Monthly Archives: October 2013

Jonathan’s Internet and Digital Media Weekly – 2013-10-28

Private Financing
US
  • Foundry Group has raised a fourth fund, called Foundry Group Select. This new fund is $225 million (the same size as Foundryメs previous funds), but has a much different focus. This fund is purely for late-stage growth rounds in Foundryメs existing portfolio companies. The firm says it will invest up to $25 million into companies that Foundry has backed through its previous funds. Foundry has previously been limited in the amount it can invest in later stage rounds due to the firmメs early-stage strategy.
  • Mobile payments startup Flint raised a $6 million Series B round led by Digicel Group with SVG Partners, Storm Ventures, and True Ventures also participating. Flint also offers more competitive transaction fees than players like Square, especially when debit cards come into play ラ debit card swipes essentially cost 1.95% while those with credit cards pay 2.95%.
  • BloomNation, a startup building a marketplace for florists and floral designers, has closed on $1.65 million in seed funding, the company is announcing today. The round was led by Chris Dixon at Andreessen Horowitz, and includes participation from Spark Capital, Chicago Ventures, and CrunchFund.* This is the first outside investment for BloomNation, which had previously been bootstrapped using founder money.
  • Pinterest has closed on a significant new round of financing: $225 million in new funding, with Fidelity Investments in the lead. The funding values Pinterest at $3.8 billion. The round included participation from current investors Andreessen Horowitz, FirstMark Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners and Valiant Capital Management, but not its most recent investor Rakuten. The Japanese e-commerce giant invested $100 million in the service in May 2012. The funding is being used for international efforts. The company has hired country managers recently in Italy, France and England.
  • Keen IO, the API for custom analytics, recently raised $2.35 million additional seed round  led by Amplify Partners and Rincon Venture Partners. Pelion Venture Partners also invested, as did previous backers 500 Startups, XG Ventures, Jason Seats, and Loren Siebert.
  • Bromium has raised $40 million for its micro virtual machine (micro-vm) technology that traps malware and analyzes it for IT administrators to examine once an attack takes place. The oversubscribed Series C funding round was led by new investor Meritech Capital Partners, with participation from existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Ignition Partners, Highland Capital Partners, and Intel Capital. The company has now raised $75.7 million since founded in 2010.
  • Intel Capital has announced investments in 16 companies, totaling $65 million. The investments spanned cloud services, data-center technologies, mobile and consumer-related services.
    • CloudFX of Singapore is a cloud strategy consulting company that helps companies re-architect IT infrastructures, operations and helps institute DevOps style practices.
    • Cloudian of Japan and the United States, is an object storage platform that is compatible with Amazon Web Services, Citrix Cloud Platform, Apache CloudStack, OpenStack and other cloud services.
    • CSDN is a Chinese company that provides a community website and services platform for IT professionals in China. According to Intel Capital, it has 27 million registered users and 500,000 enterprise partner members. The company owns several Chinese IT communities such as CMDN, a mobile developer community and IT recruiting website Pongo.
    • DotProduct provides software for real-time capturing and processing of 3-D data on Android tablets. Use cases include documenting crime scenes to imaging movies sets for gaming and entertainment applications.
    • Wayz Japan is a service to store, manage, access, share and organize files anywhere on any device.
    • Interlude is an Israeli platform provider to create interactive videos that allows viewers to determine what happens next in the viewing experience.  Its authoring platform.-Treehouse, allows video creators to map, build and publish Interlude videos on Web, mobile and social platforms. Pretty cool.
    • Lintes Technologies, is a Taiwan-based company that makes the Thunderbolt peripherals that provide high-speed data transfer. According to the company website, Thunderbolt was developed by Intel, and brought to market with technical collaboration from Apple.
    • Perpetuuiti TechnoSoft Services of Singapore and India, offers advanced data recovery technologies that help businesses in complex  IT environments, orchestrated across virtual and physical computing resources in different data centers.
    • Prism Skylabs, which received $15 million in funding, helps companies use footage from existing security cameras to provide retailers and other businesses with モweb-style analytics.ヤ
    • Reduxio Systems, of Israel, boasts it offers infinite data recoverability through real-time primary storage deduplication and protection technologies.
    • Rocketick, also of Israel provides software simulation acceleration for chip verification, helping reduce time-to-market of new designs.
    • Savaari Car Rentals is an online car rental company that offers car rentals across 60 cities in India to both retail and corporate customers.
    • SBA Materials develops モnano-porous dielectricsヤ that for example, can help improve the performance of advanced chips used in mobile devices while reducing their power consumption.
    • SkySQL, of Finland, announced it has raised $20 million to deepen its support for MariaDB, the fast growing open-source relational database and the emerging database of choice for Wikipedia.
    • WiTricity specializes in wireless electricity. The company was founded in 2007 with clients in consumer electronics, automotive, medical devices and defense.
  • BetterDoctor, a search engine and ranking service for doctors that launched in September, raised $2.6 million in seed funding from Jeff Clavier at SoftTechVC, 500 Startups, Burrill & Co, among others. As a result of the round, Clavier and Burrill & Co.メs Dirk Lammerts will be joining BetterDoctorメs board of directors. With 1 million people now using BetterDoctor to search for local physicians each month and with a staff thatメs grown to 21, the startup is looking to expand and refine its patient-doctor matchmaking algorithms.
  • Content recommendation service Outbrain is announcing that it has raised $35 million in new funding. The company says it has been installed on more than 100,000 sites and has a network of 700 モpremium publishersヤ that includes CNN, Hearst, Rolling Stone, and Fast Company. It also says it serves 100 billion recommendations each month, including both organic and paid recommendations. The company makes money by including sponsored content.
  • SkySQL has raised $20 million to deepen its support for MariaDB, the fast growing open-source relational database and the emerging database of choice for Wikipedia. The round was led by Intel Capital with participation from California Technology Ventures, Finnish Industry Investment, Open Ocean Capital and Spintop Private Partners. MariaDB had primarily been an engineering project but this year it emerged as a foundation SQL technology for Wikipedia and major Linux distributions such as Fedora and OpenSuse.
  • Enterprise software company Blue Rooster announced today that it has raised $3 million from PFU Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Fujitsu. Seattle-based Blue Rooster said the funding is the first installment in a multi-stage investment that has not yet been completed. Founded in 2000, Blue Rooster received no outside funding before PFU Limitedメs investment.
  • Sqrrl, a big data startup with links to the NSA, announced $5.2 million in Series A funding from existing investors Atlas Venture and Matrix Partners, which will be used to further fund the development and commercialization of its scalable, NoSQL database モSqrrl Enterprise. When the company raised its $2 million seed round last summer, the company founders explained how Sqrrlメs モcell level securityヤ is compliant with regulations like HIPAA and SarbanesヨOxley that could otherwise get in the way of performing big data analysis.
  • Toronto-based startup and FounderFuel accelerator graduate OneClass announced a new $1.6 million Series A round investment led by SAIF partners and including previous investor Real Ventures, as well as several angels. The education startup provides a collaborative note, lecture and textbook platform for university students, and is currently active in 50 schools across the U.S. and Canada.
  • Panorama Education, a fast-growing startup that crafts and administers surveys for schools to help teachers and administrators get better insight into how they are performing in areas like learning and social inclusion, announced a $4 million round of seed funding, which it will be using to take its big data approach to education deeper into the U.S. market and global. Panoramaメs investors now include Startup:Education ラ the foundation led by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan ラ SoftTech VC, Google Ventures, Ashton Kutcherメs A-Grade Investments and Yale University, which the co-founders had attended.
EMEA
  • Berlin-headquartered The Football App has raised a further round of funding: $7 million led by New York-based Union Square Ventures (previous backer of big hits such as Twitter, Tumblr, Zynga, and Kickstarter), along with a number of unnamed angels. This adds to the $13 million it previously raised back in May in a round led by Berlinメs Earlybird Venture Capital. Company has seen 10 million downloads across all mobile platforms since it launched in 2008, with 3 million of those added in the last 6 months
  • Amsterdam-based Whatser, a platform for friends to share their favourite locations, raised a $475,000 seed round from an unnamed group of angels to further develop the service. Whatser aims to help merchants, specifically bricks ムnメ mortar stores, get a handle on social media to help them compete with larger outfits or those that operate purely online, and drive more customers in-store.
  • Funding Circle, a UK-based peer-to-peer lending platform that lets individuals and institutions loan money to small businesses, has picked up a $37 million round of funding. Funding Circleメs Series C round was led by new investor Accel Partners, along with participation from Ribbit Capital (another new investor) and Union Square Ventures (also a Kickstarter investor) and Index Ventures. The latter two also clubbed together in a $16 million Series B round in April 2012. It brings the total raised by Funding Circle to $58 million.
