Company founded by two former Googlers aspires to make short-form video production a quick, intuitive task for everyone rather than a specialized, full-time profession
Kapwing, the popular video editing website, announced today that it has raised $1.7M seed round to expand its online video editing platform for casual creators.
The round was led by Kleiner Perkins with participation from Shasta Ventures, Sinai Ventures, Village Global, Shrug Capital, and ZhenFund. The funding will be used to accelerate Kapwing’s product development and fund growth activities.
Founded in October of 2017, Kapwing (pronounced kaPWing) is a free online video editing suite for modern media. The website has quietly become the internet’s most popular meme maker and a leading tool for trimming, subtitling, and resizing videos for social media. More than 100,000 people use Kapwing every month, publishing more than 4000 videos daily. Designed to empower casual creators with no video editing expertise, Kapwing users can simply and easily create formats like vertical video, stop motions, collages, and loops for YouTube, Instagram, and Reddit from any device.
“We’re excited to be part of Julia and Eric’s efforts to modernize video creation. Video is an increasingly popular consumer medium, and Kapwing makes it easier for creators to produce and publish video at scale,” said Mamoon Hamid, General Partner at Kleiner Perkins.
Unlike Adobe or Apple software, Kapwing doesn’t require users to install software or sign in and can be accessed on a Chromebook. The browser-based website helps casual creators like students, artists, nonprofits, agencies, and social media managers at companies like Dubsmash. The State of Arkansas plans on piloting Kapwing in K12 classrooms this fall, and the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) recently recognized Kapwing as one of the 2018 Best Websites for Teaching and Learning. So far, all of Kapwing’s growth has been organic, driven by word-of-mouth traffic and the site’s popular blog on entrepreneurship.
“As video consumption shows accelerating growth across platforms, Kapwing is well-positioned to address a massive market of creators,” Eric Reiner, partner at Sinai Ventures, said, “We believe Julia and Eric’s experience at Google and the recent explosive growth of the Kapwing user base suggests a bright future for the business. We are ecstatic to support this humble, determined, and product-obsessed team.”
Kapwing grows with the surging trend of short-form video. With the launch of IGTV and video support on platforms like Imgur, content creators are publishing more video than ever and shifting towards new formats that are difficult to create with today’s professional editing software. Despite consumers’ preference for video, video production is the most expensive creative skill and the most often outsourced marketing task. Emarketer reports that, in 2017, companies spent $135 billion on video for social media.
“Kapwing has made video editing an easy task. Now, even casual video makers can create and share high quality videos,” said Wei Jiang, the ZhenFund partner, “This will unleash amazing amount of creativity.”
Founders Julia Enthoven, CEO, and Eric Lu, CTO, worked together at Google Image Search before leaving to start Kapwing to make short-form video production a quick, intuitive task for everyone rather than a specialized, full-time profession.
“Big companies have ruled the video creation software industry for years, but the leading products are still slow, hard to use, CPU intensive, and offline,” says Julia, the CEO of Kapwing “We’ve simplified video editing by unbundling the tasks. Since we’re millennial creators ourselves, we bring product insight about what the new generation wants to make and watch.”
Japan’s SMFG likely to halt all new lending to coal-powered plants, sources say
By Takashi Umekawa
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group is likely to halt all new financing to coal-fired power plants, including the most efficient ones, two sources said, reflecting growing pressure from investors and environmentalists on Japan’s lenders to cut funding to coal.
While SMFG has said it would not finance new coal-fired power plants in principle, up until now it hasn’t ruled out funding projects seen as more environmentally friendly, such as so-called “ultra-supercritical (USC) power plants” that burn coal more efficiently than older designs.
It is now likely to remove that exception from its lending policy, meaning a complete halt to new finance for coal plants, said the sources, who declined to be named as the information is not public.
Japan’s biggest banks are under increasing pressure from global investors and environmental groups over their long involvement in funding coal projects. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has also pushed to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions, on a net basis, by 2050.
“It’s a fact that the criticism from environmental groups has become so strong,” said one of the sources.
A spokesman for SMFG said nothing had been decided.
(Reporting by Takashi Umekawa; Editing by David Dolan and Edmund Blair)
Oil rises as U.S. vaccine progress raises demand expectations
By Shu Zhang
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Wednesday as signs of progress in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the United States, the world’s biggest consumer, raised demand expectations.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 15 cents, or 0.25%, to $59.90 a barrel by 0757 GMT, recovering from three days of losses.
Brent crude futures rose 24 cents, or 0.38%, to $62.94 a barrel after four days of losses.
“Ongoing stimulus measures, as COVID-19 vaccinations speed up, have boosted sentiment,” ANZ analysts wrote in a note.
The U.S. will have enough COVID-19 vaccine for every American adult by the end of May, President Joe Biden said on Tuesday after Merck & Co agreed to make rival Johnson & Johnson’s inoculation.
