Jonathan’s Internet and Digital Media Weekly – 2013-09-30
- Swiftype, a Y Combinator-backed startup that creates a smarter search engine for websites, has raised $7.5m led by NEA, with angel investors participating. The startup previously raised $1.7m in seed funding from Andreessen Horowitz, NEA, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Ignition, CrunchFund and angel investors. NEA partner Jon Sakoda will join Swiftype’s Board of Directors as part of the financing. Currently, the company’s API and developer tools power more than 200m queries per month, up more than 20x in the past year. Swiftype is used by 100,000 sites including Best Buy, Twitch, Twilio, and Asana.
- Good Eggs, the startup that brings farmers markets online, has closed an $8.5m Series A round from Sequoia Capital with participation from Harrison Metal and others. Sequoia partner Bryan Schreier will join the Good Eggs Board of Directors. Its current investors also include Baseline Ventures, Collaborative Fund, Westly Group, Correlation Ventures, New Island Capital, Max Ventilla and Mitch Kapor.
- Online ski marketplace Liftopia, which previously focused on offering skiers discounted lift tickets, has raised $5m in new funding. This round, technically a Series D, was led by Industry Ventures, and saw participation from a number of other new investors including Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelmen, and Zillow CEO and co-founder of Hotwire Spencer Rascoff, Walter Winshall, Thayer Ventures, and ru-Net. Existing investors First Round Capital, Erik Blachford (former CEO of Expedia and IAC Travel), Lowercase Capital (Chris Sacca), and SK ventures (Paul Kedrosky) also joined in. Last year, Liftopia booked 1.2 percent of all skier visits in North America, but some individual resorts did 45 percent of their business online during the same period. Now, they’ve told Liftopia want to do as much of 60 percent of their ticket sales online in the upcoming season.
- Ministry of Supply, a company which creates high performance business wear, raised an additional $1.1m in seed financing from a handful of venture capitalists and angels. The round was led by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s Vegas Tech Fund, with participation from SK Ventures and angels like Boston Red Sox pitcher Craig Breslow and Kevin Henrikson.
- VictorOps, a company building the first Vertical Collaboration Platform (VCP) designed to enable software operations teams – Ops, DevOps and TechOps – to solve problems regardless of physical location, connected device, or time of day, has raised $6.5m for its platform that adds a bit of the Twitter lifestyle for the DevOps pro, that person who fills a role somewhere between the IT and developer world. The Series A financing was led by Costanoa Venture Capital with participation from Foundry Group, the lead investor in the company’s 2012 seed round.
- Mobile deal-finding app Shopular raises $6.4m Series A round, led by Sequoia Capital. Sequoia’s Tim Lee will also join Shopular’s board of directors. The startup had previously raised a seed round from Y Combinator and other angel investors, including Adam D’Angelo.
- MakeSpace, a Dropbox for real life storage, raised $1.3m from Upfront Ventures, Lowercase Capital, High Peaks Venture Partners, and Collaborative Fund.
- JumpCam, a free mobile app that makes it easy to create collaborative videos with friends and family, raised $2.7m in a Series A round led by Trinity Ventures and Google Ventures.
- Eniac Ventures is announcing its second fund to invest in mobile startups. The new fund is $12.9m, significantly larger than the first $1.6m fund. The company plans to use the new fund to continue to back mobile-first ideas in the adtech, consumer, enterprise and commerce industries. Eniac, which was founded by Hadley Harris, Nihal Mehta, Vic Singh and Tim Young, is focused solely on making small seed stage investments in mobile startups. Previously the the average size of the investment was around $25,000 to $100,000, but the new fund will allow for bigger checks, in the $200,000 to $300,000 range with money for follow-on rounds. Since 2010, Eniac has backed 42 early stage mobile investments with six exits. Investments include LocalResponse, OnSwipe, Localytics, Tempo AI, MindSnacks, Fondu (acquired by Airbnb), Instinctive (acquired by Soundcloud) and MetaResolver (acquired by Millennial Media). which almost tripled Eniac’s investment in less than a year. The total value of first fund has increased 2x from the initial investment. Eniac is also announcing some of the investments it has already made out of the fund, including BioBeats, Boxed, Glide, Just Sing It, Reactor, RapCommerce, and Vistar Media.