  • Ruffl, a real-time booking system for local services, with the first service aimed at restaurant bookings, has secured a $1.6M/ᆪ1m seed fund from a bevy of Angels including Karen Hanton (the founder of TopTable), David Pritchard (ex-CEO of OpenTable Europe), and Mark Ferguson (son of Alex Ferguson, the former manager of Manchester United football club).
  • Travel app startup, Israel-based TourPal, has just closed a $1 million+ Series A, with investment coming from a group of private angels. It had previously raised a small seed of around $100,000, also from private angels. TourPalメs special sauce is a focus on monetising its offering with paid audio guides.
  • Rocket Internet and iMENA Holding have announced that they will partner together to launch mobile app Easy Taxi in the Middle East and North Africa. iMENA will invest $7 million into the appメs regional rollout, which started in Saudi Arabia. The $7 million represents the largest funding so far for a mobile app business in the region. It also marks the latest in a series of investments as Rocket Internet seeks to secure Easy Taxiメs foothold in emerging markets. Easy Taxiメs iOS, Android and BlackBerry apps are now available in 15 markets throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia. The app has been downloaded 2 million times and has over 60,000 drivers in its network.
  • Startup book publisher Unbound secured a ᆪ1.2 million / $1.94 million funding round from Forward Investment Partners, DFJ Esprit and Cambridge Angels. The company will use the funds to develop new platforms to engage the whole publishing industry, including literary agents, publishers and booksellers. The Soho, London based Unbound ヨ where all the best writers hang out ヨ has a model where authors pitch ideas for books and supporters then pledge financial backing in return for rewards. Think Kickstarter for books and youメre close.
  • French video adTech startup Teads, which sells technology allowing publishers to embed video ads within articles that automatically play when they become visible on the userメs screen, has closed a $5.2 million Series A round, with backing from Partech Ventures (also an investor in Dailymotion) and Elaia Partners. The startup had previously raised タ300,000 from seed investors/private angel investors, back in 2011 when it was founded. Teads, which has gained the most traction in the French and U.K. markets up to now, said it will use the new funding to prepare itself for more international expansion. This Series A investment will double the size of the R&D department and strengthen the international development of Teadsメ video advertising platform.
  • SBTV, the UK online youth broadcaster, has received an investment, whose amount was not disclosed, from Miroma Ventures, which took an unspecified minority stake, The Guardian reported. The transaction values the business at GBP 8m. Miroma Ventures has committed to invest a further GBP 1m at the appropriate time in SBTV’s near future. Boyan will join SBTV’s board.
Asia
  • iMoney Group, a Malaysia-based financial comparison startup, announced that it has raised a $2 million Series A round led by Singapore-based venture firm Jungle Ventures. Other investors include ECONA AG, Rebright Partners, IMJ Fenox, Fenox Venture Capital, 500 Startups, Vogel Ventures and angel investor Lim Der Shing. iMoneyメs Series A comes less than five months after it received $500,000 in seed funding from Asia Venture Group Sdn Bhd (AVG). The company will use its new capital to accelerate growth in Malaysia and further its expansion in other markets.
  • SparkLabs started with the mission of helping grow South Koreaメs young startup industry. It has raised $30 million seed-stage fund called SparkLabs Global. In addition to SparkLabs co-founder Bernard Moon, the new ventureメs primary operating partners are former Facebook executive Net Jacobsson (left in the above photo) and Frank Meehan, previously of Horizons Ventures. The fund will look in emerging startup ecosystems for early stage companies that want to rapidly scale into international markets.
Mergers & Acquisitions
US
  • Cameleon Software, a publicly traded company on the Paris Bourse that automates price quotes, has been acquired for $33 million in an all-cash transaction by PROS, a big data software company. The deal has the approval of Cameleon’s largest shareholders and now faces the process of regulatory approval. Cameleon is in the increasingly competitive configure per quote (CPQ) market.
  • Intuit has acquired Level Up Analytics, a Mountain View-based consulting company that focuses on data science, big data and analytics. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. All the employees from the Level Up Analytics team will join Intuit. In a statement, Intuit described the deal as an “acqui-hire”. The company did not provide the names of the other consulting firms. Intuit acquired 14 employees from Level Up Analytics: three founders and 11 scientists, architects, and engineers. In a blog post, Level Up Analytics wrote that its clients include companies in the financial services, advertising, mobile, payments and social networking fields.
  • Microsoft has acquired Apiphany, an API management company that it will integrate with Windows Azure. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
  • LookFlow, a startup that describes itself as “an entirely new way to explore images you love,” just announced that it has been acquired by Yahoo and will be joining the Flickr team. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
  • Academia.edu, a social networking platform for academics that’s looking to change the way scientific research is shared, just acquired Plasmyd, a search engine and discussion platform for research papers. Plasmyd has more than 60 million papers indexed, and every page has its own research abstract and an area for comments. As for Academia.edu, it just crossed 5 million registered users, which makes them larger than competitors like Benchmark-backed ResearchGate and Mendeley, which was recently acquired by research giant Elsevier.
  • Interactive e-book Inkling first became known for bringing academic textbooks to the realms of the iPad, iPhone, and web, announced that it has added more non-textbook titles to its library with the acquisition of two brands — Betterbook and Ready, Set, Baby! — from digital-first how-to book publisher Open Air Publishing. Inkling, which has raised $40 million in venture capital funding since it was founded in 2009, currently has more than 100 staff. Open Air Publishing has raised nearly $1 million in seed funding from SV Angel, Charles River Ventures, 500 Startups, and others.
  • RealNetworks, Inc. announced the acquisition of Muzicall, a leading service provider for mobile carriers and media companies in Europe, best known for its ringback tone (RBT) platform and innovative direct-to-consumer marketing approach to the RBT business. Muzicall has been integrated into RealNetworks’ Mobile Entertainment division, which in partnership with carriers manages 18 million active global ringback tone subscribers.
  • RIESTER strengthens its expertise in search engine marketing, web analytics and e-commerce with the acquisition of Search-Werks. Search-Werks, an Internet marketing innovator, has built and maintained a notable roster of national clients. The acquisition broadens the services available to Search-Werks’ clients and deepens RIESTER’s breadth and depth in online marketing.
  • Evolving Systems, Inc., a leading provider of activation-based solutions to telecom operators worldwide, announced it has acquired privately held Telespree Communications, a SaaS provider of service activation, self-service mobile applications and data enablement solutions to wireless carriers and MVNOs. Telespree is based in San Francisco, CA.
  • Seedwell has been acquired by Portal A, a leading creative studio that develops, produces and distributes original and branded content designed for the web. Founded in 2008 by Beau Lewis, Peter Furia, and David Fine, Seedwell has built a track record for producing videos that reach a massive online audience. Our work has helped us earn the trust of clients such as Nike, Google, Microsoft, Pepsi, and HTC. In 2012, YouTube hired us to produce YouTube Rewind, an internet blockbuster featuring Psy that received more than 125 million views.
  • Shutterfly, Inc., the leading manufacturer and digital retailer of high-quality personalized products and services, announced today that it has acquired BorrowLenses, the premier online marketplace for photographic and video equipment rentals. BorrowLenses’s Founders, Max Shevyakov and Mark Gurevich, will join Shutterfly Inc.
  • Thumbtack Technology, a leading software engineering consulting firm in Brooklyn, New York, today announced the acquisition of Al Digit, a mobile development company based in Omsk, Russia. This acquisition elevates Thumbtack’s ability to service a larger client base by incorporating an established mobile engineering team, skilled front-end developers, and designers.
EMEA
  • eBay has announced an agreement to acquire Shutl, the UK-based marketplace that uses a network of couriers to deliver local goods within a couple of hours of an online purchase. Terms were not disclosed. Shutl raised a total of $8.69M form UK Angels alongside Hummingbird Ventures, UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund, e.ventures and Notion Capital. The acquisition comes on the heels of the Click & Collect trial Shutl started with UK retailer Argos.
  • Google has acquired the French startup FlexyCore, which is best known for its Android performance boosting solution DroidBooster. Terms of the deal remain undisclosed, although rumour puts the price at $23 million. Google has confirmed the purchase, citing FlexyCore’s strong team and “expertise in building software to optimize Android device performance”. In fact, the startup’s team has already been integrated with Google’s Android team, while the acquisition has been a year in the making, having started last September and been concluded earlier this month, apparently. FlexyCore was originally supported by french state-backed incubator Emergys, and has raised 1.5 million Euros from Paris-based VC Sochrastem.
  • Myfab, the French online retailer of furniture, has been entirely sold to its US counterpart Fab.com. The French-language news report claimed that Fab.com paid EUR 3.1m in cash plus an additional earn-out and shares. The transaction will amount to less than EUR 10m. Myfab was owned by the portal operator WebMediaGroup (51%) and the PE firms Alven Capital and BV Capital (49%). The company generated sales of EUR 10m in 2011.
  • Uvet, the private Italian travel company, has acquired Swedish flight booking portal Flygpoolen for an undisclosed amount. The report cited Luca Patane, chairman of Uvet. The report said that Flygpoolen has a turnover of EUR 100m.
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Space Laser – Pirates! Puzzles! Explosions!

