New $7 Million Funding Round Will Help EveryScape Add Scope to Its Scape
The number-one customer complaint coming into Waltham, MA-based EveryScape, says CEO Jim Schoonmaker, is “Give us more.”
So far, EveryScape’s Web-based collection of pannable street-level photographs is limited to Boston and environs, New York, Miami, Laguna Beach, and four Colorado ski resorts—Aspen, Breckenridge, Snowmass Village, and Steamboat Springs. (Oh, there’s also Beijing, China—which is a strange and beautiful city, but not a place where many U.S. Web users are likely to need navigational advice.) For a company whose tagline is “The Real World, Online,” that’s what you call a start.
Schoonmaker acknowledges that EveryScape is “probably six months behind Google in the acquisition of content”— referring to the images behind the Street View feature of Google Maps, which covers 29 U.S. cities and counting.
Which is why the $7 million Series B financing round EveryScape announced today will come in very handy. “We need to get more content, put in more cities, and do it all faster,” says Schoonmaker. That will mean, among other things, making EveryScape’s server infrastructure easier to scale up, finding better ways to recruit and reward “Scape Artists” (outsiders who agree to contribute images and links), getting faster at creating the company’s distinctive interior tours of private properties, and generally bringing down the cost of content acquisition.
“If your ambition is to build the world, you can’t have even one expensive component,” says Schoonmaker. “Everything has to be scalable. That’s why we’ve had to think hard about how to shoot the public content, how to enable the private content to be shot and sold, how it’s all hosted on the portal, and how we can maintain it and make changes and update it over time. I think over time we’ve probably made as many mistakes as anyone else—but hopefully that just makes us a lot smarter.”
As we’ve noted in our previous pieces on EveryScape, the company’s patented “HyperMedia” technology weaves together photographs of contiguous locations using 3D graphic technology that makes browsing is database a far more immersive experience than what you’ll encounter with Google’s Street View service. But Google provides much wider coverage and, arguably, a friendlier interface.
Schoonmaker says improving EveryScape’s interface will be a major priority this year. The company has already bounced back from one misstep: its initial choice of Adobe’s Shockwave as its interactive-animation platform. “It was wonderful but no one would download it,” Schoonmaker says—so the company switched to the much more commonly installed Adobe Flash format. Now it needs to work on making its resources more discoverable and usable, says Schoonmaker. “For the vast majority of people out there, the idea of panning a picture is still not intuitive,” he says. “Pictures don’t move; movies do. So you’ve got to find a way for people to come to your site and understand immediately how to use it.”
Taking the lead in EveryScape’s financing round was Dace Ventures, a new Waltham, MA-based firm led by former CMGI president Dave Andonian that mainly invests in digital media, consumer marketing, and mobile services startups. (The firm’s portfolio also includes auctionPAL, CityVoter, LocaModa, Panraven, and Vitrue.) Also participating were existing investors Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Draper Fisher New England, Draper Atlantic and LaunchPad Venture Group.
“Dace is consistently looking for the next wave of innovation in the Web 2.0 space coupled with passionate entrepreneurs that can bring cutting-edge technology to market,” Andonian said in EverySpace’s official announcement of the financing round. He said the company “has the potential to fundamentally change the way we explore cities, towns and businesses online by truly replicating the real world experience.”