FiftyThree, the startup behind the wildly popular drawing app Paper, has closed a Series A round of financing led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from Highline Ventures, Thrive Capital, SV Angels, and Jack Dorsey. The investment was led by Chris Dixon, and could help the company to expand its suite of creative tools for mobile and tablet users.
With the funding, FiftyThree is hoping to expand its current product, launch more apps, and look into hardware, all of which is the continuation of a journey it embarked on a few years ago. After working on projects such as Office, Kinect, Sonos, and the Xbox, as well Microsoft’s own early tablet prototype, Courier, the team came together to create Paper. In doing so, it set out to build a set of tools that would change the way people used the iPad.
The app provided a new outlet for creativity on the tablet. While most initial iPad users thought about it as a tool for content consumption, Paper gave users the ability to be more creative. Since then, the app has been downloaded more than 8 million times and has had more than 80 million projects built on it.
FiftyThree has also received a massive amount of critical acclaim for Paper, winning a number of awards since being launched. Among other things, it’s been honored with Apple’s App Of The Year Award and the Apple Design Award, and even won a Crunchie. It’s also been featured on iPads in Apple Stores as just one of the many apps that are available to prospective owners.
With the latest update to the Paper app, FiftyThree added a “Made With Paper” stream to provide new users and creators with inspiration for the types of projects they can embark upon. But there’s more to do, the team believes. Paper is just the first in what is likely a series of applications and tools that the startup plans to make available.
In a blog post announcing the funding, the team said it wanted to enable more social collaboration for creators which could enable them to work on projects together. It also hopes to build tools that go beyond just expressing oneself on the iPad or other tablets. That includes building hardware to create more physical tools for creation.
“With their partnership we’ll be able to expand our software, service, and hardware teams to take on bigger questions around collaboration and physical creation,” the team wrote.
In a conversation with TechCrunch TV earlier this year (embedded below), the company discussed other creative tools that it could come to market with in the future. One idea is a stylus, which could provide a new type of hardware input for its creators.
While FiftyThree doesn’t need to raise money, according to a blog post by investor Chris Dixon, the company plans to use the funding to accelerate its growth and to go after new opportunities. With the investment from Andreessen Horowitz and others, the company will be expanding its engineering team in New York and Seattle.