Twine, a video chat startup that launched amid the pandemic as a sort of “Zoom for meeting new people,” shifted its focus to online events and, as a result, has now closed on $3.3 million in seed funding. To date, twine’s events customers have included names like Microsoft, Amazon, Forrester and others, and the service is on track to do $1 million in bookings in 2021, the company says.
The new round was led by Moment Ventures, and included participation from Coelius Capital, AltaIR Capital, Mentors Fund, Rosecliff Ventures, AltaClub and Bloom Venture Partners. Clint Chao, founding partner at Moment, will join twine’s board of directors with the round’s close.
The shift into the online events space makes sense, given twine’s co-founders — Lawrence Coburn, Diana Rau and Taylor McLoughlin — hail from DoubleDutch, the mobile events technology provider acquired by Cvent in 2019.
Coburn, previously CEO of DoubleDutch, had been under a non-compete with its acquirer until December 2020, which is one reason why he didn’t first attempt a return to the events space.
The team’s original idea was to help people who were missing out on social connections under COVID lockdowns find a way to meet others and chat online. This early version of twine saw some small amount of traction, as 10% of its users were even willing to pay. But many more were nervous about being connected to random online strangers, twine found.
Image Credits: twine
So the company shifted its focus to the familiar events space, with a specific focus on online events which grew in popularity due to the pandemic. While setting up livestreams, text chats and Q&A has been possible, what’s been missing from many online events was the casual and unexpected networking that used to happen in-person.
“The hardest thing to bring to virtual events was the networking and the serendipity — like the conversations that used to happen in an elevator, in the bar, the lobby — these kinds of things,” explains Coburn. “So we began testing a group space version of twine — bringing twine to existing communities as opposed to trying to build our own, new community. And that showed a lot more legs,” he says.
By January 2021, the new events-focused version of twine was up and running, offering a set of professional networking tools for event owners. Unlike one-to-many or few-to-many video broadcasts, twine connects a small number of people for more intimate conversations.
“We did a lot of research with our customers and users, and beyond five [people in a chat], it turns into a webinar,” notes Coburn, of the limitations on twine’s video chat. In twine, a small handful of people are dropped into a video chat experience — and now, they’re not random online strangers. They’re fellow event attendees. That generally keeps user behavior professional and the conversations productive.
Event owners can use the product for free on twine’s website for small events with up to 30 users, but to scale up any further requires a license. Twine charges on a per attendee basis, where customers buy packs of attendees on a software-as-a-service model.
The company’s customers can then embed twine directly in their own website or add a link that pops open the twine website in a separate browser tab.
Coburn says twine has found a sweet spot with big corporate event programs. The company has around 25 customers, but some of those have already used twine for 10 or 15 events after first testing out the product for something smaller.
“We’re working with five or six of the biggest companies in the world right now,” noted Coburn.
Image Credits: twine
Because the matches are digital, twine can offer other tools like digital “business card” exchanges and analytics and reports for the event hosts and attendees alike.
Despite the cautious return to normal in the U.S., which may see in-person events return in the year ahead, twine believes there’s still a future in online events. Due to the pandemic’s lasting impacts, organizations are likely to adopt a hybrid approach to their events going forward.
“I don’t think there’s ever been an industry that has gone through a 15 months like the events industry just went through,” Coburn says. “These companies went to zero, their revenue went to zero and some of them were coming from hundreds of millions of dollars. So what happened was a digital transformation like the world has never seen,” he adds.
Now, there are tens of thousands of event planners who have gotten really good at tech and online events. And they saw the potential in online, which would sometimes deliver 4x or 5x the attendance of virtual, Coburn points out.
“This is why you see LinkedIn drop $50 million on Hopin,” he says, referring to the recent fundraise for the virtual conference technology business. (The deal was reportedly for less than $50 million). “This is why you see the rounds of funding that are going into Hopin and Bizzabo and Hubilo and all the others. This is the taxi market, pre-Uber.”
Of course, virtual events may end up less concerned with social features when they can offer an in-person experience. And those who want to host online events may be looking for a broader solution than Zoom + twine, for example.
But twine has ideas about what it wants to do next, including asynchronous matchmaking, which could end up being more valuable as it could lead to better matches since it wouldn’t be limited to only who’s online now.
With the funding, twine is hiring in sales and customer success, working on accessibility improvements and expanding its platform. To date, twine has raised $4.7 million.
Over the course of four seasons, and soon a fifth installment, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has managed to one-up themselves and make the scale bigger, the set pieces more extravagant and the monologues snappier. While all of this has been amazing for us viewers, one-upping yourself every time must be quite stressful, and it has been according to Rachel Brosnahan. However, she also came up with an adorable way to de-stress and help the cast and crew by hiring therapy pigs. This also goes to show just how delightful the set of this Prime Video show seems, even during stressful moments.
Filming Season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which went on to win many Emmys in 2019, the cast and crew had taken on a much bigger challenge than they did in Season 1. By traveling around the world, and upping the ante overall the stress levels were high. However, Rachel Brosnahan revealed that she had a “delightful” stress relief activity planned involving therapy pigs, truly showing how wonderful this set seems. The actress behind Midge Maisel started her story about therapy pigs by setting the scene on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, saying:
It truly is incredible that she did that for the cast, and it looks like Brosnahan also had a fabulous time bonding with the little piglets on set, as she posted this adorable photo on Instagram a few years ago:
The Emmy-winning actress continued her story about bringing the therapy pigs to the 1950s set, noting that everyone in the crew, even the gruff and tough guys enjoyed their time with the small animals.
