Jonathan’s Internet and Digital Media Weekly Update – 2013-09-16
- Latin America’s first insurance product comparison site ComparaOnline announced an $11m Series B on September 4. Ribbit Capital, a venture fund in Palo Alto dedicated exclusively to financial businesses, led the round, with founder Micky Malta joining the board. Kaszek Ventures re-upped for the Series B, and Rise Capital, an emerging market fund led by Tiger Capital veteran Nazar Yasin, joined late in the negotiations to finish out the round.
- Insightly has raised $10m for its CRM service that integrates with Gmail, Outlook, Office 365 and other services. Emergence Capital Partners, Sozo Ventures and TrueBridge Capital Partners participated in the Series B round led by Matt Holleran, founder and managing director of Cloud Apps Management. Insightly has now raised a total of $13m. The company, which serves more than 184,000 customers in 100 countries, will use the funding to localize the service, hire new employees and extend marketing to its international markets.
- The Temnos Content Intelligence platform enables you to extract the wealth of metadata that exists about your unstructured text-based media. In addition, valuable metacontent can be generated from the text to further optimize its usability and value. Temnos announced that it has raised $1.25m in funding. Temnos’ angel investors aren’t being disclosed.
- YouTube network Maker Studios just closed out its Series C funding round, bringing on an additional $26m from a wide range of international investors. The funding will bring the full amount of the round to $62m, and brings total funding to date to $70m. The second tranche of the financing came from investors that include Canal+, Astro, SingTel Innov8, Lakestar, Northgate Capital, and existing investors. Others that have invested include Time Warner Ventures, Upfront Ventures, Greycroft Partners, Maker executive chairman Ynon Kreiz, Downey Ventures, Elisabeth Murdoch, FUEL: M+C, Daher Capital, and producer Jon Landau. Maker now gets about 4 billion video views per month, or about 1 billion each week. When Maker raised the first part of its Series C round in December, the company had half as many views with 2 billion per month. It has more than 60,000 channels and more than 260m subscribers.
- FiscalNote, a startup that helps businesses stay up-to-date with state and local legislation, is announcing that it has raised $1.2m in seed funding from investor Mark Cuban, New Enterprise Associates, and First Round Capital’s Dorm Room Fund. FiscalNote is currently conducting a closed beta test with a group of customers that it says includes legal and marketing departments within Fortune 500 companies, national advocacy groups, and financial institutions.
- Social media management and marketing platform MarketMeSuite has landed a new strategic investment of $1.25m from Talus Holdings, a media technology holding company. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup says the new funding is earmarked for adding new functionality to its platform, marketing, and customer service and support as MarketMeSuite seeks to speed up its growth and increase its paid customer base. This latest round brings the total MarketMeSuite has raised over the past 13 months to $2.25m. In August 2012, MarketMeSuite received $1.1m in a round led by Boston-area VC Jeffrey McCormick, founder of Saturn Partners, shortly after it relocated to Massachusetts from Norwich, U.K.
- Mobile payment and loyalty platform startup Yoyo has raised $1.2m in a seed round to launch a platform designed to create a faster, simpler way to buy goods, via a mobile app, which also combines with an automatic loyalty point collection system. Yoyo was founded in 2013 by a team of entrepreneurs drawn from the ranks of Visa, Paypal and Barclaycard, including Alain Falys, co-founder of OB10, the world’s largest e-invoicing business; Dave Nicholson, co-founder of Zopa (a peer-to-peer lending platform in the UK); and Michael Rolph, who ran merchant acquisition teams at Paypal, BarclayCard and First Data. Investors include Mathias Entenmann (former Head of Paypal International and ex CEO of Payback), the founders of early stage investment vehicle Firestartr (Chipper Boulas, Alain Falys, Anil Hansjee, Richard Muirhead), and former executives from Barclaycard, Worldpay, Visa, First Data and Western Union.
- Mood-based free streaming music service Songza has raised a $4.7m funding round, their second since they closed $2m in 2011. Songza did not name a lead for the round, the investors for which include Amazon, William Morris Endeavor, Lerer Ventures, Deep Fork Capital, Metamorphic Ventures, Troy Carter, Scooter Braun, Gary Vaynerchuk, Geoff Judge, and Nicole Junkermann. With this latest round, Songza will be scaling its sales team and developing its native advertising, having recently hired a dedicated brand manager.
