By Hamish Fletcher - NZ Herald -Tuesday Dec 18, 2012
Kiwi software firm Booktrack - which adds music and other ambient audio to e-books - has raised US$2 million from investors and is now being backed by Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall.
Booktrack says it offers readers a "movie-like sound experience" by mixing audio with novels or short stories being read on a computer or tablet device and counts Facebook billionaire Peter Thiel among its investors.
The company just closed its latest round of capital raising and took in around $2 million, said chief executive Paul Cameron.
Cameron said the company continued to receive support from the likes of Thiel, and the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund as well as new investment from Tindall's K1W1 fund and Park Road Post Productions, which produced the sound from the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films.
A Japanese company, efu investment, also put money into the firm as did Phil Veal, the chairman of Kiwi expats association KEA.
Cameron said the funds will be used to provide the tools for others to create Booktrack-style texts.
"At the moment we've brought a good idea to market and its had a good reaction and good traction. The next phase is we want to provide the tools for anyone to create a Booktrack for any text. We're creating a platform for that to happen and that will be rolled out over the next 12 months," he said.
Cameron said the company has also done a deal with Park Road Post, for the studio to do all the audio content for Booktrack's premium releases.
"If we're working with a big name author or other premium content, then they will be producing all the audio for that. The current example of that would be the Bible. We've just released the gospels and the New Testament will be out soon and all of the sound for that will be done by Park Road Post."
Founded in August last year, Booktrack is backed by tech heavyweights such as Thiel and The Hyperfactory co-founder Derek Handley.
The company has worked with big name authors such as Salman Rushdie and John Psathas is among its composers.
Despite having sales staff in overseas markets, most of Booktrack's R&D is done from New Zealand.
The company picked up honours at this year's NZ High Tech Awards, scooping up the Innovative Software Product prize.
By Hamish Fletcher hamishfletcher Email Hamish