Jonathan’s Internet and Digital Media Weekly – 2014-05-19

Private Financing
US

  • First Opinion has raised $1.4M in new funding from True Ventures and returning investor Felicis Ventures. This brings the total raised by the text-a-doctor service to $2.6M. Prior backers include Greylock, Yuri Milner, and 500 Startups. The iOS app, which matches users with a doctor they can text with questions, also launched a new version of its service. The iOS app, which matches users with a doctor they can text with questions, also launched a new version of its service. First Opinion allows one free consult every month. Additional ones start at $12 for a package of three sessions with the same doctor. The update makes doctors available 24-hours a day and the company says questions are usually answered within nine minutes.
  • Pinterest, the social network for “pinning” pictures, videos, and other media raised $200M in venture funding. The new money comes from previous investors: Andreessen Horowitz, Bessemer Venture Partners, Fidelity, FirstMark Capital, SV Angel, and Valiant Capital Partners. The company announced a $225M round in October at a $3.8 billion valuation. To date, Pinterest has raised $764M. The company now carries a $5 billion valuation.
  • Mountain View-based financial data startup OpenGov has raised a $15M Series B round led by Andreessen Horowitz with participation from Thrive Capital and Formation 8. OpenGov brings government financial data online, allowing for the information to be graphed, analyzed, and shared. Founded in 2012, OpenGov has around 100 clients so far and will use the latest cash raised to expand its sales team, back additional software development, and provide more customer support for clients.
  • Giphy has raised a $2.4M Series A round of funding, according to the SEC website and an official blog post announcing the round. betaworks led, with participation from Lerer Ventures, RRE Ventures, and CAA Ventures. Giphy launched out of betaworks in February of 2013 with about $1M in seed funding from the indefinable incubator-startup studio hybrid run by John Borthwick.
  • StepOne, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) seller startup, raised $4M in an A round of venture cash. LiveOak Venture Partners led the round in addition to Silverton Partners. The software data-mines consumers Internet history, buying habits for example. It then processes and stores this data. If an individual has questions directed to customer service for those using StepOne, the requisite information on their buying habits and preferences is available to the agents processing the online questions.
  • Pantheon, a startup that maintains websites for media outlets, marketers, and other companies even when web traffic goes bonkers, has raised a new $21.5M funding led by Scale Venture Partners. OpenView Venture Partners, Baseline Ventures, First Round Capital, Floodgate Fund, and Foundry Group also participated. The new money will help Pantheon expand its geographic footprint, improve the performance of its infrastructure, and add to its dashboard for making tweaks across many sites. Pantheon has raised $28.8M, including a $5M round from 2012.
  • San Francisco-based DNS security provider OpenDNS has raised a $35M Series C round from Greylock Partners, Sequoia Capital, Sutter Hill Ventures, Glynn Capital, Cisco, Evolution Equity, Lumia Capital, Mohr Davidow Ventures, and Northgate Capital. OpenDNS provides cloud-based enterprise network security to protect businesses and their users across all devices. Founded in 2005, OpenDNS has raised $53M to date and will use the new funds to hire engineers, invest in R&D, and expand to the East Coast and internationally.
  • US- and China-based venture capital firm GGV Capital announced it has closed its fifth fund worth $620M. GGV says the amount is consistent with previous funds, bringing its total capital under management to over $2.2 billion. Since its founding in 2000, GGV remains one of the few venture firms that uses a single team to across both the US and China, rather than splitting into separate entities. The firm will continue making investments of $5M to $25M into companies in internet and digital media, cloud and SaaS, and mobile sectors in the US and China.
  • YouEarnedIt, an Austin, Texas-based employee-engagement app who aims to make it easier for companies to reward and retain employees who matter, raised $1.5M in a seed round.
  • Events engine SpinGo, a database for local events, connecting people with more than 100,000 monthly events, has raised $2M in a Series A investment led by Prelude, a new Mercato Partners fund. This brings SpinGo’s total funding amount to $6M.
