Village News – August & September
Welcome to the August & September 2023 recap of the Hillfarrance Village News! We've decided to make these bi-monthly since there's so much content to share now.
There are lots of updates this time around. In this edition, we share our latest investments in Zero King & RiffRaff Games, a summary of our trip to the NZ Game Developers Conference and the US, our Future Play Mixer and many more portfolio updates.
Keep reading for more👇
What we've been up to
We're incredibly excited to share our first investment from Hillfarrance Fund II!
So much of video game investment is predicated on creating IP that lasts. Some examples of this are:
The Call of Duty Series by Activision Blizzard
League of Legends from Riot Games
Counter-Strike by Valve Corp
Elite Dangerous by Frontier Developments plc
Minecraft by Mojang Studios
These games have five key characteristics or attributes that make them so replayable and loved for years:
We see this in Zero King, and we are very excited to be leading their first external Pre-seed capital raise.
Find out why we Invested here
Our exceptional team has experience working for from some of the most exciting studios on the planet (Arkane Studios, Sony Santa Monica, A44 Games, Magic Leap to name but a few). As you will see in our investment notes, Hideo Kojima is also a massive fan and supporter of this team’s work.” The vision that CEO and Founder, Joshua Boggs, and the rest of the RiffRaff crew have for their studio and launch title is so bloody unique and exciting that I am gutted I can't share any more info just now. Rest assured, good things come to those who wait, and we will reveal a juicy update in the months to come. In the meantime, please check out our investment notes to learn more about RiffRaff Games and the reasons why we fell truly, madly and deeply in love with this incredible bunch of people and their creative and technical genius!Read our RiffRaff Investment notes here
This IP was created by FR's animator, Benji Mulot and was selected to be their debut IP.
Amidst the ruins of a post-apocalyptic Japan, genetically re-engineered dinosaurs have survived humans and become the dominant species. Ancient primal instincts ignite modern tribal wars, and the ultimate survivors must navigate a world where the balance of power has shifted in ways no one could have foreseen.
We're so excited to Co-finance this IP alongside Floating Rock Studio, and as you can see, people already love it with over 1 million views!
Give them a follow here, and stay tuned!
In late August, we hosted our inaugural Future Play Mixer, an event paying homage to the epic gaming industry here in New Zealand during the week of the NZ Game Developers Conference!
We hosted all the sponsors & speakers from NZGDC, and it was a blast! We showcased never-before-seen content from our portfolio companies & held a fireside chat with legendary game designer Charles Cecil OBE.
Rob V was also disguised as a stormtrooper!
You can read more about our Future Play Mixer here.
Portfolio company updates
Floating Rock has been up to some awesome stuff these past two months, from releasing their debut IP, Kyōryū, to travelling across the world visiting Pixar, joining a delegation with the Wellington Mayor and much more! See below some images of the past two months:
Floating Rock's FAQ about Kyōryū
Dimetrodon concepts by Chase Stone
Caffeine Daily's article about Hillfarrance & Floating Rock's relationship & partnership
Lukas & Garrick (Floating Rock) at the Pixar's Campus
During the Future Play Mixer at the end of August, we unveiled IGC's latest video about their integration with "Monster's Racing League". Players can now customise their characters and have the ability to purchase their characters as a 3D-printed collectable within the game.
This is a feat that has never been done before and breaks our current understanding of how video game collectables are created today. IGC now makes it possible for video game studios to offer 3D-printed collectables of their own user-generated content on demand.
IGC also 3D printed the main protagonist in Floating Rock's newest IP:
Co-founder & CEO Kathryn Topp was recently invited to Adobe's 2023 Summit to talk about the power of generative AI in the research & insights industry.
Introducing Augmented Data!
Researchers love knowledge, and in a perfect world scenario, they would have fast and unlimited access to the answers they seek. However, staying on the pulse of your brand has been limited by time, cost, and access to traditional research. Not anymore! With Yabble's new Augmented Data, researchers can now create a rich, multi-dimensional perspective of their research topic and generate precise answers to their queries in minutes. Learn more about the how and why of Augmented Data on their blog below:Read more about Yabble's augmented data
We're excited to announce that Compostic is now stocked in Raley's all across the West Coast of The US!!!
