Jonathan’s Internet and Digital Media Weekly – 2013-11-18
- Jessica Alba’s clean-living startup, The Honest Company – a subscription ecommerce service selling eco-friendly, non-toxic family-oriented products such as diapers, skin care and cleaning products – has closed a $25m Series B funding round, led by Institutional Venture Partners, and joined by Iconiq Capital. Existing investors Lightspeed Venture Partners and General Catalyst Partners also participated in the round. The Honest Company has pulled in some $52m in funding to date.
- RockLive, who owns a self-portrait photo sharing iOS app Shot of Me, received funding from Justin Bieber. RockLive had already raised $1.6m from Shervin Pishevar, boxer Floyd Mayweather, early Apple employee Tom McInerney and NALA investments. NALA had set terms to put in some more money, but RockLive let Bieber in at the last minute to let him contribute the majority of the $1.1m second round.
- PasswordBox, a password manager startup that lets users generate, store and protect multiple strong passwords to skip the need to memorise them, has closed a $6m Series A round, led by Omers Ventures. The round also includes strategic Silicon Valley angel investors Mark Britto, CEO of m-payments company BOKU; Lee Linden, Head of Facebook eCommerce; Greg Wolfond, Chairman of biometric company, SecureKey Technologies, and others.
- Mustbin, a new mobile application emerging from stealth today, and backed by $4.5m in Series A funding, wants to become the go-to service for organizing everything you have that’s important – including passwords, financial data, home and vehicle info, health and medical documents, and more – all securely encrypted in the cloud.
- Redfin, an online property brokerage and search business, has raised $50m in late-stage growth capital from a handful of investors, beginning with Tiger Global and T. Rowe Price Associates. The new round, which also includes contributions from the company’s existing investors, like Greylock Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Vulcan Capital, Globespan Capital Partners and The Hillman Company, brings the company’s total funding to just under $100m. The round values its online brokerage and search business in the ballpark of $500m.
- CreativeLIVE, video-focused online learning company, has raised $21.5m of Series B financing in a round led by The Social+Capital Partnership, with participation from existing investor, Greylock Partners, and a handful of others. With this new round, CreativeLive has now raised just under $30m in about 16 months, which the company will use to invest in people, technology and content.
- Qloo, an iOS app that makes personalized recommendations across a wide range of categories, has closed a $3m seed funding round with participation from angel investors Samih Toukan and Hussam Khoury, founders of Maktoob (which was acquired by Yahoo in 2009) and Cross Creek Pictures founding partner Tommy Thompson (who produced “Black Swan”). This round includes a previously announced $1.4m raised from Qloo investors Kindler Capital, actor Danny Masterson and Cedric the Entertainer.
- OneSpot, a startup focused on what it calls “content advertising”, is announcing that it has raised $5.3m in Series A funding led by Mohr Davidow Ventures with participation from Mack Capital, RSL Ventures, Capital Factory, and Bazaarvoice co-founder Brett Hurt. The round brings OneSpot’s total funding to $6.8m, with Mohr Davidow’s Bryan Stolle joining the board of directors. The money will allow OneSpot to expand its sales and market efforts while continuing product development.
- Sumpto, a startup described as “the Klout for colleges”, raised $350K in funding from investors like SocialStarts.net and former McCANN Group CEO, Nick Brien. The startup plans to use the funding to ramp up hiring and continue with its efforts to lure additional brand partners. The New York-based startup has about 17,500 influencers and is working with more than 70 brands, who have collectively dished out rewards to over 1,800 students.
- TinyCo, an early iOS and Android game developer out of Silicon Valley, picked up an additional $20m in financing from Pinnacle Ventures with existing investor Andreessen Horowitz participating. Part of this investment was a debt – not an equity – investment. The company’s not clarifying exactly how this deal was structured.
- Kidaptive, the company behind a suite of children’s apps for iPad which combine entertaining videos and games with a curriculum focused on kindergarten readiness, has raised an additional $10.1m in Series B funding in a round led by Formation 8, with participation from A round lead Menlo Ventures, along with Stanford’s StartX Fund, NewSchools Venture Fund and Prana Studios, an animation and visual effects studio co-founded by Kidaptive co-founder and CEO P.J. Gunsagar. To date, the company’s applications have been downloaded over half am times (50% outside the U.S.), and see some 200,000 monthly actives. As new “appisodes” are released (the iPad app’s version of an “episode”), 90% of Kidaptive’s audience returns to the apps.