- Burner, an app offering users disposable phone numbers which they could use to protect their privacy, announced $2m in new funding, led by Founder Collective and Venrock. Other investors in the round include TenOneTen, run by L.A. angels Gil Elbaz and David Waxman. David Frankel of Founder Collective and Marissa Campise of Venrock will also now join Burner’s board. Previously, the company had raised angel funding from 500 Startups, David Cohen, Ted Rheingold, and others, bringing Burner’s total raise to date to approximately $2.5m.
- Neurotrack, a technology provider which can diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease up to six years before symptoms occur, closed a $2m round of funding led by Founders Fund and Social+Capital.
- Academia.edu, a social networking platform for researchers, raised $11.1m in funding led by Khosla Ventures, with participation from previous investors like Spark Capital and True Ventures. Khosla’s newest partner Ben Ling joins the company’s board.
- LeadPages, a Minneapolis company that provides HTML 5 templates for contact pages, webinar pages, sales lead and other types of landing pages that customers use to improve leads and get better conversions, has received a $5m Series A investment from the Foundry Group. Arthur Ventures also participated in the round. The funding will help the company expand its service that provides customers with landing page templates powered by a data analytics engine that traditionally only a company like Google has been able to enjoy.
- subscription-based fashion commerce site JustFab with 35m users, raised $40m in a Series C round of funding. This latest round was led by Shining Capital of Hong Kong, with participation from existing investors Matrix Partners, Rho Ventures, Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV) and Intelligent Beauty. The Series C comes a little over a year after JustFab closed a $76m round, also with the aim of using the investment to expand its footprint and product line-up beyond its mainline offering of footwear for women. The company has now raised some $149m in total.
- Semantic search engine Unsilo raised $1m from Danish incubator Oei and Scale Capital, a small VC firm co-headquartered in the U.S. (Palo Alto) and Denmark.
- Social events application platform DoubleDutch raised $10m in Series C funding in an oversubscribed round led in large part by Byron Deeter of Bessemer Venture Partners, who will now join the company’s board. Previous investors from DoubleDutch’s A and B rounds, Floodgate Fund, Bullpen Capital and others also participated. The funding comes at a time when DoubleDutch has moved to singularly focus on developing its mobile event technology, while abandoning its other products including a fairly popular mobile CRM application known as Hive.
- Gyft, a company building a digital platform to bring the plastic gift card industry to both web and mobile, has raised $5m in Series A funding in a round led by Karlin Ventures, with participation from A-Grade Investments, Chamath Palihapitiya’s Social + Capital Partnership, Hass Portman and Yammer founder David Sacks. The company previously raised $1.25m in seed funding from Google Ventures, Founder Collective, and 500 Startups.
- DJ app edjing – which is available for iOS, Android, Amazon’s mobile platform, and Windows — has raised $2.5m in funding led by Entrepreneur Venture, with participation from Deezer founder, Daniel Marhely, who also joins the French startup’s Advisory Board. The startup says it will use the new funding to speed up its international development, noting that the North American and Asian markets account for 30% and 20% of the application’s market respectively, and will be a key focus going forward.
- Urban Compass, the young New York startup that emerged from stealth mode in May with a home rentals platform and accompanying hyperlocal social network, has closed a Series A round of funding totalling $20m. The new investment values the company at $150m. Urban Compass is also announcing some extra, strategic investors in the form of Advance Publications, the parent of Conde Nast; and Marc Benioff, the founder and CEO of Salesforce.com. Existing, disclosed investors from Urban Compass’s $8m seed round, including Founders Fund, Thrive Capital, .406 Ventures and others, also participated in the Series A.
- Prosper, a peer-to-peer lending platform, has raised an additional $25m. The round was led by Sequoia, a longtime investor in the company, with participation from BlackRock. Including the new funds, Prosper has accepted a total of $119.9m in outside money.
