Jonathan’s Internet and Digital Media Weekly – 2013-11-25

Private Financing
US

  • Payments platform Spreedly, which offers customers a credit card vault in the cloud that works with 54 different payment gateways, has raised an additional $500,000 in seed funding from Emerge.be, bringing its total raise to date to just under am. The funding comes less than a year after Spreedly’s pivot from a digital subscriptions service it sold off this July. The company has 130 customers, and will do 125,000 transactions this month, totaling roughly $8.5m.
  • Hightail, the file-sharing service formerly known as YouSendIt, is announcing today that it has raised $34m in new funding. The round, which serves as Hightail’s Series E, was led by hard drive maker Western Digital. This brings the total outside investment in Hightail to $83m.
  • Signpost, a startup offering an online marketing platform for small businesses, is announcing that it has raised $10m in Series B funding. The round was led by OpenView Venture Partners, with additional investment from Spark Capital, Scout Ventures, and wikiHow founder Jack Herrick. OpenView managing director Dev Ittycheria is joining Signpost’s board of directors.
  • Colingo has launched a new program for learning English that offers 1-on-1 personalized training alongside its small group classes. The company has also announced completion of a two-tranche $2.4m round of funding led by Atlas Venture.
  • Locket, the mobile application for Android smartphones launched this summer that places ads on the lockscreen, has received an additional investment from Fierce Capital, LLC, the investment arm of The Tyra Banks Company. The size of the investment is not being disclosed, but the company is in the process of raising a round of funding in thems, due to close next year.
  • Clypd, founded by the creators of Paypal-acquired WHERE, has raised $7.2m in series A-1 funding, gathering cash from Atlas Ventures, Freestyle Captial, and Boston Seed Capital. Angels included John Battelle and Brightcove. The company wants to make it easier for advertisers to buy small chunks of TV air time as small as 15 seconds long. By partnering with channels, Clypd will be able to allow TV channels to sell “open” airtime to smaller customers.
  • Verbling , a language learning startup, raised additional round of seed capital from Sam Altman and Hydrazine Capital, with contributions from Learn Capital, FundersClub, Rothenberg Ventures and Kevin Moore. This follows the $20K Verbling received when it graduated from Y Combinator in 2011 and the $1m in seed funding it raised in the months following from DFJ, Learn Capital, SV Angel, Start Fund, Ace & Company, Meck Investments and Inspovation, among others.
  • Shake, a startup aiming to make it easy to reach legally binding agreements with help from your smartphone, has raised $3m in funding. The funding was led by SoftBank Capital with participation from existing investor RRE Ventures and new investors BoxGroup, ENIAC Ventures, Mesa+, WGI Group, and Patrick Keane. SoftBank’s Jordy Levy is joining Shake’s board of directors. Shake first launched on the iPhone two months ago. It has since been downloaded 80,000 times and been used to create and sign $15m worth of legal agreements.
  • Illuminate Ventures today closed a $20m fund to invest in early-stage business software startups. Illuminate’s team is dedicated to supporting female entrepreneurs.
  • Cloud storage provider Box is raising a $100m round. On Oct 14., Box authorized the sale of 5.55m shares of preferred stock at $18 a share — or a total of $100m  – which would value the company at just under $2 billion. Box announced an earlier $125m funding round in the summer of 2012, and then it extended that to $150m this January, when it actually filed the SEC paperwork.
  • Mobile branded content company TextPride has completed a $1m seed funding round, the company said. TextPride makes stickers and emojis that mobile messaging apps can add as paid upgrades to their services. The company is currently working with over 200 brands, including the University of Notre Dame, the Chicago Blackhawks, NASCAR, and the U.S. Military, which is bound to be popular. From those 200 partners, TextPride has created over 8,000 branded emoji.
  • OpenFeint founder Jason Citron has raised $8.2m for his second game startup, Hammer & Chisel. The company wants to bring League of Legends style play to tablets with a new multiplayer online battle arena game (MOBA) called Fates Forever. The funding was led by Benchmark Capital partner Mitch Lasky, who was an investor in Riot Games.
  • Wevorce, a startup focused on divorce-related families, raised $1.7m in a new seed funding round from investors including Foundation Capital and Sam Altman. This brings the total invested in Wevorce, which launched out of Y Combinator in March 2013, to $2m.
  • The Hunt, an app that is designed for intense shoppers, raised $5.5m in its first round of institutional funding.
  • American Giant, the clothing maker that is winning the hearts of the Internet generation, just raised $3.6m of a $2.5m round. American Giant has already raised $5m in funding in 2011, led by Donald Kendall, the former chairman and CEO of Pepsi Co. Kendall is listed on the SEC filing alongside Winthrop, which suggests that he has opted to lead this current round.
  • Mobile ad retargeting startup TapCommerce is announcing that it has raised $10m in Series A funding. The new funding was led by Bain Capital Ventures and RRE Ventures, with a strategic investment from Nielsen Ventures and participation from previous backers Metamorphic Ventures, Eniac Ventures, and Nextview Ventures. Bain’s Scott Friend and RRE’s Eric Wiessen have joined TapCommerce’s board of directors.
  • San Francisco-based Big Data analytics startup Alpine Data Labs raised $16m in venture funding from Sierra Ventures, Mission Ventures, UMC Capital, and Robert Bosch Venture Capital.
  • Mobile shopping service Sift has closed on $2m in seed funding, which includes an additional $1.5m closed last week, led by DN Capital. This new funding also sees participation from previous investors Tandem Capital, Unity Ventures, Sand Hill Angels from its $540,000 angel round, and new investors Social Internet Fund, Future Perfect Ventures, Grey Corp, the CEO of NQ Mobile, Omar Khan, and others.
  • Niche, a startup that connects brands with popular users on social media, has opened its website to the public, and also announced $550,000 in funding. The funding comes from David Tisch (Box Group), Michael Kassan (MediaLink), Chris Altchek (PolicyMic), Bryan Goldberg (Bleacher Report/Bustle), John Alderman, and friends and family.
  • Centzy, a local search engine which provides prices, reviews, hours, and ratings for nearby businesses, is announcing a rebrand to Locality, and $4.3m in new funding led by Matrix Partners with Cowboy Ventures and ff Venture Capital. This brings the company’s total funding to over $6m, with prior investors including ff Venture Capital, Cowboy Ventures, Lightbank, Founder Collective, and others. Matrix partner Jared Fliesler has joined the company’s board of directors.
  • Online education startup Coursera raised an additional $20m in funding, bringing its series B round to $63m. The additional funding was raised from three partner universities that offer courses on Coursera (these institutions have not been announced), GSV Capital and Learn Capital. Coursera current works with 100 universities in 19 countries. According to a news release, 700 professors and 5.5m learners have signed up to take a course.

