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Nimble Collective, Animation Cloud Services Startup, Raises $8.5 Million

Names animation-industry execs Mark Walsh, Eric Darnell, Peter Ramsey to advisory board

Nimble Collective, a startup co-founded by former DreamWorks Animation exec Rex Grignon that is developing a cloud-based collaboration platform for animators, has closed $8.5 million in funding led by venture-capital firm New Enterprise Associates.

The startup says its target market is big: an estimated 10 million professional and aspiring animators worldwide. Nimble Collective, founded in November 2014, announced $1 million in seed funding last year from individual investors; that is included in the $8.5 million round led by NEA.

Grignon, Nimble’s president and chief creative officer, previously was the founding head of character animation at DreamWorks Animation. At DWA, he oversaw all character animation for films including the “Madagascar” franchise, “Antz” and “Shrek.” Co-founder Michael Howse is an entrepreneur and tech exec who worked at 3dfx Interactive (now part of Nvidia) and most recently was CEO of networking hardware startup Bigfoot Networks, acquired by Qualcomm in 2011.

With the funding, NEA partner Greg Papadopoulos joins Nimble Collective’s board. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup also named three execs from the animated film industry to its advisory board: Mark Walsh, former writer-director at Pixar; Eric Darnell, chief creative officer at Baobab Studios and previously with DWA; and Peter Ramsey, who directed DWA’s “Rise of the Guardians.”

“The animation content market generates $90 billion annually, yet millions of talented animators simply do not have access to the expensive studio-quality technology tools and big budgets currently required to bring high-quality creative projects to fruition,” Howse said.

Nimble’s platform is slated for availability to select partners in the second half of 2016. It’s designed to let animators more easily collaborate, develop and distribute their creative content, and the startup says it will include high-performance graphics systems. “Nimble is delivering studio-caliber tools and collaboration capabilities — all in the cloud — that free-up animators to do what they do best: create,” Grignon said.

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