chroma, a startup working on a new type of audiovisual entertainment specifically for mobile devices, is now adding a Twitter co-founder to its board. The company announced today that Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter and Medium, formerly an angel investor in Chroma alongside Pinterest’s founders, is joining the company’s board of directors to contribute his expertise in design, product development , filmmaking and brand scaling.
An early Google employee, Stone worked on the Blogger team after the acquisition, before co-founding Twitter in 2006.
He stayed with Twitter for several years as the company grew to millions of users around the world. In 2011, when Twitter released the 100 million active highlighting users, the entrepreneur left to pursue new projects with Obvious Corporation, a startup incubator and investment vehicle that included Twitter co-founder Evan Williams and former Twitter exec Jason Goldman. In particular, the company has incubated the Medium blogging platform. However, in 2013, Stone and the others shifted their focus to individual startups. For Stone, that led to the creation of Jelly, a Q&A app and search engine that was later sold to Pinterest.
In 2017, Stone publicly announced that he was returning to Twitter to lead its strategic vision, brand and culture, where he will remain until 2021.
Over the years, Stone has also endorsed a number of companies, including Square, Pinterest, Slack, Nest, Intercom, and Beyond Meat, where he now chairs the Nominating and Governance Committee.
Stone said what initially drew him to Swedish audiovisual company Chroma was its CEO and founder, Andreas Pihlström, whom he met through an introduction from Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp. Pihlström previously worked as creative director, design consultant, designer and prototyper at Pinterest, Beats Music and VSCO.
The two hit it off and started calling monthly after Stone’s angel investment.
“It’s really about finding people I enjoy working and spending time with — and sending ideas back and forth,” Stone said.
The Chroma team had a range of ideas, but ultimately settled on audiovisual technologies and their intersection with music and sound.
As Stone explains, it was about changing the nature of music and sound and making it a more interactive and immersive experience. In practice, it involves touchable, dynamic images that create a sound-driven digital space that users can explore and use for a variety of purposes.
The debut product to test this concept came out last year, through a partnership with music artist Arca to create an iOS app called Lux Aeterna. The app offers an audiovisual experience for exploring music from the Venezuelan producer, DJ, singer and songwriter in a “meditative digital space,” according to the company. Users fly through a virtual world, interacting with its music and sounds as part of the journey.
But this doesn’t show the full potential of the technology, which could have a range of use cases – some of which Chroma is now exploring – that show other ways users can interact with audio and sound, be it for play, meditation, relaxation , music composition and more. While the company plans to launch a product on mobile devices first, Stone believes the technology could get even more interesting when and if Apple releases its own VR/AR headset.
“I think it will lend itself very well to the metaverse equipment when that becomes more ubiquitous. But I also see it on my Apple TV. I’d like to have it. Great sound and picture everywhere,” he added. “Mobile [first] is simply because that is what everyone has.
Founded in 2021, based in Stockholm Chroma raised $5.4 million in seed funding last year (5.1 million euros) from VC firms Singular and Adjacent, the Berlin angel syndicate SpotiAngels, as well as other individual investors, including Stone and Pinterest co-founders Evan Sharp and Ben Silbermann. Chroma had previously raised €1.6 million in pre-seed funding.
As a board member, Stone expects to meet with the startup several times a month, in addition to actual board meetings. He says that with his angel investments, he mostly considers himself an advisor — meaning he’s open to calls from founders, but won’t call the company unless they want to. Chroma did.
“These guys are full of different ideas [at Chroma]. So the challenge was narrowing it down because it’s a small team and to get something done they don’t have to do a bunch of things,” Stone said. For now, the focus is on adding a sensory experience to sound.
“The bigger picture is like this idea of sound play. . . it’s interactive. It changes the nature music so it’s richer in a 3D way, but it’s also visual and. . . you can do things with it,” Stone hinted.
The board position isn’t the only thing Stone has in the works, as the entrepreneur says he’s “noodling” with a small group of people on something else for himself. So far, the project is self-funded and hasn’t officially launched yet, so he’s keeping details quiet. However, Stone says he is particularly interested in the emerging AI space and in particular in using AI as a tool.
He says he hasn’t been particularly interested in some of the other newer tech trends, like web3 or some aspects of the metaverse.
“The [web3] culture does not appeal to me. It helps me,” Stone explained. As for the metaverse: “I don’t want a dystopian future where kids sit in the room all day wearing a diving mask. I don’t want that to happen. That doesn’t seem right to me,” he added.
“Biz brings a wealth of experience in technology and design to our table. Together we will pave a path to the future of sound: combining excellence in the digital space with forward thinking to change the paradigm of music,” Pihlström said in a statement.