Callaway Digital Arts, a publisher of interactive applications for the iPad, iPod and iPhone, has entered into a venture with Martha Stewart to create a series of apps based on her lifestyle products, and the firm has also received $6 million in series A financing from Kleiner Perkins Cafield & Byers iFund, a venture capital firm focused on funding new ventures for Apple’s iOS platform. Sherpalo Ventures founder Ram Shriram also participated in the funding.
Callaway Digital Arts is a new venture spun off earlier in the year from Callaway Arts & Entertainment to focus on publishing opportunities for Apple’s iOS platform. Nicholas Callaway, chairman and CCO at Callaway Digital Arts said, “the new funding is the initial step in transforming Callaway Digital Arts into a studio for multimedia/interactive artists and products of the future.”
The new round of investment will go toward constructing multimedia studios for CDA simultaneously in San Francisco and New York, Nick Callaway said. The venture with Stewart is the first in a line of interactive multimedia products that CDA plans to publish for the iPad and related Apple platform devices and the company will announce new partnerships in the coming months. Indeed, Callaway said the new venture is the first step in turning CDA into “a multimedia/interactive studio that’s like a film studio.”
In a phone interview, Callaway said the new funding represents the transformation of the firm from a traditional book publisher to a publisher of interactive apps. “We’ve bringing together an in-house production studio with talented programmers, digital artists and interactive designers to create unforgettable apps for people of all ages,” Callaway said. Once the new studios are complete, CDA will boost the staff at its South Street Seaport office/studio in New York City from 22 to about 40 people by the end of the year. The San Francisco office/studio will increase to about 30 people.
The first Martha Stewart title from CDA will be Martha Stewart Makes Cookies for iPad, and will extend the Martha Stewart brand into digital media and it is the first in a series of apps for Martha Stewart that CDA will develop and publish. Martha Stewart, founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, said, “The CDA team did a fabulous job incorporating Martha Stewart Living’s complex and illustrated editorial content into a provocative, understandable, useful, and inspiring application that is unlike any other. We’re looking forward to working with them to develop additional apps that will further engage and expand our audience.” Callaway will appear on the Martha Stewart TV show today to announce the partnership.
Callaway said the company began to change its focus a year ago, building a multimedia children’s application, Miss Spider’s Tea Party, and showing it to Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Callaway said Jobs liked the app and brought CDA in to test the app on early versions of the iPad and have it ready at the iPad launch in April. Both Miss Spider’s Tea Party and Miss Spider’s Bedtime Story have gone on to become popular titles on the iPad. In addition,Callaway said that Apple was instrumental in assisting CDA in receiving the new round of investment funding.
“Print publishers must reinvent themselves,” said Callaway, “it’s not enough to just port text over to digital. It won’t satisfy the next generation of consumers. We’re hitching the old book world knowledge to new media marketing and analytics. Through data mining and direct contact with consumers we can observe what consumers want and revise content to taste. This is the publishing of the future.”