- A New York-based imaging startup, called Biodigital, emerged early last year with Animate, map and display the human body in 3-D through any browser. With traction slowly mounting and the scope for Biodigital’s technology beginning to expand, the startup announced that it is taking on $4m in series A financing, led by FirstMark Capital, with participation from NYU Venture Fund and a handful of angel investors.
- The editorial beauty website Into The Gloss has raised $2m in venture capital funding led by Forerunner and Lerer Ventures, along with several angel investors.
- Practice Fusion, a company which provides a free, web-based EMR system to physicians, announced a $70m Series D investment, led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) and institutional investors OrbiMed Advisors and Deerfield Management Company. The startup’s existing investors, including Artis Ventures, Morgenthaler Ventures and Felicis Ventures also contributed to the round, which brings its total capital to $134m. With Bloomberg reporting that this new round values the company in the ballpark of $700m, Practice Fusion has become one of the largest digital health startups of this new generation. The company’s growth has compounded since raising $34m in series C back in June of 2012.
- Simplee, a company which allows healthcare providers to engage patients as consumers and transform payment into a trusted, self-service experience, raised $10m in Series B financing, in an investment led by Heritage Group. The company’s existing investors, Social+Capital and Greylock IL, also contributed to the round, bringing its total investment to just under $18m. Simplee is tracking and managing more than $3 billion in patient medical expenses and now processes “tens ofms” in patient payments each year.
- Zoom, the Santa Clara-based cloud video conferencing startup that last raised $6m in January, has raised another $6.5m in a Series B round of funding that has just closed. The new round is led by Facebook, Waze and Siri investor Horizons Ventures Hong Kong, and included existing investors Patrick Soon-Shiong and former Yahoo! CEO and co-founder Jerry Yang. Zoom is now just over two years old, and in that time it has managed to attract 4,500 business customers, and over 3m participants.
- FormaFina, e-commerce startup which sells curated, limited-run collections of decor products in Argentina and Brazil, has raised a seed round of $1.4m to anchor itself in the Brazilian market. FormaFina’s investors include Redpoint eVentures — a Silicon Valley fund dedicated solely to Brazilian startups — IG Angels, El Paso Advisors, Start Capital, 500 Startups, and Plug&Play. Several angel investors also participated in the round, including baby.com.br co-founder In Hsieh and Hans Hickler, formerly the head of DHL US.
- C9, a Revenue Performance company which helps organizations analyze and optimize revenue across marketing, sales, service and support, raised $12m in funding for its platform that helps customers forecast sales revenues. The Series D round was led by existing investors Mayfield Fund, InterWest Partners and Leapfrog Ventures. The company has raised a total of $40m. Its analytics platform helps companies gain insights through historical trends. It looks at what deals are not going to close or what is wrong with deals starting at the beginning of the quarter to help companies focus on the most important accounts or determine how to improve the sales process.
- AngelList, one of the Valley’s most powerful fundraising channels for early-stage startups, just picked up $24m of its own. Google Ventures participated as one of the leads along with Atlas Ventures, a firm that’s supported AngelList through its early years. On top of that, there are another 100 or so investors involved. While not confirmed by the company, we hear the valuation was about $150m. . The company estimates that it has facilitated around $200m in investments, with $186m through introductions and $14m through a new, more direct “invest online” product. They have about 21,000 investors on the platform and 1,300 companies have successfully raised funding on it.
- Snaps!, a mobile app that allows fans of a brand community to place branded virtual content into their photos and seamlessly share their creations, or “Snaps”, across their favorite social networks, raised an angel investment of $2.25m, with a notable group of investors backing it including S2K; Ben Barokas, the co-founder of Admeld (acquired by Google for $400m) who is now GM of marketplace development for Google; and Jonathan Carson, Vevo’s chief revenue officer. Carson is now also Snaps’ chairman of the board, along with another new appointment, Andy Levitt as president. Other illustrious investors in this round include Michael Kassan of MediaLink; Mike Katz (ex-Yahoo); Leo Hindery Jr. (ex-AT&T); Bill Lohse (ex-Ziff Davis Publishing); Digital Capital Advisors; Dolgen Ventures; and Lucas Point Ventures. Prior to today, Snaps raised $1.1m in April 2011 under its previous name, GoldRun, from investors including Jeremy Zimmer of United Talent Agency and Ed Matthias of the Carlyle Group.
