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Portfolio September 17, 2015

Our Investment in DWNLD

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It’s been just 7 years since Apple released the iPhone, but it seems like we’ve been doing everything with our phones for much, much longer. With mobile technology we instantly connect, transact and experience the culture. We chat. We share. We order food and rides. We instantly read the latest best seller or watch the current episode of Archer.

So much has gotten better with mobile technology. Which makes it all the more painful when you come across the areas that have not yet caught up. It’s not easier or better to read things from our favorite publications or brands. It’s not easier to figure out when there’s a new story on Grantland. It’s not better to go find the newest design on Design Milk. Or to check out and buy the newest pair of shoes from Adidas.

On the desktop, we got used to those roles being filled, at least a little bit, by our web browsers — something I had a first row seat for during my time at Mozilla with Firefox.

As we’ve all moved to spend more of our lives with mobile devices, we’ve seen how powerful and immediate notifications and messaging are — messaging with a friend or seeing live events unfold on Twitter.

But that immediacy and intimacy — not to mention actionability — hasn’t really translated for the modern mobile web. And as a result, it’s created an environment where it’s hard for publishers and fans of periodic content to connect in real time.

I like knowing when there’s a new Grantland piece. Or something interesting on Design Milk goes up. But it’s been tough to do that to date, short of following them on Twitter and sorting through the Tweets to find the content.

Enter DWNLD — just about the easiest way possible to transform web content into a highly polished, great, native mobile experience. DWNLD has built an App Maker that easily and automatically generates fully branded, highly customizable native apps for both iOS and Android — even if he publisher does not have any previous coding experience. It incorporates (and hides!) a hugely sophisticated technology that analyzes and transforms web content into a first class, high performance native mobile experience, coupled with notifications, easy commerce options, and subscription capabilities built in.

When we first saw Alexandra Keating & Fritz Lanman to talk about DWNLD, and saw the premium quality of the apps publishers could build — simply and with virtually no work — we were immediately excited to invest. That’s why Greylock is leading the series A, and I am joining the board.

DWNLD has figured out how to bridge the gap for retailers, publishers, brands & writers, and in doing so, bridge the gap for all of us who are interested in and want to consume their content.

We look forward to our partnership with Alex and Fritz and the rest of the DWNLD team as they help web publishers quickly, easily, and affordably build beautiful native mobile apps.