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News that Calm seeks more funding at a higher valuation is not transcendental thinking

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Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that meditation app Calm is looking into raising $150 million more at a valuation of around $2.2 billion, more than double its last private price. This should not surprise.

Calm has raised capital at high prices before, including its 2018 Series A which valued the startup at more than a quarter billion dollars. Its 2019 Series B made Calm a unicorn. And the space that Calm plays in has been hot for years, so to see the company attract new capital at a higher price feels downright pedestrian.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. Read it every morning on Extra Crunch, or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


Sure, $2.2 billion for an app company might sound silly if your head is still suck in 2009. In 2020, the app stores of the world are not just economic engines that aging monopolies are desperate to preserve past their sell-by date, they are geopolitical footballs.

Back to Calm: Let’s rewind the clock a minute and review data from 2018, 2019 and 2020 about the meditation app, its broader category’s venture capital results through Q3 2020 and how the startup and its rivals have marched forward in terms of consumer and venture interest.

Calm down for more Headspace

At the time of its Series B, TechCrunch reported that Calm had “topped 40 million downloads worldwide, with more than one million paying subscribers” and that it had “quadrupled its revenue in 2018 — the company is now profitable — and is on track to do $150 million in annual revenue.” The company announced its Series B in February 2019, making the 2018 result pertinent at the time.

Since then, data has continued to be kind to the meditation sector, where Calm and its rival Headspace — which has its own history of rapid growth — have often led the pack.

Turning to 2019 from Calm’s 2018 data, the top 10 grossing meditation apps saw revenues of $195 million, up some 52% from 2018 results. Still, in 2018 these apps grossed $128 million, hardly a small sum — even with intermediaries Apple and Google taking a huge tax for their hard, and utterly defensible work.

The downloads and resulting revenue were not missed by VCs this year.

As TechCrunch reported in August, while wellness startups didn’t excel as a group in the first half of 2020 in VC terms, inside of the category, mental health-focused apps did rather well. According to CB Insights data at the time, “in Q1 and Q2 2020 [mental health] startups saw 106 rounds worth $1.08 billion. In the year-ago period, the figures were 87 rounds worth $750 million,” we wrote.

That’s a healthy step up in venture interest in a single year.

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Cyberpunk 2077 is delayed again to December 10th

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Cyberpunk 2077 is being delayed yet again, this time until December 10th. Developer CD Projekt Red says it’s still working on a launch day patch for the game, which was previously slated for November 19th. It attributes the delay partly to its multiplatform release — which will see the game launch across two generations of console hardware, PC, and Google Stadia.

“The biggest challenge for us right now is shipping the game on current-gen, next-gen, and PC at the same time, which requires us to prepare and test nine versions of it,” the company said in a tweet. “We need to make sure everything works well and every version runs smoothly. We’re aware it might seem unrealistic when someone says 21 days can make any difference in such a massive and complex game, but they really do.”

Cyberpunk 2077 officially went gold (i.e. locked a release version of the game) in early October, and the developers promised via Twitter that “no more delays are happening.” The release version is still finished, but CD Projekt Red has been developing further updates for the day of the game’s release. “This is the time period we under-calculated,” the tweet says — even after an unanticipated crunch period that’s seen developers working overtime.

Cyberpunk 2077 has been one of the most highly anticipated games of 2020. But with the latest delay, it’s going to be just squeaking in at the end of this year.

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Wyze launches version 3 of its $20 security camera

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Wyze first made a name for itself when it launched its $20 indoor security camera a few years ago. Since then, the company branched out into other smart home products, ranging from doorbells to scales. Today, it’s going back to its origins with the launch of the Wyze Cam V3, the third generation of its flagship camera.

The new version is still $20 (though that’s without shipping unless there’s a free shipping promotion in the Wyze store), but the company redesigned both the outside and a lot of the hardware inside the camera, which is now also IP65 rated, so you can now use it outdoors, too.

Image Credits: Wyze

The Cam V3 now also features new sensors that enable color night vision, thanks to an F1.6 aperture lens that captures 40 percent more light than the previous version. That lens now also covers a 130-degree field of view (up from 110 degrees in V2) and the company pushed up the frames per second from 15 during the day and 10 at night to 20 and 15 respectively.

The company also enhanced the classic black and white night vision mode — which you’ll still need when it’s really dark outside or in the room you are monitoring — by adding a second set of infrared lights to the camera.

Other new features are an 80dB siren to deter unwanted visitors. This feature is triggered by Wyze’s AI-powered person-detection capability, but that’s a feature the company recently moved behind its $2/month CamPlus paywall, after originally offering it for free. That’s not going to break the bank (and you get a generous free trial period), but it’d be nice if the company could’ve kept this relatively standard feature free and instead only charged for extra cloud storage or more advanced features (though you do get free 14-day rolling cloud storage for 12-second clips).

Wyze Cam V2 (left) and V3 (right).

Wyze provided me with a review unit ahead of today’s launch (and a Cam V2 to compare them). The image quality of the new camera is clearly better and the larger field of view makes a difference, even though the distortion at the edges is a bit more noticeable now (but given the use case, that’s not an issue). The new night color vision mode works as promised and I like that you can set the camera to automatically switch between them based on the lighting conditions.

The person detection has been close to 100% accurate — and unlike some competing cameras that don’t feature this capability, I didn’t get any false alarms during rain or when the wind started blowing leaves across the ground.

If you already have a Wyze Cam V2, you don’t need to upgrade to this new one — the core features haven’t changed all that much, after all. But if you’re in the market for this kind of camera and aren’t locked into a particular security system, it’s hard to beat the new Wyze Cam.

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Madden NFL 21 and FIFA 21 arrive on PS5 and Xbox Series X on December 4th

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The next-gen versions of Madden NFL 21 and FIFA 21 will skip the launch dates for PS5 and Xbox Series X / S and arrive on both platforms on December 4th, EA announced today. PS4 and Xbox One owners who buy either or both games will get a digital next-gen copy for free.

As EA mentions on its website, those who purchased a physical copy of either game will have to go through an EA website to redeem their upgrade. The free next-gen upgrade promotion for both games will expire once Madden NFL 22 and FIFA 22 release, presumably sometime in late 2021. Initially, EA told players back in May they had until December 31st, 2020 to claim their free upgrades for both titles until consumer outcry led them to extend the offer.

As you’d expect from the next-gen versions of the game, both Madden NFL 21 and FIFA 21 will take advantage of the more powerful hardware, such as faster loading times, while the PS5 version will take advantage of the DualSense controller’s haptic feedback technology. EA also confirmed that players will be able to carry over their progress and collected items across both generations, including Ultimate Team mode progress for both games, Madden’s Franchise and The Yard game modes, and FIFA’s Volta Football mode.

EA is offering a different approach to its sports series this year compared to competitor 2K Sports’ NBA 2K series. Players are unable to get a next-gen version of NBA 2K21 for free if they own the current-gen version, and if consumers want to own both versions of the game, they need to buy the “Mamba Forever” special edition, which costs $100. 2K parent company Take-Two Interactive was also the first publisher to raise the price for a next-gen version of one its titles, with NBA 2K21 costing $70 on its own.

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