Jonathan’s Internet and Digital Media Weekly Update – 2013-09-23
- M-commerce vendor known as Branding Brand which powers the mobile e-commerce sites and apps for more than 200 of the top retailers worldwide, announced a $9.5m Series B led by existing investor Insight Venture Partners, and includes repeat investment from CrunchFund and Lead Edge Capital. It also includes participation from new investor eBay Enterprise. This brings Branding Brand’s total funding to date to $17m. Today, the company sees nearly $1 billion in transactions running through its platform, up from $60m in 2011.
- Social analytics startup Unmetric is announcing that it has raised $5.5m in Series B funding. The new round was led by JAFCO Asia with participation from previous investor Nexus Venture Partners. Unmetric has now raised a total of $8.7m. Unmetric says it will use the funding for global expansion, as well as adding even more social networks to its system.
- Plaid, a startup that describes itself as “the modern API for banking data”, has raised $2.8m led by Spark Capital, with participation from Google Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, Felicis Ventures, and Homebrew Capital (the new seed fund from former Googlers Hunter Walk and Satya Patel). The startup is currently in private beta, and initial clients have used the API for accounting, automated taxes, and expense management applications
- Deliv, a Palo Alto based same-day delivery startup, announced a $6.85m series A investment. Upfront Ventures and RPM Ventures, who have previously funded retailers including Costco, Office Depot, and Starbucks, led the investment round in Deliv, whose technology integrates directly into the retailer’s e-commerce properties allowing customers to select the same-day delivery option at the time of checkout.
- Gigya, a company which enables the world’s largest brands, including Pepsi, Verizon and ABC to understand and connect more closely with today’s mobile and socially connected consumers, closed a $25m funding round, led by Greenspring Associates with contributions from the company’s existing investors, including Benchmark Capital, Mayfield Fund, DAG Ventures and Advance Publications. The new round brings Gigya’s total funding to $70m and the company’s valuation has doubled since its last funding round — its $15m financing which closed last June.
- Cinegif, an Austin-based startup that makes it easy for companies to create GIFs for use in marketing campaigns, has raised $500,000 in funding from Texas angel investors including the Baylor Angel Network, the Houston Angel Network and its related Texas Halo Fund. The angel round will be used by Cinegif to accelerate sales and marketing for its cloud-based GIF marketing platform.
- Apttus, a service native to Salesforce.com that helps manage contracts from the time a buyer expresses interest in a product to the actual collection of revenues from the sale, has raised $37m for its platform that automates the “quote to cash” (CQT) process within Salesforce.com. The funding came from K1 Capital, ICONIQ Capital and Salesforce.com.
- CyanogenMod, a customized, aftermarket firmware distribution for several Android devices, raised $7m in funding raised by Benchmark Capital to turn what has been a hobby project into a real business pioneering a direct-to-consumer route for delivering a mobile OS.
- StrongLoop has raised $8m in Series A funding for its backend-as-a-service (MBaaS) that uses Node.js as a platform for developing mobile apps in the cloud or in the data center. The funding came from Shasta Ventures and Ignition Partners, bringing StrongLoop’s total funding to $9m. The company provides a mobile API tier as a way for developers to get access to backend data for their apps.
- Snapguide, the crowdsourced, how-to app founded by a veteran from Yahoo Pipes and another from Google’s Chrome business, announced another $3m raise from existing investors (they include Atlas Venture, Index, SV Angel, CrunchFund (Disclaimer: Michael Arrington, founder of TC, runs CrunchFund) and Dave Morin’s Slow Ventures). The funding takes the total raised to date by Snapguide to $10m.
- Blue Jeans Network, a video conferencing company that plays nicely with other services, is announcing that it has raised $50m in new funding. The round doubles the amount that Blue Jeans had previously raised, and it was led by Battery Ventures, with participation from previous investors Accel Partners, New Enterprise Associates, and Norwest Ventures Partners.
- Mobile app analytics and market intelligence service App Annie announced $15m in Series C funding, led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from existing investors IDG Capital Partners, Greycroft Partners, e.Ventures, and Infinity Venture Partners. The funding also sees two new additions to App Annie’s board, including Sequoia Capital Partner Tim Lee, and Greycroft’s Alan Gould, CEO of uSamp, and founder of IAG Research, which sold to Nielsen.
- Pipedrive, the SaaS to help small to medium size companies manage and increase sales, has raised a further $2.4m in funding, bringing the total raised by the company to $3.4m. The new investment, described as an “extended seed round”, was co-led by Rembrandt Venture Partners, and Storm Ventures, with participation from existing backer TMT Investments, and a group of angel investors including Taavet Hinrikus (co-founder of Transferwise), Ott Kaukver (VP Engineering of Twilio), Rain Rannu (co-founder of Fortumo), and Tytus Michalski (Managing Director of Fresco Capital Advisors).
