360cities.net is the web’s largest collection of stunning, geo-referenced, interactive panoramic photos, created by a network of thousands of the finest panorama photographers from around the world. 360Cities is leveraging the growing demand for rich media digital content in publishing, advertising & film, and mobile app & game development and has become the go-to resource for those in search of high-quality 360 degree panoramas.
360Cities is the world’s leading source of a growing collection of hundreds of thousand of high-quality, high-resolution, interactive, spherical (360 x 180 degree) panoramas that can be licensed for digital publication, mobile app, game, advertising campaign, and more. Panoramas are sourced from a passionate and growing member base of thousands of expert panorama photographers from around the world. Panorama photography enthusiasts consider 360Cities to be the best service to promote their carefully crafted photography. Membership plans are “freemium” with hundreds of members upgrading to paid accounts allowing them the ability, for example, to promote their business customers and earn advertising revenue off of their panoramas. 360Cities panoramas are viewed many millions of times monthly on 360cities.net,via embeds to 3rd party websites, across platform partners’ services, and on clients’ own websites.
Demand for interactive panoramas is driven by the fact that viewers spend more time engaging with interactive panoramas than with standard photos, whether on desktop or mobile platforms. Interactive panoramas qualify as rich media and justify a premium pricing model. Panoramas are licensed to clients on a “rights managed” basis, meaning that the price depends on how clients want to use the images, for how long, in what markets, etc. A growing base of hundreds of customers from around the world have licensed 360Cities panoramas for use in both their print and digital content. Customers include verticals like periodicals (Sunday Times, Daily Mail), educational publishers (McGraw-Hill, Pearson), advertising (Leo Burnett, MC&Saatchi), app and game developers, TV and film companies, virtual reality hardware and software providers, fulldome theaters and planetariums, and more.
One of the primary goals of panorama photographers is to have their work promoted as much as possible and across multiple channels. 360Cities meets this demand as its panoramas are featured in the photo layer of Google Earth, in the Travel and Food and Drink sections of Microsoft’s MSN.com and in the Flipboard digital magazine app.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) The growth in content, participating photographers, customer base, and revenue generated from licensing are all monitored closely. Views on the Company’s website translate into revenue, so 360Cities closely monitor the number of viewers on the site. The company continually updates the site with fresh content. The 360Cities website handles millions of views each month. Like any other well run business, 360Cities set targets for revenues and operating cash flows. Over the last year the Company has nearly doubled its revenue base. This of course benefits the Company, but also importantly, the increasing amount of licensing royalties and advertising revenues benefits the growing base of members.
None of the major stock photo agencies has taken the plunge into interactive panoramas. The major reason for this is that interactive panoramas are a relatively small niche in comparison to the work involved in building a sourcing mechanism that works for traditional stock photo agencies. Most panorama photographers do not upload panoramas solely to earn money from licensing but to be part of the 360Cities community and experience, which is very difficult for a traditional stock photo agency to duplicate. Competition currently comes from individual photographers who receive assignments or have relationships with local customers. Only 360Cities aggregates panoramas globally and can meet large customer requirements for diverse subject matters and locations.
Leadership position 360Cities has one of the world’s largest collection of quality, licensable panoramic folders. The Company has a network of photographers around the world that can provide customers with custom made panoramic content. Proven demand 360Cities continues to grow its base of users and its based of customers who license 360Cities content. Skilled, motivated management team The management team is highly experienced and has been working together for over 6 years. The management team is also highly incentivised. Management and employees own equity in the company, having personally invested.
Funding 360Cities has a limited funding base on which to rely on in order to move fast on development and marketing initiatives. The company is addressing this weakness with a capital raising program, designed to give the company more flexibility and implement growth projects faster. Location 360Cities management team has not established a presence in technology centers such as silicon valley, California or large international media markets such as New York or London. Based in Prague, the management team is physically far away from large potential business opportunities related to funding and marketing. Despite this challenge, the Company has become an industry leader. One of the key advantages of an internet based business is that the cost and time to access customers, suppliers and business opportunities has fallen. Distance from market is no longer the obstacle it used to be.
