About Monty

Monty Munford has more than 15 years' experience in mobile, digital media, web and journalism. He is the founder of Mob76, a company that helps tech companies raise money and exit. He speaks regularly at global media events with a focus on Africa, writes a weekly column for The Telegraph, is a regular contributor to The Economist, Wired, Mashable and speaks regularly on the BBC World Service.

Sphaira plays for climate changes

SphairaSphaira Innovation is one of those climate nonprofits that have teeth, not a charity that is sitting on the fence.

There is little doubt that climate change is having an increasing effect on the health and lifestyles of humans on our planet. According to the UN, 2023 saw the warmest year on record with the global average temperature ‘1.45°C above the pre-industrial baseline’.

We are seemingly careering towards the 2°C limit that was agreed at COP21 in Paris and precariously close to the 1.5°C that world leaders have subsequently set as a figure that must not be breached by the end of the century.

Naturally, everybody is trying to save the world. Extraordinary nonprofits such as Friends Of The Earth and Greenpeace have their own particular approaches to doing so and there are any number of global guerilla groups that are more strident in their exploits in making the world aware of this global catastrophe.

Others are trying to do it in a different way and in the process stretching the concept of what a nonprofit does and how it can work in the most efficient and commercial way.

One such nonprofit is Sphaira Innovation, which is bringing people power and technology together to make positive change. It does this by leveraging a platform through which consumers can contribute to combating climate change while enjoying their usual entertainment, such as playing a game.

Sphaira recently tasked its auditors EY to examine the ways the effectiveness of eco-donate platforms can be measured, particularly how  nonprofits can grow and do good things by harnessing technological innovation.

To that end, last week Sphaira acquired videogames market insights specialist Playmob. The deal, for an undisclosed sum, creates a formal relationship between Playmob and Sphaira’s PlanetPlay, which is bringing the games industry and players together to fight climate change, including working closely on initiatives with the UN Development Programme.

Playmob CEO Jude Ower now becomes Chief Strategy Officer of Sphaira UK and will be working with Sphaira CEO Rhea Loucas to take the new entity to the next level.

Playmob has previously worked closely with PlanetPlay on the launch of the latter’s Make Green Tuesday Moves campaign, which helps games studios and players make important real-world impact in the fight against climate change.

In 2021, Ower worked with the UN Development Programme on the ‘People’s Climate Vote’, the biggest survey of consumer attitudes towards climate change, which was facilitated through Playmob’s game insights platform and reached 33 million gamers worldwide. The survey had 1.2 million validated votes in 50 countries around the world.

Recently returned from the UK Government’s Department for Business & Trade GREAT FUTURES event in Riyadh, where she discussed how the UK video games industry can work with Saudi Arabia in areas such as gaming and sustainability, Ower has always been interested in taking games beyond entertainment. 

“I had always loved games and played a lot when I was younger,” she explains. “At University I created a startup with friends, developing games for education and training. To me this was the ‘aha’ moment of games being used beyond entertainment. 

 “This then led to thinking about how games can be used to turn online actions into offline impact, at a time when social gaming was starting to boom. The new model of free to play (this was pre-mobile and mainly on Facebook) was opening up opportunities to bring in millions of players, and monetise through micropayments, giving a % of this to good causes.”

 In 2012, and after running a number of activations with the likes of EA, Ubisoft, Rovio, Niantic, Pixelberry and others, Ower discovered that there was a great opportunity to engage with players at scale and learn about what they care about.

 Six years later in 2018, the UN approached Playmob with its Climate Promise initiative and began exploring how they could use games to enable players to speak up on climate action, so they could then give that data to world leaders to help inform their climate policy decisions. 

 Playmob developed a playable ad for the UN called Mission 1.5, and rolled this out to over 60 countries, reaching 33 million people and gaining 1.2 million validated votes. This was the world’s largest ever study on climate attitudes. 

Under the Sphaira Innovation umbrella, Ower will once again be working with the UNDP to find out whether people consider climate change to be a global emergency, and how they would like their countries to tackle the issue.

At a time where we hear so much about climate change, but are unsure what to do and in some cases face climate anxiety, we are offering something that really engages a mass population,” adds Ower.

“Because of this want and need, we see incredible results for participating games studio partners, such as new players, deeper engagement, re-engagement, monetisation and more virality. Even with in-game surveys we see around 60% engagement and 50%+ completion.”

 As Sphaira continues to scale by means of other partnerships in the USA/MiddleEast/Asia, proving how a nonprofit can grow by acquisitions and innovations that other major charities and non profits may find difficult, Loucas and Ower will have a crucial role to play at the highest-possible level in implementing those aims.

Together they may be two of the special few who will actually help save the world.

CarCloud Q&A – Geoff Turral, Co-Founder

carcloudWelcome to Mob76 Outlook and its readers, Geoff. Can you tell us a bit more about CarCloud?