- Bright, a startup that is betting that data science and machine learning algorithms will be central to hiring and finding jobs, is announcing $14m in Series B funding from Toba Capital and Passport Capital. The startup previously raised $6m in funding in 2011. The new funding will go to bulking up the startup’s data science team.
- Stackdriver, a monitoring service for cloud-based applications, announced that it has raised a $10m Series B round led by Flybridge Capital Partners, with participation by existing investor Bain Capital Ventures and a number of angel investors. Last year, the Boston-based company raised a $5m Series A round.
- Bugsnag, a service that captures errors, crashes and exceptions in real-time from web, mobile and desktop applications, helping app developers to understand and resolve them as fast as possible, is announcing $1.4m in seed funding in a round led by Matrix Partners. Others participating in the round include angels with cloud and SaaS experience, like Slicehost founder and TechStars Cloud director Jason Seats, and Huddle founder Andy McLoughlin.
- San Francisco-based startup Distill who builds hiring tools to maximize the interview process as well as rethinking the optimal ways to screen candidates announced a $1.3m in funding in a round with Felicis Ventures, China’s Innovation Works and DN Capital. The company has built a video interviewing and scheduling service that makes it easy to vet candidates and their problem solving abilities side-by-side.
- Goldbely, the startup that delivers signature foods from regional establishments to hungry people throughout the United States, just closed on a $3m seed funding round led by Intel Capital with the participation of Y Combinator (the Silicon Valley startup incubator from which it launched this past February), 500 Startups, Dave McClure, Tim Draper, ACE & Company, and FundersClub. The new cash will be used to further expand Goldbely’s operations nationwide.
- Stitch Labs, the startup founded in 2011 to help small and medium-sized businesses manage their sales operations, has raised $3.5m in Series A financing. Greg Sands of Costanoa Ventures led the round, with participation from True Ventures and Greg Waldorf, the founding investor in eHarmony. In February 2012, Stitch Labs raised a seed round of $1m led by True Ventures.
- PubNub, a provider of APIs that publishers, developers and others can use to implement messaging and other social services on apps and websites, has picked up an $11 million round of funding that it will use to add more services to its network and build out its sales and marketing operations. This Series B round was led by Scale Venture Partners and included participation from existing investors Relay Ventures and TiE Angles, and takes the total raised by the company to $15.5 million. As part of the investment, ScaleVP’s Andy Vitus is joining PubNub’s board.
- FuzeBox, which provides online collaboration and communication tools, has raised $26 million in Series B funding. Led by Hermes Growth Partners and joined by existing investors Index Ventures, Khosla Ventures and Insight Venture Partners, this brings the company’s total funding to $46 million.
- Dafiti, a Rocket Internet-backed fashion commerce site based out of Brazil, is announcing a new investment of $70 million to continue building out its business. It comes from the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP), a Canadian investment fund that has made other notable tech investments, including a $400 million round in Chinese e-commerce site 360Buy.com. It takes total funding for Dafiti to $225 million, and puts OTPP among the company’s biggest shareholders, with others including JPMorgan and Quadrant Capital Advisors.
- PushPage, a personal homepage platform that offers users an online presence where they can publicize their likes and interests through a series of interview-like questions, announced a $1.7 million in seed funding. Investors in the startup’s seed round include: Rose Park Advisors, Bob Pittman (CEO Clear Channel, founder MTV), Irving Azoff (former CEO/chairman Live Nation), Scott Sperling (President THL Partners), Lance Kalish and Ido Leffler (YesToCarrots founders), John Kim (founder, DirectDigital), Howard Wolk (president Cross Country Group) and Meridian Capital.
- Upworthy, the media site aiming to make videos with a message go viral, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Spark Capital, an early investor in Tumblr and Twitter, along with Catamount Ventures, Uprising, and the Knight Foundation.
- Convo, a company providing enterprise private social network, raised $5m from MorgenThaler.
- New York based Zipments, a same-day delivery marketplace that connects retailers with couriers, has closed a $2.25 million seed round to further build out its product and expand to new cities. It’s facing increasing competition from consumer-focused San Francisco delivery heavyweights such as TaskRabbit and Postmates, the latter of which recently raised $5 million to muscle into New York. FirstMark Capital and Huron River Ventures led the seed investment in Zipments, which also included The Windquest Group, New York City Economic Development Corporation, Chicago Ventures, as well as Robert Safrata, CEO of Novex Couriers, one of Canada’s local same-day couriers.
