- British property tycoon Nick Candy has bought Blippar, the augmented reality startup which collapsed late last year.
- Candy was already a large shareholder in Blippar, which raised more than $US130 million from a number of backers.
- Blippar’s CEO Ambarish Mitra will head up the new entity, which will let people create their own augmented reality experiences on mobile.
- Candy has invested in and acquired a number of startups that went into administration.
British property tycoon Nick Candy has acquired what remains of Blippar, the augmented reality startup which collapsed in late 2018.
Candy was already a major shareholder in Blippar, which fell into administration – the UK’s approximate equivalent to Chapter 11 bankruptcy – in December after failing to raise new funds.
Blippar sought bidders for its business through December and January, with Candy Ventures ultimately winning out.
A spokeswoman for Candy’s investment vehicle, Candy Ventures, declined to give details on the financials.
It is likely that Candy paid significantly less than Blippar’s purported $US1.5 billion valuation. Insiders and financial filings have suggested the firm was worth less than $US300 million.
According to a press statement, Candy Ventures has essentially acquired all of Blippar, including its intellectual property, its brand names, and another company acquired by Blippar called Layar.
Blippar will reform as a new business, headed up by its former chief executive and cofounder Ambarish Mitra. The new entity will focus on letting customers create mobile augmented reality experiences through Blippar’s “Blippbuilder” tool.
In positive news, the new entity will also re-employ some of Blippar’s former employees, though Candy Ventures didn’t detail how many.
Business Insider spotted on Tuesday that Mitra had set up a new company, Augmented Reality Labs, that had direct ties to Blippar.
Under Candy’s ownership, it appears that Blippar will refocus its business. Blippar previously had big ambitions to use artificial intelligence (AI) to create a kind of visual search engine on mobile. There is no mention in Candy Ventures’ statement of AI, or visual search.
In its statement, Candy Ventures blamed Blippar’s collapse on another investor’s decision to block further investment. According to the statement, “embattled” Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad “blocked further pre-agreed funding from entering the business.” Khazanah has not responded to repeated requests for comment on its role in Blippar’s collapse.
Blippar’s revival is a show of faith from Candy, given the firm’s many hiccups over the last two years. The Financial Times found Mitra had made a number of misleading statements about his past achievements and CV, while multiple sources described to Business Insider a company that lacked direction and was burning through money.
Candy made his money through renovating upmarket properties with his brother, Christian Candy, and is now dabbling in tech investing. He invested in music startup Crowdmix, then acquired the business when it fell into administration. He is also a major investor in podcast company Audioboom.
Candy Ventures’ spokeswoman said “The augmented reality market is growing exponentially and Blippar was an early innovator and leader in this space.
“[Ambarish] and the team built a great business which had to adapt to the challenges of a constantly-evolving industry. With the right application of its powerful AR technology, there is huge potential for the new company to drive innovation in AR and position itself at the forefront of the industry.”
Mitra, issuing a statement on Blippar for the first time since its collapse, said: “It was a devastating disappointment when Blippar was forced into administration at the end of last year, but today’s news is a hugely positive outcome.
“We continue to believe in the future of augmented reality and see a huge opportunity to create the best platform to allow our customers to seamlessly build and publish successful AR experiences in the same way that WordPress allowed anyone to easily create and publish a website.”
He added: “We are extremely grateful for the overwhelming support during this difficult time and I am very thankful to everyone who has contributed to the Blippar journey so far, in particular our team members without whom we couldn’t have built any of this.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.