Jonathan’s Internet and Digital Media Weekly – 2013-12-02

Private Financing
US

  • Wire Labs, a company founded by ex-Amazon engineers Piragash Velummylum and Jordan Timmermann, has raised $1.8 million in seed funding for their new mobile messaging application called “Wire.” The app, currently in a private beta release, is targeting the teen audience with photo and video messaging features and promise of real-time feedback. Investors in the round include Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital, Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff, former Expedia CEO Erik Blachford, former Facebook COO Owen Van Natta, former Facebook general counsel Rudy Gadre, Mike Slade from Second Avenue Partners, Microsoft M&A veterans Bruce Jaffe, Hank Vigil & Fritz Lanman, Decide.com founder Brian Ma, Origin Venture’s Brent Hill, Senator LP executives, and 16 current and former Amazon executives, including former CIO Rick Dalzell.
  • New York City-based technology studio, betaworks, home to Digg, Instapaper, Dots, Bitly, Chartbeat, and many other products and services, is raising $20 million in new capital. The company is raising $10 million in fresh capital, while the other $10 million was from a note. In terms of the new capital, the company has closed on $4.25 million out of this larger round, which includes both old and new investors. There are several high profile new investors including Tumblr’s David Karp, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Jerry Yang (Yahoo), Ev Williams (Twitter), Abdur Chowdhury (Summize founder), Dave Morin (Path), and Gerry Laybourne, Nickelodeon founder, among others.
  • FlatClub, a sort of Airbnb for top university students and their alumni, raised $1.5million from a network of Angels including Jeremy Coller of Coller Capital, Professor Eli Talmor of London Business School and David Wolfe of BrandJourney and InterCapital. The investment will enable FlatClub, which was established by former London Business School graduates Nitzan Yudan and Tomer Kalish, to increase the number of listings from 10,000 to 30,000 rooms and apartments available for short stays within 12 months, launching a new technology platform to further expand its presence across Europe and the USA.
  • DraftKings, a company which holds cash-prize fantasy game competitions in baseball, football, basketball, and hockey, has raised $24 million led by Redpoint Ventures with participation by GGV Capital, Atlas Venture, and BDS Ventures.
  • Freshdesk, the California-based online help-desk software solution company, has received a C series investment of USD 6.99m from its existing investors, Tiger Global and Accel Partners. The funds will be used by the company for further expansion in the market in the US as well as sales and marketing activities.

EMEA

  • PingTune (formerly named Tuneit), an iPhone app which lets users search for music from sources like YouTube and SoundCloud, then simply message friends with that track, raised £1m ($1.6m) seed investment from Rupert Hambro (former Chairman of Hambros Bank, currently Chairman of JO Hambro) and Dominic Perks (serial entrepreneur and active investor).
  • Social planning app WePopp raised a small round of €130,000 from a number of France-based angel investors.
  • Munich-based multimodal journey planner startup, fromAtoB – which operates under the rather less catchy name of VerkehrsmittelVergleich.de in its home market of Germany – has closed a seven-figure Series A expansion round  from French VC firm Seventure Partners and Daniel Wild, CEO of Ecommerce Alliance and Tiburon. Prior to this expansion round, the company raised a six-figure seed back in 2009 from four business angels, including Dr. Florian Heinemann, ex MD of Rocket Internet, now MD of Project-A; along with the aforementioned Wild. It also gained a subsidy from the German state to get the business off the ground.
  • London-based startup Wedo, an online furniture e-commerce store, has closed a £3 million funding round led by MMC Ventures, with participation from existing seed backers Passion Capital and a number of unnamed private equity investors. Wedo is on track to do £4m in revenue this year.
  • London-based Supersolid, a mobile game studio, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Index Ventures alongside Initial Capital through a deal led by partner Ben Holmes. The capital it has secured from its two new venture capital backers will be put to work expanding its team based in the capital and growing the distribution of its games worldwide.
  • Addwish, a Danish startup offering online wish-list services for consumers and online businesses has closed $1.8 million in seed funding from Nordic-based early stage VC firm Sunstone Capital.
  • Extreme Reality, an Israeli startup that provides 3D motion analysis for use with standard 2D cameras, has raised a new $10 million Series D round from existing investor Marker LLC and one of its client partners, bringing the total funding for the company to $24 million. Extreme Reality’s tech is currently used in a number of mobile titles, including SEGA’s GO DANCE, which is essentially a Just Dance type of game that works on the iPad and iPhone instead of requiring something as advanced as the Microsoft Kinect
  • MetaPack, a London-based provider of delivery management technology, is picking up a round of £20 million ($33 million). The funds will be used to take MetaPack international, with acquisitions a key focus.

