Daily Archives: November 3, 2013

Jonathan’s Internet and Digital Media Weekly – 2013-11-04

Private Financing
  • Circle Internet Financial has launched with $9m of Series A funding to increase mainstream adoption of digital currencies like Bitcoin by providing a payment platform for consumers and merchants. Investors include Jim Breyer, Accel Partners and General Catalyst Partners. Circle is a payment platform that wants to make it easy for businesses and consumers to use Bitcoin and other digital currencies.
  • The multi-category retailer Nomorerack has raised $40m in Series B financing led by Oak Investment Partners and HTV Industries. Although the company launched as a flash sales site in 2010, Nomorerack has since transitioned to position itself as an online retailer that offers deep discounts across the board in numerous categories. The financing will go toward customer acquisition and building out the depth of its top categories, which include jewelry, apparel, electronics, home and lifestyle. The company did $9m in revenue in 2011, north of $100m in 2012, and is now on track to do close to $300m. It’s profitable, and about 70 percent of sales are repeat purchases from consumers. They are currently seeing around 5m monthly unique visitors to the site.
  • FightMe, a social video app with what may be my favorite startup name ever, has raised $500,000 in seed funding from an undisclosed London investor. Using a hashtag system, app users can post their own 30-second, unedited videos, and they can also browse other videos and post their own footage in response.
  • Y Combinator-incubated legal startup Lawdingo is announcing that it has raised another $690,000 in funding. The company’s goal is to make it more convenient and affordable for users to connect with a lawyer. The new funding comes from angel investors (and funds run by angel investors) including Nathaniel Stevens, Kartik Hosanagar, Gene Alston, Altair Capital, Atsany Captial, and Andrew Moroz. It brings Lawdingo’s total funding to $850,000.
  • Runnable, a recently launched Palo Alto-based startup that aims to make it easy to discover and reuse code snippets, today announced that it has raised a $2m seed round led by Sierra Ventures with additional investments from Resolute VC, AngelPad and 500 Startups. Hiten Shah, the founder of KISSmetrics and Isaac Roth, the founder of Makara, also participated in this round. The service, which launched with about 1,000 code snippets for popular programming languages and APIs, plans to use this new influx of cash to onboard the companies that are currently waiting to bring code snippets for their APIs, libraries and SDKs onto the site.
  • Jibe announced that it’s secured a $4m credit facility from Silicon Valley Bank as it prepares to flesh out its backend services for enterprise partners looking to hire the right people. Jibe has previously raised a $10m Series B from Longworth Venture Partners (which led the round), Polaris Partners, Lerer Ventures, DFJ Gotham, and Thrive Capital in a bid to make it easier to apply for jobs from smartphones.
  • Frontback, the photo app that lets users create composite images using the front and rear cameras on their iPhone handsets, has closed a new round of funding of around $3m  from existing investors Lerer Ventures, Index Ventures and SV Angel; and new angels including CrunchFund’s Michael Arrington (also founder and former editor of TechCrunch); Chris Howard at Fuel Capital; Michael Birch; Charlie Cheever; and Initialized Capital’s Harj Taggar, Garry Tan and Alexis Ohanian. It comes after a $910,000 seed round in June 2012, when della Faille was still mainly working on his previous social publishing venture Checkthis.
  • Nextdoor is one of a handful of companies that has managed to thrive in the local market, and a growing list of investors are betting that the “Facebook for your neighborhood” could be the next big social network. To do so, the startup has secured a whopping $60m round in Series C financing from veteran investors, including John Doerr and Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) and Lee Fixel of Tiger Global Management. The round, which brings the startup’s funding to over $100m, also includes Comcast Ventures, as well as Nextdoor’s previous investors, Benchmark, Greylock Partners, and Shasta Ventures.