This game is fun!

https://itunes.apple.com/app/space-laser-pirates!-puzzles!/id660882404

“Are we there yet?” – Challenges and opportunities in mass media industries

“Are we there yet?” – Challenges and opportunities in mass media industries

Mass media industries have been around for centuries. The first emergence of newspapers can be dated all the way back in the 1700s. TVs have been around for 80 years. Never before has the industry been so challenged and at the brink of a meltdown.  These industries have always been a one-way street, where content is professionally and centrally prepared, then pushed to readers / viewers who are in front of a newspaper or a TV. The surge of smartphone has created a new need for people to be “socially-connected”, both as means to share information and content faster, and as a new way to “verify” the validity and relevance of these information.

What’s happening to newspapers in the last decade?
Fundamentally, the use of printed matter has a flaw – info has to first be collated, formatted and edited, then takes time to print and distribute. The word “news” – meaning what’s happening NOW – has to be “right now” and current for it to be meaningful. I’d like to briefly analyse the market (from my point of view) on what’s happening and what opportunities exist for media companies to transform themselves to suit the new world.

The current newspaper market is divided into two main categories – the traditional, paid newspaper; and the free-of-charge, condensed ad-supported newspaper which are freely distributed. Clearly, given a choice, people would rather go for free newspaper (afterall, why would you pay for something which you can get for free?). Unsurprisingly, most free newspapers out there are indeed owned by media groups who also printed paid newspaper. Content can be somewhat shared between the two, freeing up labour capital for the free newspaper to hire into sales teams, to sell more ad-slots within the free papers.

Free newspaper is a solution in order to:

1. Business as usual – switching parts / all of the business from paid to free would allow minimum corporate structuring, limit layoffs and to keep corporate image
2. Keep the engine running – Newspaper is a publishing industry which requires a lot of contracted printer capacity and logistics. Switching to free newspaper would be able to use most of these contracts until it runs out, buying valuable time to figure out a more long term solution
3. Retain your clients – Most clients who sign on for advertisement slots are buying into the newspaper’s reader base. Switching business model, but not the medium on which the advertisements appear, would prevent your clients from flocking to another competitor.

So that’s all good, what seems to be the problem? While free newspapers is a new trend which is slowly replacing the drop in paid newspapers, the change in the two numbers are surely not proportional. It’s a temporary solution to an immediate problem.

The more crucial, and perhaps more killer issue here is that, the rise of other online verticals are slaughtering the newspaper sector. News reporting is moving towards social networking, and decentralizing from reporters / editors into everyone’s hands. A quick Facebook status update or a quick Tweet gets news around the world in seconds. By the time newspaper reports gather more information, wrote up the story and got printed on paper the next day, the headline news would have gone around the globe 50 times, making it moot to read about the same story on the papers.

The use of news portal (e.g. reading news on MSN / Yahoo!) is also proving to be a challenge since news is provided to readers for free, although this has never been too much of an issue since some of these content were sourced from news publishing companies so they’re just selling this data B2B.

What can newspaper companies doing now to more permanently address the issue?
Despite newspaper’s fundamental flaw of not able to provide news “on-the-fly” and losing out to convenience of smartphones / tablets, there are a couple of things publishing companies can do.