- Yesware, the leading email productivity service for salespeople, announced that it has secured USD 13.5m in Series B funding. The round was led by Battery Ventures, with existing investors Google Ventures, Foundry Group, IDG Ventures, and Golden Venture Partners all participating. In total, Yesware has now raised a total of USD 18.5m. The new funds will be used to accelerate the company’s continued growth and platform expansion efforts.
- Visage, the SaaS enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution announced a strategic investment by Concur, the global leader in integrated travel and expense management, through the Concur Perfect Trip™ Fund.
- UK startup NewVoiceMedia is announcing a new round of $35m to build out its business applying this idea to the world of call centers. This Series C round is led by a new investor, Bessemer Venture Partners, along with participation from existing investors Highland Capital Partners Europe, Eden Ventures and Notion Capital. It’s the second round of funding announced by NVM this year, after a $20M Series B round in January. It brings the total raised by the company to $61.3m.
- Swiss company builder Centralway is opening a new seed and early stage investment arm that will invest $50m per year into 20 to 30 startups — including both small seed-stage investment and larger Series A rounds. The newly formed Centralway Ventures, which will be headquartered in London’s Somerset House, is making its first investment in YC- and Google Ventures-backed Buttercoin: a Bitcoin startup that is looking to disrupt the international remittances market by leveraging the decentralised digital cryptocurrency to shrink cross-border transaction costs.
- Smallrivers, the Swiss startup behind news curation platform Paper.li, has raised further funding: $2m from Debioinvestment, and Polytech Ventures (co-founded by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technologies where SmallRivers is based), along with existing investors/shareholders, including Kima Ventures, and various European angels, as well as co-founder Edouard Lambelet. The new capital, which brings total funding to date to $7m, will be used to consolidate revenue growth, with the aim to break even in the coming year, and deploy what Paper.li is describing as a new “semantic analysis engine” that will offer curators additional content discovery and filtering capabilities to make it even easier to build their own online newspapers. To date, Paper.li claims 3.7 million monthly users who are curating over 50 million articles daily, in 7 languages.
- Barcelona-based Restalo, an online restaurant reservation service similar to OpenTable, has raised a $10 million Series B round from Seaya Ventures, and existing investor Active Venture Partners. Having previously raised $1.3 million in 2011, this takes the total funding to date to $11.3 million. Founded in 2009, Restalo offers real-time online restaurant reservations for diners, and a cloud-based reservation and guest management solution for restaurants. It claims 1 million active users, and 8,000 restaurants on its platform, as well as 200 partner sites, including brands such as TimeOut, and TripAdvisor.
- Withlocals, a peer-to-peer marketplace for locals to offer travellers various experiences, such as tours, home dining, and other local activities, has raised $500,000 in funding from startup builder and backer Greenhouse Group. The Netherlands-founded startup will use the investment to launch out of beta this fall and, curiously, target Southeast Asia — a move it says differentiates itself from U.S. competitor Vayable.
- REWE Group, the German retail and travel entity, has acquired a minority stake in domestic online furniture retailer Home24. The acquisition was made through a capital increase. Financial terms of the deal were not given.
- Cinemacraft, a startup that wants to replace static video thumbnails with its interactive Videograms, has raised a $1.5 million strategic funding round from investors NTT DoCoMo, Turner Broadcasting’s Media Camp and 500 Startups. Combined with an earlier seed round of $500,000 from 500 Startups and angel investors, this brings Cinemacraft’s total funding raised to date to $2 million.
- Mobile karaoke app Maichang reportedly received 15 million yuan ($2.44 million) of Services A Financing from Touch Wood. Maichang has around 8 million registered users and 700,000 daily active users, disclosed Liu. Similar domestic companies are Changba, Karaoke Master and Audiocn.
- Credit card management app Kaniu has raised a combined 10 million dollars in two rounds, in December 2012 and earlier this year, respectively, from Sequoia China. Feidee, developer of Kaniu, was initially financed by Kingdee, a Hong Kong-listed enterprise financial software developer and the former employer of core members of Feidee founding team. Before Kaniu, the company developed a personal finance app Suishouji which claims it has 60 million users.
Mergers & Acquisitions
- GoDaddy has acquired Afternic, a specialist in aftermarket domain sales (reselling domain names that are already owned). Afternic was owned by NameMedia, and GoDaddy says it is also acquiring SmartName, a domain parking service, as well as NameFind, essentially a name generator, from the same group. Terms of the deal were not disclosed but GoDaddy notes that the company has turnovers of around $1m per week in aftermarket domain sales. GoDaddy notes that the acquisition will enable over 100 registrars (including 18 of the top-20) to offer aftermarket domain names directly to their customers.