  • Mozio, an airport ground transportation search engine that would help travelers book that “last leg” of their trip: getting from the airport to their final destination, as raised $750,000 in seed funding from a number of strategic backers in the travel industry, including Orbitz’s Chairman of the Board and the founder of car rental agency aggregator, CarTrawler. The investor list includes the following: Gregory Turley, (Founder and Chairman at CarTrawler), Jeff Clarke (Chairman at Orbitz), HOWZAT Partners (a London VC firm whose partners are all travel industry execs at Cheapflights and Momondo.com), J.R. Johnson (founder of VirtualTourist.com and Trippy.com), Daniel Saul (Founder of Smarter Travel Media), Ross Weber (CEO of Clicktripz) and Bhanu Chopra (CEO of RateGain).
  • San Francisco-based DIY fashion startup Darby Smart has raised $6.3M in a Series A round led by Maveron with participation from Forerunner Ventures, CAA Ventures, and existing investors. Darby Smart works with top Pinterest designers to offer consumers pre-packaged kits complete with all materials and instructions for a given DIY project. Launched last year, Darby Smart has raised $7.3M to date and will use the latest cash to increase user engagement.
  • Seattle-based home service professionals marketplace Pro.com has launched with $3.5M in seed funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Madrona Ventures, Redpoint, Bezos Expeditions, Two-Sigma Ventures, and Sherpa Foundry. Pro.com aims to simplify the process of hiring home service professionals, providing homeowners with estimates for a list of home improvement tasks and a list of available contractors nearby. Launched as SeattleHomePro last year, Pro.com has rebranded, now offering real-time estimates, and plans to eventually expand its service nationwide.s
  • San Francisco-based credit card fraud prevention company Sift Science has raised an $18M Series B round led by Spark Capital with participation from Union Square Ventures, Max Levchin, and First Round Capital. Sift Science has developed a method to detect fraudulent charges as they’re happening, pairing a smart UI with machine learning. Founded in 2011 by a team of ex-Google engineers, Sift Science has raised $23.6M in total funding to date.
  • Attensity, a software that helps businesses grasp what people refer to and imply on social networks and in other bodies of text, has raised $90M in equity financing. Attensity’s technology relies on natural-language processing, a method of analyzing regular people’s text to extract meaning. An international private equity fund and a financial advisor company contributed to the new equity round. Attensity declined to identify those groups.
  • Passworks, a new platform launching in beta for brands and retailers to create, manage, and distribute marketing campaigns across Apple’s Passbook, Google Wallet and Windows Phone Wallet. Passworks has now secured a $1M seed investment from Portugal Ventures and Faber Ventures. Brands and retailers can use Passworks to distribute coupons and offers to consumers across social channels and others. Customers see a campaign on social media, add the pass to their mobile Passbook, or other mobile wallet app, to redeem later.
  • Tracour, a company building a web-based tool to track analyst rankings of stocks, has raised a $335,000 seed round of funding led by Unlimited Capital, and participated in by angel Brad Wardell. The company expects to enter a beta period in July.
  • Atlanta-based BitPay, who provides business solutions for merchants who want to accept Bitcoin – integration with shopping carts, billing systems, points-of-sale, and settling Bitcoin payment in U.S. dollars and other traditional currency, has raised $30M led by Index Ventures.
  • Instart Logic, a solution provider that helps mobile web apps run lightning fast, has raised $26M as its third round of institutional funding. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers led the round, with additional participation from existing investors Andreesen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, Sutter Hill Ventures, and Tenaya Capital., the company counts One Kings Lane, Volcom, Washington Post, Wine.com, and Omni Hotels among its customers. Instart Logic is based in Mountain View, Calif., and was founded in 2010 by Raghu Venkat, Hariharan Kolam, and Manav Mital. The company has raised a total of $52M to date.