1. Continue the move into free newspaper – We’ve just talked about it haven’t we? This is a good move. Readers are being spoiled by the internet era. Everything that’s available on the internet, including news, online video, games, email, are all offered to them for free. Offering newspaper for free is one step closer to satisfying their mindset
2. Embrace the smartphone – Certain mass media companies, Bloomberg for example, have done an exceptionally good job in developing an app. Bloomberg app would even pop a one-line headline on your notification centre for important news, then follow-up with a full story write up.
3. Branch out into other news – General public news, while informative (and potentially life-saving), is not interesting enough. When their major source of revenue (paid / subscription) is quickly diminishing, mass media companies would have to look at advertising as a bigger contributor of revenue source. To that end, having more specialised content serving advertising clients in the same sector would provide the highest conversion and ROI. I would suggest making a series of smaller and more specialised online blogs. While they don’t have the necessary traffic, their small employee base do provide excellent, accurate and highly in-depth content in their own field. Imagine if the NYTimes provide better content in technology, food and shopping than it currently offers.
4. If you can’t beat them, join them – Develop your own real time news release platform, then entice the general public to publish news headline on your platform as well when they do a status update. Or better still, if a tech company can develop an algorithm which indexes Twitter tweets and automatically figure out which ones are news/headline related if they are being tweeted for a massive number in a short period of time, that would be gold.

Oh wait… what about TV companies? What’s going on with them?
TV companies are facing competition with other online companies but for a very different reason. Back in the day, if you missed an episode of a series on air, your only solution is to wait for a re-run which may or may not happen. Then VHS came around to hopefully sort out that problem if you know upfront you won’t be sitting in front of a TV during that period. (For the sake of the newer generation, that’s TiVo’s ancestor). Then came the DVDs where TV series are sold by season as well, although that’s more of a secondary revenue stream more so than a competitor to air time on TV.

With the rise of smartphones, tablets and perhaps the increased use of laptops as the major in-door screen time, the importance of TV is diminishing. You’d increasingly see the newer generation would just have a laptop and no TV (unless they play console games, in which case they’d have a big full HD screen).

Why is that? Fundamentally, time is precious. People want to do things they minute they want to, and not be physically or clock bounded by a TV. The surge of a similar social element also allowed the massive success of Youtube, where everyone can be a director and film anything they find interesting (compare and contrast the Twitter example newspaper face).

This created a massive on-the-fly online video industry which allows users to view any video content anytime, anywhere and on any platform. Netflix (the streaming business, not the mail-to-rental legacy business) and Hulu are prime examples of companies successfully captured and monetised this new trend.

What can TV companies do now?
1. If you can’t beat them, join them – Similar to the previous approach, certain TV production companies have been making certain of their TV content available on Hulu shortly after it being broadcasted on TV in prime time. This is also part of the reason why Hulu is owned by NBC, Fox and Disney-ABC, which captures the major TV broadcasting players. Through Hulu, they earn online advertising revenue (pre-roll), and Hulu Plus is a great way to gather subscription revenue without significant reinvestment to create new content
2. Sell your content – Other players which are owned by TV broadcasting companies, e.g. Netflix and Roku, are paying good licensing money to buy content and make it available on their platform. Good opportunity to expand into new revenue stream isn’t it?
3. Showcase others’ products – Product placement, meaning the use of branded products on screen as means of implicit advertisement, is not something new.

Where are we going with this?
I’ve laid out what’s happening now. Where are we heading with the mass media? The last generation has been served by the mass media as “We’ll give you the info whenever we’re ready”, moving into the current users wanting their info “anywhere, anytime”. I suspect both newspaper and TV would move to a very common goal. They need to be highly relevant, and provided to users before they know they want it. This needs to massively utilise social networks (what are these users following on Twitter, or pages they are liking on Facebook?), big data (what email subscription they’re receiving? What apps have they installed?), and perhaps with the use of LBS, and personal data as well as their social connection so that news articles and TV programs are highly tailored.

At this point, users still need to manually select which “channels” they wish to subscribe to. One day, all this would be autonomous.

Or, if it’s already arrived, I’d love to start using this service!

Jonathan’s Internet and Digital Media Weekly – 2013-10-14

Private Financing
US

  • DogVacay, the Los Angeles-based startup that operates a pet boarding marketplace that’s been dubbed the “Airbnb for dogs”, raised $15m in new funding. The new funding round, which serves as DogVacay’s Series B, was led by Foundation Capital with the participation of existing investors Benchmark and First Round Capital along with new investors DAG Ventures and Sherpa Ventures. This brings the total VC investment in DogVacay to $22m.
  • Mobile security company Lookout, a company which protects mobile devices against malicious threats, raised $55m in funding, led by strategic investor Deutsche Telekom, parent of T-Mobile. Other big names in the round included Qualcomm Ventures, Greylock Partners and Peter Thiel’s Mithril Capital Management, as well as existing investors Accel Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures, and Khosla Ventures. It takes the total raised by the company to $131m. This will be used to help the company keep building out its service in Europe and other international markets, as well as towards the growth and launch of its enterprise services, specifically Lookout for Business, later this year.
  • Startup LiquidM, a new modular cloud-based software for ad networks, trading desks, and operators to manage their mobile ad campaigns, raised $5m in Series A funding from Blumberg Capital, Earlybird Venture Capital, and Asset Management Ventures.
  • YouTube network DanceOn, a multichannel network, raised money for its growing video business. The company, which is the Number 1 place for dance videos on YouTube, has secured $4m in funding, in a round co-led by Plus Capital and AMC Networks.
  • The nine-person San Francisco startup Level has built an iOS app that it hopes will get a generation of young people thinking more about their financial fortitude, and closed a $5m Series A led by KPCB to help push that vision forward.
  • CoreOS, a Y Combinator alum, has received investment from Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital for its new Linux-based operating system designed to run like Google would run its own cloud infrastructure. Terms of the deal were not disclosed but CEO and Co-Founder Alex Polvi said the amount is in the $1-5m range.
  • Scan, an app that connect the real world with the digital universe in fun and innovative ways, has raised $7m from Entree Capital and existing investors, including Menlo Ventures in its Series A round. Scan has previously raised $1.7m in seed funding from Menlo Ventures, Google Ventures, Charles River Ventures, Start Fund, Social + Capital Partnership, Transmedia Capital, Ludlow Ventures and angels Ariel Poler, Naval Ravikant of AngelList, Jim Pallotta of Raptor Group and Troy Carter. Some of those investors like Menlo are back in this round or taking their pro-rata.
  • Enterproid, BYOD platform provider has changed its name to Divide, announced $12m in funding from Google Ventures in a Series B round for its service that encrypts a device and separates a person’s personal and work data. Existing investors Comcast Ventures and Qualcomm Ventures also participated and were joined by new investors Globespan Capital Partners and Harmony Partners. The investment brings the company’s total funding to $25m. Divide’s service allows for customers to move files between the cloud and an on-premise business environment. Customers can attach both local and cloud-based documents in an email message. Files can be securely saved, viewed and shared. It can share files between personal apps and the Divide workspace.
  • A New York-based startup called Luminate Health has raised a $1m seed round led by KEC Ventures. Luminate Health Inc. provides an SaaS solution for labs. It offers Luminate Health, a HIPAA-compliant solution for labs that enables patients to access, manage, and understand their lab results.
  • E-commerce company True&Co , a company which provides personalization and technology to aid women in their searches for new bras, raised another $4m in funding from a series of new investors that include Crosslink, VegasTechFund, Pejman Nozad, and FundersClub. True&Co had previously raised $2m in seed funding from investors that included First Round Capital, SoftTechVC, Softbank, and Aileen Lee’s Cowboy Ventures, all of which also participated in the round. With the new funding, True&Co is looking to invest more heavily in its technology to improve the algorithm and find more interesting applications for it.
  • Refresh, which seeks to eliminate small talk by providing users with detailed information about people they’re meeting with and suggesting topics of conversation, has raised $10M from Redpoint Ventures, Charles River Ventures and Foundation Capital.
  • iSpot.tv raised a new, $5m round of funding from Madrona Venture Group and TL Ventures. iSpot.tv uses proprietary audio and video fingerprinting technology to monitor networks and keep tabs on all the ads that appear on them. It then adds that information into an easy-to-read dashboard that allows its customers to drill down and get detailed information about the ad campaigns that are currently on TV. Last summer, the company had raised $575,000 from iSpot.tv founder (and former Demand Media CTO) Sean Muller, along with some other Demand Media alums.
  • Swirl Networks, a in-store mobile marketing platform provider of in-store beacons to notify consumers of specific deals according to where they stand in the store, raised an $8m Series B round led by Hearst Ventures, the strategic investments branch of the Hearst Corporation, to fuel the expansion of their platform. SoftBank Capital and Longworth Venture Partners also participated in the round.
  • Kahuna, provider of Customer Engagement Engine which analyzes and unifies customer behavior across mobile and web to identify patterns that lead to active usage. raised $2m in seed funding from SoftTech VC, Costanoa Venture Capital, Tim Kendall (head of product management at Pinterest and former director of monetization at Facebook), BloomReach CEO Raj De Datta, Lee Linden (head of commerce at Facebook), Kiwi CEO Omar Siddiqui, RentJuice co-founder David Vivero, Matt Wyndowe (who’s currently product manager for identity growth at Facebook), Palihapitiya, and others.
  • Mobile app engagement platform Appoxee announcing an additional $1.8m in seed funding to help it continue its growth. The round was led by U.S.-based hedge fund Lazarus Israel Opportunities Fund and Mosche Lichtman, who previously served as President of Microsoft’s R&D center in Israel, and is now joining Appoxee’s board. Existing investors including Cyhawk Ventures and Oryzn Capital also participated in the round, bringing Appoxee’s total funding to $2.4m to date. Appoxee has 275m installs, and is sending over half a billion push notification messages per month.
  • TwitSpark has raised a $4.5m Series A round of funding and changed its name to Sparkcentral. The company’s vision is the integration of social customer service into the mass-scale call centers that large corporations staff with phones, people who answer phones, and angry calls. Its new $4.5m round was led by Sigma West’s Bob Spinner, who put in around $3.5m. The rest was fill-in from prior angels and other investors. Sparkcentral has now raised $5.625m.
  • Silk, a cloud-based app to visualize data, raised $1.6m from existing investor NEA. This brings the total raised by Silk to $3.7m, after previous funding from NEA, Atomico Ventures and a number of prominent angels.
  • Cinarra Systems, a pioneer in operator analytics and monetization technologies, yesterday [10 October] announced a $4.5m Series A round of venture capital and strategic financing. The funding will enable Cinarra Systems to expand its team, accelerate product development and successfully deliver new products to market. The round was led by Almaz Capital, with participation from Cisco and individual investors. Geoffrey Baehr, a general partner at Almaz Capital, will join the company’s board.
  • Alibaba Group, the Chinese e-commerce company, has led a $206m investment in ShopRunner, a Pennsylvania-based online shopping company, the online version of Oriental Daily reported. Alibaba Group invested approximately $70m in ShopRunner’s latest round of fund raising. The report went on to say that eBay sold a 30% stake in ShopRunner at a profit, and the deal valued ShopRunner at approximately $600m.

