In June of 1999, Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins invested $ 25 million in an early-stage company developing a new search engine called Google that paved the way for a revolution in how knowledge was held online And shared.
Now, Sequoia Capital is placing another bet on a different kind of search engine, one for physical goods in three dimensions, the way the introduction of three-dimensional sensing technologies on consumer phones is set to create a revolution in spatial computing.
At least, the condition that Sean Maguire of Sequoia Capital is making on a Columbus, Ohio-based startup * Fizzana.
Maguire and Sequoia Drive are betting $ 20 million with the Capital, a Columbus, Ohio-based venture firm founded by two former Sequoia partners, Mark Kvamme and Chris Olsen.
“This is an open problem in mathematics, which is how you do three dimensional research. How do you define a metric that gives you other similar three-dimensional objects. It has a long history in mathematics, ”Maguire said. “When I first met [Physna founder] Paul Powers, he had already come up with a wildly novel distance metric to compare different three-dimensional objects. If you have a distance metric, you can find other objects that are at some distance. Their thinking is inherent which is incredibly creative. If I put it in the language of modern mathematics… it contains very advanced ideas that actually work as well. “
Powers’ idea – and Fitzna’s technique – was a long time.
An attorney in training and an entrepreneur at heart, Powers came to the problem of three-dimensional search through his old day job as an intellectual property lawyer.
Powers chose IP law because he felt it was the most interesting way to operate at the intersection of technology and law – and would provide a good grounding for whatever serial entrepreneur would eventually launch. While practicing, Powers tackled a major problem, while some intellectual property theft around software and services was easy to catch, making it harder to identify when real products or parts were being stolen as trade secrets. “We were always able to steal 2D intellectual property,” Powers said, but capturing IP theft in three dimensions was elusive. “
From its beginnings in 2015 through 2019, Powers worked with co-founder and chief technology officer Glenn Warner Jr. on developing the product, initially aimed at protecting product design from theft. Sadly, Warner died as the company was getting ready to unveil its transformation into a three-dimensional search engine.
Powers rebuilt the company and its executive team with the help of Denis Demire, who joined the company in 2020 after a stint in the office of Chief Technology Officer and Technical Director for Google Cloud.
“When I left, I hopped on a plane with two checked bags and walked into a hotel, until I could rent a fully furnished house,” Demire Told the protocol last year.
Other heavy hitters were designed for the Cincinnati-based company, due in no small part to Olsen and Quemme’s Silicon Valley connections. They include GithHub’s chief technology officer, Jason Warner, who has a seat on the company’s board of directors with Kevum, co-founder of Drive Capital, who serves as chairman.
Physna, Kvamme, Maguire and Warner see a combination of GitHub and Google – especially after the company’s consumer-facing site launch last year, Thugs.
That site allows users to search for three-dimensional objects by uploading a description or a model or image. As noted by Mike Murphy in the protocol, it is similar to ThingViewers, Yggi, or other sites used by 3D printing enthusiasts. All that the site can do is show users the associative history of each model and the component parts of the model – if it contains different objects.
Hence the GitHub and Google combination. And users can set up profiles to store their own models or to collaborate and comment on public models.
What Maguer’s eye was about the company was the way users gravitated to the free site. “There were thousands of people using it every day,” he said. It is a replica of the way many successful companies try a freemium or professional consumer hybrid approach to sell products. “They have a free version and people are using it all the time and loving it. This is a foundation they can build on.
And Maguire thinks the spatial computing wave may come sooner than anyone. “The new iPhone has LIDAR … it’s the first consumer device shipped with a 3D scanner with LIDAR and I think that’s about a three-dimensional explosion.”
Ultimately, Fizzana can be a technology hub where users can scan three-dimensional objects in their phones and be converted as a virtual object for reproduction or as a file for 3D printing.
According to Power, hundreds of businesses have approached the company with various requests to implement their technology.
“A new feature will allow you to take a picture of something and not only show you what it is or where it goes. Even if it is in one part of the assembly. We break a vase and with the vase shark we can show you how the pieces fit together, ”said Powers.
Typical contracts for the company’s software range from $ 25,000 to $ 50,000 for enterprise customers, but the software that empowers Fizna’s product is more than just an application according to Powers.
“We are not just a product. We are a fundamental technology. “There is a difference between physical and digital.”
For Sequoia and Drive Capital, Fijna’s software is a technology to bridge that gap.