Way to go! Pre-revenue Plastic Logic raises further $35million funding.

Plastic Logic has raised a further $35 million, much of it from existing investor Oak Ventures, as it moves towards a commercial launch of its eReader, the Que, currently scheduled for January 7th 2010 at CES. The company is a spin out from the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University and has offices in Cambridge, Mountain View and Dresden.

Plastic Logic Que to launch January 7th 2010

Plastic Logic Que to launch January 7th 2010

The pre-revenue business has already raised around $200 million to fund the development of a manufacturing facility in Dresden. The eReader is just one part of the plan to create an entirely new industry in printed plastic electronics. This could be as fundamental to the future of technology as the invention of the transistor according to some commentators.

“Plastic Logic’s Mission is to lead a revolution in the way people acquire, organize and consume information. We are using our proprietary technology leadership in plastic electronics to create a range of products enabling immediate information access, organization and consumption.

“We are a dynamic, fast-growing entrepreneurial company. We are seeking qualified professionals who want to join our teams in Cambridge, U.K., Dresden, Germany; and Mountain View, California. If this describes you, please take a look at our

career opportunities.

“Plastic Logic has raised over $200M in financing from top-tier venture funding sources in Asia, Europe and the U.S. We are using the funds to complete product development in U.K. and the USA, build a specialized, scalable production facility in Germany and build our go-to-market teams.”  Company website.

This is preview of the Plastic Logic Que that is being launched at CES on January 7th. WARNING May contain extreme French accent.

“Extra thin, lightweight and wireless-enabled, the innovative QUE proReader features the largest screen in the industry, an intuitive touch screen user interface, and access to a file cabinet’s worth of documents, plus your favorite – and most necessary – publications. Its battery lasts days, instead of hours. Full product specifications, availability and pricing will be announced at the QUE premiere on January 7, 2010 at CES, Las Vegas.

“Below are some of the features of the QUE proReader.

  • QUE is about the size of an 8.5 x 11 inch pad of paper and is less than 1/3 inch thick
  • QUE weighs less than most magazines
  • 3G network connectivity from AT&T, Wireless (Wi-Fi) and wired access via USB connection
  • Full touchscreen interface
  • Active Matrix Display
  • Long lasting battery life: measured in days not hours
  • Tools and applications for reading, annotating and managing documents” Company web site.

It just goes to prove that if the idea is big enough, the science good enough, the team strong enough and the timing is right, venture capital investors will invest heavily into European ideas. (And don’t forget this was actually a University Spin Out). Loving British scientists!

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11 responses to “Way to go! Pre-revenue Plastic Logic raises further $35million funding.”

  1. Randy Nichols says:

    I finally decided to write a comment on your blog. I just wanted to say good job. I really enjoy reading your posts.

  2. Mr Kjell Nace says:

    Great news for Plastic Logic. Somehow makes me remember the Harvard case study: late 80’s/ Go Corporation- Jerry Kaplan/ we’ll make the executive ready to roll etc etc etc./ with a tablet…

    Best of luck to PL – with the cash pulled in you will see a *lot* of business people carrying this around shortly – I mean Plastic Logic will have an exit plan in place and with $240m injected that will be a serious number of ‘tablets’/’boards’/’readers’ etc for investors to see any kind of returns on that capital.

    Merry Christmas, Kjell

  3. Mr Kjell Nace says:

    Ok, so I looked at the video (in partial french). Yes, it’s great that can annotate stuff on the screen. But that is not how it happens, at least not for me. I spend a lot of time travelling between Europe, US and the Gulf. Key working components: high power laptop, blackberry, several pads of yellow pad liners. An additional ‘gadget’ simply does not make sense: real stuff I have to do on a laptop anyways, all kinds of drawings happens outside – simply for creative free-form. Online subscriptions and reading experience – well it pops into whatever account and renders perfectly even on an old standby laptop.

    So, devils advocate, …. absolutely. Kjell

  4. Jens says:

    It will be interesting to see how many people use this simply as an ebook reader. Strikes me this is the primary use case. I personally would never use it for ‘business documents’. Not sure what they are really (email? spreadsheets? websites?).