EMEA

  • The Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC) fund has launched with an initial £50m to invest, and a remit to help tech companies and startups focus on developing their ideas and technology. CIC plans to invest the £50m over the next three years, and hopes to make its first investments by the end of the year.
  • Diagnosia, a subscription-based iOS-only app aimed at physicians who need speedy and up-to-date access to drug information, raised a further €1m to expand its wares to other European countries outside of its native Austria. Participating in the round is Austrian research institute FFG, along with angel investors Christoph Prinz, Michael Altrichter, Johann Jauk, Martin Dall, and Christoph Gelbmann.
  • Tel Aviv-based KIDO’Z, originally a kid-friendly media browser for PCs before shifting over to mobile and tablet platforms where there’s now more need for kid-safe, but still entertaining, content, raised a $1.2m Series A round, led by lool ventures, with participation from angel investors including Dov Moran, Aryeh Mergi and others. To date, the company has raised $1.5m in outside funding. KIDO’Z is mainly targeting the pre-install market.
  • Russian Internet Technology Fund (RITF) has invested $5m in Russian e-bookseller Litres, in which it obtained not less than a blocking stake. Litres conducted an additional share issue which was acquired by RITF, while Eksmo retained control. The minority stake in Litres is held by the company former and current employees, said Vedomosti.

Asia

  • Flipkart, India’s largest e-commerce marketplace that’s often referred to as the “Amazon of India,” has raised another $160m. This is an extension of the $200m raise announced in July of this year, with the final $360m Series E round the largest ever to be raised by an Internet startup in India. It brings the total raised by Flipkart since 2007 to $540m. New investors in this round include Dragoneer Investment Group, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Sofina and Vulcan Capital are all coming in on this round, also with participation from existing investors Tiger Global, whose first publicly disclosed investment in the company was in 2011 for $20m. Other Flipkart investors include Accel Partners and ICONIQ Capital.

Mergers & Acquisitions
US

  • Yahoo has just acquired Bread, a 2.5 year old startup that had raised $3.5m. Bread is a company that created a simple way for social media influencers and publishers to monetize their content. Bread has shut down its core publishing products, and its links will go dead in 30 days. It recommends users switch to dominant URL shortener bit.ly. Bread’s investors include musician manager and angel Troy Carter, Formation 8′s Joe Lonsdale, fashion designer Marc Ecko, and Raptor Ventures.
  • Hackermeter has been acquired by Pinterest, and will be shut down. Hackermeter matches developers with companies through code challenge portfolios. Both Pinterest and Hackermeter’s founders declined to share the terms. The product was just two months old. The company’s co-founders, Lucas Baker and Frost Li, will both join Pinterest as engineers.
  • New York-based Hubbl, a maker of app discovery and personalization technologies, has been acquired by mobile ad platform Airpush for $15m. The two businesses will combine their respective efforts – Hubbl with its personalized native ads technology and Airpush with its ecosystem of some 120,000 mobile apps – to create a new, native advertising platform for mobile.
  • Familiar, a private photo and video sharing service, has been acquired by Evidence.com, a division of Taser. Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed, nor have details about what will happen to Familiar’s existing consumer services. Currently Familiar is seeing some 100m photos pass through its service. Other investors in Familiar included Greylock Partners, Redpoint Ventures, Index Ventures, Acequia Capital and Allen & Company. In addition to Hadi and Ali Partovi (who are also early advisors and investors in Facebook, Dropbox and Zappos), other angel investors included Nat Brown, Dave Goldberg, Blake Krikorian, Emil Michael, Owen Van Natta.
  • Ad company Adiant has acquired a number of assets from MarchEx, including the cost-per-click ad network formerly known as IndustryBrains (which MarchEx acquired nearly a decade ago). The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
  • Publicly traded ad management and distribution company Digital Generation, better known as DG, is announcing that it has acquired ad startup Republic Project for $1.4m in cash, with additional earn outs based on revenue and profitability. Republic Project raised $1m in funding last year from Google Ventures, 500 Startups, and others. The companies say the entire 11-person Republic Project team will be joining DG’s Los Angeles office.
  • Airpush, a leading mobile ad platform ranked #1 in the 2013 Tech 200 list of fastest-growing technology companies, announced its acquisition of Hubbl, a New York-based pioneer of mobile native advertising and personalization technology. The companies will combine Hubbl’s best-of-breed personalized native ads technology with Airpush’s ecosystem of 120,000 mobile apps to create the world’s first comprehensive native advertising platform for mobile.
  • Amazon.com announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire TenMarks, a company that is helping teachers and parents deliver innovative mathematics curriculum to students across the country. TenMarks offers personalized online math instruction and practice in a clear, manageable format for K-12 students complete with helpful hints, video lessons, and real-time results. TenMarks’s products are designed to help students be individually motivated, engaged and nurtured. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
  • Nuance Communications announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire Varolii, the leading provider of cloud-based outbound customer engagement solutions.
  • Adiant, owner of the largest content-style ad platform on the web, announced Adiant’s July acquisition of assets from Marchex, including assets from the former IndustryBrains, a suite of high quality news and financial publications that will greatly expand Adiant’s mission of offering advertisers placements adjacent to the highest quality online content.