Growing market Over the past few years the demand for panoramic content has expanded. The business opportunity for 360Cities is expand its content library and build out its e-commerce licensing platform thereby growing number of customers, transactions, and revenues. New applications New applications for panoramic content have also developed. Virtually reality and computer game companies are becoming an increasingly large consumer of panoramic content.
New competitors A large, well capitalised internet company with broad reach can make it possible for photographers to upload their high quality panoramas. This has actually happened, yet photographers who wish to earn money through royalty arrangements continue to upload their content to 360Cities. A large stock photor agency could begin licensing interactive panoramas and source the panoramas themselves – thus competing with 360cities. However, building library of panoramic content is capital and labor intensive. Secondly, curating panoramic content is technically challenging. Each item in the database must be tagged and identified and made readily accessible on demand via a network of servers. Finally, creating a user experience for the viewers, photographers and customers wishing to license content is technically and creatively challenging. 360Cities has several years of proprietary experience and technological know-how. The breadth and depth of content library, combined with an already entrenched market position effectively create barriers to entry that any new competitor would have to overcome in order to compete effectively with 360Cities.
360Cities has been managed since 2008 by a team of three Americans living in Prague, Czech Republic.
Jeffrey S. Martin, Founder
Creator of world-record gigapixel world-record gigapixel imagery and a pioneer of experimental panoramic photography techniques. Jeff’s a visionary, an artist, and an inventor, happiest when he’s designing and creating either panoramic beauty itself or new ways of creating it. He likes to continually explore the horizon of possibilities in panoramic imagery. Jeff has a B.A. in English Writing (with Philosophy and Art minors) from DePaul University.
Steve Hercher, Commercial Director
With over 20 years experience in international IT related activities, Steve has cultivated the art of empathetic business development and sales to perfection. Steve was instrumental in obtaining the initial round of funding back in 2007 and has built an impressive number of trusted relationships with global brands ever since. Steve wields his debating skills, which he’s been honing since high school, wisely to the benefit of 360Cities. Steve has an M.A. in International History from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a B.A. in Economics and History from Willamette University.
Bruce Pales, CEO
Bruce turned his passion for sports into a successful tennis business in Germany. He went on to develop a career in finance and telecommunications. He worked 13-years stint with Lucent Technologies beginning in Finance and eventually moving to Business Development and Sales roles. Bruce is a passionate believer in communication and a teamwork. Bruce has an MBA in International Business from the Schiller International University and a BSc in accountancy from DePaul University. Bruce has also taken an eclectic mix of courses ranging from ancient Greek to the history of Argentine film at both the Freie Universität in Berlin and the Charles University in Prague.
360Cities fit many of the criteria we established for the Angel Fund. We highlight our key considerations.
- Unique, compelling product with proven demand.
- Potentially attractive acquisition target.
- Inherent competitive advantages.
- Strong, focused, motivated management team.
The range of devices on which panoramics can be viewed has grown. A few years ago the principal viewing medium was a PC or laptop. Now such content can be viewed on tablets, mobile phones. Panoramics can also be used in creating computer games, films, GPS navigators and a burgeoning array of devices designed to create virtual reality experiences.The business is scaleable. The content library grows each month with uploads. Internet and computer technology enable the company to efficiently distribute content to consumers. The business has competitive advantage. 360Cities has a large and growing content library. Replicating the range and scope of the content would certainly be a challenge for any new entrant. Re-creating the user experience and the business relationships established with content providers and content consumers would also be a challenge for any potential new competitor. There is a strong management team in place. Management have been running this company successfully for several years. They understand the business, they have established good corporate governance practices. They are well motivated with equity ownership and capital they personally invested in the business.