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

Private financing
  • Building Robotics, a startup that makes intelligent software systems for office buildings, has raised $1.14 million in a seed round led by Claremont Creek Ventures (CCV), Google Ventures, Formation 8, Navitas Capital, Red Swan Ventures and other angel investors. The Oakland, Calif.-based company says it will use the funds to add expertise in building management, development, back-end operators and user experience design.
  • Newsle, a network (and person)-oriented news alert service which tracks more than 100 million people and processes more than one million articles each day from over 100,000 sources, serving users filtered, personalized alerts based on their preferences, raised $1.85 million Series A financing round led by Advance Publications. Participating alongside the strategic investor were Maveron, DFJ, Transmedia Capital, Launny Steffens and previous investor Rockwell Schnabel.
  • Espresso Logic received $1.6 million in seed funding today for its backend as a service to connect web and mobile applications to external databases including MySQL, Oracle Server and Microsoft SQL Server. Inventus Capital led the funding along with angel investors including Gokul Rajaram, lead product engineer at Square and one of the creators of Google AdSense.
  • Austin-based VC firm Silverton Partners raised $75 million for its fourth fund, which will be committed to investing solely in early-stage Austin startups. That includes $10 million of which was raised from local entrepreneurs and founders that the company has worked with, who wish to re-invest in the startup ecosystem. In addition to traditional LPs and university endowments, Silverton Partners Fund IV includes $10 million from 40 local entrepreneurs that the firm has worked with who wished to invest in the fund.
  • Securly set out to help K-12 schools across the U.S. prevent their bright young minds from being exposed to the not-so-savory side of the Internet, raises $1m from NewSchool.
  • GAIN, a tracking app for a wide range of activities, from weight training to Pilates, endeavoring to unbundle the fitness class and become a marketplace for fitness trainers and workout plans, raised $2.1 million in venture funding led by InterWest, with contributions from its existing investors ncluding Keith Rabois, Ben Ling and InterWest Partners, among others.
  • Granify, a software-as-a-service platform that uses big data and machine learning to identify the points in an e-commerce transaction where users are most likely to convert, raised $1.5 million in seed funding from a group of investors that includes Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, Klass Capital, iNovia Capital, BDC, Extreme Startups, Social Starts, Jared Kopf, Jerry Neumann, Giordano Contestabile, Tom O’Connell, Adam Caplan, Nick Koudas, Nilesh Bansal, Jamie McDonald, and Jonathan James. Granify is currently processing more than 5.3 billion data points a month. And it’s doing that by seamlessly integrating with e-commerce stores, and works on a pay-per-performance basis.
  • Appboy, a company that helps mobile app marketers better retain users and keep them engaged, is today announcing $7.6 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Icon Venture Partners, and saw participation from new investors IDG Ventures, and Mike Lazerow, founder of Buddy Media. Existing seed investors, including Blumberg Capital, Accelerator Ventures, Bullpen Capital and T5 Capital, also participated. The company has raised a total of $7.6 million. However, in addition to the $5.1 million in Series A funding, Appboy previously raised $2.5 million via convertible note seed financings, which have now converted.
  • GeoPoll, which says it is the world’s largest real-time mobile survey platform, enables companies to conduct surveys by SMS, voice messages or on the Web, launched with a $6.6 million Series A round, which brings its total raised so far to $11.6 million. GeoPoll will use proceeds from its Series A to expand its team and grow its footprint, with the goal of reaching 100 million people by the end of 2013, and 500 million by the end of 2014.
  • Zoomingo, a two-year old shopping and deal-finding app designed for use out in the real world, has raised an additional $1.25 million from its existing investors Benaroya Capital and Naya Ventures, along with other angels, including Rudy Gadre, former General Counsel at Facebook. The new funding brings Zoomingo’s total raise to date to $2.75 million. Zoomingo today has 1.3 million registered users on iOS and Android, and is generally found in the top 10 in the Catalogs section of the iTunes App Store. The company remains a relatively small, ten-person team based in Seattle.
  • Content recommendation service Zemanta raised $2 million in new funding from Union Square Ventures and Social Starts. Zemanta has launched a “content discovery network,” and it also introduced related products like Streams, which offers an endless stream of related articles directly below a mobile article page.
  • Zola, the new wedding registry startup emerging from Gilt And AlleyCorp founder Kevin Ryan and a group of former Gilt employees, has raised $3.25 million in Series A funding led by Thrive Capital. Joshua Kushner, founder and managing partner of Thrive Capital, will join Zola’s Board of Directors. Ryan, who led the seed funding for the startup, is also contributing to the A round. The company is part content, part Pinterest-like inspiration sharing, and part wish list/registry. The result is a well-designed. easy to use wedding registry that tells a story of a couple.
