Edutainment Company Bright Little Labs Makes Deal With Turner International For Equity Investment

Edutainment Company Bright Little Labs Makes Deal With Turner International For Equity Investment

Edutainment Company Bright Little Labs Makes Deal With Turner International For Equity Investment

Today (7th June), Turner International’s Digital Ventures and Innovation division has announced they have made an equity investment in Bright Little Labs (BLL), a UK based company that specialises, creates and distributes edutainment (educational entertainment) content for kids. The extra funding from Turner in exchange for equity will help with Bright Little Labs’ international expansion as well as the creation and distribution of new educational content, this includes topics covering critical thinking, computer science and computer coding.

The equity deal is also Turner’s Digital Ventures & Innovations’s first investment into the edutainment sector. The education material is also inline with the UK’s national curriculum for coding and is supported by the British Government’s Cabinet Office. BLL uses a cartoon character called Detective Dot to teach kids about coding. The character – Detective Dot is a tech-whizz who is on a dangerous mission from the Children’s Intelligence Agency (CIA). BLL is also a recipient of a EDF Stem Pulse Award (awarded in 2017) and was named ‘Top Coding Toy for Kids’ by UK national newspaper – The Independent in 2017 and by London’s Evening Standard newspaper in 2018.

As part of the agreement, BLL will be able to make use of Turner’s animation, licensing and merchandising portfolio, which includes animated properties from Cartoon Network, and it will also be possible to form collaborations with Turner’s kids channels which include Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Boing, Toonami and Cartoonito.

From The Turner International Press Release: Turner International and Bright Little Labs Sign Strategic Equity Investment

– Investment marks Digital Ventures & Innovation group’s first entry into the edutainment space.

– Turner provides funding and kids creative expertise to power Bright Little Labs’ international growth as innovator in the kids coding and life skills space.

Turner International’s Digital Ventures & Innovation (DV&I) group today announces an equity investment in Bright Little Labs (BLL), a UK-based early stage company which creates and distributes edutainment content for kids.

The funding will be used to fuel Bright Little Labs’ international expansion in terms of both creative development and distribution.

The investment will enhance BLL’s current offering by leveraging Turner’s expertise in the kids’ space to develop quality IP which delivers on Bright Little Labs’ vision to engage, entertain and educate kids about critical thinking, computer science and coding.

Bright Little Labs’ existing edutainment IP centres around Detective Dot from the Children’s Intelligence Agency, a hi-tech spy agency which incorporates the official UK coding curriculum and allows kids to learn in a fun and engaging way.

The agreement will also lay the foundation for further leverage across Turner’s wider animation and licensing and merchandising portfolio.

The investment means that Turner becomes Bright Little Labs’ main strategic investor and signals its commitment to developing a presence in edutainment. Christopher Sodergren VP Digital Ventures, DV&I for Turner will take a seat on Bright Little Labs’ board of directors.

“Partnering with relevant start-ups is a core part of our strategy to compete and lead in today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape,” said Aksel van der Wal, Executive Vice President, Digital Ventures & Innovation for Turner. “We saw in Bright Little Labs the opportunity to expand a great concept into an international multiplatform D2C offering, in a way that fully embraces and utilises our expertise in kids, speaks to our desire to create new fan-centric experiences and aligns us with a like-minded partner. It also serves as a great platform for our ambitions to do more in the kids D2C space.”

Sophie Deen, CEO, Bright Little Labs, said: “We’re beyond excited to be partnering with Turner in the next phase of our journey. In a world of post-truth, job-automation and internet enabled teddy bears that could be snooping on you, digital literacy and critical thinking are key. It’s imperative that all children, regardless of their background, have access to these 21st century skills and we’ve seen first-hand that a hi-tech spy agency with empowering role models like Detective Dot is a great way to achieve this. We’re working to scale our transmedia platform, reaching kids wherever they are, so we can deliver rich, personalised experiences directly to our users. Not only does Turner share our vision, working with Turner means we can leverage their expertise in creating the very best kids content and reach new audiences globally.”

Patricia Hidalgo, Chief Content Officer EMEA & International Kids Strategy for Turner, said: “Turner shares with Bright Little Labs a passion for engaging kids in a way which is original and immersive. We see multiple opportunities to leverage our kids’ expertise to further develop BLL’s existing business and engage kids in a way that while putting entertainment first also equips them for the skills they need for today’s 21st century world.”

Turner’s kids’ portfolio includes the Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Boing, Toonami and Cartoonito channels, websites and YouTube channels as well as extensive content production and licensing and merchandising operations.

The investment in BLL follows DV&I’s stake in Copa90 in February 2017. DV&I has also launched gaming service Gloud and movie streaming service FilmStruck internationally since forming just under 18 months ago to focus on D2C opportunities executed through innovation, in-house development or acquisition.

About Digital Ventures & Innovation

Digital Ventures & Innovation (DV&I), is part of Turner International. Turner International operates versions of Turner brands including CNN, TNT and Cartoon Network across the world, whilst also focusing on digital-only brands. DV&I drives innovation, develops new revenue streams and is responsible for managing and growing Turner’s existing multi-platform suite of international products and services on the web, for smart phones, games, apps and OTT. It is responsible for Turner International’s Data strategy and it develops new digital direct-to-consumer businesses and consumer-centric products. These include the recent UK launch of FilmStruck, a new premium movie streaming service expertly curated by film lovers for film lovers, and GLOUD, a cloud-based gaming service available in Latin America. The group is also charged with identifying new opportunities for Turner through technological product innovation and acquisitions. Technology and operations (T&O) for Turner International is also part of DV&I.