- AppDirect has raised $9m and is announcing the purchase of Standing Cloud, a Foundry Group investment. iNovIa Capital led the Series B investment, which brings the app marketplace’s total investment to $20.8m. The Standing Cloud technology packages apps for use with cloud services to ease the complexity of deploying and managing apps. AppDirect has the capability to use APIs to integrate third-party apps. With Standing Cloud, AppDirect will be able to offer a way to actually package apps and manage the orchestration into different marketplaces.
- TapInfluence, a company that connects marketers with bloggers and other online influencers, is announcing that it has raised $5m in Series B funding. The round was existing investor Grotech Ventures and new investor Access Venture Partners, with Access’ Kirk Holland joining the TapInfluence board of directors. The company was initially launched as BlogFrog, which offered a social platform for “mommy bloggers,” but over time it shifted its focus to connecting those bloggers with advertisers.
- Outline, a startup which builds public policy simulators for city and state governments, raised a $850,000 seed round, with the largest chunk of that sum provided by the Knight Foundation. Outline’s first customer will be the State of Massachusetts, though that deal remains in contractual discussion. It will likely become cashflow positive following that first agreement. Currently composed of a team of five, Outline is looking to hire three to five more, mostly designers and economists.
- Nexon has made a 20% strategic investment in former Zynga COO John Schappert’s new startup Shiver Entertainment, Inc. They didn’t disclose the size of the deal, which will see Nexon take an equity stake in the company in exchange for exclusive global publishing rights to Shiver’s upcoming games. Nexon’s CFO Owen Mahoney will also get a role on Shiver’s board of directors.
- LevelEleven, a developer of gamification apps, has raised $2m from Detroit Venture Partners, Hyde Park Venture Partners, Salesforce.com and a group of investors, including two professional athletes. The company will use the funding to build out its service designed for salespeople. The company’s flagship app, Compete, drives competition between sales people through contests that are built and deployed by sales managers. It’s the No. 1 gamification app on the Salesforce.com platform. Compete was originally called Contest Builder, but the company re-branded it last May with an update and new user interface.
- Freestyle.VC, the micro-VC firm founded by serial entrepreneurs Josh Felser and Dave Samuel, has raised $40m for its second fund. The firm’s inaugural fund, raised in 2011, totaled $27m. Along with the new fund, Samuel and Felser are announcing the expansion of the firm with the addition of SimpleHoney co-founder Joyce Kim as venture principal. Traditionally, Freestyle.VC focuses primarily on seed, and prefers to lead in these rounds (the firm leads in 80 percent of the rounds they participate in). Investments range from $500,000 to $800,000. Felser and Samuel are known be the most active investor a startup will have in the beginning stages of its inception. Freestyle will sometimes follow-on in startup rounds for Series A, but won’t lead. The firm now counts 43 investments that include About.me, Byliner, Chartbeat, AdStage.io, and others.
- Rocket Internet, the Samwer brothers’ Germany-based e-commerce startup factory, has announced that it’s brought iMENA Holdings on as a partner and investor in Foodpanda’s Hellofood Middle Eastern operation. Specifically, iMENA is investing $8m in the online take-out ordering service — capital that will be used to expand the service in the region, beyond Saudi Arabia where it currently operates locally.
- CrowdStrike has raised $30m in a Series B round led by Accel Venture Partners for its security technology to identify advanced threats and put adversaries more on the defensive. Founding investor Warbug Pincus also participated in the funding. The company was founded by former McAffee CTO George Kurtz and Dmitri Alperovitch, who was previously vice president of advanced threat research, also at McAfee. Its Falcon platform is designed to monitor a company’s data to detect zero-day threats and prevent the damage that can come from targeted attacks. It identifies malware and learns the attributes of attackers which it uses to develop a range of responses to raise the cost and risk to the adversary.
- The E-commerce startup eCommHub of Atlanta, Georgia, has received a $2.6m Series A round from a group of investors which includes United Parcel Service Inc., Sigma Prime Ventures of Boston, Massachusetts, and Mosley Ventures of Atlanta. The company enables e-tailers that don’t maintain their own inventories to track their stock. eCommHub’s service allows small retailers to compete better with major players like Amazon.
- Numbrs, the mobile-first banking app founded out of Swiss company builder Centralway, has raised a further $3.8m from its parent — money that will be ring-fenced for a planned U.S. launch early next year. In addition, the young startup is opening a New York office for which it’s hiring a marketing team. The new investment adds to the original $7.7m put into Numbrs by Centralway to continue making headway in Germany.
