Kano computers (“Kano”), the venture-backed company best known for its DIY computer kits and software for teaching coding and ROD skills to kids, launches its creative software package and online community platform as an independent company.
The move comes as the British company has shifted its focus from its own PC roots to longer-term profitability and sustainability.
Founded in London in 2013, Kano has launched several products over the years designed to teach the building blocks of computers to children. This includes its flagship Raspberry Pi-based modular PCs, as well as accessories such as the Harry Potter Coding Kit packed with a physical wand that works on most platforms.
Kano has raised approximately $45 million in funding over the years, from notable lenders including Microsoft That worked with Kano to develop a Windows-based PC in 2019, which represents a remarkable departure from its Raspberry Pi roots. However, the company has apparently struggled in recent years, shelving plans to launch Disney-branded products and announcing a round of layoffs as part of a “restructuring effort.”
At the end of the most recent financial year, Kano reported a pre-tax loss of £10.1 million ($12 million) – an improvement on last year’s loss of £16.8 million, but a loss nonetheless. And while it is still possible to buy some of them older products from yesteryear through Amazonit is clear that Kano has moved away from the products it became known for, towards a line of “Voice” branded consumer devices that include audio and video.
A just over a year ago, Kano teamed up with Kanye West to launch Stem Player, a music device that allows users to isolate and remix individual elements of songs.
But with West demonstrating his anti-Semitic colors on more than one occasion, Kano unveiled in November that it cut ties with the rapper, although it still does sell the stock player without West’s involvement. And earlier this week, Kano unveiled the Stem video projectoras he teases plans for all sorts of new products ranging from food to clothes.
With Kano taking a new direction, it has left a core part of his business in limbo. Canoe world has been an integral part of Kano’s offerings almost from the start – an online account allows users to create games, animations and art, share them with the Kano community, remix other users’ work, participate in challenges and more.
The platform is designed to bring a bit of fun and utility to his DIY computer kits, though it can be used independently of Kano’s hardware.
Going forward, Kano World will go solo as a standalone business entity headed by the CEO Ollie Dotschwho was previously head of sales and education at Kano Computing.
Dotsch started his new role in August, as did Kano World formally incorporated. This is reported by a British Companies House SubmitKano World has three main shareholders, including co-founder and CEO of Kano Alex Klein which owns several shares, Dotsch itself and Kano Computing.
In a Q&A with businessroundups.org, Dotsch explained that after leading sales of Kano’s Windows PCs to their eventual sell-off in early 2022, he floated the idea of rolling out Kano World with CEO Klein and the company’s board, on the aware of Kano shifting his focus.
“Kano Computing is now working to grow the Stem business,” said Dotsch. “The focus on Stem would have left Kano World with little to no budget, resources or attention to grow it into the product and company we believe it can and will be. Now we can raise money ourselves, build a team and commit to the success of our vision to empower the creative genius in all young people to create, not just consume.”
For now, Kano World is a team of just three and fully funded by its three major shareholders, with plans to seek new funding “in the coming months.” And in addition to its equity stake, Kano Computing will also serve as an incubator of sorts in the short term, with office space in its East London headquarters.
“Extracting Kano World from Kano Computing is complex and will take time, but we have already started progressively and once we are done both companies will be stronger than before,” said Dotsch.
If nothing else, Kano World strives to retain at least some of Kano’s original “creator and maker” ethos, albeit with a focus purely on the software side of things. In addition, it can be seen as a positive step that Kano has chosen to give Kano World a chance to thrive on its own, when it might have been easier to let it slowly die in Kano, or pull the plug completely .
“In this environment, it made more sense for Kano World to grow outside of Kano Computing than in it[side]Kano Computing co-founder and CEO Alex Klein said in a statement. “Kano World has had many exciting iterations over the years and has even caught the attention of Mark Zuckerberg who shared a post using the platform with his children. This spin-off is the logical next step in bringing joyful new creative experiences to young people around the world.”
As before, Kano World offers two of its three creative tools: Kano code and Making art – free, including access to the beginner’s part challenges. Those who sign up for a premium plan, which costs $10 a month or $100 a year, have access Pixel movement and a wider range of challenges.
Without giving too much away, Dotsch said they are actively building out the social community side of the platform and creative software suite, with premium users being the first to access new products.
The new Kano World company plans to double its workforce to about six people by the end of February, according to Dotsch, with subsequent hires planned in the software development and creative fields.