Thanks for having me. We’re based in the UK but we’re addressing a problem that impacts and affects a global audience.

We are using technology and content to flip car ownership from legacy (sales commission-driven) distribution to customer-led informed and confident decision-making. 

We are disrupting an industry that has needed to be updated for a long time and solving a problem that impacts a global audience.

Our current Seedrs raise is 115% subscribed and we’re confident we can add to that substantially before the deadline later next month.

Can you go into a bit more detail?

There are three compelling external factors that make owning a car financially onerous.  Firstly, average UK car ownership costs £482 per month, and while money can be switched from mortgages to energy and broadband, this huge monthly cost is resolutely sticky.

Secondly, the insane price of insurance. It is up 58% year on year and is still rising. For most, the increases make no sense at all versus their record, risk profile and driving behaviour.

Finally there is the disgrace of car finance mis-selling – historic commission gouging and PCP intervention with the Lloyds Banking Group making a £450 million provision for compensation.

How are you righting these three terrible wrongs?

CarCloud’s mission is to deliver the lowest possible monthly car costs to the world’s car drivers. Our customers tell us that every time they engage with car ownership services providers, it feels like they are taking a pen knife to a gunfight. 

The odds are stacked against them and they understand that short-term commission trumps their longer term needs, for a key (and increasingly expensive) part of their lives.

Owning a car is becoming increasingly complex, because it’s a revenue magnet. Rather than addressing car ownership as an interconnected whole, drivers get sliced into multiple revenue streams.

For most, car ownership is all over the place – a V5 in a drawer, insurance documents in a glove box, another box file full of paper receipts, searching emails to work out who it’s insured with and so on.

CarCloud solves the problem by putting car in one (digital) space and using our industry insider insights to save customers time and money. We combine vehicle, driver and behavioural data with industry insider insight, to deliver an intuitive ‘in one place’ solution.

What’s the business model?

CarCloud provides web and app car ownership services via a freemium model. We give users peace of mind, ensuring they never miss a key date (7.1 million drivers missed their MOT in 2023 by an average of 3 weeks).

We combine car, driver and behavioural data to eliminate the need to fill overlapping forms and getting rid of the frustration of being forgotten beyond the point of sale.

Now walk me through the user experience

    • Enter registration
    • Complete account (form or social sign-in)
    • You have access to your ‘garage’ and you never miss a key ‘stay legal’ date
    • Add up to three cars for free
    • CarCloud MultiCar subscription (£4.99 pcm) 
    • CarCloud pre-populates car and driver data to take time and hassle out of buying the stuff you have to have to run your car
    • Access 160 insurers via our partnership with MoneySuperMarket
    • Understand your vehicle equity position with the UK’s first consumer vehicle equity calculator
  • Challenge your finance deal – refinance to stay in the same car for less or optimise finance on your next through CarCloud’s bespoke Experian automotive finance panel
  • Manage multiple family and company vehicles at home and on the go

How does CarCloud stand out from its competitors?

We have signed up more than 100,000 vehicles in 10 months, B2B Partnerships – Experian, MoneySuperMarket, Reach Media, BNP Paribas and we are addressing a market for 1-15 year old UK cars, that’s 25 million cars with a £12 billion annual spend. We’ve also just signed our first European market NDA that will be announced shortly

How much funding do you have in total?

We have raised £1.8 million and a recent second Seedrs crowdfund raised 100% in less than three days. We’re targeting a 2025 institutional round circa £2.2 million

How did you end up at this place and where do you expect to take it?

I have 30 years’s car manufacturer experience, starting at Vauxhall and ending up as CEO of Porsche GB Ireland. In those 30 years, despite the consumer tech revolution, the car industry model is stuck in a historic legacy commission driven model that creates customer dissatisfaction and ongoing frustration.

Our highly experienced team shares a driving passion to sort it out, not by transferring the car industry, but by transforming the way customers access it. We are driven by making ‘the better way car’ an accessible reality. And we’re going to make it happen.

Thanks, Geoff, if you can bring down my insane insurance rate, then you will have done me the greatest favour. Thanks for coming in.

My pleasure, thanks for having me.

PlanetPlay Makes Green Tuesday Moves

Tuesday

Leading games studios marked Earth Day by joining non-profit PlanetPlay’s new Make Green Tuesday Moves (MGTM) initiative, which will enable industry and gamers to make an impact in the fight against climate change.

SYBO (Subway Surfers), Lockwood Publishing (Avakin Life), Ten Square Games (Fishing Clash) and CM Games (Nitro Nation) have all been confirmed as proud MGTM launch partners.

On the first Tuesday of each month, starting June 4th 2024, each participating studio will launch a ‘green’ item (or bundle of items) within their game(s) that will be exclusive to the MGTM movement, remaining live until the next monthly activation begins.

The inaugural MGTM will see 100% of the proceeds from the sale of in-game items – which can comprise new and/or upcycled DLC goods such as characters, costumes and objects – invested into fully certified sustainability projects by not-for-profit digital platform PlanetPlay.