- Dayima, a menstruation period tracking app, received tens ofm dollars in Series B financing from Sequoia Capital and Series A investor Bertelsmann. The company’s founder Chai Ke confirmed that all the investment procedures will be nailed down within 45 days. The capital will be invested in improving service quality and strengthening technology team, especially talent with professional gynecological knowledge. At the same time, Dayima will increase investments in marketing and branding. Dayima predicts period cycles based on past patterns, offering health tips on avoiding cramps and pre-menstrual syndromes, and links to online forum where users can exchange their experiences. The app has recorded 18m registered users and 1.9m daily active users since its launch in January 2012.
Mergers & Acquisitions
- MoPub, a startup that helps mobile publishers manage their ad inventory, has been acquired by Twitter, giving the social network another route into building its advertising business, specifically on mobile platforms. Both MoPub and Twitter have now confirmed the deal, but not the price. Rumour places the purchase price at $350m in stock. MoPub will continue to work with multiple publishers under its new owner, opening up the possibilities of how Twitter intends to grow its own position in the world of mobile advertising. The deal is a significant acquisition for Twitter specifically by running advertising across its platform in the form of promoted Tweets, ad retargeting services and more. Twitter’s acquisition of the mobile advertising company MoPub valued Twitter at $20 per share, and the transaction implies a $10.5bn valuation for Twitter.
- Livefyre, a commenting platform used by TechCrunch and other websites, is announcing that it has acquired social curation startup Storify. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Livefyre says the five-person Storify team will be joining the company, bringing its headcount to 91. Livefyre raised a $15m round in February, bringing its total funding to more than $20m. Storify, meanwhile, raised around $2m from Khosla Ventures, Promus Ventures, and others.
- Desire2Learn, the Ontario-based makers of one of the largest Learning Management Systems (LMS) is announcing that it has acquired Knowillage Systems, the creators of an adaptive learning and analytics engine that aims to help teachers improve student performance. LeaP, Knowillage’s adaptive learning engine, enables teachers to personalize the learning path for their students using natural language processing techniques and analytics to understand where students are struggling with the material at hand. While there are many learning analytics options on the market today, the Vancouver-based company differentiates its service by then enabling teachers to provide the right tools and content to address the areas where they’re struggling.
- AppMakr, the San Francisco, California-based mobile app builder, has been acquired by the Singapore-based mobile app builder Infinite Monkeys. Infinite Monkeys co-founder Jay Shapiro confirmed the deal and said the combined company would serve more than 500,000 publishers worldwide. Infinite Monkeys charges $9 per month for an ad-free platform. The deal consideration was not disclosed. Shapiro added that the deal may also assist in raising venture capital funds for the company in the future.
- Nouveau Holdings Ltd has entered into an agreement to acquire B3Square1, which is expected to close within the next 60 days. B3Square1, an online gaming company and the operator of Play31.net, plans to release to the public in Q4 2013, its second game of skill, PlayGin.net. B3Sq, intends to capitalize on the popularity of Gin Rummy. It is one of the most popular Rummy games played in the US. There arems of rummy players worldwide today.
- Conference Hound, a San Francisco-based conference discovery platform, announced the acquisition of OnTrade, a Miami-based lead generation and deal marketplace for the B2B sector of the travel and trade show industry. The combined company will provide Conference Hound members access to exclusive deals from conferences, trade shows, exhibitors and hospitality providers. Total funding to date for the combined companies is $1.7m (seed stage).
- Intel has acquired natural language processing startup Indisys. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but it is reportedly “north” of €20m ($26m). Indisys is a developer of natural language recognition technology, but also Siri-like intelligent assistant (IA) interfaces so that people can interact with it. Pictured here is “Maya,” one of its creations. Other clients like Boeing have been using Indisys’ technology for a project called Atlantis, to create interfaces to control unmanned vehicles.
- Fring, an early startup that focused on creating group messaging and video calling apps for mobile phones, competing against the likes of Skype and WhatsApp, has been sold to Genband, a provider of services like IP gateways and billing and other services to mobile, fixed and cable carriers. Terms of the deal have not been officially disclosed, but we have heard from a source that the price was $50m. Israel-based Fring, which had raised around $30m from investors including Pitango, North Bridge and Veritas. Texas-based Genband, meanwhile, had raised a huge $343m round of funding from One Equity Partners, Sevin Rosen Funds, and Venrock in January of this year; this is its first acquisition since news of that raise broke.