- Palantir, the big data company that has counted the NSA, the FBI and the CIA among its clientele, is raising up to $196.5m in growth capital, according to an SEC filing. The company declined to say who the new funding was from. The round is also not finalized yet. Morgan Stanley is managing the deal, according to the filing. Forbes reported last month that a round could value the company at between $5 and 8 billion.
- Shyp, a startup allowing door to door delivery for eBay sellers, raised $2.1m in seed funding. $1.35M of it came from more traditional fundraising sources (Lead by Hunter Walk’s Homebrew and Sherpa Ventures, backed by a bevy of Angels). Tim Ferriss privately raised $500k of it from his own contacts. Some of the investors in that chunk include Antonio J. Gracias (Board of Directors on both SpaceX/Tesla) and Daymond John (FUBU founder, and one of the Shark Tank sharks). The remaining $250K, which is what they set aside to raise through general solicitation on AngelList. A user opens the Shyp app and snap a picture of the item you’d like to be sent away. This picture is sent out to Shyp’s network of contracted employees (which they call “Shyp Heroes”), any of whom can then elect to pick up the package. They show up at your location, grab the item, put it in a padded bag, and take it back to be packed and shipped. If you’re shipping one item, they charge you the amount that UPS or FedEx would charge, plus a $5 pickup fee. If you send two or more separate items, they waive the fee. Packaging costs are included, and each item is insured at up to $10,000 from the second it leaves your house.
- Flipboard has raised $50 million in new funding, in a round led by Rizvi Traverse Management and Goldman Sachs. The new funding puts the valuation of the Silicon Valley startup that makes the popular social reading service at $800 million. In addition, current investors, including venture firms Kleiner Perkins and Index Ventures, are also participating, while Insight Venture Partners is taking an even larger stake in Flipboard.
- Hamburg-based Minubo, which offers Business Intelligence as a Service, a central “Data Hub” hosted in the cloud that pulls in an online retailer’s various data-points to present a holistic view of their analytics to enable them to make “better, data-driven decisions”, raised a €1m seed round from a host of backers including the pan-European accelerator Seedcamp, and VCs Tola Capital, and High Tech Gruenderfonds, along with a group of prominent angel investors including Stephan Schambach (founder of Demandware and Intershop), Alexander Brühl (former Senior Partner at Atlas Venture), Mirko Caspar, Dirk Graber and Christian Luhmann (founders of Mister Spex), Hubertus Bessau, Philipp Kraiss and Max Wittrock (founders of Mymuesli.com), and Dominik Gyllensvärd.
- Pin-Digital, a Barcelona-based startup that created PinSex and PinGay, says that it has raised $800,000 in funding. The funding includes his own money, along with undisclosed angel investors. He admitted that he has faced “resistance” from traditional investors, but he said the company is exploring other models, such as trading media (i.e., promotional ad space) for equity.
- Location-based photo and video discovery platform Tapastreet, closed a $500,000 seed round. The funding comes from Kernel Capital through the Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund, and Enterprise Ireland. Founded in 2012 by ex-Intel engineer Joe Mitchell and ex-Googler Dave Johnson, the Irish startup offers an Android and iOS app that aggregates publicly available photos and videos from various social media, based on location.
- Belgium-based big data startup NGDATA, which also has offices in New York and San Francisco, has closed a $3.3m funding round, led by Capricorn Venture Partners. Existing investors also participated, including Sniper Investments and unnamed angel investors. The new funding brings NGDATA’s total raised to date to $5.8m, after a $2.5m round last October.