EMEA

  • Business-analytics tool BIME Analytics announced a $4m in new venture funding. Alven Capital, based in Paris, was the sole investor in the round.
  • After announcing its second funding round of $17.5m in September, hot Android keyboard company SwiftKey announced that Accel Partners will also be participating in that round. SwiftKey previously noted that Index Ventures led that funding round, with participation by Octopus Investments. SwiftKey is based in London and has now raised over $21m in total.
  • Seedrs, the UK equity-based crowdfunding platform, is listing itself on its site in a bid to crowd-raise £500,000 for international expansion. Armchair investors who put in for a slice of the action will in total get a 8.81 percent stake. This gives the 2009-founded company a pre-money valuation of £5.175m. In early 2012 it raised a £1m seed round from DFJ Esprit, Digital Prophets (backed by Luke Johnson and managed by the investors behind 1seed) and a number of unnamed angel investors.
  • Zula, Israel-based mobile collaboration app , announced a seed round from Microsoft Ventures. The two are not publicly disclosing the amount of the investment.
  • French startup LeCab announced that it has raised $6.8m (€5m) in Series B funding. The company operates a black car service that is focused on premium services. Company didn’t disclose who invested in this traditional equity round as there is a non-disclosure agreement. Previously, LeCab had raised $4.1m (€3m).
  • Atomico, the VC firm co-founded and led by Niklas Zennstrom of Skype fame, has just announced its third and biggest fund, $475m, which the firm says it will use mainly for later-stage rounds in startups to help them scale. Total funds under management by Atomico are at $850m.
  • UK-based Diary.com, a website providing the ability to share both publicly and privately to a select group, raised $1.2m from a network of private investors. Terms were not disclosed.
  • UK minicab marketplace app Kabbee has raised a £3.8m Series A funding round led by Octopus Investments (previous backers of property search engine Zoopla, Graze.com, SwiftKey and Secret Escapes). Notably, Simon Nixon, the founder of MoneySupermarket.com, also joins the round – adding a significant amount of marketplace experience to the startup’s investor list. This brings total funding to around $9m (circa £5.6m). Kabbee has apps for iPhone, Android and Blackberry 10, and lets users instantly compare quotes from 60 leading London fleets and then book and pay by cash, card or pre-paid account. It launched in June 2011 and claims over 250,000 app downloads to date.
  • UK minicab marketplace app Minicabster raised £2m in funding (the round actually closed back in August) from a number of angel investors including David Buttress, CEO of takeout marketplace Just-Eat, Daniel McPherson, founder of Launcha, and Tom Singh, founder of New Look. Minicabster has apps for iOS and Android, and claims 200,000 users.
  • London-based Lifecake, a new photo-sharing service designed for families and built by former Skype, Qualcomm, and Yahoo engineers, announced an additional $1.1m in seed funding. The round was led by Balderton Capital, and comes on top of a previous $300,000 angel round from earlier this summer. Also participating in the new round were Techtopia, a team of London-based entrepreneurs and fathers, who were among Lifecake’s first users. Meanwhile, the company’s seed round investors include EC1 Capital, Serge Alleyne, and several of the founders’ former colleagues, like Tony Saigh and James Peck.
  • Appear Here, the UK online marketplace for short-term retail space and so-called pop-up shops, has raised £1m in new funding. Leading the round are Howzat Partners, MMC Ventures, and Forward Investment Partners. Also participating are Meyer Bergman, Playfair Capital, Ballpark Ventures, Marc Hazan (of Spotify), and Miroma Ventures. The Company has previous raised an undisclosed round last December from Forward Investment Partners, Ballpark Ventures, and various unnamed angel investors.
  • Video summary platform Simpleshow raised $5.4m funding from Japanese investors. The company provides customers with short animated or hand-crafted videos to explain topics or companies, with customers including BMW, eBay, Microsoft, Deutsche Bank and IKEA, along with NGOs such as the German Red Cross.
  • Technology Crossover Ventures is making its biggest investment by backing the entirety of Spotify’s new $250m round. The round could be called Spotify’s Series F and brings the company to $538m in total funding. The funding also puts Spotify’s estimated valuation to $4 billion+.