  • Q Factor, a U.S. startup that’s aiming to fix media-rich content delivery on wireless devices so there’s less waiting around to watch that video or access a large file, has closed a $6.5m Series A funding round from Sigma Prime Ventures and Venrock. Investors John Simon, from Sigma, and Venrock’s Mike Tyrrell have been added to Q Factor’s board, joining seed investor Zenas Hutcheson and Q Factor founder and CEO Subhash Roy.
  • Snapverse, an iPhone app that combines 20-second user videos with licensed music, has raised $3.5m from John Hannan of Apollo Management (it’s a personal investment by Hannan, not Apollo). The amount of licensed music available is about to grow significantly, thanks to partnerships with Universal, Warner Brothers, and Sony.
  • Magisto, an app that was designed to magically create interesting videos out of the videos that users had stored on their computers and phones, has raised $13m to take on the ambitious goal of unlocking all the world’s photos and videos and making them sharable. The funding comes from two major strategic investors — Qualcomm Ventures and Sandisk. Existing investors Magma Venture Partner and Horizons Ventures also participated in the round. Magisto has signed up more than 13m users since being founded, pitching them on the idea of “video storytelling.” By using proprietary algorithms, the mobile and web app pieces together multiple video and photo assets and creates sharable videos and photo slideshows. They can then be shared on social networks, or with specific friends and family.
  • Communications platform for mobile and web apps Layer has raised $6m in seed funding, bringing the company’s total seed funding to $7.5m. In addition to existing seed investors CrunchFund, Data Collective, and SV Angel; the round now includes AME Cloud Ventures (Jerry Yang’s investment vehicle) e.Ventures, Ash Patel, Fuel Capital, and Greycroft. Layer is a communications platform that can be added to any mobile app by adding fewer than 10 lines of code into the mix. Once that Layer code snippet has been placed in an app via an SDK, users will be able to send text, voice, and video messages, and share files across different applications.
  • Xplornet Communications Inc., Canada’s largest rural broadband service provider, announced the successful completion of a C$158m ($151.2m) private financing transaction consisting of C$148m of new debt and equity and C$10m in refinanced debt. This additional funding from new and existing investors is an endorsement of Xplornet’s unwavering commitment to the continuing development of rural broadband in Canada.
  • 6Wunderkinder, the German provider of online task management services, has raised $30m in Series B funding from new investor Sequoia Capital with the participation of existing investors Earlybird and Atomico. 6Wunderkinder will mainly use the fresh capital to expand in the US.
  • Apps Daily Solutions, an India-based mobile applications company, has received B series investment from ru-Net, Qualcomm Ventures and IndoUS Venture Partners. The overall size of the investment is put at more than $5m.
Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Intuit is acquiring FullSlate, an online scheduling company that allows clients to offer their customers the ability to make appointments directly to web sites and Facebook pages. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The service will become part of Intuit demandforce, a marketing platform for small businesses. Demandforce has tools for communications, to help clients keep in touch with their customers through email and SMS messaging.
  • Soluto, a service that lets users manage PCs and other connected devices remotely, is getting acquired by Asurion, a company that offers device insurance services. The news is being reported as a work in progress by TheMarker and Calcalist.. The purchase price is rumoured to be between $100-$130m. Today the company has clocked more than 3m downloads of its product, and over 15m “actions” carried out through its platform.
  • WebMD acquires Avado to help drive its evolution from media company to patient engagement platform. WebMD announced that its health network saw 138m unique visitors per month and total traffic of 2.95 billion page views during the third quarter its popularity has wavered over the last decade. While the two companies declined to share details in regard to the terms of the acquisition, sources close to the deal said that the price fell in the $20-$30m range and was a positive outcome both for the founders and for its investors. Avado raised $1m back in March from investors that include The Partnership Fund for New York City and healthcare angels like Andy Palmer and Dr. Daniel Schwartz.
  • Twitter just announced that it has closed its acquisition of MoPub, a company which helps mobile publishers manage their ad inventory. An official confirmation followed soon after, though neither company confirmed the $350m, all-stock price that was rumoured previously.
