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Oblong Industries Announces $65 Million in Growth Funding

Investment round from Greenspring Associates, Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners, Foundry Group, Industry Ventures and UTIMCO, is latest vote of confidence in tech innovator’s growth trajectory.

LOS ANGELES, CA – October 18, 2016 – Oblong Industries, the pioneering developer of spatial, immersive, and gesture-enabled technologies for the new era of collaborative work, today announced a significant investment from Greenspring Associates, the Owings Mills, Md.-based firm that focuses on companies in expansion stage, alongside Silicon Valley-based Industry Ventures and Austin-based UTIMCO, the investment arm of the University of Texas. These firms are joined by historical partners Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners and Foundry Group, bringing the round of growth funding to a total of $65 million. 

The investment will allow Oblong to accelerate product development, launch market-redefining innovations faster, and ramp an aggressive strategy of expansion into new territories. Oblong’s success in the USA and western Europe has already proven the need for powerful visual collaboration tools in solving complex problems. This need and the vast commercial opportunity around it are global by nature, and the company will continue to scale its reach in service of the worldwide market. 

Jim Lim, Managing General Partner at Greenspring Associates, comments:

Greenspring loves to get behind companies that have shown a genuine ability to produce innovative workplace solutions for the 21st century. Oblong is the clear leader in Infopresence, the immersive collaboration experience essential for all companies that demand sustainably increased workforce productivity.

Oblong, headquartered in Los Angeles, is the developer of the Mezzanine product for immersive visual collaboration and of distinctive data visualization solutions at architectural scale—all based on its unique g-speak technology. The g-speak software platform enables multi-machine, device-agnostic spatial operating environments offering simultaneous input modalities including gesture and touch. Current customers include NASA, PwC, and IBM, along with many dozens of others in the Fortune 500 and Forbes Global 2000. 

Roland Reynolds, Managing Director of Industry Ventures, adds:

Our team is passionate about working with visionary companies at growth stage. Oblong is a spectacular example of the kind of tech leader we love to support—its products and UI-led technologies are defining a big part of the professional future.

In addition to its customer base of global business innovators, Oblong has established a foothold in government, education, and healthcare, demonstrating the sector-agnostic value of immersive, visually rich, collaborative, and highly capable spatial computing. The fluid nature of g-speak applications like Mezzanine for presentation, collaboration, and real-time situational awareness, is crucial to any organization tackling topics that require the attention of multiple stakeholders, and content sources, simultaneously. 

UTIMCO, Industry Ventures, and Greenspring Associates join Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners and Foundry Group, who have also participated in the round. As returning investors, both firms see the wide market potential for Oblong’s products and solutions.    

Says Jamey Sperans, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners:

From the beginning, we’ve shared the Oblong team’s conviction that immersive collaboration will become a strategic driver of economic value for the world’s most important companies. This view is now being borne out, commercially and at scale. We are delighted to continue supporting the exceptional Oblong team and to help accelerate the broad adoption of their game-changing vision.

Brad Feld, Co-Founder of Foundry Group adds:

Oblong is one of a kind. Their technology and products have essentially implemented science fiction—they’ve made sci-fi actionable, but also essential. This stuff is the future of work.

The company, founded by MIT Media Lab researcher and award-winning computer scientist John Underkoffler, was recently named a “Cool Vendor”* in Gartner’s 2016 report on Human-Machine Interface. 

“This is a validation of Oblong’s vision and growth potential,” said John Underkoffler, CEO, Oblong Industries. “The future of work is coming fast, and we’re proud to offer the immersive, visually rich, and highly capable tools that enable people at all levels to be as creative, collaborative, and productive in the workplace as success in this century requires.” 

*Gartner “Cool Vendors in Human-Machine Interface, 2016” by Werner Goertz, Annette Zimmermann, Nick Ingelbrecht, April 21, 2016. 

