Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Jeff Bezos, Spark Capital, Bet on Aviary, a Web-Based Would-Be Adobe

aviaryLast week, Jeff Bezos made $2 billion in one day, courtesy of a massive spike in Amazon shares. What will he do with the extra dough?

Perhaps plow it into more start-ups like Aviary, a Long Island-based design software company.

Bezos, via his Bezos Expeditions fund, has followed up an investment in the company earlier this year with another slug of cash. It’s part of a $7 million Series B round led by Spark Capital, best known in these parts as the guys who made a very big bet on Twitter, which Bezos also invested in.

If you’re sick of hearing about Web start-ups with just the vaguest sense of a business plan, Aviary may be a refreshing change. It is trying to make money by selling cheap, Web-based alternatives to popular, expensive design software, primarily the stuff that Adobe (ADBE) sells, like Photoshop and Illustrator. Granted, it doesn’t make much money yet: The company only began selling $24.95 subscriptions to its software suite earlier this year.

Down the line, Aviary also imagines it will be able to create an online marketplace where the creative types who use its software can bid on work assignments. Sort of like eBay (EBAY) meets Craigslist meets Etsy meets Amazon’s (AMZN) own Mechanical Turk.

Here’s the full press release:

Aviary Secures $7 Million in Series B Financing Led by Spark Capital

Provider of Creative Application Suite in the Cloud Makes Creation Accessible to All and Advances the Growing Digital Economy

LONG ISLAND, New York (October 26, 2009) – Aviary, Inc., a pioneer of a creative application suite in the cloud, today announced that it has received $7 million in Series B financing led by Spark Capital, with participation from existing investors, including Bezos Expeditions, a personal investment company of Jeff Bezos. With a suite of digital creation and editing software available as an online service, Aviary offers a simple and cost-effective solution for creators of all genres–from graphic design to audio editing – to express their creative talents and participate in the burgeoning market for digital goods. In conjunction with the investment, Mo Koyfman of Spark Capital will be joining Aviary’s board of directors.

“Aviary’s robust suite of online creative tools is fundamentally democratizing digital creation. Whereas the market for digital goods was once reserved exclusively for creators using proprietary desktop software, Aviary is delivering creative applications that allow anyone with a browser to participate,” said Koyfman. “And by doing so in the cloud, Aviary allows for seamless online creation, collaboration, distribution and ultimately monetization previously not possible. The Aviary model has the potential to exponentially increase the number of creators and collaborators contributing to the digital economy.”

Until now, the digital creation market has been largely dominated by desktop software solutions which are often cost prohibitive and involve complicated interfaces. By contrast, Aviary offers a powerful creative toolset in the cloud that enables professional and amateur creators alike to easily create their own digital works. The basic Aviary suite is available for free to users and includes an image editor, vector editor, audio editor and more. Users can also upgrade to the pro suite to gain commercial features such as unlimited private storage, as well as collaboration and community enhancements. For more information, visit http://aviary.com/.

“We are disrupting the status quo by eliminating the long-held barriers to digital creation and giving creators the tools they need to create, market and monetize their vision,” said Avi Muchnick, founder & CEO of Aviary, Inc. “We are extremely excited to have Spark Capital on board. Their broad-ranging internet, software and consumer experience will be a tremendous asset to us in furthering our mission to make creation accessible to creators of all genres.”


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik