FiftyThree Draws $30M Series B to Launch Think Kit in April

FiftyThree, the company known for creating sketching app Paper and the stylus Pencil, is taking $30 million of venture capital from New Enterprise Associates and its other major investors as it prepares to bring a new product to market focused on business and education.

The company is launching a product called Think Kit that is a part of its app, Paper, in April. Think Kit helps people—especially people working in groups like at an office—create diagrams, flow charts, and presentation sketches quickly, according to CEO and co-founder Georg Petschnigg.

FiftyThree is releasing the new product to push sales of its hardware product, the Pencil stylus, which sells for $59.95, Petschnigg said in a telephone interview. Users can draw in the Paper app, which Apple dubbed its app of the year in 2012, with their finger, but the stylus lets them use more features. Petschnigg declined to comment on pricing for Think Kit until the product is released in April.

“For us, in our business, selling Pencil at this point in our development is important because it makes creating on iPad so much easier,” he said. “It really marks a huge transformation on how people can get stuff done on tablets and mobile devices.”

The technology behind Think Kit, which FiftyThree calls Intention Engine, works like autocorrect for drawing, Petschnigg said. Further details about what the technology does, such as turning ugly squiggly lines into straight ones or making misshapen charts more beautiful also aren’t being released until the company releases the product in April, he said.

“If you like drawing on a whiteboard, you will really love Think Kit,” Petschnigg said. “It will dramatically feed the way people can create and draw.”

The tool is intended for the creative process, which is done to the “left” of the typical productivity suite such as Excel and PowerPoint, in the workplace or school, Petschnigg said. He said he has hired multiple people from Microsoft at FiftyThree, which has offices in New York, Seattle and Portland, OR.

“There is a space where people think, where they develop ideas, where they rough out a story, where they sketch,” Petschnigg said. “For companies, the need is to create and keep creating.”

All major investors joined NEA in the investment round, which Petschnigg said increased from initial expectations. The company, founded in 2011, raised a $15 million Series A round in 2013.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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