London-based startup Lifecake, which offers a photo-sharing app aimed at parents with young children, has been acquired by Canon Europe, as the hardware maker aims to bolster the services side of its business. Terms of the deal remain undisclosed, but my understanding is that this is an all in acquisition, consisting of the Lifecake app and user base, existing 6 person team, and technology.
Canon says the acquisition marks a “major step” in the development of the company’s digital consumer services business and its ambition to “play a part in every image taken no matter what device is being used” — in other words, not just photos taken with Canon hardware e.g. on competing smartphone cameras.
It’s also talking up the purchase of Lifecake as a way of putting down roots in London’s ‘Tech City’ (also known as ‘Silicon Roundabout’) where the startup is currently based.
In a conference call, Alberto Spinelli, Director of Digital Services at Canon Europe, told me that this is just the start and the company hopes the acquisition and its plans for Lifecake will help attract additional software talent from the thriving London tech scene and show that Canon is a “cool” company to work for.
Founded by former Skype, Qualcomm, and Yahoo engineers, Lifecake offers a photo-sharing app for families, which allows parents to store, organise, share and “relive” key moments of their children’s lives.
Features include the ability to create photo and video timelines, granular privacy settings that let you specify who can see what, and the option to create printable photo books. The startup is a classic ‘mobile-first’ company and it’s clear that mobile talent was a big draw for Canon.
During our call, Spinelli made constant mention of Lifecake’s well-received user experience, citing the app’s photo caching and smooth scrolling, and its algorithm that helps to surface the most interesting photos as examples of technology and know-how the startup can bring to other potential Canon services and apps.
In turn, during the same call, Lifecake CEO and co-founder Nicholas Babaian told me that, along with scale, Canon also brings technology to the table, namely image enhancement features that could help users of the app — particularly time poor parents — save time.
“With the reach and technology of Canon, we’ll strap booster rockets onto our service,” he says in a statement. “At the same time, our team will accelerate the growth of Canon’s digital services ecosystem. But we’re most delighted that our existing and potential customers will know their precious memories are safe with one of the most trusted brands in photography.”
Whether or not the startup’s exit is anything close to a home run for it founders or investors is unclear. Neither Spinelli nor Babaian would be drawn on the topic. The company had raised around $1.4 million in total. Balderton Capital led Lifecake’s latest round, while EC1 Capital was an early investor.
“As early investors we’re really happy with the outcome, but it’s also a great home for the customers and the team,” EC1 Capital’s Julian Carter tells TechCrunch in an email. “Canon can make what is already a beautifully executed product into something that can really scale so a great outcome for the early investors, the Lifecake team and for Canon.”
Noteworthy is that, prior to today’s exit, Lifecake had begun trying to raise a further round of funding and it was during this process that the startup met with Canon who evidently decided that an acquisition made more sense.
The Lifecake app boasts 350,000 registered users, of which about a third are active at any one time, averaging 4 sessions per week.