    But books I get. I read them a lot and really want a large screen ebook reader, maybe this is the one.

    It will be fascinating to see how well the Que is going to do versus the Kindle or a potential new tablet by Apple.

  5. @filemot @MarkLittlewood but have they sold their souls to the US investors – the Plastic Logic business does not look British any more

  6. Wow. The big launch is getting close. Looking forward to seeing them pull out an Ace. I mean they must have something special to announce if they are going to catch up with competitor sales???

  7. Mark,

    Looks like great technology, except no colour, but I would agree with Kjell that they might not have nailed the application down. Business may not be the killer app for the reasons Kjell mentioned. If it is just a book reader then they are in crowded market. However, if they can listen to their customers and see how they use the Que and develop, or allow to be developed, lots of apps, then they might succeed. e.g. can it be used as a separate screen for a desktop or laptop to take advantage of the touch capability. After using a touch phone, I find I keep touching the screen of my computer! It was not clear how well it would work with a stylus for writing notes which would be more useful.

    They should also look at automated synchronisation with laptops and desktops through something like http://www.nomadesk.com. This would mean that you would never worry about whether you had the right documents with you.

    Otherwise, best of luck.

  8. filemot says:

    There is really interesting technology in Plastic Logic struggling to find a way onto the market – desparately seeking a problem to solve. This tablet/ereader could be it. I hope they do not find themselves taking on Apple – all those American males on the board have the dosh and I can tell they all own Macs so lets hope they have the market know how.

    One of the features of the original technology was that it was flexible which gets closer to the newsprint/paperback paradigm in weight and useability. Good luck with the launch and keep talking to your founders and science base.

  9. John Viner says:

    Plastic logic is not really a UK company any more. It started out here but has so many US investors in it, and so many US people, that it could not possibly be considered a UK success if it succeeds in doing what it is doing and there is no guarantee that it will.

    The original investors in the business will be totally wiped out, the founders will get nothing, no-one outside the UK will care. I agree it will be good if it is successful but lets not kid ourselves that this is a great British success story. Quite the opposite. If the European Venture capital industry had been prepared to back big ideas like this is in the first place, it would have had a shot at being a UK success but those days are long gone.

    University spin outs in the UK are destined to either fail or be small because of the way they are structured. Angels and early stage investors getting involved too early mean that companies shy away from big rounds of funding later in their development and go to trade sale for small numbers. The one thing that Plastic logic has done is to keep fund raising. I would bet that this is causing even some of the bigger European VCs like Amadeus some significant pain in this business. The angels will be long gone from the business, crushed out.

  10. I disagree that the company cannot be considered a UK success. It has provided employment, inspiration and a focal point for entrepreneurial and investment activity in the UK for some time.

    Plastic Logic is trying to do something that no one in the UK has tried to do for a while – create a whole new industry. This is a HUGELY ambitious undertaking and anyone that thinks the success or failure of the overall undertaking is dependent on what happens in the ereader market is missing the bigger picture.

    I am putting another post together about what Plastic Logic are trying to do and what the potential pitfalls are. Would be particularly keen to hear from anyone with any thoughts/knowledge of how investors expect to do and how much more money it might take to get there. Contact me at info@thebln.com

  11. Mr. Kjell Nace says:

    Mark, agree fully with your points your first paragraph.

    Also, to set out to create a new industry not only takes balls,

    but in fact some serious ‘cojones’. Nevertheless, for PL there

    seems to have been a significant strategic shift from printed

    electronics (low cost electronics is getting more and

    ubiquitous in absolutely everything) to this ‘tablet’ like

    device. The fact that you draw comparisons to ‘e-readers’

    Is interesting – I interpret Que mostly as a professional tool

    (not a reader – which I see more as a consumer piece).

    I may of course be completely wrong which may highlight

    the confusion of where this offerings sits, or is interpreteded

    to sit.

    How investors expect to do – given recent infusion –

    their benchmark return or higher, which, given moderate

    multiples equates to a *big* number which equates

    to big success in their market (which for me is not clear).

    Lastly, on a more positive note, per your first paragraph above,

    let us not underestimate the significant body of IP and engineering

    skills PL has created over the years.