- Knozen, a new startup in stealth-mode from Marc Cenedella, serial entrepreneur and founder of the veteran job matching site TheLadders, closed a $2.25m seed round last month – with an impressive roster of investors behind it, including FirstMark (Rick Heitzmann); Lerer Ventures (Eric Hippeau, Ben Lerer); David Tisch (Box Group); Greycroft Partners‘, John Elton; and Whisper/TigerText Founder, Brad Brooks.
- Greenhouse, a recruitment-focused software company, raised $2.7m led by The Social+Capital Partnership (who Chait gave rave reviews of) and Resolute.vc. Angels in the round include Nick Ganju (ZocDoc), Seth Goldstein (DJZ and Turntable.fm), Thatcher Bell (DFJ Gotham), Thomas Lehrman (Gerson Lehrman Group and MasterStreet), and Bill Lohse (Pinterest). The money will go to building a bigger engineering team, sales and marketing, and growing to be able to handle more clients.
- LendingClub, the San Francisco-based, US peer-to-peer lending service, has raised a $57m investment from Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner’s DST Global, and Coatue Management. The deal values the company at $2.3bn. Canaan Partners, Morgenthaler Ventures and Norwest Venture Partners as LendingClub’s early backers.
- Bill.com, the leader in integrated bill payment, invoicing and cash flow management solutions for businesses, has closed $38m in financing. Led by new investor Scale Venture Partners (ScaleVP), the round also included participation from Bank of America, American Express, Fifth Third Bank, Pete Kight, founder of CheckFree, and Commerce Ventures, as well as all of Bill.com’s previous investors–August Capital, Napier Park Global Capital, TTV Capital, Jafco Ventures, Emergence Capital and DCM. As part of the investment, Rory O’Driscoll, a partner with ScaleVP, has joined the Bill.com Board of Directors. With this funding, Bill.com has raised $80m to date. Bill.com is the fastest growing business payments network in the nation, enabling more than 275,000 users to pay and get paid. Bill.com manages more than 10m bills per year, worth more than $12bn, by combining payments, workflow and document management, and integrating accounting solutions.
- The Revolution Growth fund today announced a $40m investment in CustomInk, the web-based, market leading custom t-shirt company for groups and occasions. The investment will support CustomInk’s rapid expansion and new growth initiatives as it approaches $200m in annual revenues, with year over year growth of 50%. As part of the transaction, Ted Leonsis, co-founder of Revolution Growth, will join CustomInk’s board of directors. CustomInk today holds a leading position in the $5bn custom apparel market, delivering approximately 20m t-shirts per year, and currently employing more than 800 people.
- The Honest Company, a premier multi-channel family brand providing natural, non-toxic products, announced a $25m financing led by Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), and joined by ICONIQ Capital, with participation from existing investors Lightspeed Venture Partners and General Catalyst Partners. The new round of funding adds to $27m raised previously and will accelerate growth initiatives including international expansion, new product development and innovation, enhanced distribution capabilities, and greater accessibility to the brand.
- Wunderkinder, the maker of the Wunderlist productivity app, today announced it has partnered with Sequoia Capital and raised a $19m series B round. The round was supported by the company’s existing investors Atomico and Earlybird Ventures, and increases 6Wunderkinder’s total funding to more than $30m. With more than 6m people and 50,000 businesses around the world using Wunderlist, the partnership will help 6Wunderkinder further expand globally, focussing initially on the US market. The investment values 6Wunderkinder at around $60-65m.
- Scoopshot, a crowdsourced on-demand photography marketplace and accompanying smartphone app, announced it’s raised $3.9m in Series A funding from Conor Venture Partners and Finnish Industry Investment, with participation by existing investors. Chris Barchak, Partner at Conor Venture Partners, will join Scoopshot’s board as its new Chairman. The new capital will be used to help grow its service worldwide, specifically to ramp up Finland-based Scoopshot’s presence in the U.S. and UK by expanding its existing sales teams there. The new round of funding brings the startup’s total funding to approximately $11m. That appears to significantly best rivals such as Foap, EyeEm or U.S.-based Rawporter.
- Finland’s Jongla, a youth-oriented messaging app for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and HTML5, has raised a further €1.4m in funding from Oy Ingman Finance, and a group of private angel investors. This latest round takes the overall investment in the Finnish messaging startup to €3.9m (circa $5.2m).