Futures were down earlier in the day amid uncertainty over how much supply the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies, together called OPEC+, will restore to the market at its Thursday meeting and a big build in U.S. crude inventories
The OPEC+ meeting on Thursday comes at a time when producers are generally positive on the oil market outlook compared with a year ago when they slashed supply to boost prices.
The market widely expects OPEC+ to ease production cuts, which were the deepest ever, by about 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd), with OPEC’s leader, Saudi Arabia, ending its voluntary production cut of 1 million bpd.
Still, an OPEC+ technical committee document reviewed by Reuters called “for cautious optimism,” citing “the underlying uncertainties in the physical markets and macro sentiment, including risks from COVID-19 mutations that are still on the rise”.
Reinforcing concerns of potential oversupply, the American Petroleum Institute industry group reported U.S. crude stocks rose by 7.4 million barrels in the week to Feb. 26, in stark contrast to analysts’ estimates for a draw of 928,000 barrels. [API/S]
However, that build occurred while U.S. refining capacity was shut during the survey week because of cold weather in Texas. Refinery runs fell by 1.75 million bpd, the API data showed.
“The recent selloff may help reinforce Saudi’s cautious stance and delay any production increase,” said Stephen Innes, global market strategist at Axi.
“It’s probably something that could sway the OPEC+ increase more back toward the 500,000 bpd as opposed to the 1.5 million bpd,” he said.
(Reporting by Shu Zhang and Sonali Paul; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Christian Schmollinger)
OPEC oil has advantage over U.S. shale during pandemic recovery
By Jennifer Hiller
(Reuters) – The once-brash U.S. shale industry, which spent profusely in recent years to grab market share, is now focused on preserving cash, putting it at a disadvantage to low-cost OPEC producers as the global economy begins to gear up again.
Prior to the pandemic-induced downturn, OPEC countries led by Saudi Arabia restrained their production, eager to bolster prices to fund national budgets dependent on oil revenue. Shale drillers took advantage, boosting U.S. output to a record 13 million barrels a day.
But attendees of the year’s top energy conference made clear that even with a buoyant, $60-per-barrel oil price, shale will not come roaring back from the Covid-19 pandemic as it did from the 2016 downturn.
By contrast, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, known as OPEC+, has more than 7 million barrels of daily oil output sitting in reserve. This positions them to boost production much more easily than shale players for the first time in years.
The concern about free-wheeling shale companies taking advantage of OPEC’s output curbs led to a brief supply war in March 2020. Russia balked at a three-year agreement to extend production cuts, and Saudi Arabia responded by flooding the markets with oil, leading U.S. futures prices to slump to negative-$40 a barrel.
“Let’s face it. OPEC has had a very difficult time managing to accommodate the U.S. shale players and their ability to grow at low prices,” said IHS Markit analyst Raoul LeBlanc, adding that the key debate within OPEC is what oil price is just low enough to avoid a massive U.S. response.
The pandemic destroyed a fifth of global fuel demand, and numerous shale companies declared bankruptcy, while others arranged mergers to offload debt. Frustrated investors sent energy-related stocks slumping throughout 2020.
While shale executives expressed concern about reopening the wells too quickly, OPEC nations are expected to ease supply curbs at their meeting later this week, without having to look over their shoulder at shale.
“The worst thing that could happen is that U.S. producers start growing rapidly again,” said ConocoPhillips Chief Executive Ryan Lance.
The market widely expects OPEC to ease production cuts, which were the deepest ever, by around 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd), with OPEC’s leader, Saudi Arabia, ending its voluntary production cut of 1 million bpd. (Graphic: Pandemic ends U.S. oil output) climb)
At CERAWeek, OPEC vs. shale is often discussed as a showdown between competing interests, but the dynamic of Texas vs. the Middle East is nearly invisible this year. Just one panel discussion in a five-day schedule focused on shale. Neither the Exxon or Chevron CEOs mentioned shale during their talks. Both companies have cut spending in the U.S. Permian Basin.
Crude on Tuesday topped $60 per barrel, up from $44.63 at the start of December, high enough to bolster U.S. producers’ earnings given recent cost cuts.
In the past, rising prices have enticed shale companies to ramp up production even after they promised prudence, and $60 oil would have once prompted companies to rush drilling rigs and frack fleets back to work. That is not happening now.
“They are not taking the bait,” LeBlanc said.
Private companies are likely to increase oilfield activity, but not enough to meaningfully boost U.S. output, said LeBlanc, adding that U.S. spending is likely to remain around $60 billion, flat with 2020, as companies prioritize shareholder returns.
“The severe drop in activity in the U.S. along with the high decline rates of shale and the pressure from investment community to maintain discipline instead of growth means in my view that shale will not get back to where it was in the U.S.,” said Occidental Petroleum CEO Vicki Hollub.
(Reporting by Jennifer Hiller; additional reporting by Laila Kearney and Devika Krishna Kumar; editing by David Gaffen and David Gregorio)
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