Asia

  • CoinJar, a startup that launched a bitcoin wallet with 10,000 registered users in Australia, has secured a A$500,000 ($455,000) seed round led by Australian venture capital firm Blackbird Ventures, which put in $228,000. Angel investors have also participated in the round, and they include entrepreneur Torsten Hoffman, RetailMeNot founders Guy King and Bevan Clark, game developer Rob Murray, and technology investor Chris Hitchen.
  • TalkingData, a Chinese mobile data analysis service, announced today more than $10 million in Series A funding from North Light Venture Capital. Founded in September 2011, the company released its first product in May 2012. Now its offerings include app analytics, mobile game analytics, mobile campaigns and analytics for enterprises.
  • Cybercellar.com, the South African e-retailer of wines and related products, has sold a 24% stake to local venture capital house Silvertree Capital. Silvertree Capital has been granted an option to acquire an additional 15% stake if Cybercellar.com should need more growth capital in the future. Cybercellar.com, established in 1998, was the first online retailer of South African wines and is now one of the only two original Internet retailers still in business.
  • IaaS startup Ucloud announced $10 million of Series A financing led by DCM and Bertelsmann, the largest capital injection in this sector so far. The fund is now in place. The investment will be poured in R&D, marketing and procurement of hardware, such as servers.
  • Restaurant finder and booking service Retty has cooked up yet another major round of funding to help it grow. According to The Bridge, Retty’s series B funding is worth $3.2 million. The series B money comes from Itochu Ventures, Mizuho Capital, and other undisclosed investors. Retty’s first big funding round came in October 2012, which involved $1.2 million from GREE Ventures, NTT Investment Partners, and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital.
  • Chinese online food ordering site Ele.me announced that it has raised $25 million in Series C funding, led by Sequoia China and joined by existing investors GSR Ventures and Matrix Partners China. The service has had 20,000 partner restaurants in 12 Chinese cities. In 2012 the total sales through Ele.me was RMB 600m (a little less than $100m), out of which the fees the company received was about RMB 10m (about $1.6m). Ele.me raised Series A from GSR Ventures in early 2011 and Series B from GSR and Matrix Partners China in early 2013. The company has over 200 employees.
  • Singapore-based 8villages has completed its $150,000 convertible note pre-Series A round from IMJ Fenox. 8villages connects farmers and agribusinesses together through its platform, allowing a more transparent flow of information within the agriculture value chain.
  • Indian mobile game developer and publisher Nazara wants to grow the gaming ecosystem in India – as well as take a slice of promising gaming startups in India by launching a seed stake fund focused on gaming. The new fund will invest $40,000 to $80,000 each time in exchange for a negotiable stage in the gaming startup. The fund’s total size is Rs 5 crore, which is $800,000. Nazara’s fund looks to invest into six to eight teams during the course of 2014.
  • Wildfire, a Singapore and China-based social media marketing company, has raised $2 million from Singapore’s Hera Capital, a private equity firm. Founded in Singapore in 2009 but focusing largely on the Chinese market, Wildfire uses big data analytics to provide Fortune 500 companies with tools to gain insight on consumers, manage social media crises, shape the outcome of social media conversations, and convert online conversations into real purchases.
  • Kingsoft (HKG:3888) has secured a fresh round of funding worth $50m from Morningside Capital, GGV Capital, and Shunwei China Internet Fund and will open an office in Palo Alto, California, to boost its marketing and partnerships in the US .

