Liveblocks - Make Any Application Multiplayer

Ship Collaborative Experiences in Days not Months

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This week’s Startup feature is liveblocks.io. Liveblocks provides the complete toolkit to embed powerful collaborative experiences into applications in a few days, not a few months.

Company & Team Introduction

Liveblocks provides developers with the complete toolkit to add collaborative experiences in a fraction of the time it takes to build the same functionality in-house. The company was founded by Guillaume Salles and Steven Fabre in 2021, but the journey for Liveblocks started years earlier when the pair met while working for collaborative design company InVision; Steven as a product designer and Guillaume as an engineer, where they bonded at an in-person event as the only 2 french speaking employees at the company. Eventually, the duo decided to leave InVision to build a competitor to one of the stickiest businesses in the world, Google Slides. As they started to build out their presentation product, they quickly realized that adding multiplayer functionality to applications is a complex and time-consuming task, and there were no quality solutions available, so they began building their own. As they built out their product, they knew they couldn’t be the only ones struggling with this problem and pivoted from their initial idea, so they took the collaborative functionality they had built and used it to create easy-to-use APIs for companies to implement into their products. Liveblocks has chosen to build out its team remotely to deepen access to talent and has grown its team to 13 employees distributed globally.

Product Overview

Liveblocks APIs allow any team to embed performant collaborative experiences into their products remarkably fast. The company’s WebSocket edge network infrastructure enables customers to build collaborative tools with zero configuration, effortless scaling and no maintenance required; hosted on one of the most prominent edge networks in the world, Cloudflare Workers, which offers a ~50ms connection to ~95% of the internet-connected world, and provides a myriad of different products such as:

Presence: Allows users to see who else is in the room working with them via avatars and cursors.

Broadcast: Broadcasts events to others in real-time.

Document: A set of persisted data stores optimized for real-time collaborative documents. It offers Liveblocks storage for creative tools such as Figma, Miro, Pitch and Liveblocks YJS for collaborative text editors such as Notion and Google Docs.

Comments: Seamlessly embed a customizable commenting system into your product.

Total Addressable Market

The recent boom of new collaboration-focused companies over the past decade, like Figma, Notion, and Pitch, displays the ever-growing importance of collaborative products, especially for remote teams. With the increasing reliance on a collaborative work experience comes the opportunity for Liveblocks to fill that gap, giving these companies a quick and performant way to add collaborative functionality into their products. According to Statista, the total addressable market for Global Collaboration Software was as large as $16B in 2022. That number is forecasted to expand to as much as $52.9B by 2032, for an expected 12.6% CAGR.

Business Model & The Numbers

Liveblocks utilizes a freemium SaaS pricing model where customers are charged monthly based on the number of “MCUs” or “Monthly Collaborative Users” the company has, which they define as “unique users that join a Liveblocks room where another user has also joined in the past 30 days”. The company offers a freemium tier that includes up to 100 MCUs and 1000 comments, as the company wants to allow developers to test and play with the product easily, and it aligns well with the time-to-value of their API. The company’s “Pro” tier is priced at $99/month and allows up to 250 MCUs, 1000 comments, and access to webhooks to listen for events that get automatically triggered based on users’ interactions. Additional MCUs beyond 250 users are an additional 40c/user, and the plan can be upgraded to 10,000 comments/month for $199/month. For large customers, Liveblocks offers a customizable enterprise plan that provides volume discounts for 2500+ MCUs, a custom number of monthly comments, priority support, 99.9 uptime SLA, and private dedicated servers. The company hasn’t disclosed revenue figures, but they announced last month that they have grown their ARR 8x in the past 12 months.

Traction

Since the company’s launch in 2021, they have seen impressive early traction. Just three months prior to raising its pre-seed round, Liveblocks raised additional funds after seeing a 10x increase in Liveblocks usage in that timeframe. Adoption has remained strong since; the company saw a 12x increase in end users and a 3x increase in customers over the trailing 12 months. Usage has also been increasing rapidly, with the Liveblocks infrastructure now handling 138 times the amount of WebSockets (allows for real-time broadcasting) than just 2 years prior. Liveblocks also has some impressive enterprise customers, including Vercel, Hashnode, Supernova, Cohesive, Zapier, and BBC, among others.

Competitors

The market for collaborative tools is nascent due to the recent shift towards remote teams coupled with the overall superior user experience these APIs bring to products, which leaves a greenfield opportunity for this new wave of companies powering these APIs and SDKs like Liveblocks and competition, like Cord:

cord.com - Founded in 2021, Cord gives developers an SDK to add collaborative functionality to their product, like comments, chats, threads, notifications, and presence, to make your application a more collaborative experience. Cord offers a few competitive products to Liveblocks, including comments and presence, but doesn’t actually offer real-time broadcasting for changes in document editors or collaboration tools like Liveblocks allows. Cord most recently raised a $17.5M Series A round from a list of elite investors led by the European VC Index, in addition to firms and angels such as NFX, Stride VC, Elad Gil, Jeff Morris Jr., Matt Robinson, Charlie Songhurst, and Guy Podjarny also taking part in the round.

It is also important to note that companies can build the same functionality in-house, but this can be costly for teams as performant real-time connectivity is a complex problem. Implementing an in-house solution can take months and requires expensive engineering resources in addition to ongoing maintenance.

Funding

Just founded only a few years ago in 2021, Liveblocks has raised a total of 2 funding rounds. The company first raised a $1.4M pre-seed round in late 2021, adding some notable firms to its cap table, including Boldstart Ventures and London-based Seedcamp leading the round, in addition to other firms and angel investors such as Logic and Rhythm David Mytton (CEO, Arcjet), Meta Fund, Ian Storm Taylor (Founder, Segment), Max Stoiber (Founder, Stellate), Moritz Plassenig (Founder, Codeship acq. by Cloudbees) among participants in round. Only a few months later, after seeing strong early traction, the company tapped the capital markets in March 2022, raising a proper $5M seed round again led by Boldstart Ventures and some other big-name investors such as Atlassian, Seedcamp, Kima Ventures, Banana Capital, Cursor Ventures also participated.

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