EMEA

  • Partech Ventures, a VC firm that operates from offices in Paris, Berlin and Silicon Valley, has closed a total of $215m for its Partech VI venture fund and a new seed-focused Entrepreneur fund. Partech’s venture fund will be backed by $175m, with $40m committed to the seed fund. The Partech VI fund held its first raise back in 2011, when it closed €100m. Some 20 French, European and American institutional investors participated in Partech VI’s new round, including prepaid company services Edenred, and retail company Casino Groupe.
  • TOMORROW FOCUS AG has decided to sell its entire stake in the Munich-based digital technology and creative services agency TOMORROW FOCUS Technologies GmbH (TFT GmbH) to the Dutch firm TIE Kinetix N.V. The agreement includes plans for a long-term collaboration between the parties to the contract. In the financial year 2012, TFT generated revenue of EUR 8.2m.
  • M6 Group, through its subsidiary Home Shopping Service (Ventadis division), completed the acquisition of Luxview, the company operating the websites Happyview.fr and Malentille.com. Happyview.fr is an online glasses retailer, offering prescription glasses and sunglasses on the Internet. Happyview also operates on the contact lens market through its website Malentille.com.
  • Eurona Wireless Telecom, the listed Spanish telecommunications operator has acquired the wifi hotspot specialist Kubi Wireless for EUR 10m. Eurona’s Chief Executive Jaume Sanpera told the paper that the acquisition will increase its revenues from EUR 7.04m last year to EUR 20m this year. Based in Barcelona, Kubi Wireless has offices in Jamaica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, the report said. Kubi’s investors include the fund Finaves.
  • Liligo, the French travel search engine, is understood to have been sold to European online travel agency Odigeo by owner SNCF. Liligo was acquired by SNCF Voyages, the train travel company and subsidiary of French rail operator SNCF, for about EUR 20m in 2010.
  • Sanoma has sold its learning operations, NTK Educational Holding Zrt, in Hungary to a consortium of members of the management team. In 2012, the net sales for NTK Educational Holding Zrt totalled some EUR 21m. As a result of the transaction, Sanoma will book in the third quarter of 2013 a non-recurring capital loss of around EUR 23m.
  • Rostelecom President Sergey Kalugin is fully exiting his equity capital in WebMediaGroup. According to Interfax news agency, Kalugin owned a 25% stake in WebMediaGroup. The article reported that the main asset of WebMediaGroup is Zoomby.ru, a video portal. In May 2013, WebMediaGroup raised $10m investment, the item continued.

Asia

  • Gamevil announced a deal of roughly $65m for a 21% stake in its longtime competitor Com2uS. The deal, which values Com2uS at roughly $304m, gives Gamevil a majority stake in the company. Because Gamevil tends to be more focused on publishing while Com2uS does first-party games, there’s an argument that both companies’ businesses are complementary. Furthermore, the larger network of players will also help in terms of cross-promotion and marketing. Gamevil says it has 300m installs while Com2uS hasn’t released its figures.