  • Y Combinator-backed startup Lob launched a new developer API which lets companies easily integrate printing and shipping services into their applications, has announced $2.4 million in seed funding from various YC partners and angel investors. Participating in the round were Kevin Hale, Dalton Caldwell, Sam Altman, Joshua Schachter, Alexis Ohanian, Paul Buchheit, Garry Tan, Polaris Partners, and other undisclosed investors. The company says it now has over 1,000 paying customers, and just hit $40,000 in revenue at the end of last month. It has also printed a million dollars worth of checks.
  • MediaSpike, which runs a marketplace for in-game product placement, has raised $5.2 million in Series A funding. The round was led by CMEA Capital, with the participation of existing investors 500 Startups, Google Ventures, and Raptor Capital. New backers include Andreessen Horowitz, Inspovation Ventures, and angel investors such as Jonathan Abrams, Othman Laraki, Rick Marini and Naval Ravikant. MediaSpike’s goal is to make it easier to run product placements in mobile and social games. Developers creating listings for standardized placements in their games and advertisers bid for those placements. A couple of weeks ago, the company said its network now reaches 20 million unique users, a 20x increase in fewer than five months.
  • AetherPal, a pre-loaded software allows mobile carriers remote access to your smartphone, secured a $6 million Series A round led by New Venture Partners and Boston-based Point Judith Capital. The $6 million in new funding will also be put to use to grow AetherPals’ 50-person team with hires in sales, product and exec roles.
  • Hinge, a mobile online dating app, raised a $4 million Series A from Great Oaks, Social + Capital, and more to bring its relationships app beyond DC, New York, and Boston. With $4 million, Hinge has some ammunition to fight off competitors and pay for growth. The money will help the startup break into new cities, and revamp its apps.
  • Israel-based startup TabTale, an app publishers with a suite of over 240 apps that have more than 220 million downloads, announced a $12 million in Series B financing, led by Qualcomm Ventures and Magma Venture Partners, with contributions from Vintage Investment Ventures and existing investors. It’s now raised $13.5 million to date and claims more than 20 million active monthly users and done so behind girly games like “princess party planner” and while largely flying under the radar.
  • Lime&Tonic, the digital concierge app for iOS that provides personalised recommendations of “unforgettable” experiences to help users fill their social agendas, has announced that it’s closed a €1 million round of angel funding. The list of backers includes VCs Julie Meyer (Ariadne Capital), Cem Sortoglu (Earlybird Capital), Daniel Lynch (3TS Capital), and Miroslav Boublik (Craig Capital), all of whom have invested in a personal capacity, along with Graham Potts, co-founder of Jobsite. The UK startup says it will use the new funding to further develop the Lime&Tonic product, which currently consists of a web version and iOS app only.
  • Swiss mobile cloud-based field service app maker Coresystems has raised $15.5 million in Series A funding — its first external funding round, despite being founded in 2002. The investment comes from a consortium of private Swiss investors and well-known German tech investor Peter Zencke, a former SAP executive board member and head of research and development. Coresystems says the new funding will be used to accelerate product enhancements and business development and sales efforts to meet growing demand for its mobile cloud apps and software products, which help both small and large companies manage and deliver customer service out in the field.
  • Moscow-based Runa Capital, given that today it is making a $500,000 seed investment into Wallarm a “next gen” web security solution to protect online businesses from application level hacker attacks. The cash will go into developing the company which is switching from a service model to a product business model, and partnering with managed service providers, public and private clouds, PaaS/IaaS, monitoring and log management systems, cloud IPS/IDS services.
  • London-based U.K. startup what3words has closed a $500,000 seed round of financing from a group of angel investors, including Shutl’s Guy Westlake. The startup launched an ambitious bid to reinvent ZIP codes/postcodes back in July using location-pinpointing alternatives made up of a combination of three words each representing a 3m x 3m square of the globe. what3words claimed to have sold 10,000 OneWords a week after launching, priced at £0.99/$1.50 per year. Today it said it’s now sold 25,000 OneWords after around four months up and running. It’s also had some 12,000 app downloads and 200,000 unique visits to its website since launching the service on July 2.
  • Seriously, a new gaming startup from the execs who oversaw Angry Birds-maker Rovio’s game slate and licensing business, raised $2.35 million in seed funding led by Los Angeles’ Upfront Ventures (the firm formerly known GRP) and Denmark’s Sunstone Capital. The company is looking to build what he calls “casual plus” games, even as the rest of the market moves more mid-core with companies.
  • BugBuster, a startup spun out of the Operating Systems Laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), has raised just over $1 million in what’s being described as a Series A round — such is the state of available funding in some parts of Europe. This adds to the $1 million previously raised by the company since it was founded in 2011. The investment, from a consortium of angels (BAS and Go Beyond), and previous backers Polytech Ventures, and Hasler Foundation, will be used by BugBuster to bring its cloud-based automated bug detection software for Web apps to market following the completion of Beta testing this month, and for further development.