- GE and Quirky announced they will expand their partnership, co-developing and launching 30 new products in their connected home devices line over the next five years. GE will take a minority equity stake in Quirky with a strategic investment of $30m, plus in-kind services, to drive faster innovation and scale in what will be a $25bn connected devices market. The Company is raising a total of $79mSeries D financing round also includes current Quirky investors Andreessen Horowitz, Norwest Venture Partners, RRE and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
- Alibaba Finance, the financial affiliate of Alibaba Group, planned to spearhead foray into P2P industry by investing $35m in P2P lending platform Ppdai. Ppdai has established a dedicated department for the lending services of Taobao retailers. Since the turnover generated by this department accounts for more than 30% of Ppdai’s total, it may serve as a connection point for the integration of data and business of the two companies. Launched in 2007, Ppdai is China’s first social lending site, claiming round 2m registered users. The company’s turnover is expected to exceed RMB 1 billion ($163.06m) this year. Ppdai has received $25m of Series A financing from Sequoia Capital in last December.
- Xiaoying, a mobile video app, received RMB 5m ($815,037) of angel investment from Innovation Works, disclosed Han Sheng, founder of the company. The company claimed over 10m registered users, while more than 1,000 of video clips being uploaded per day.
- 8trip, a B2B tourism service, announced RMB 150m ($24.45m) of funding from Vision Knight Capital and SBCVC. This is so far the largest capital injection in this sector in China. Founded in December 2012, 8trips serves as a platform that bridge the gap between upstream tourism service providers and downstream travelling agencies, improving the trading efficiency for the two parties. 8trip covers the markets of Wuxi, Nanjing, and Anhui this year, planning to explore oversea markets next year. The company established cooperation with nearly 1,000 tourism agencies and more than 4,000 service outlets.
- DesignCrowd, a crowdsourcing marketplace for freelance designers, has raised $3m in new funding from investors led by Starfish Ventures. This brings the Sydney, Australia based company’s total raised to date to $6.3m. DesignCrowd will use the proceeds to open a U.S. office and scale its international marketing. Since its last funding round in November 2011, DesignCrowd says that its revenue has grown 500% to $1m per month. The company plans to open an office in the U.S., its biggest source of sales, in the next 12 months, as well as begin expanding into Europe, South America and Asia.
- Moneytree, a personal finance iOS app, has received $1.6m in seed funding led by DG Incubation (Digital Garage’s investment branch), with participation from private investors, including senior executives from PayPal, MasterCard and Morgan Stanley. The Tokyo-based startup will use the proceeds to expand into international markets, including the U.S., in 2014. An iPad version and responsive Web app are also in the works. Moneytree launched in April 2013 and gained traction after being featured on the Japanese App Store. The app, which will support data from over 1,000 financial institutions by 2014, has been downloaded over 200,000 times and has aggregated data from over 15m transactions since it launched.
- Go Launcher, an Android app maker out of Beijing that has been around for nearly a decade and has 42m monthly active users across a portfolio of apps, raised $20m in funding from Chinese antivirus software giant Qihoo360 and Kingsoft. The company filed go to public about two weeks ago, and plans to sell 7m American depositary shares at between $9.50 and $11, making for an offering worth between $66.5m and $77m. Those depositary shares represent about 42m ordinary shares in the company and the IPO could value the company at roughly $300m.
- Chinese Bitcoin exchange, BTC China – the world’s largest by trading volume according to Bitcoinity.org – has closed a $5m Series A from institutional investors Lightspeed China Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners. BTC China was bootstapped prior to this round, with money put in by its three co-founders, Bobby Lee, Linke Yang, and Xiaoyu Huang.
Mergers & Acquisitions
- Yesware, an email productivity startup for salespeople, which just this fall raised an additional $13.5m in Series B funding, has made its first acquisition. The company is acquiring the email file-sharing startup Attachments.me, which is also officially shutting down as of today. The entire five-person team from Attachments.me is joining Boston-based Yesware, but will remain in San Francisco, effectively establishing a new office for the company in the area, where Yesware reports a growing customer base. Attachments.me had just under 310,000 registered users and around 60,000-80,0000 monthly actives, but was having trouble growing revenue.
- Under Armour, one of the more recognizable brands in the athletic apparel world, has acquired MapMyFitness, one of the largest mobile fitness communities out there, with 20m registered users, tens ofms of downloads across its mobile devices and 9m monthly active users, in a deal worth up to $150m. Under Armour plans to use its latest acquisition to accelerate its plans to enter the biometric measurement and tracking arena. Fitness tracking is a space in which the Baltimore-based company has traditionally lagged behind other athletic giants, like Nike, which launched its social fitness platform back in 2006 (Nike+) and today counts over 20m members in its ranks.