Jonathan’s Internet and Digital Media Weekly – 2013-10-07

Private Financing
US

  • ERN is a pioneering big data technology company, committed to enabling all parties of the payment eco-system to analyse transactional Big Data in order to turn data into insights and insights into action. ERN has raised a further $1m in seed funding, bringing the total raised by the London-headquartered company to $5.6m. ERN’s analytics platform, dubbed “Looop,” enables banks/card issuers and participating merchants to boost customer loyalty by creating new products and offers based on the analysis of their card transactions.
  • Lark, which launched a wearable silent alarm, has raised $3.1m of an intended $3.6m round of funding, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Although Lark started out with a silent alarm, it expanded its product lineup to include a sleep coach product called Lark Pro and a more general device and app called Larklife. Lark previously raised $1m in funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners, CrunchFund and others.
  • A new startup in Los Angeles called IRIS.TV wants to give video publishers the tools to make streaming video more personalized and keep viewers hooked for longer. The company is coming to market with $1.7m in seed funding from angels in the media and finance worlds. The team has raised a total of $1.7m from angels in the media and finance worlds. That includes folks like Bob Jacobs, who was Bill Cosby’s long-time agent and is considered the “godfather of television syndication”; Nick Rau, co-founder of Vizu (which recently sold to Nielsen); former Viacom exec Jimmy Barge; and entertainment attorney Jor Law.
  • Loom, a cloud storage and syncing service in the form of a mobile application for iOS and desktop app for Mac, announced $1.4m in seed funding. The round included participation from Google Ventures (MG Siegler, disclosure: previously a TechCrunch employee and current contributor); Tencent, Great Oaks VC, Overbrook Entertainment (Will Smith), Damon Way (founder, DC Shoes), and a few other angel investors.
  • MongoDB, a database technology, has raised $150m from T. Rowe Price Associates with new investors Altimeter Capital and Salesforce.com. Existing investors Intel Capital, NEA, Red Hat and Sequoia Capital also participated in the round. MongoDB has raised $231m since the founders started the company in 2007. The new funding will be used to further support the core MongoDB project and to fund its new managed services offering, which includes a suite of tools and services to operate the database at scale
  • Mobile app search engine Quixey, which has built a search engine to tackle app discovery by allowing consumers to find apps by searching for the kind of functionality they’re looking for, has closed a $50m Series C funding round, led by Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba Group. Others participating in the round include new investor GGV Capital, and existing investors Innovation Endeavors, TransLink Capital and U.S. Venture Partners in the U.S., as well as Atlantic Bridge in London and Dublin and WI Harper in Beijing. The new funding round brings Quixey’s total raised to-date to $74.2m.
  • Tulip Retail, which develops an end to end technology platform for in-store and online sales for retailers, has raised $2.4m in funding led by SoftTech VC with Founder Collective, BoxGroup, Lerer Ventures, iNovia, Promus Ventures, KIMA Ventures, Matt Mullenweg, the founders of Bufferbox, and Greg Kidd participating.
  • Netskope, a company which performs deep usage analytics and enforces business and security policies in cloud apps, raised $21.4m in funding from Social+Capital Partnership and Lightspeed Venture Partners. That $21m has come in two tranches, both raised while Netskope was still in stealth mode. The first was a $5.5m seed round from Social + Capital; the second, a $15.9m round closed earlier this year from Lightspeed.
  • Influencer marketing company Pursway has raised $7.2m in Series B funding. The new funding comes from Battery Ventures and Globespan Capital Partners, who both previously invested.
  • Koality, a continuous integration platform that parallelizes your test suites, prevents broken builds, and works behind your firewall, has closed its seed round. The $1.8m round was led by FF Angel‘s Peter Thiel. Other angels and small funds participated as well.
  • Quantopian, a community where around 11,000 or so quants collaborate on algorithmic trading strategies, has raised $6.7m from Khosla Ventures and Spark Capital. The new round brings the company’s total funding to $8.8m. Quantopian says it is the world’s first browser-based algorithmic trading platform. Developers can build and test algorithmic trading strategies on the platform. Then, they can share their work and collaborate with others.
  • CardFlight was founded to enable any developer to create his or her own branded app and take in-person credit card payments from it. The company received $1.6m in funding that was led by ff Venture Capital, with additional participation from Payment Ventures, Apostolos Apostolakis, Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, Plug & Play Ventures, and Great Oaks Venture Capital. Along with the funding, ffVC founding partner John Frankel will join the company’s board.
  • Online attorney marketplace UpCounsel raised $1.5m in seed funding from investors that include Homebrew, Bobby Yazdani, SV Angel, Collaborative Fund, Haroon Mokhtarzada, and other angels. The funding comes as UpCounsel has seen growth not just in the number of attorneys on the platform, but also in companies using the service. Since launching 14 months ago, the marketplace has been used by more than 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses.
  • Video interviewing platform HireVue raised a $25m Sequoia-led Series D round of funding to continue to fund its growth. Sequoia Capital’s Mickey Arabelovic is joining the company’s board as a result of this new round, which also saw participation from Kickstart Fund and the company’s previous investors (Granite Ventures, Investor Growth Capital, Peterson Ventures, Rose Park Advisors).
  • “Motion books” platform Madefire is announcing that it has raised $5.2m in Series A funding led by True Ventures (the firm also led Madefire’s $1.1m seed round), with participation from Anthem Venture Partners, Crosslink Ventures, Correlation Ventures, and various angels including former Apple SVP Sina Tammadon, former Macromedia chairman Bill Woodward, entrepreneur and investor Richard Seet, and Hollywood attorney Gary Stiffelman. Among other things, Wolstenholme said the investment means that Madefire is starting to build connections to the media world.
  • Listia, the marketplace for used and free goods, has closed a $9m Series A led by General Catalyst, with partner Neil Sequeira joining the startup’s board. As mobile growth takes off for the startup, the team will be using that financing to build out their iPhone and Android apps.
  • Quri, a retailer analytics and intelligence company whose software has been adopted by half of the top twenty-five CPG (consumer packaged goods) brands around the world, including Tyson, Nestle, Dannon, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and others, raised a $10m in Series B funding in a round led by Dana Stalder of Matrix Partners, who will now join Quri’s board. Also participating were Quri’s $4.25m Series A investors, Catamount Ventures and Simon Equity Partners.
  • Wrike, a cloud-based solution combines task and project management functionality, has raised $10m in Series A funding from Bain Capital Ventures.
  • Telogis has raised $93m from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to deepen its location-based services platform for operations that have large mobile workforces. The funding will further help fuel the company’s expansion in the anticipation of an IPO next year. The company expect $85m in revenues this year and more than $100m next year.
  • San Francisco-based real estate startup Reesio is announcing that it has closed on $1.096m in new funding for its transaction management software for real estate agents. Investors included Digital Garage, MicroVentures, Hiten Shah, and other angels. The company had previously raised a seed round of $205,000.
  • SocialSafe, the social media back-up startup co-founded by serial entrepreneur and angel investor Julian Ranger, has added a further $1m in funding to its coffers, bringing the total raised by the UK company to around $1.855m since it was founded in 2009. In what is being described as a second “interim” round, the additional funding comes from existing backers Marco Sodi and others, along with a number of investors from the UK-based group Knight Ventures.
  • LogEntries collects and analyzes huge quantities of machine-generated log data, helping companies track their application logs, received $10m in Series A financing, once again led by Polaris Partners, and participated in by Floodgate, RRE Ventures and new local Irish firm Frontline Ventures.
  • Tackk, which offers tools for creating content that combines text, images, audio and video, is coming out of beta and announcing that it has raised $1.2m in a second round of seed funding. The new funding was led by ff Venture Capital, with participation from previous investors Hatch Partners and Drummond Road Capital. Celeste (who joined Tackk from Hatch) said that one of the appealing things about working with ff is that the partners aren’t forcing Tackk to specialize.
  • DoorDash has raised a $2.4m round led by Khosla Ventures’ Keith Rabois and Charles River Ventures’ Saar Gur. SV Angel’s David Lee, YC partner Paul Buchheit, Benchmark co-founder Andy Rachleff, angel investor Russell Siegelman, and Pejman Nozad‘s new fund Pejman Mar Ventures were also in on the round. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
  • Twitch, a popular video game streaming service, has raised a $20m Series C round led by Thrive Capital. WestSummit Capital participated in the funding, as did, notably, well-known game publisher Take-Two Interactive. Twitch currently sees 45m monthly unique viewers on its service. Twitch allows gamers to stream their play, which might sound niche, but as competitive gaming grows in popularity, the company has been riding its wave.
  • BeachMint, an e-commerce company consisting of members-only websites linked to celebrities, has received a minority investment from twin celebrity businesswomen and fashion designers Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.
  • Through a capital increase, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) secured around 2% of the shares in Zalando. Further capital increases of up to 2% of the shares in Zalando may follow as part of this financing round, led by OTPP. Zalando had sales of EUR 1.15bn in 2012, with a negative EBIT of EUR 80m.

