One of FastForward’s (FFWD) many attractions is that it provides investors with direct access to some of the most promising, early-stage technologies being developed anywhere on the planet. Additionally because its 9 investee companies are valued at historical cost in the statutory accounts, rather than market prices, then we believe there could be substantial upside hidden in the portfolio – perhaps even multiples of the 7.8p/share net assets figure reported at the 31st March yearend. In fact this morning came news that our suspicions are almost certainly true, with growth at both Schoold and Yooya described as “far beyond our expectations”.
Here Schoold’s (12.3% owned by FFWD) innovative university career counselling App, which is already the market leader in terms of number of US student downloads, has just surpassed 1.3m user installations. The basic version of the software is free, albeit the firm has now begun monetising the content via consumer/business adverting and selling premium features/functionality (eg Viewbook).
In our opinion this is significant and further validates Schoold’s exponential adoption rates, mobile expertise and success in engaging with this tech-savvy, much sought-after and highly influential demographic. Not least because a mere 12 years ago, Facebook under the tutelage of Harvard undergraduate Mark Zuckerberg, trod an almost identical path… and look where it ended up.
But that’s not all. Yooya (15% stake), the Chinese online content streaming platform, is knocking the ball out the park too - not only receiving >700m video views in July (up 300% YoY), but also managing to double revenues sequentially in Q2’16 vs Q1. Separately Yooya is in high-level discussions with a number of Fortune 500 groups concerning possible new tie-ups, and has recently smashed its own stretching target of 11bn lifetime video views, 5 months ahead of schedule.
Remember as well that both Facebook and YouTube (Google) are not allowed to distribute video content in China, meaning that Yooya possesses an excellent chance of continuing its rapid expansion, largely unhindered by activities of the two main global operators.
Elsewhere Leap Gaming (41% owned), a developer of virtual reality / 3D sports and casino games, has also made significant strides - especially in extending its geographical reach. The Tel Aviv head-quartered business has signed a ground breaking distribution deal with Pala Interactive covering US social gaming, as well as licensing its state-of-the-art technology in Europe, and is currently in advanced negotiations with another landmark customer and several others across different regions.