- Oracle announced it has acquired Bitzer Mobile, a provider of mobile applications management solutions that allow organizations to provide employees access to corporate data and applications from their mobile devices, to address the growing security needs created by the bring your own device (BYOD) movement. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed. Bitzer had raised some $4.83m before this, with backers including Acero Capital and Chevron Technology Ventures. The deal comes fast on the heels of IBM acquiring Fiberlink.
- CrowdSource, a leading provider of managed crowdsourcing solutions, announced today it has entered a definitive agreement to acquire San Francisco, California-based Servio, a competitor in the enterprise crowdsourcing industry. The acquisition will strengthen CrowdSource’s client portfolio, expand its workforce and augment its current service offerings.
- Sears Canada Inc. (TSX: SCC) announced that it has reached a definitive agreement with Montez Income Properties Corporation (“Montez”) to sell its 50% joint venture interest in eight properties it owns with The Westcliff Group of Companies (“Westcliff”) for approximately C$315m ($300.7m). Sears Canada is a multi-channel retailer with a network that includes 181 corporate stores, 246 hometown dealer stores, over 1,400 catalogue merchandise pick-up locations, 101 Sears Travel offices and a nationwide home maintenance, repair, and installation network.
- RFS Holland Holding, the parent company of Dutch Wehkamp, has acquired the remaining 40% stake in Fonq. nl, a Dutch chain of online stores. RFS Holland Holding bought a 60% in Fonq.nl in 2011. Fonq.nl reported annual sales of EUR 15m in 2011.
- ATM SA, the listed Polish telecommunication company, has sold 20.16m shares (a 45% stake) in mobile payment operator mPay to Grupa Lew SA, the electronic sales network operator. The remaining shares held by ATM in mPay will be transferred in the near future to fund Arbux Investments Ltd. As a result, ATMis fully withdrawing from its investment in mPay. The sale of shares in mPay will have impact on ATM’s results in 4Q13, the statement said. The group’s net profit will be reduced by about PLN 3.4m and ATM’s profit by about PLN 5m.
- Oe24.at, the privately owned Austrian media group, has acquired a 51% stake in privately owned local vehicle retailing portal driveme.at. Oe24.at is the online division of the local group which publishes the daily newspaper Oesterreich.
- Minkabu, Inc., successfully operating renowned platforms such as minkabu.jp and caiku.com with approx. 4m monthly unique users combined, has acquired sharewise GmbH, operator of sharewise.com, thereby establishing the leading global platform for investment-related social media. The company will combine the successful features of both platforms and maintain both brands for its continuing expansion.
- Modern Times Group (MTG) has acquired 35% of the Swedish Youtube channel Splay for an undisclosed amount. Splay was founded by Vigor Sorman and consists of a collection of 50 Youtube channels with more than 2m subscribers.
- ShiftDelete.net, the Turkish IT news company, has bought a 40% stake in SuperKarga.com. ShiftDelete.net will seek to make SuperKarga attain a monthly volume of 1m visitors next year. SuperKarga.com provides news specialising in cinema and cultural news.
- Novomatic, the Austrian gaming group, has acquired a 90% stake in Icelandic electronic lottery company Betware, with the remaining 10% retained by the Betware management.
- Pronexus, the listed Japan-based financial reports printing service provider, today announced that it will acquire a 20.0% stake in Tokyo-based web integration/consulting company Mitsue-Links. The value of the deal, which is scheduled to take effect on 20 November 2013, was not disclosed. Pronexus will acquire the stake from Mitsue-Links President Masashi Takahashi.
- Perfect World Co., Ltd, a leading online game developer and operator based in China, announced that it has entered into definitive agreements to acquire 100% equity interest in Wuhu Huitian Shengshi Network Technology Co., Ltd. (“Wuhu Huitian”) for approximately RMB 255m and a minority equity interest in Beijing Shouyou Daqu Technology Co., Ltd. (“Daqu”) from Beijing Huitian Shengshi Technology Co., Ltd. (“Beijing Huitian”) for approximately RMB 40m. Wuhu Huitian and Daqu run TGBus.com (“TGBus”) and PTBus.com (“PTBus”), two leading Chinese gaming portals, respectively. Prior to Perfect World’s investments, Wuhu Huitian and Beijing Huitian were ultimately controlled by an individual unrelated to Perfect World.
Posted on November 18, 2013, in Internet weekly update and tagged CustomInk, Greg Wolfond, Honest Company, Kidaptive, Kindler Capital, MasterStreet, RockLive, SecureKey Technologies. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.