- Mobile and desktop casual-game development studio Total Eclipse announced a $580,000 (€430,000) financing round led by Openfund, along with participating angel investors. Total Eclipse plans to use the fund to supercharge its platform in casual gaming, hiring, and launching new games.
- Tel Aviv-based SimilarGroup, makers of an online web measurement tool called SimilarWeb, announced an additional $3.5m in funding, and the launch of its paid service, SimilarWeb Pro. The new funding, an extension of SimilarGroup’s Series B, comes from angel investor Lord David Alliance, chairman of N Brown Group, a clothing catalog retailer, and includes participation from previous investors, Moshe Lichtman and Docor International. To date, SimilarGroup has raised $7m in total outside funding.
- Spanish startup Mobincube has closed a €700,000/$946,000 seed round for its drag and drop, web-based app builder which lets non-developers build their own mobile apps using a series of templates. The round was led by early stage VC firm Inveready. Others investors include the VC arm of Spanish commercial bank, bankinter – which has previously invested in PayPal, one of the third party services Mobincube integrates into its offering – and angel crowdfunding platform The Crowd Angel.
- Tel Aviv-based Visualead, a platform that lets any business quickly embed QR codes into any design or advertisement in just a few simple steps, raised $1.6m in Series A funding. The new round was led by Kaedan Capital and Entrée Capital. Visualead has now raised a total of $2.35m. The company first launched in January, offering a self-serve platform for small and medium businesses. It says the platform is now used by 200,000 SMBs, who create 30,000 campaigns every month.
- London-based startup Dattch, a Pinterest-inspired dating app for gay women, closed a £100,000/$160,000 angel/small seed round, with three angel investors — including Yannick Pons and Andy Phillips. That investment bolsters the €40,000 invested by Wayra as part of its incubator program, where Dattch will remain until January.
- Singapore app maker MyHero raises $10M Series A for its stock market trading gamification app, TradeHero. Investors in the round are Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers China fund (KPCB China) and IPV Capital. TradeHero users start out with $100,000 in virtual cash to spend, choosing which and how much stock to ‘buy’ — there are no live trades going on here, it’s a simulation — and getting to see whether their trading decisions would have panned out IRL because the app follows actual market movements. TradeHero was actually incubated out of TNF Ventures, taking in a seed round of around $500,000-$600,000 about a year ago, with backing from Singapore’s National Research Foundation. Landing such large follow-on funding will allow it to ramp up its marketing efforts on several fronts including targeting user-acquisition effects at markets such as the U.S. and Europe which it hasn’t really had the “firepower” to focus on to-date. It’s also planning to translate the app into more languages to help grow its reach further.
- Hotel booking app HotelQuickly has raised a series A round of HKD$9m (about $1.16m USD). Investors include Boon Hwee Koh, the former chairman of Singtel and Singapore Airlines. The startup will use the funding for product development and to expand further through the Asia Pacific region, where it currently operates in 11 countries.
Mergers & Acquisitions
- eBay has acquired online marketplace for men’s shopping Bureau of Trade. Founder Michael Phillips Moskowitz is joining the eBay Marketplaces team, where his focus will be on helping eBay improve its personalization efforts. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it was an all-cash deal and an “acceptable” and positive (if not stellar), outcome for Bureau of Trade’s investors. The startup had raised $1.2m in seed funding in a round led by Foundation Capital, with contributions from Founder Collective, FF Angel, Courtney Holt on behalf of the Techfellows Fund, and other angel investors.
- Ford Motors today is announcing the acquisition of Livio Radio, a maker of a platform for in-car apps, with a focus on audio and music services. This is the car-maker’s first technology acquisition in 13 years. The Ferndale, MI-based startup, now a subsidiary of Ford’s Global Technologies Group, will continue to operate under the original name. Neither party has disclosed the terms of the deal, only stating that Ford paid less than $10m for the in-vehicle app maker. Exact terms of the deal was not disclosed. Mascarenas indicated that the whole deal cost less than $10m and funds were provided solely by Ford Global Technologies Group. Myine Electronics, LLC, doing business under the name Livio Radio, had raised $2.15m in two funding rounds.