Throughout the year a number of the MGTM activations will be supported by a ‘Star of the Month’ from the world of entertainment, supported by a huge social media campaign, helping to inspire gamers all around the world to ‘Make Green Tuesday Moves’.

“The need for climate action is more pressing than ever, and the games industry is one of the most powerful agents to spark real-world change. Our founding MGTM partners boast some of the most popular games in the world right now, enabling us to collectively engage with global fanbases to help raise environmental awareness and fund great sustainability causes,” said Rhea Loucas, Founder and CEO, PlanetPlay

When celebrities are involved in the Movement, PlanetPlay will provide licenses to studios which means that they can create items/DLCs relating to the celebrities, following the theme of the active superstar – with a CTA around Make Green Tuesday Moves.

All gamers need to do is harness their #PassiveActivism, by continuing to play the games they love, with no change in style or habit required to contribute to amazing sustainability causes.

These sustainability causes include PlanetPlay’s flagship Hongera Project, which aims to help over 150,000 families in Kenya improve their living conditions by manufacturing and distributing clean cookstoves to local communities, resulting in around 2,000,000 tonnes of carbon emissions being saved.

A collaboration with Ten Square Games in the widely-played Fishing Clash resulted in an engaging in-game event, rallying 50,000 users and raising €20,000 for the WAI Wanaka water conservation project in New Zealand.

SYBO and PlanetPlay were able to offset over 2,000 tons of carbon emissions in the campaign’s three-week run, the equivalent of a concert with nearly 100,000 guests.

PlanetPlay is a not-for-profit digital platform that allows players around the world to contribute to climate action through in-game purchases and gameplay with affiliated game studios.

In the coming months, PlanetPlay will unveil more exciting Green Tuesday partnerships with game makers, fashion brands and music industries.

1 Business of Apps – https://www.businessofapps.com/data/subway-surfers-statistics/

2 PocketGamer.biz – https://www.pocketgamer.biz/news/81112/subway-surfers-hits-4bn-downloads/

Intelligent Money by Chris Skinner – Book Review

intelligent

In Intelligent Money, Chris Skinner weaves together the intricate threads of finance, technology and human behaviour to create a compelling narrative that challenges conventional wisdom and invites readers to reimagine their relationship with money.

With meticulous research and engaging storytelling, Skinner navigates the complex landscape of modern finance, offering profound insights and practical advice along the way.

Skinner begins by exploring the evolution of money, tracing its transformation from physical currency to digital assets and the emergence of cryptocurrencies. Through insightful analysis, he examines the impact of technological advancements on financial systems, highlighting the opportunities and risks they present. Drawing on examples from around the world, Skinner illustrates how fintech innovations are reshaping the way we think about and interact with money, from mobile payments to blockchain technology.

One of the book’s most compelling aspects is its exploration of the psychology of money. Skinner delves into the deep-seated beliefs and behaviors that influence our financial decisions, shedding light on the subconscious biases that often lead to irrational choices. By understanding the psychological underpinnings of money management, readers are empowered to take control of their financial lives and make more informed decisions.

Skinner’s analysis is not limited to individual finance; he also examines the broader implications of financial intelligence for businesses and society as a whole. He explores the role of fintech in driving economic growth and fostering financial inclusion, while also addressing the challenges of regulatory compliance and cybersecurity.

inner emphasizes the importance of adaptability and lifelong learning in navigating the rapidly evolving financial landscape. He encourages readers to embrace innovation and embrace new technologies, while also advocating for responsible stewardship of financial resources.

In conclusion, Intelligent Money is a thought-provoking exploration of the intersection between finance and technology, offering valuable insights for individuals, businesses and policymakers alike.

Skinner’s vision of a more intelligent approach to money is inspiring and practical, making this book a must-read for anyone seeking to thrive in the financial world of tomorrow. Recommended.

Poem #1 of 30 – Laurie

Laurie 

Laurie Lee spoke to me today
As I staggered out one early spring morning
Through a past life
To the station. 

There were faces on the platform who I used to know
Who used to know me.
We all looked off in the distance
As the train pulled in.

I could smell the birdsong as I boarded
Something I hadn’t felt for some time.
After one stop I changed trains.

Thinking of a different Saturday morning in Bombay
Moons ago.
A monsoon morning and running across tracks
To change trains for the Malabar coast.

The second train today took me to the sea
Silver today.
Twinkling like a smudged piano.
On the horizon.

A country of clouds had arrived in the sky
With a sun in it.

As I stretched back one early Spring morning
Laurie Lee spoke to me today.

He pops up now and then
After disappearing into those past lives

And bringing me back into the world
Of wonder and woe.

Back to the possible
And probable determined future

The early sunshine of the speckled mind.
Foaming.
Not at the mouth or in the surf.
But foaming freedom.

Back from the dead.

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