Asia

  • Multichannel, which manages and tracks marketing efforts across multiple channels, raised a $3m seed round from angel investors in Europe and Asia to bolster its engineering efforts. Most of Multichannel’s $3m seed round is going into research and development.
  • Voxpopclothing.com, an Indian e-commerce design apparel company based in Mumai, has gotten an investment from Blume Ventures, an early stage investment fund, and a group of investors. Investment figures for the transaction were not disclosed.
  • Urban Ladder, the India-based online furniture seller, has raised $5m from the private equity firms SAIF Partners and Kalaari Capital in a Series A round of funding. Urban Ladder had earlier raised $1m from Kalaari Capital in August 2012.

Mergers & Acquisitions
US

  • PasswordBox, the increasingly popular password management solution, today announced that it has acquired Legacy Locker, a digital afterlife service that – in the inevitable case that you pass away – grants access to your online assets to your friends and loved ones. With this acquisition, PasswordBox says, it is now “the only free service to manage your online accounts during life and after.” Last week, PasswordBox also announced that it had closed a $6m Series A round led by Canada’s Omers Ventures.
  • Lovely, the site that aggregates home rental listings, is moving up from studio to duplex status. The startup is announcing its first acquisition, Rentmatic, so that those finding apartments on its site will soon be able to set up their monthly rent payments on Lovely after they move in. And it is gearing up for more growth: it has also closed a Series A round of funding. Lovely now processes over 1.5m rental listings every month; 500,000 people find new homes on its site each month; its iOS mobile app has had nearly 250,000 downloads (with Android soon to come).
  • Livefyre, provider of the leading real-time conversation and social curation platform, announced that it has acquired the assets and team of Realtidbits, one of the top enterprise social application providers. This is the second acquisition by Livefyre in two months, having acquired social storytelling platform Storify in September.
  • Ziff Davis has acquired TechBargains, a division of Exponential Interactive Inc. TechBargains is a premier online destination for consumers seeking deals, special offers, and reviews for computers, personal electronics, travel, auto, and other high end product categories. TechBargains drives incremental sales to its merchant partners by providing expert and unbiased content to online visitors.

EMEA

  • Aufeminin acquired My Little Paris and will pay around $90m (€66.7m) for the acquisition. Part of Axel Springer, Aufeminin is one of the largest lifestyle website in France. Aufeminin spent $54m (€40m) in cash to acquire 60% of My Little Paris, with future plans to acquire the rest of the company. My Little Paris only raised $6,700 (€5,000) of initial capital.
  • Amazon.com has acquired the UK-based audiobook publisher and retailer AudioGo out of administration. AudioGo was put into administration after financial irregularities came to light.

Asia

  • Umeng, the analytics provider that has collected data from 180,000 apps and 590m active devices throughout China, confirmed that it was acquired by Alibaba. The value of the deal was not disclosed but was rumored to be $70-80m. The company raised $10m in funding from Matrix Partners’ China arm after being incubated out of Kai-Fu Lee’s Innovation Works.
  • Mobile online payments company Boku completed its first acquisition, after buying direct carrier billing service Qubecell in an undisclosed amount. The move allows Boku to establish a strong foothold in India and to properly look towards improving its presence in Asia and the Middle East.
  • Chinese online publisher Changyou acquired a majority 62.5% stake in Raidcall, previously owned by Kalends Inc, for $50m, which Changyou will pay in cash. Its goal is to use Raidcall, which currently has 20m registered users, to help build a global gamer platform for online and mobile games. A free communication platform handling voice, text and video, Raidcall enables users to create and organise groups for online gaming, music, karaoke and other live performances.
  • kuaidadi.com, a Hangzhou-based taxi-calling online services company, has acquired dhf100.com, a Shanghai-based peer company. Kuaidadi.com signed the acquisition agreement with dhf100.com on 22 November and the business integration is expected to be completed in early 2014. Alibaba, a major investor in Kuaidadi.com. will invest approximately $100m in the deal.
  • Kreata Global Digital Media Service, a UAE-based digital media company, has bought Flamingos Media, an India-based mobile and digital marketing company.
  • Berrybenka.com, the Indonesian fashion e-commerce company, has been acquired by Japan’s Transcosmos for $5m. Lamuda explained that Transcosmos’s presence will enable Berrybenka.com to become a leading fashion ecommerce company in Indonesia.
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Posted on November 25, 2013, in Internet weekly update and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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