This story warms my heart, and it confirms something I already thought was true: working on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel seems like a delightful time.
Luckily, all the cast and crew’s hard work paid off big time, as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has remained one of Amazon Prime’s best original shows for years now. Hopefully, with the fifth and final season of Maisel on the way, we’ll get more outstanding comedy and wholesome stories from the set.
I’d say that based on Brosnahan’s sweet message she penned as the show wrapped its final season, we’re in for even more wholesome stories as Season 5 makes its way to us, hopefully on the 2023 TV schedule. However, while we wait for a premiere date for the final installment, you can watch the first four seasons of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (and make sure to take note of just how much they accomplished in Season 2) with an Amazon Prime subscription.
Amazon increased its renewable energy capacity by 8.3 GW in 2022, bringing its total portfolio to over 20 GW, enough to power millions of US homes.
Growing to become one of the largest global companies by market cap comes with great responsibility. The bigger the operations, the more damaging they can be to the environment with more energy use, carbon emissions, etc.
After the pandemic shuttered most people inside their homes, online shopping became a go-to for many.
As a result, e-commerce giant Amazon saw its business surge, with an over 200% rise in profits as shopping habits turned digital. To offset the company’s explosive growth, it has been investing in renewable energy projects and other sustainable activities to reduce its environmental impact.
Since 2014 Amazon has been on a mission to decarbonize its business globally by adding renewable energy capacity and electric vehicles to its fleet while striving to make packaging more efficient.
The e-commerce giant committed to rolling out over 100,000 EDVs from Rivian by 2030 as part of its Climate Pledge. According to Amazon’s latest update, over 1,000 Rivian EDVs debuted this past holiday season to make zero-emission deliveries.
Amazon’s renewable energy portfolio expanded in 2022
Meanwhile, the company added significant clean energy capacity last year to help it reach its goal of powering operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025, five years ahead of its goal.
Amazon announced today it set a new record for the most renewable energy purchased in 2022, adding an additional 8.3 GW through 133 new projects in 11 countries.
Altogether, Amazon now has over 20 GW, enough to power 5.3 million US homes. The clean energy capacity is spread throughout 401 projects (164 wind farms and 237 rooftop solar projects) in 22 different countries. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Amazon remains the most prominent corporate buyer of renewable energy, maintaining the position since 2020.
Once complete and operational, Amazon expects to generate 56,881 GWh of clean energy annually.
Head of sustainability research at BloombergNEF, Kyle Harris, says Amazon’s clean energy portfolio is now among the leading utilities globally, adding:
The fact that it announced a new annual record of clean energy in a year mired by a global energy crisis, supply chain bottlenecks, and high interest rates speaks to its forward planning and expertise in navigating power markets and executing long-term contracts.
Despite economic uncertainty, Amazon stood by its commitment last year, doubling down on its renewable energy efforts.
You have to give credit where credit is due. Amazon is doing its part by deploying hundreds of clean energy projects across the globe.
Amazon says renewable energy reached 85% of its business in 2021. By doubling down this past year, the e-commerce giant is now on track to hit its goal of powering business operations with 100% renewable five years ahead of schedule.
However, the company still has a lot of work to do to lessen its environmental impact. According to research from Statista, packaging accounts for the most significant share of greenhouse gas emissions in the e-commerce industry, accounting for 45% of total emissions.
Amazon has also made strides in reducing emissions by reducing per-shipment packaging weight by 38% (eliminating over 1.5 million tons of packaging), optimizing materials, and offering vendors incentives to use fully recyclable materials.
The e-commerce giant is making significant progress in its renewable energy goals, yet there’s still a long way to go in reducing packaging waste and energy usage overall.
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Microsoft 365 is a must-have for just about every PC and Mac user. And on Tuesday only, Amazon is offering a free $50 Amazon gift card when you purchase a one-year subscription to Microsoft 365 Family. This is by far one of the best Amazon gift card deals you can get right now.
Formerly called Office 365, Microsoft 365 Family gives up to six people access to the latest versions of Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and more. Microsoft’s various Office apps are thought of by most people as vastly superior to similar software from other brands. You need these apps anyway, so taking advantage of this one-day Microsoft 365 Family deal obviously makes sense.
For those unaware, Microsoft 365 includes all of the most important Microsoft Office applications and more. You get Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Your subscription also includes Microsoft OneDrive, Editor, and Family Safety, which is a suite of security solutions.
Unlike years past, this is a subscription service instead of a one-time purchase. You pay $99.99 annually for Microsoft 365 Family, and you’ll always have the latest versions of all of these apps on your Windows PCs and Mac computers.
Plus, you get access to the online versions of Microsoft Office apps. That means you can access them from any browser no matter where you are.
All that for $99.99 each year is already a terrific value. On Tuesday, however, Amazon is running a one-day sale that gives you a great bonus.
In addition to everything we listed above, Amazon’s deal includes a $50 Amazon gift card at no extra charge. Since you’re going to subscribe to Microsoft 365 anyway, why not renew now and get a $50 bonus for free?