  • London-based Fantoo raised £450,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube — a seed round it says has been oversubscribed, surpassing the original £400,000 target. It plans to use the investment to launch its AI-driven corporate email solution. Fantoo’s cloud-based email client will use machine-learning to anticipate and automatically categorise a user’s email, presenting it as an optional tapestry of images
  • Rapid-I — a German specialist in analytics tools that wants to become the industry standard for how enterprises predict the future — is today announcing its first round of funding, a rebrand to RapidMiner, and a new HQ in Boston to jump with two feet into growing its business in North America. The Series A of $5 million — the first money ever raised by RapidMiner — is led by Earlybird Venture Capital and Open Ocean, the investment firm backed by the founders of MySQL.
  • Zomato, South Asia’s largest restaurant guide, listing over 74,500 restaurants in 19 cities across India, UAE, UK, Qatar, and Sri Lanka, closed a $37 million funding round from Sequoia Capital and existing local investor Info Edge to supersize its international expansion plans. It’s raised a total of around $55 million to date. Currently Zomato is operating in eight markets, including the U.K., with around two-thirds of its traffic (15 million monthly users across the web and its apps) coming from its home market of India, vs. 100 percent one year ago before it kicked off its international expansion. It’s currently profitable in India and the UAE.
Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Kno, the education startup that started life as a hardware business and later pivoted into software — specifically via apps that let students read interactive versions of digitized textbooks, has been acquired by Intel. The company had raised some $73.4 million in funding since being founded in 2009, with Intel leading its Series C round in 2011. In that $37.5m round, Intel invested $20m.
  • Sincerely, the mobile gifting startup behind the Postagram, Ink, and Sesame apps which allow users to send everything from postcards to greeting cards to even physical gifts from their smartphones, has been acquired by Provide Commerce, the e-commerce business behind a number of big-name brands, including ProFlowers, Shari’s Berries, Red Envelope, and Personal Creations, in an all-cash deal. The company had previously raised $5.5 million in outside funding from Spark Capital, First Round Capital, Charles River Ventures, SV Angel, and others, though only $3 million in funding had been publicly reported before now. Brezina declined to say whether this additional funding was a Series B, or when it closed, however.
  • Origami, the family-focused social service that arose from Y Combinator-backed mobile social network Everyme’s earlier efforts, has been sold. The acquirer, Indiana-based eFamily, has taken over the company’s branding and software, and will continue to develop and support the product, which is good news for current users. Origami publicly launched its family-focused sharing service earlier this summer after a year of development. The product was something of a spin-off of Everyme, a private messaging and photo-sharing app that never really took off, despite having raised $3.66 million in outside funding. But Everyme allowed the startup to gain some early insights it used to build Origami.
  • Dice Holdings acquired onTargetjobs from Warburg Pincus, including recruiting sites HEALTHeCAREERS and Hcareers. Dice Holdings, Inc. purchased the outstanding shares of onTargetjobs for $50m in cash. The sites generated trailing 12 months revenues of approximately $38m.
  • Meetic, the France based provider of online dating and matchmaking services, announces the filing on November 6, 2013 by France Limited of the draft prospectus for a cash simplified public tender offer for all of the outstanding shares of Meetic S.A. at a price of EUR 18.75 per share.
  • Crealogix, the Swiss market leader in comprehensive e-banking solutions, is acquiring a share in the Icelandic software company Meniga. PFM pioneer Meniga is a leading white-label provider of Personal Finance Management (PFM) software for integration into existing digital banking systems in Europe.
  • Groupon has acquired Korea’s Ticket Monster, for $260 million, to build out its mobile commerce operations in Asia through event ticketing and other commerce services. Ticket Monster had been owned by Groupon competitor Living Social. As part of the purchase, Groupon says it will be acquiring Living Social Korea. (We’re asking if it intends to keep that business fully operational; for now Groupon says that all management staff and brand is coming over to Groupon and there will be further transition plans revealed after the deal is closed. The acquisition is being made for $100 million in cash, with the remaining $160 million in Groupon shares, the company says, with the deal closing some time in the first half of 2014.
  • Monster Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:MWW), and H&Q Korea, a leading private equity firm in Korea, have reached an agreement for H&Q Korea to acquire 49.9% of JobKorea, Monster’s South Korean operations and the leading career website in the country, for an aggregate purchase price of $90m. Monster will retain management control of the company and leverage H&Q Korea’s expertise and extensive Asian Pacific regional network to enhance and grow this profitable business.
  • HomeAway, Inc, the world’s leading online marketplace for vacation rentals, today announced it has secured a 55% stake in Bookabach Limited, the operator of a leading vacation rental site in New Zealand, in an all-cash transaction. The acquisition also includes Bookastay, the company’s affiliated Australian vacation rental site. Bookabach and Bookastay together feature more than 8,000 property listings in New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific islands.

Posted on November 10, 2013, in Internet weekly update and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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