

Above all, we believe that what we are observing here is not a temporary lockdown-effect. It is a long-lasting shift. From families, startups, corporates, universities, schools to even the most conservative businesses — everyone has learned to communicate via video this year. Even your grandma is up to speed! While we are looking forward to getting together face-to-face again, online gatherings won’t go away.

And that’s exactly why we’re extremely excited to announce the company’s $11m round, led by EQT Ventures with Blueyard also doubling down once more. For those keeping track: yes, this is the third company out of Blueyard’s portfolio we are investing in this year after the Slovakian 3D design platform Vectary and quantum computing company Seeqc. Ted, myself, and the rest of the EQT Ventures team could not be more thrilled to join Ciarán O’Leary and the Blueyard team once more.

Leonard, Stephane and Pascal are determined to shape the future of social interactions and are moving with an impressive speed — I am beyond excited to be joining Wonder’s board and to be supporting them on this mission!

If you got curious, get your Wonder room here. Or even better: join the team — they are hiring. If you want to try it out or have any questions, join us in the virtual Wonder office tonight.

Source: https://medium.com/eqtventures

Image: Leonard Witteler, Pascal Steck and Stephane Roux — co-founders of Wonder @ Wonder, Source: https://medium.com/eqtventures

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