- Ebay’s PayPal has acquired Chicago-based payments gateway Braintree, in an all-cash deal worth $800m. Braintree was on the block, with Square and PayPal both in acquisition talks for the company. Braintree, which had raised $69m in outside funding from Accel, NEA, RRE, Greycroft and others, was founded in 2007. Braintree essentially powers and automates online payments for merchants and companies online. Braintree is now seeing $12 billion in payments annually, with over $4 billion of that on mobile. The service is used by a number of startups and tech companies, including Airbnb, Fab, LivingSocial, Uber, Twilio, GitHub and others.
- Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com, has acquired file-sharing service Cloudup, which launched in beta in June. The acquisition will help Automattic improve two features of WordPress.com in particular: the media library used for uploading visual content and post editing to give multiple users the ability to edit at one time. Cloudup, which has accumulated around 10,000 active users since June, will continue to be available independently of WordPress.com. Automattic will continue running it and adding new features, and the service will soon be open to the public.
- Content discovery service StumbleUpon is announcing that it has acquired 5by, a video startup based in Montreal. The financial terms of the deal aren’t disclosed, but the companies say the entire six-person 5by team will be moving to San Francisco to work out of StumbleUpon’s headquarters, where it will continue to develop 5by as a standalone product. StumbleUpon now has the freedom to look at these kinds of deals because revenue is doing well (it was $30m last year and projected to be $35m to $40m this year) and the company is profitable, which is what it was aiming for when it laid off 30 percent of staff and restructured the team earlier this year.
- 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.
- Health advice portal VitaPortal, which raised a $2m Series A last October from Prostor Capital and Esther Dyson, has merged with ZdorovieOnline.ru, a smaller medical platform and electronic medical records portal, backed by Runa Capital. The pair said they are hoping to create the single largest entity in Russian’s online health services space. Currently VitaPortal has more than 700,000 registered users of its health services but they said investor forecasts factoring in the merger suggest they can increase this figure to 5m users next year. The merger also brings new money to the table, from ZdorovieOnline investors, in order to ”maintain the balance of shares” in the new entity, and to fund the development of “a number of additional services”. A total of $1.35m is being invested as Series B funding into VitaPortal, with $1m coming from Runa Capital and $350,000 from Aleksey Kandikov, founder of Zdorovie Online.
- Digital Chocolate, a gaming company from original EA founder Trip Hawkins, has sold its 46-person Barcelona studio to France’s Ubisoft. The sale comes just months after the company closed down its Helsinki office. The company has been downsizing for more than a year, with layoffs and Hawkins stepping down in 2012 to form a new educational gaming company. It’s another tough chapter for the 10-year-old company, which has raised at least $55m to date in four separate venture rounds.
- HTC has sold its remaining stake in Beats Electronics for $265m. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter. By selling beck the 24.84 percent stake in Beats, HTC stands to gain a NT$2.52 billion ($85m) pretax profit. Beats will also repay a $150m promissory note, plus accrued interest. HTC originally purchased 50.1 of Beats in 2011, but sold half of that stack in mid-2012, which reportedly resulted in a net loss of about $4.8m for the Taiwanese gadget maker.
- Alibaba Group has acquired Kanbox, the personal cloud storage service sometimes referred to as “the Dropbox of China.” This marks Alibaba Group’s first personal cloud storage acquisition as the company focuses on expanding its range of consumer-focused cloud computing products. The acquisition price was undisclosed. Launched in early 2011, Kanbox raised a Series B round of $20m that year led by DCM with SIG China participating. Kanbox has more than 15m users who use the service to upload, download and sync files through their devices. About 20% of users access Kanbox through their mobile devices and Alibaba could use it to build a service similar to Apple’s iCloud, enabling customers to access their content and media across different platforms.
- Rampersand, a new firm looking to invest in Australian startups and provide them with advice on sales, marketing, and PR, raised a $6m fund.
Source: Company disclosure, mergermarket, TechCrunch, The Next Web, TechNode