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Mark Zuckerberg heads £18M investment in Paul McCartney-backed UK startup Yoto

Yoto funding
Picture credits: Yoto

British startup Yoto, which makes audio players for children, designed with Montessori principles, has scored $23 million in a funding round. Out of this, $11 million came from Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.

Yoto has already witnessed support from existing shareholders, including Paul McCartney, who is one of its first investors. Besides this, Chan Zuckerberg Ventures acquired nearly 10% stake in Yoto last year and the fund’s managing partner, Vivian Wu, is on the board.

Idea behind Yoto

Yoto was launched in 2017 by entrepreneurs Ben Drury and Filip Denker. The founders said “We both had nagging concerns around the effects of excess screen time for young children, with potential negatives around sleep disruption, fine motor control development and addictiveness of screens making us think twice about putting our kids in front of a screen. We’re actually both technophiles and big believers in the power of the internet and tech as a force for good. Screens aren’t always bad! Also, having met whilst working together in the digital music world, we really wanted to give our kids easy access to music and other audio content. So we came up with the idea of a connected, screen-free audio device that kids could be fully in control of using physical smartcards.”

What does Yoto do?

The company has developed Yoto Player, an audio device aimed at children from three to 12 years old.

This device comprises Bluetooth features and is designed to be usable without connecting to a phone. There is a slot at the top of the device for audio cards. It can then read stories, podcasts, and other content, as well as play music.

The device also features a basic pixel display that changes colour. Unlike a smartphone, Yoto’s audio player was also created without a camera, a microphone, and adverts. This latest iteration builds on the features beloved by families around the world. Yoto cards give kids control over 1,000 audio titles from the world’s greatest creators. Families can enjoy up to 24 hours of play on a single charge. 

The accompanying Yoto app helps users set bedtime and wake-up routines, sleep timers, and a slew of helpful family features. 

This child-friendly device comes with exclusive content as well. Last year, Paul McCartney made two songs from his new album exclusively available on the Yoto Player, entitled Hey Grandude and Hey Nandude.

Yoto’s platform features original content and audio that has been licensed or co-created with partners. These partners include PRH, Macmillan, Sony, Disney, Roald Dahl Story Company, HarperCollins, Hachette, Viacom, Bonnier, and Scholastic.

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