- Groupon announced that it’s acquired Madrid, Spain-based Blink, a last minute hotel booking app that competes with the likes of the heavily backed HotelTonight, and Hot Hotels, also headquartered in Spain. Terms of the deal remain undisclosed. Available as an Android and iOS, Blink follows along the same lines as its competitors, offering a selection of last minute deals each day to help fill partner hotel’s inventory, while also passing on significant savings to customers. It currently works with more than 2,000 hotel partners in Eight European countries. Blink, which will be rebranded “Blink by Groupon”, will continue to operate as a separate entity, to bolster its Groupon Getaways travel business.
- Moto, the German operator of the online car trading portal Autoda.de, has been acquired by its domestic rival MeinAuto retroactively from 1 August 2013. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
- Online retailer getgoods.de has acquired all the shares in pauldirekt, the shopping club for men. With this, the company has secured access to more than 1.2m customers with e-commerce experience. The parties to the deal have agreed to maintain confidence as to the purchase price. Pauldirekt is the leading German shopping club targeted at male online buyers. In limited campaigns, the company offers brand items in the fields of professional technology, clothes, entertainment and lifestyle with substantial price reductions of up to 70%.
- Schibsted Media Group has agreed to acquire the personal finance market place Compricer.se. Compricer will be a part of Schibsted Tillväxtmedier, and is a good strategic fit with the existing portfolio of fast growing personal finance oriented online companies in the unit. Schibsted will pay SEK 135m (EUR 15m) for 100% of the shares in Compricer, where operating profit in 2013 is expected to be around SEK 12-13m. There will be further payments if the performance of Compricer exceeds certain thresholds in 2014 and 2015.
- Skyscanner, a UK-based online flight portal, has acquired Fogg, the Spanish intelligent hotel search engine. Financial details were not disclosed.
- Recruit Co., the Japan-based HR and recruitment site giant that has long been gearing up for an IPO, is on the acquisition trail again, just a month after buying NuGrid in India and a year after its acquisition of Indeed.com. According to sources close to the situation, it has made a $400m offer for Freelancer.com, an online portal that connects people with short-contract jobs. Morgan Stanley, which previously advised Indeed.com on its sale to Recruit Co, is also the advisor on this deal. It’s understood that Recruit Co approached Freelancer.com, who is now considering the deal, and this is the second, higher offer that has been put on the table. Outsourcing website Freelancer.com allows professionals to bid on project work such as web design, application development, and article writing. It says it has 8.8m registered users and that $1.2 billion worth of projects have been completed through its platform. The startup was founded in Australia, but Freelancer.com has a global presence listing a large outsourcing workforce in North America, South East Asia, and the subcontinent.
- Yun Yun, a social search founded by former Google China executives in early 2012, has reportedly been acquired by Sina and would be merged into Sina Weibo. Liu Jun, lead of Yun Yun and former head of Google China’s Chinese-language search, has left the company and joined Baidu, the largest search service in China. Yun Yun’s offerings include general search, real-time search, image search and a social network. The social network was suspended one month ago. As it began with offering search results indexed from Chinese micro-blogging services, Yun Yun had reached partnership with Sina Weibo in late 2012. Mr. Liu also disclosed the company had received investment from Sina.
- Wirecard Group is disclosing another M&A transaction in Asia. With this acquisition, Wirecard will be expanding its operating business in Malaysia. Wirecard will be also extending its offering of contactless payment solutions in the East Asian region. Wirecard has agreed to purchase all shares in three companies of the Korvac Group (founded in 1999). These consist of Singapore based PaymentLink Pte. Ltd., and two subsidiaries in Malaysia and Singapore. With more than 24,000 acceptance points, PaymentLink operates one of the largest payment networks for local contactless payment cards. The considerations in connection with this transaction comprise cash payments (all converted into Euro) in an amount of approx. €26.1m and earn out-components of up to approx. €4.8m, dependent on the operational profit (EBITDA) of the acquired group in the years 2013 and 2014.
- Endurance International Group Holdings Inc, a Burlington, Massachusetts-based provider of cloud-based solutions for small and medium-sized businesses said that it has acquired the India-based Directi, according to Endurance’s filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering worth $400m.
PDF download: Internet weekly update – 2013-09-16
Source: Company disclosure, mergermarket, TechCrunch, The Next Web, TechNode