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 About Greenspring Associates Established in 2000, Greenspring Associates provides venture capital solutions to a diverse group of institutions and individuals worldwide. Through a synergistic platform, Greenspring Associates invests in established and emerging venture capital fund managers, in expansion stage venture-backed companies, and in secondary investments in venture capital funds and companies. Greenspring Associates currently manages over $4.1 billion in assets across multiple venture capital investment strategies. http://www.greenspringassociates.com

About Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners

Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners ("AIP"), part of Morgan Stanley Investment Management, specializes in assisting institutional and high net worth investors achieve their goals through the design and management of alternative investment programs.  AIP’s multi-disciplinary investment teams thoughtfully combine expertise in fund investing, secondaries and co-investing across hedge fund, private equity, real estate and multi-asset class strategies for the benefit of our clients.  Solutions include diversified and opportunistic multi-manager strategies, multi-asset class portfolios, liquid alternatives and fiduciary management. As of June 30, 2016, AIP managed total assets of $36.6 billion, including $10.2 billion in assets in our private equity primary and secondary funds http://www.morganstanley.com

About Foundry Group

Foundry Group is a venture capital firm focused on making investments in early-stage information technology, Internet, and software startups. Our passion is working alongside entrepreneurs to give birth to new technologies and to build those technologies into industry-leading companies. We’re centrally located in Boulder, CO, but we invest in companies across North America.

 http://www.foundrygroup.com

About Industry Ventures

Founded in 2000, Industry Ventures manages over $3 billion and has structured flexible liquidity solutions for entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and limited partners and helped pioneer a new market along the way. http://www.industryventures.com

About UTIMCO

Created in March 1996, UTIMCO is the first external investment corporation formed by a public university system -- The University of Texas. It invests endowment and operating funds in excess of $14.7 billion, including the Permanent University Fund, the Permanent Health Fund, the Long Term Fund, the General Endowment Fund, the Short Intermediate Term Fund, and the Short Term Fund, among other funds. UTIMCO is governed by a nine-member Board of Directors appointed by the UT Board. The UTIMCO Board of Directors includes three members of the UT Board, the Chancellor of The University of Texas System, and five outside investment professionals. http://www.utimco.org

About Oblong Industries

Oblong Industries’s innovative technologies change the way people work, create, and communicate. With roots in more than two decades of research at the MIT Media Lab, Oblong’s flagship product Mezzanine™ is an immersive visual collaboration solution that defines the next era of computing: multi-user, multi-screen, multi-device, multi-location. Mezzanine’s groundbreaking Infopresence capabilities multiply the effectiveness of distributed organizations and catalyze new, more effective, more collaborative workflows. Oblong is headquartered in Los Angeles and supplies Mezzanine systems to Fortune 500 enterprise customers and reseller partners. Learn more at www.oblong.com, and connect via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Working with Watson

The goal of each Watson Experience Center—located in New York, San Francisco, and Cambridge—is to demystify AI and challenge visitor’s expectations through more tangible demonstrations of Watson technology. Visitors are guided through a series of narratives and data interfaces, each grounded in IBM’s current capabilities in machine learning and AI. These sit alongside a host of Mezzanine rooms where participants further collaborate to build solutions together.

The process for creating each experience begins with dynamic, collaborative research. Subject matter experts take members of the design and engineering teams through real-world scenarios—disaster response, financial crimes investigation, oil and gas management, product research, world news analysis—where we identify and test applicable data sets. From there, we move our ideas quickly to scale.

Accessibility to the immersive pixel canvas for everyone involved is key to the process. Designers must be able to see their ideas outside of the confines of 15″ laptops and prescriptive software. Utilizing tools tuned for rapid iteration at scale, our capable team of designers, data artists, and engineers work side-by-side to envision and define each experience. The result is more than a polished marketing narrative; it's an active interface that allows the exploration of data with accurate demonstrations of Watson’s capabilities—one that customers can see themselves in.

Under the Hood

Underlying the digital canvas is a robust spatial operating environment, g‑speak, which allows our team to position real data in a true spatial context. Every data point within the system, and even the UI itself, is defined in real world coordinates (measured in millimeters, not pixels). Gestures, directional pointing, and proximity to screens help us create interfaces that more closely understand user intent and more effectively humanize the UI.

This award-nominated collaboration with IBM is prototyped and developed at scale at Oblong’s headquarters in Los Angeles as well as IBM’s Immersive AI Lab in Austin. While these spaces are typically invite-only, IBM is increasingly open to sharing the content and the unique design ideas that drive its success with the public. This November, during Austin Design Week, IBM will host a tour of their Watson Immersive AI Lab, including live demonstrations of the work and a Q&A session with leaders from the creative team.

Can't make it to Austin? Contact our Solutions team for a glimpse of our vision of the future at our headquarters in the Arts District in Los Angeles.

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