Storytelling: how is it used in contexts outside education and media?

Storytelling, “the activity of telling or writing stories”, is often used in education or media-related contexts. As we often do at Mergeflow, we talked about various topics, looking for a more unusual angle, off the trodden path. In this case, we wondered: outside education and media, what do people and companies do with storytelling?

Our starting point was just to search for anything (= investments, papers, patents, etc.) that mentions “storytelling”. We then narrowed our search down to VC investments and patents. We found 51 VC funding events since 2012 that had something to do with storytelling, and 130 patents.

Let us look at the details, starting with VC funded companies:

Venture-funded companies

The chart below shows the sizes and distribution of VC events in the recent past:

 

The biggest investments in storytelling companies

In May 2017, Tencent, a Chinese investment holding company, invested $90 million in Pocket Gems. This American mobile games company released new categories of games and interactive entertainment with Episode, a large mobile interactive storytelling platform with over 55,000 stories and 3 billion episodes viewed, and War Dragons, a synchronous multiplayer 3D game on mobile built on its proprietary Mantis graphics engine.

Flipagram has developed a technology that lets users weave images, music, and videos into stories of their lives. The platform, which may be considered a mix of YouTube and Instagram, raised $70 million led by Sequoia.

 

Livefyre helps companies engage consumers through a combination of real-time content, conversation and social curation. After acquiring social storytelling platform Storify, Livefyre raised $47 million led by Adobe and Salesforce Ventures. Their goal is to address the emerging content and community needs of brands and publishers, putting billions of pieces of content at a marketer’s fingertips. The marketers can then integrate these contents into their websites or mobiles apps.

SundaySky, which powers personalized video engagement for leading brands, received $30 million in a financing round led by Carmel Ventures, Globespan Capital Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, and Comcast Ventures. With a development center in Tel Aviv, the mission of the company is to offer one-to-one communication through a storytelling medium that is highly targeted, measurable, and scalable.


In April 2017, the Israeli company Apester raised $17 million in a financing round led by Blumberg Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm. Apester is a digital storytelling platform which aims to provide content that enables an ongoing dialogue with users. The goal is that with Apester, the audience takes an active part and is deeply involved in the content of the articles.

Patents

As mentioned in the beginning, we found 130 patents that mentioned “storytelling”. Probably not very surprisingly, Walt Disney features very prominently, as you can see in this tag cloud screenshot from Mergeflow:

But since our goal here is to look at storytelling outside education and media, we looked at patents by other companies. For example, we looked at Intel, Oracle, and Hana Bank patents (cf. red underscores in the screenshot above).

Intel

Here is the Intel patent as seen in Mergeflow:

So this is a patent in the area of image analysis. You can find details at the European Patent Office.

Oracle

Here is an Oracle patent as seen in Mergeflow:

Interestingly, when we searched more generally for more information on Oracle and storytelling in Mergeflow, most results were related to Oracle’s acquisition of Moat and Wercker. Moat is an ad analytics company, and Wercker enables cloud-based micro-services. In several media articles, e.g. here on RCR Wireless News, the Co-Founder and CEO of Moat, Jonah Goodhart argues that Moat “believe there is an opportunity to fundamentally improve marketing and storytelling by brands and publishers through better data and analytics”.

Hana Bank

Save the best for last? Look at this:

“Wish savings management”. Sounds almost magical, doesn’t it? Especially in the context of money… But after reading the details at the European Patent Office, it seems that this is not about making and saving wishes concerning one’s bank account. Instead, it seems as though this is just yet another attempt to sell us more financial products. Ah, well…