EMEA

  • Swedish startup Memoto, a small camera is designed to be worn on person, features no buttons and takes pictures constantly while worn, rebrand to Narrative with $3m in new funding. Both the rebrand and the new money will help Narrative expand on a global scale. The round is led by San Francisco’s True Ventures. True Ventures has previously invested in hardware startups including MakerBot and Fitbit, and Narrative’s aims are somewhat parallel to those of Fitbit, with more of an emphasis on quantifying non fitness data. The round also included LDV Capital and London’s Passion Capital, which has backed photo sharing apps including EyeEm and Loopcam in the past.
  • Skyscanner, one of the largest flight search engines on the Web, finalized an undisclosed investment from Sequoia Capital, led by partner, Sir Michael Moritz — who will also be joining the company’s board of directors. The investment came at a $800m valuation. Skyscanner has raised $5.2m to date and was seeing $30m in turnover a year ago.
  • Flea market-style mobile apps has raised a “seven-figure” founding round led by Tivola Ventures, and Leverate Media. Nothing out of the ordinary there — an undisclosed funding round is very European. The overall funding amount isn’t being disclosed, beyond that “seven-figure” mention, Tivola Ventures is said to be taking 25 percent equity. It has to be said that it’s unusual for what is otherwise an opaque funding round to break out equity numbers, but, with a mixture of cash and “media equity,” this deal is nothing if not convoluted.
  • Russian mobile-first banking startup RocketBank secured $2m in seed funding from Runa Capital. RocketBank is not a bank itself, rather it’s a mobile app with banking abilities — much like an MVNO is not a mobile network operator but can still offer cellular services by piggybacking on carriers’ networks.
  • Pitango Venture Capital, the Israel-based investment company behind like Apple-acquired Anobit, Samsung-acquired Boxee and many others, has closed a $270m fund, which it will use to back “Israeli companies and companies with an Israeli nexus” that may otherwise be operating in the U.S. and Europe, according to Chemi Peres, co-founder and managing general partner. He says a “meaningful portion” of the investment in the fund came from Asia, specifically investors from China, India, Korea, Taiwan, Japan and Singapore — many investing in Israel for the first time.
  • Soundrop, a social music service that aims to democratize the way people discover and experience music with friends, announcied a $3.4m round of funding led by Spotify’s lead investor, Northzone. In addition to Northzone, Norwegian-government-back Investinor also participated. Northzone also led the previous $3m round in the company last year.
  • Plenummedia, a company that provides a full suite of technology tools and services to help small and medium sized companies do business on the Internet, raised a $6.5m Series B round led by Seaya Ventures. The Madrid-headquartered company provides a full suite of technology tools and services to help small and medium sized companies do business on the Internet, ranging from desktop and mobile websites, email, SEO, Social Media to SEM.
  • Yemeksepeti, the Turkish online catering company, has made an investment into the Greek Click Delivery (www.clickdelivery.com). Yemeksepeti will invest EUR 3m to help Click Delivery with its planned geographic expansion.

Asia

  • None

Mergers & Acquisitions
US

  • IBM has announced the acquisition of Xtify, a provider of mobile messaging tools that allows push notifications to reach customers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Xtify’s platform leverages a company’s CRM environment, business rules and other data to run targeted campaigns. It offers the capability to target campaigns with scheduled messages according to the time zones, frequency and a host of other factors. Xtify, founded in 2009, will become part of the IBM Smart Commerce group and will target chief marketing officers and the new ecosystem of digital marketing managers and developers.
  • Google acquired Flutter, a gesture recognition technology startup with an app that provides gesture detection and recognition from standard webcam devices, for around $40m.
  • GoDaddy has bought Ronin, a company that specializes in online invoicing services to help businesses bill customers and keep track of how they get paid. The deal actually closed in April, says GoDaddy, but the company is making it public now because it has now integrated the service into GoDadddy Online Bookkeeping, its SMB-focused accounting business. Terms have not been disclosed.
  • Biotech company Monsanto has bought Climate Corporation for approximately $1.1 billion. While the Monsanto press release says $930m, the actual price is past the $1 billion mark, because part of the all-cash deal will be paid out over time as an employee retention plan. Climate Corporation is backed by Founders Fund, Khosla, Google Ventures, NEA, Index Ventures and Atomico. The company uses machine learning to predict the weather and other essential elements for agribusiness.
  • Yahoo is set to acquire Hitpost, the maker of a handful of sports-centric mobile apps, to beef up its own sports offerings on iOS and Android, say sources familiar with the deal. The company’s team of seven or so is heading over to join Yahoo.
  • Copper.io, a provider of cloud management tools, acquired Pandastream, a video platform that runs on AWS and supports multiple video codecs. Copper.io provides a single interface for many of the tools used in a modern application stack.
  • Intel has acquired Sensory Networks for $20m to further extend its security capabilities. Sensory Networks, based in Palo Alto, was founded in 2002 as a hardware company, providing high-performance technology that maps networks by looking for patterns such as spam, malware and other types of intrusions.
  • Syncsort is acquiring Circle Computer Group, a software maker that allows organizations to make data securely available for analytics on platforms such as Apache Hadoop. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
  • Proofpoint, a leading security-as-a-service provider, announced that it has acquired Silicon Valley based Sendmail, Inc., a leading provider of solutions that simplify business messaging complexity and reduce IT infrastructure costs for enterprises throughout the world. The acquisition brings a unique set of technical talent to the Proofpoint engineering team and strengthens the company’s position in enterprise security and messaging. Under the terms of the merger agreement, Proofpoint paid approximately $23.0m in cash. The acquisition was structured as a simultaneous signing and closing and requires no additional approvals.
  • Leaf, creator of the LeafPresenter, a tablet specifically designed for commerce, announced it has closed $20m in its first round of institutional funding from Heartland Payment Systems, one of the nation’s largest payments processors and a leading provider of merchant business solutions.
  • TellApart, the preeminent provider of personalized marketing solutions for omnichannel commerce, announced that they have completed the acquisition of AdStack — a leading email marketing optimization provider.

EMEA

  • Apple has acquired personal assistant app Cue for $50-$60m. Backed by SV Angel, Sequoia Capital, Lerer Ventures and Index Ventures in addition to some notable angels, Cue was born as Greplin, a social search startup. Cue had previously raised a $10m round in November of 2012 from Index Ventures, which the startup chose not to announce.
  • Curated accessories market Boticca acquired L’Atelier De La Mode, a leading Paris-based fashion designer marketplace, and simultaneously launching its French website Boticca.fr, its first non-English language website. Launched in 2008 by Jonathan Lipfeld, L’Atelier De La Mode has garnered close to 100,000 customers in France which now brings Boticca’s own database to 500,000 customers globally. L’Atelier De La Mode’s site will be redirected to Boticca.fr. No employees from L’Atelier De La Mode will be joining Boticca as part of the transaction. The acquisition was for cash and terms were undisclosed sum.
  • Love Home Swap, the UK-based holiday home exchange marketplace startup, has raised a further £1m from existing backer MMC Ventures, bringing the total invested by the London VC in the company to approximately £2.65m. To-date, the startup says 55,000 “inspiring properties” are listed on its service, in over 150 countries, claiming that members save an average of £2,202 per home swap.
  • Azimo, the UK-based social money transfer service that competes with legacy players Western Union and Moneygram, and to a lesser extent, PayPal, has raised just over $1m in seed funding from the European arm of VC firm eVentures. Existing angel investors also participated in the round, including CapitalOne founder Matt Cooper, which brings the company’s total funding to-date to around $1.5m.
  • Jaywing announced that it has completed the sale of its e-commerce arm, Tryzens Limited (“Tryzens”), for a total transaction value of GBP 6.0m in cash. The funds were provided by Scottish Equity Partners to allow for the acquisition of the total share capital of Tryzens through a management buyout.
  • Meetic, the European online dating company, announced that it has signed an Agreement for the acquisition of the assets of e-kontakt, owned by Intodate International AB. Meetic is only acquiring the assets relative to the brand, the domain names and the user base, via its Swedish subsidiary Match.com Nordic AB, for an undisclosed sum.
  • Inflexion announces that it has completed the GBP 73m secondary buyout of On The Beach, the UK’s leading beach specialist online travel agent.

Asia

  • None