  • Payment infrastructure company First Data has acquired Perka, the mobile loyalty startup. Perka is First Data’s second acquisition in October and follows its purchase of Andreessen Horowitz-backed mobile payments startup, Clover, two weeks ago. With its acquisition of Clover, First Data has been looking to ramp up its support for small businesses, particular around point-of-sale (POS) infrastructure. By teaming up with the largest payment processor in the U.S., Perka will be able to achieve scale faster than it would have on its own, as well as tap into the company’s financial resources, brand recognition and its more than 6m credit card terminal customers in 34 countries.
  • Fab.com has acquired assets from myFab, a home decor and designer furniture portal in France, to build out its European business into that country. The transaction price was rumoured at €3.1m ($4.3m), with possible additional payouts over time. Prior to the acquisition, myFab was 51% owned by a WebMediaGroup, which owns other design commerce sites like Maison Facile, Tek Import and Amateur de Design, and 49% by Alven Capital and BV Capital. MyFab was originally co-founded by Ning Li, who later left and co-founded Made.com in the UK. The company had raised some $10.2m in funding. It’s not clear what assets have been acquired by Fab.com, but $4.3m doesn’t sound like a lucrative exit for the company.
  • Internap Network Services Corporation announced plans to acquire hosting and cloud provider iWeb in a deal valued at approximately $145m. The combination creates a top five pure play IT infrastructure services provider, with trailing twelve months revenue in excess of $320m. Headquartered in Montreal, Canada, iWeb serves 10,000 SMB customers in more than 100 countries and has approximately 200 employees.
  • A new joint venture agreement between BCD Travel and its partner in Brazil positions the travel management company for growth in Latin America’s largest economy. With the agreement, BCD Travel takes a controlling interest in a newly established Brazilian company. Doing business as BCD Travel, the new Brazil operation will employ about 300. Investments will result in enhanced service and better data for clients. For example, call center infrastructure will be upgraded and new workflow management implemented and training and development improved.
  • Figment, a New York-based website aimed at teenagers, announced that it has been acquired by Random House.
  • KiwiTech, the Washington D.C.-based mobile technology company, will acquire a 75% stake in Ruckus Media Group, the three-year-old global children’s digital media company and early entrant in the iOS application space. Ruckus recently transitioned from award-winning, stand-alone applications to an eBook, video and interactive application portal featuring some of the nation’s top brands including Crayola, Hasbro, SeaWorld, and Curious George, among many others.
  • zanox, the leading European performance advertising network, has completed the acquisition of Digital Window, the holding company of the multi-award winning UK affiliate network Affiliate Window, by acquiring the remaining 49.9 percent of shares. The acquisition process started in 2009 with the two zanox shareholders Axel Springer and PubliGroupe purchasing a 50.1 percent stake in Digital Window. In 2010, the two companies consolidated their majority shareholding in Digital Window into their joint subsidiary zanox. The zanox Group is owned by German Axel Springer, with a shareholding of 52.5 percent, also by the Swiss PubliGroupe with 47.5 percent.
  • Bygghemma, the Swedish e-retailer for building materials, is to acquire the Swedish furniture e-retailer, Trademax. The acquisition will increase Bygghemma’s expected 2013 turnover from SEK 500m (EUR 57m) to SEK 700m (EUR 80m).
  • Babyshop, the Swedish online baby products retailer, has acquired its Swedish competitor, Oii. The two companies complement each other and the buy will strengthen Babyshop further. Babyshop has a turnover of around SEK 100m (EUR 11.4m) and that Oii is seen as the market number two.
  • Host Europe Group has announced the successful acquisition of domainFACTORY, for an undisclosed consideration. domainFACTORY currently manages 1.1m domains and serves approximately 173,000 customers – mostly in the small and medium enterprises and private professional market segments. This transaction follows the recent acquisition by Host Europe Group of Telefónica Germany Online Services GmbH, a leading enterprise-managed hosting provider.
  • None this week