The need for Rive: scaling creative collaboration through software
Guido shares how he and Luigi were fortunate to be “part of the generation that grew up with computers when they were just starting to become personal items,” and how their childhood was spent tinkering and programming from as early as five or six years old. Their father’s work moved them all over the world, including to early computer markets in Southeast Asia when the dot-com boom exploded and fueled even greater experimentation among the twins.
Guido’s interests centered more on design and Luigi’s on development, and while in high school in Malaysia and throughout college in Italy, they took on professional projects together and quickly saw what a complementary team they made. Their early projects were big, like building an IMDB-style app for an Italian TV company, and included exciting clients like the record label EMI and the car company Renault. And yet they soon found that a couple of eighteen-year-olds with limited work experience were not taken nearly as seriously, or rewarded as much, in Italy as they thought they could be in the U.S.
The brothers managed to move to San Francisco and start their own services company focused on creating high-impact graphics for immersive, personal and participatory applications. They took on ambitious initiatives for XBox, Redbull, HBO, Major League Baseball, and Netflix, and the company was soon acquired by Intel.
As the pair started thinking about what might be next for them, they had an ‘aha’ moment. Weak tools and cumbersome workflows make building animations for mobile and web a major undertaking between designers, animators and engineers, limiting creative expression in the animation world.
Guido and Luigi realized there was an opportunity to start a new company, Rive, that “enables design teams to actually build content that is interactive and can react to code, that engineers can hook up to and create state changes without having to go through the manual process that most companies go through today.”
In 2019, they raised a $4M seed round led by Andreesen Horowitz (a16z) which enabled them to scale Rive’s core products. Their editor product levels up creative experience design, making it easy for designers to build real interactions (not just mockups or prototypes) without needing to write code, and their run time product improves engineering execution by making animations lighter, use less memory, and run faster than any design format available today. And soon, Rive will be launching new features such as text, which will open up a number of use cases for designers, including livestream or broadcast graphics.
Defining a new category and way of working
Guido says that “in many ways, Rive is trying to define a new category,” which comes with its own set of challenges. “People often mistake Rive for simply bringing existing approaches to animation software online, when Rive is really reimagining the entire process of building for an interactive future of motion graphics,” explains Guido.
When people see the outcomes for themselves, Rive has benefitted from bottoms-up organic growth among a very interesting set of heavyweight brands, such as Google, WHOOP, Sonos, Samsung, Philips, Atlassian, and Duolingo, who Rive helped build real-time lip synching into their app (case study here). Rive’s creator community also helps bring to life what is possible using the platform, and has led to serendipitous outcomes including finding a key hire, JCToon, who is a prominent contributor.
In many ways, Rive has modeled their creative team more broadly around the creator community, hiring exciting creators who build exciting experiences that show what is possible on Rive, from video tutorials and content that makes Rive’s products shine, to acting as an ideal user feedback group. The other core team at Rive focuses on product, which includes a mix of individuals who straddle the line between design and engineering.
Guido attributes the success of the overall team dynamics to their open-mindedness and willingness to ask “why’s” and take a challenger stance. He believes this helps them to not reproduce frictions that exist in other design and engineering products, and to create new ground instead.
“Working with Rive, designers can much more efficiently create very impressive animations that lead to better experiences for end users,” says Dan Abelon , partner at Two Sigma Ventures. We are thrilled to support Rive on their journey to build the software that designers need to create a more interactive and fun experience on the web and beyond.”