About Bright Little Labs

Bright Little Labs is building a kids media giant for the 21st century. They make interactive stories to promote critical thinking, computer science and equality for kids aged 5+. Their flagship story is about Detective Dot, a tech-whizz who is on a dangerous mission from the Children’s Intelligence Agency (CIA). The company provides a lo-fi and accessible route into coding, with kids joining the CIA to complete STEM-focused ‘missions’ on and offline which complement the UK Computing Curriculum. Starting on Kickstarter in 2016, Bright Little Labs was part of the Cabinet Office backed, tech-for-good accelerator Bethnal Green Ventures. They now have users in over 30 countries and are widely recognised for their story-led approach to 21st Century skills (recipient of EDF Stem Pulse Award 2017, named ‘Top Coding Toy for Kids’ by The Independent in 2017 and the Evening Standard in 2018). Their founder and CEO, Sophie Deen, is an active advocate for diversity in kids’ media and in the tech industry. She has been named one of Computer Weekly’s ‘Most influential women in UK IT’ 2017, Barclays/Everywoman ‘Startup Founder of the Year’ 2017, the British Interactive Media Association’s ‘Innovator’ in 2017 and London Tech Week ‘Changemaker’ in 2018 for her work to inspire children into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

http://www.turner.com/pressroom/turner-international-and-bright-little-labs-sign-strategic-equity-investment

Turner Announces International Digital Ventures Division

Turner Announces International Digital Ventures Division

Turner Announces International Digital Ventures Division

Turner has announced a new International Digital Ventures division, which will oversee and develop services for mobile devices, including apps, games as well as OTT (over-the-top) video streaming services. Aksel van der Wal, the current senior vice president and chief financial officer, is promoted to the new role of executive vice president, digital ventures and innovation, for Turner International, effective from 1st January 2017. Trey Turner, currently senior vice president, corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions will be moving to Aksel van der Wal’s former post. The new international division will be based at Turner EMEA’s headquarters in London.

Interactive services is an expanding part of Turner’s business, especially Cartoon Network (and Boomerang), which has recently launched its Cartoon Network Anything app in several countries and launched live-streaming apps including Cartoon Network Go! in Latin America and Cartoon Network Watch and Play in the Asia-Pacific region. Cartoon Network’s library of web browser and mobile games is also growing rapidly along with Turner’s interactive services for its other channels.

From The Turner International Press Release

Global media company Turner today (08/11/2016) announced a new division to lead its digital innovation internationally.

Aksel van der Wal, currently senior vice president and chief financial officer, is promoted to the new role of executive vice president, digital ventures and innovation, for Turner’s international operations, effective January 1, 2017.

Under his leadership the new division will focus on driving profitable growth through international consumer-centric initiatives, including all of Turner’s international multi-platform suite of digital properties and its direct-to-consumer product strategy. He remains responsible for the company’s international technology & operations (T&O) organisation.

In close co-operation with the Turner International presidents, van der Wal has the responsibility for the existing portfolio of international products and services on the web, for smart phones, games, apps and OTT, and he will also be charged with developing new digital direct-to-consumer businesses, leading a cross-platform business intelligence function that drives consumer insight; managing the internal T&O infrastructure; and helping to implement the strategy of the non-linear ad sales business. Additionally, he will identify new opportunities for Turner and decide on how to engage in those new areas, through technological product innovation and/or acquisitions.

“As our industry undergoes huge evolution, the impact of digital disruption and changing consumer behaviour continues to put audience insight right at the heart of our business strategy,” said Gerhard Zeiler, president, Turner International, to whom van der Wal will report. “This new division will ensure that we assess new opportunities for innovation, development and acquisition through the lens of relevant, robust consumer data and through a realigned, agile organisational structure. Aksel’s experience in transformative management, his first-class understanding of both the linear and digital media landscapes, and his detailed knowledge of Turner’s international operation, all combine to make him a superb fit for this new role.”

In his role as chief financial officer for Turner International, van der Wal will be succeeded by Trey Turner, currently senior vice president, corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, who takes up his new role January 1, 2017 as well.

Based in Atlanta, Turner will report to Pascal Desroches, executive vice president, and chief financial officer of Turner, while working closely with Zeiler. He will be responsible for all of International’s financial operations and will be an active partner and contributor in shaping the direction of the company’s international business and implementing its strategy.

“Trey has the perfect experience to lead the business, capital and budgeting activities for our international businesses,” said Pascal Desroches. “He has acquired a depth of knowledge about our company and brings great passion and significant experience to the role. We expect Trey to play a key role in helping us expand our global operations.”

Aksel van der Wal joined Turner in 2014 as CFO, Turner EMEA and was promoted to senior vice president and CFO, International, in June 2015. Before joining Turner, van der Wal worked for three years and served as CEO, Time Out, at its two main business sites, London and New York City. His leadership of its global operations embraced digital expansion, a complete overhaul of its digital platforms, new e-commerce operations and the revitalization of its traditional businesses through innovative approaches. Prior to Time Out, he was CFO at leading online ticket exchange operation Seatwave, and previously held senior financial and business development roles at Vodafone including CFO of partner markets. He started his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He has an MBA from INSEAD, and a LLM tax law from Leiden University, NL. A native Dutch speaker and fluent in English, he also speaks German, French and Spanish.

Trey Turner is currently SVP, corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions for Turner, overseeing consolidated financial planning and corporate development activities for the company. Before his current role, Turner was director of finance for CNN worldwide where he was responsible for strategic finance support, leading the financial analysis and business justification for new initiatives, partnerships, and investments. Prior to joining the company, Turner was with the corporate finance department of Stephens Inc., a leading investment bank and private equity firm. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in analytical finance from Wake Forest University, where he graduated cum laude, and currently serves on the Alumni Council for the School of Business.

http://www.turner.com/pressroom/turner-announces-digital-ventures-and-innovation-division-international