Wins don't come easy in this industry, and it's all thanks to the team who work tirelessly to make these things happen. Special thanks to Tom Wittenberg for making this happen. Lot's more to come...
Partly has recently published a longer-form video explaining why Partly exists and how big of a problem Partly is solving. The video also showcases Partly's strategy of how they will get there and the culture they're building to get there internally.
Fiona, Co-founder & CEO of Naut recently had the priveldge of attending MBIE's first-ever all-wāhine (women) trade mission to Melbourne.
Accompanying Fiona was a trade delegation of 25 businesswomen representing a cross section of New Zealand’s export sectors, including F&B, health products, technology, and marketing. This trade mission coincides with the FIFA Women’s World Cup, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, and the 40th anniversary of the Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations free trade agreement.
Naut's product manager, Cees van Egmond, embarked on a journey to Amsterdam to represent our company at the Electric and Hybrid Marine Expo. Now that he's back on New Zealand soil, Cees reflects on his time at the expo and shares with us the experiences, innovative solutions, and inspiring conversations that took place during the event.
You can learn more about his insights here.
Recently, the Octana team all got together in beautiful Queenstown for a team offsite. This mainly involved awesome ATVs, great food and even better discussions & planning for the future!
Scannable has also added James Hollingsworth as another ambassador to their team. James is the owner of White Dragon Access Ltd, which has been providing Rope Access, Industrial Climbing, Technical Rope Rescue and Confined Space Services in the UK since 2013. James places an emphasis on safety and competency every day, and we’re stoked to help him streamline these processes. “It's brilliant to be part of an organisation which is providing such a valuable solution to PPE compliance and equipment tracking.” When James discovered Rope Access, it was love at first sight. He’s a firm believer in the old adage “find a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” and has forged great friendships through the industry. Rope Rescue competitions are a newer love for James, which has opened a new world of interest and experiences for him. “My favourite things about Scannable? For one, the ease of use. It’s a very user-friendly app, so you don't have to be Stephen Hawking to use it. I like that no matter what equipment you want to add, there is an NFC tag for the job. And the fact that the Manufacturer’s instructions are uploaded onto the app for quick reference if needed makes life so easy!”
It's not everyday you have a customer in the B2B world that endorses your product on social media. Fortunately, Scannable is just one of those products that folks in the work at height industry absolutely adore!
The awesome team at Hashbane have recently shared an insider sneak peek video of what they've been up to. In short, what you can expect are:
The most historically accurate and highest quality dinosaur models you've ever seen
Gameplay trailers & more.
SRG recently hosted an exclusive playtest of their debut game, "Criminals Within", to a small audience at the Hillfarrance office in Devonport. There will be a video published shortly showing the amazing time we had letting the public play our game for the very first time! We even had some awesome cutouts of Jarel & Halena, the main protagonists!
The SRG team are also in Melbourne for Games Week & PAX. They'll be showcasing their demo to all PAX attendees.
In the coming days, we will be unveiling Bolster's latest partnership with ANZCO, New Zealand's largest beef & lamb exporter. Stay tuned for more updates.
Guy, Co-founder & CEO of Bolster, recently sat down and talked about how they deal with customers with missing data. Because of Bolster's extensive experience in intelligence as former operators, their solution has an adept ability to fill the gaps in customers' missing data.
Career opportunities at awesome companies
Read of the month
In 2012, Bill Gurley, General Partner at Benchmark Capital, published an essay on why you should not rely too heavily on LTV. The article provides ten reasons to be cautious about relying too heavily on the LTV model:
LTV is a measurement tool, not a strategy for sustainable competitive advantage.
It can be used to rationalise excessive marketing spending.
The model is often confused and misused.
LTV is not an absolute prediction but a guess about the future.
The variables in the LTV formula are interdependent and can work against each other.
As marketing spending increases, it becomes harder to acquire customers at the same cost.
Customers acquired through marketing tend to underperform organically acquired customers.
Money spent on marketing could be better used to improve the customer experience.
Obsessing over LTV can restrict creativity and innovation in marketing.
The idealised scenario envisioned by the LTV model rarely materialises in the long run.
Bill warns against becoming too reliant on LTV as a way to create lasting value and suggests that it should be used as a tactical tool rather than a strategic foundation. It highlights the dangers of pursuing aggressive growth based solely on LTV calculations and emphasizes the importance of having a sustainable competitive advantage independent of marketing campaigns. It is a great refresher for startups nowadays.
Listen of the month
NVIDIA has been touted as one of the core pick-and-shovel plays of the AI revolution. This podcast above is a great history lesson on NVIDIA's role in the industry and how it came to be such a giant. You can expect:
An episode overview
Economic Conditions and Nvidia
AI’s Transformative Role
Nvidia’s Current State and Growth
Evolution of Neural Networks
GPUs and Applications
Influence of the AlexNet Team
Profits from Google Brain
AI Monopoly Concerns
Crusoe and Data Centers
The Transformer Paper
Startup News & Trends
Steam is a modern storefront and marketplace for gamers to buy games of all shapes and sizes. It is the most popular game marketplace on which most PC games are published.
Like many modern online storefronts, Steam relies heavily on an algorithm to determine which products to show to whom, where, and how often. In short, Steam shows games to people who it thinks are the most likely to buy them and prioritises them based on which it believes will make everyone the most money.
Once a game has been released, one of the main metrics Steam’s algorithm uses is the number of people who have bought the game within a given time period: lots of sales in a short space of time and the game will become more visible, while fewer sales over a longer period of time will deprioritise your game in the discovery rankings.
But what about before a game has been released? This is where ‘pre-sale metrics’ come into play. Pre-sale metrics are KPIs (key performance indicators) that Steam uses to predict how interested people will be in buying a game once it has been released. While there are lots of factors that go into the discovery algorithm at this stage (tagging and related content, click-through rates, and more), the two big metrics to pay attention to are the number of visits to your store page and the number and rate of people who add your game to their wishlist.
You can read more about Steam wishlists here
For years, we've been waiting for a film or TV adaptation of a video game that does it justice.
This article here discusses the recent success of video game adaptations in television and film, particularly highlighting the TV series "Twisted Metal" on Peacock. It contrasts this adaptation with the acclaimed "The Last of Us" and "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," arguing that "Twisted Metal" may have a positive impact on the future of video game adaptations. It then goes on to discuss the recent improvement in the quality of video game adaptations, attributing this success to several factors: creators who are passionate about the source material, collaboration between game makers and adaptation producers, the episodic nature of TV as a suitable format for video game narratives, and the maturation of storytelling in video games.
Peter Walker, The Head of Insights for Carta, recently published Q3 2023's median round sizes and valuations for Seed stage US startups.
The data showed a median round size of $USD 3.2m at an median pre-money valuation of $USD 14.4m.
Although showing round sizes and valuations picking back up, this data is not indicative of the longtail of smaller round sizes and rounds & valuations being done outside of The US.
Generative AI has been the hot topic for 2023. However, deal volume has slowed by 29% since last quarter (Q2 2023), with general sentiment from early-stage fund VCs touting that retention and monetisation aren't just there yet.
This article by Pitchbook shows the dealflow data they have captured, along with some of the monster funding rounds that have been accomplished already.
Notable start-up exits
Voice moderation startup
San Francisco, California
Observability Platform for cybersecurity threats
$28 billion (Tentative)
San Francisco, California
Password Management App
Tel Aviv, Israel
Check Point Software
Global Seed Funding
New York, New York
AI developer platform for engineering and product teams.
Led by Gradient Ventures
San Francisco, California
Healthcare data company
Led by Haystack
NFC-enabled POS device that offers digital receipt solutions for retailers.
Led by Wavemaker Partners
Helping businesses & communities stop fake users
Led by BITKRAFT Ventures
Amount raised (NZD)
$1.5 million Pre-seed round
Led by Hillfarrance
$1 million Seed round
Led by Hillfarrance
Legal Software for in-house Legal Teams
$15 million Series B round
Led by Movac
Orchard Management Software
$5 million Convertible Note round
Led by Nuance Connected Capital
Security Software Company
$2.7 million Seed round
Led by OIF Ventures
Fusion Energy Startup
$10 million Seed round
Led by Outset Ventures
$9.6 million Seed round
Led by Blackbird
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