Mergers & Acquisitions
US

  • Live music giant Live Nation has acquired Meexo, a startup that first launched at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference in 2011. The financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed. Meexo’s two co-founders will take on new roles at Live Nation Labs, the digital-focused arm of the company, with Romain David becoming head of mobile product and Dav Yaginuma leading mobile engineering.
  • Byliner, a startup offering a new approach to monetizing long-form journalism and fiction, has acquired mobile developer Seesaw Decisions. Seesaw launched an app of the same name that allowed users to collect opinions from friends, then followed it with Everlapse, an app for creating and sharing digital flipbooks. The financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed. Seesaw’s investors include Freestyle Capital, Baseline Ventures, First Round Capital, and betaworks.

EMEA

  • German developer Fishlabs, best known for the Galaxy on Fire series, has sold up to an unnamed party. The buyout, which is yet to be officially announced, will result in no job losses at this point, though both Michael Schade and Christian Lohr (co-founders) are to depart the firm as a result. Fishlabs indulged in a round of internal restructuring back in October, when 25 employees mainly from the marketing, art, and programming departments were let go in an attempt to lower the overall running costs of the company.
  • Digital music startup 7digital has announced raising of new capital ($1.6 million), and a reverse takeover with UBC. As part of the deal, UBC is providing 7digital with a £1 million ($1.6 million) loan that can be converted into shares in UBC – which is publicly traded in London on the AIM exchange. UBC provides content for BBC as well as commercial radio stations in Great Britain and around the world. The company is publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange with stock currently priced at £6.25. The UBC reverse takeover is expected to close by April 30, 3014.
  • Songtexte.com, a online portal for song lyrics, has been acquired by listed German media group ProSiebenSat.1 Group. Financial terms were not disclosed. Songtexte.com has 2.61 million monthly unique users.
  • Footway, the Swedish shoe e-retailer and the Swedish investor Rutger Arnhult, are to acquire 32.5% of the shoe e-retailer, Brandos. Footway, together with its shareholder Rutger Arnhult, are to initially acquire 20% of Brandos from Karl-Johan Pantzar and Fredrik Juto after which they will reach 32.5% by participating in Brandos share issue worth SEK 25m (EUR 2.8m) in December. Brando is worth around SEK 75m (EUR 8.4m) including its SEK 35m (EUR 3.9m) in debts. The paper noted that Brandos has a turnover of SEK 200m (EUR 22.4m).

Asia

  • UC reportedly acquired 100% stake in iOS jailbreaking service PP Assistant in a bid to strengthen its presence in iOS platform. PP Assistant, which started as an iOS jailbreaking service, supports the download, installation and management of software, game, and ringtone for iOS-powered devices, including iPhone, iPad, and iTouch. PP Assistant’s iOS users reached 40 million with average daily app download of more than 8 million and monthly game revenue nearing RMB 40m.
  • Gamevil has announced the acquisition of Korean developer Everple. Everple’s Monster Warlord title has been downloaded more than 10 million times. It generated more than $16 million in terms of revenue, being found in the top 50 top grossing Google Play charts in over 20 countries. This enabled Everple to generate $3 million of profit in its financial year.
  • Naver, a listed South Korean internet portal operator, has acquired a 51% stake in Quicket. Quicket is a privately held South Korean mobile application developer, operating an online fleamarket.
  • Yume no Machi Souzou Iinkai [2484: JP], Japan-based internet shopping/delivery website operator, announced the acquisition of ZEN, Japan-based internet social media websites, marketing service operator for seniors. The deal size is undisclosed.
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Posted on December 2, 2013, in Internet weekly update and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Hello, just wanted to say, I loved this article. It was funny.
    Keep on posting!

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