- Montreal-based Lagoa has acquired in-browser 3D editor 3DTin. The company announced its acquisition on its blog. 3DTin is used for 3D model and 3D printing. The details of the acquisition are undisclosed.
- Hoppit, a search engine that lets you find restaurants based on their atmosphere, today announced that it has been acquired by the “lifestage media” company XO Group (formerly known as “The Knot”). Hoppit will join XO Group’s lineup of wedding- and marriage-related brands, including The Knot, The Nest, The Bump, WeddingChannel.com and GiftRegistry360.com. Hoppit launched its service publicly in early 2012 and took about $500,000 in seed funding from a diverse group of investors, including Aimee Higgins, Earl Tucker III, Phil Landler, Graham Smith and Dziedzic.
- File-sharing company Hightail (formerly YouSendIt), has acquired startup AdeptCloud, a file sharing and collaboration company focused on security, control and privacy. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. AdeptCloud had raised $700,000 in outside funding.
- Splunk has acquired BugSense, a mobile analytics platform used by developers to improve app performance and improve quality. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close during Splunk’s 2014 fiscal third quarter, which ends in October. BugSense, founded in 2011, provides analytics from machine data it collects to understand how apps are performing on mobile devices, the quality of the apps and for collecting data to do better troubleshooting. It works on Android, iOS and Windows Phone through its software developer kit, giving developers access to data analytics from hundreds of millions of mobile devices that it manages from its scalable cloud platform.
- After raising nearly $20 million and becoming one of the most downloaded mobile apps but failing to find real revenue, Bump Technologies has been acquired by Google. Its app Bump lets you physically tap phones together to share contact info and more, and it will stay open for download. Terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed but was rumoured to be around $35m.
- Celerity, a business acceleration consultancy that delivers enterprise web and mobile, business transformation and IT talent solutions, has acquired 3PC Media, a Pittsburgh-based digital agency specializing in mobile application development, user interface design and strategic branding.
- PlentyOfFish, the Vancouver, British Columbia-based online dating site, is acquiring FastLife, the Toronto, Ontario-based speed dating and singles event company. FastLife holds more than 2,400 events a year, with more than 60,000 urban professional singles in attendance. These events have generated annual revenue of more than USD 2.5m.
- Groupon announced the acquisition of SideTour, a marketplace that helps people discover, book and host great local activities. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. SideTour has raised USD 4m in funding to date. SideTour handpicks a growing selection of unique, hosted events that connect customers with qualified experts who help them discover more about their cities and the things they’re passionate about.
- Network Merchants, LLC, a leading provider of e-commerce payment gateways and value-added services, announced today that Bregal Sagemount has made a significant growth investment in the company. The existing management team, led by Chief Executive Officer Jim McKenzie, will continue to run the business. Network Merchants provides a comprehensive suite of gateway and security features, distributed exclusively through a channel of over 400 affiliate partners that serve more than 60,000 merchants worldwide.
- Artemis Energy Holdings announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire LinkMyFan.com. LinkMyFan.com is an online social networking platform that allows members to post an array of content on the Link My Fan open platform to increase the reach of the content posted throughout the world.
- Madrid-based Hot Hotels has acquired local rival ReallyLateBooking. Terms of the deal remain undisclosed. ReallyLateBooking was an early entrant into the last minute hotel booking app space in Europe, having been founded in July 2011. Its mobile apps has been downloaded more than 300,000 times.
- Conduit, the Israeli-based browser-toolbar and mobile startup estimated to be worth some $1.4 billion, has confirmed it is merging with Perion Network. Conduit’s Client Connect business and Perion will combine in an all-stock transaction. Perion’s current market cap is $153 million. The combination creates a search distribution company generating $367 million in revenue and $109 million in EBITDA for the 12 months ended June 30, 2013. The newly combined Perion operation represents more than 260,000 publisher and content partners. The price for the transaction was not disclosed, and the transaction is effectively a reverse takeover.
- Groupe 3SI has accepted a bid to acquire its B2C e-commerce activities and e-commerce services from Otto Group, the world’s second-largest e-commerce business.
- Sohu, Sogou and Tencent jointly announced a strategic investment. Tencent will invest $448 million for 36.5% of Sogou and let the latter merge its own search service Soso. Tencent’s stake in Sogou will be increased to 40% later, according to the announcement. Sogou developed the most popular Chinese Input Method service Sogou Pinyin. It recorded $50 million in revenue in Q213, up 64% YoY. Search, browser start-up page ads and related services contributed $46 million, up 61% YoY.
Source: Company disclosure, mergermarket, TechCrunch, The Next Web, TechNode