  • BodeTree, an online service aimed at helping small business owners better understand their finances, has closed on $2M in Series A funding, led by its seed round investor Denver-based Greenline Ventures with participation from other, undisclosed angels. CEO Christopher Myers says the company did a soft close, as they may allow for some strategic investors to join in a “tag-along round” closing in July. BodeTree has raised $5M to date.
  • Campbell, CA-based electric vehicle charging startup ChargePoint has raised $22.6M in a new round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers with participation from existing investors Braemar Energy Ventures, Rho Ventures, and BMW. ChargePoint sells EV charging stations to businesses for public locations like parking lots or apartment buildings, and also provides network cloud services for charging stations made by other companies. Founded in 2007, ChargePoint now has over 17,000 charging stations across North America, Europe, and Australia, and plans to use the new funds to expand its sales force and move into residential areas.
  • San Francisco-based business planning and execution software provider Anaplan has raised $100M in a Series D round led by DFJ with participation from Brookside Capital, Coatue Management, and Sands Capital Management along with current investors Granite Ventures, Meritech Capital and Shasta Ventures. Anaplan delivers a cloud-based planning app for sales, operations, and finance, and is just announcing the launch of Anaplan Hub, a marketplace where customers can find and share pre-designed planning models. Founded in 2006, Anaplan has raised $150M in total funding to date.
  • U.S. edtech startup LearnSprout has taken in more funding — announcing a $4.2M round which it actually closed last August. Investors in the new round are prior investor Formation 8, Samsung Ventures and former Blackboard president, Justin Tan (who also sits on its advisory board). Its total funding to date stands at $4.7M.
  • BlazeMeter, which provides the JMeter-based performance testing cloud, has secured $6.5M in a series A financing round led by YL Ventures, a previous investor, with Glilot Capital Partners. It partners with New Relic and Acquia but competes with compete with Soasta and HP. The cash will be used to develop BlazeMeter’s mobile testing platform and build on its position in mobile testing market for application performance. They will also put in an SF base. BlazeMeter says it has supported 500,000 tests, conducted over 50,000 users since its launch, helping out mobile app developers.
  • El Segundo, CA-based rewards site Swagbucks has raised $60M in its first round of funding from Technology Crossover Ventures. Swagbucks lets members earn gift cards and other rewards by using the site to search and shop for products, answer surveys, or play games. Founded in 2008, Swagbucks has been profitable since 2010 but will use the new cash to invest in mobile, product development, and expansion into international markets.
  • New York-based therapy startup Talkspace has raised $2.5M in seed funding from Spark Capital and Softbank. Talkspace in an on-demand counseling service that allows users to send an unlimited number of messages to a qualified therapist for a set fee. Founded in 2012, Talkspace currently sees 50,000 users on its online platform and iOS app and is looking to grow demand in the U.S. and Asian-language markets in the next two years.
  • New York-based video creation platform Wochit has raised $11.2M in new funding led by Marker LLC with participation from previous investors Cedar Fund, Greycroft Partners, and Redpoint Ventures. Wochit allows companies to quickly respond to breaking news by producing videos from customizable templates and relevant online content found with its natural language search function. Founded in 2012, Wochit has raised $16M to date and will use the new round to grow its sales and business development efforts.

EMEA

  • French startup Contract Live raised $1.4M from Ingenico founders, Jean-Marc Tassetto, Arnaud Vaissié, Bruno Deschamps and more. Contract Live lets you manage and sign your contracts in a webmail interface. The company has a 7 percent week-over-week growth rate with its existing clients. Many clients probably just start with one type of contracts before moving their entire business to Contract Live. The startup can manage contracts with suppliers, clients, HR, partners and more.
  • French startup PeopleDoc, a software which allows paperless management of all your HR documents, raised a $17.5M round led by Accel Partners. Existing investors Alven Capital and Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet’s Kernel Investissements also participated. PeopleDoc Signature is built on top of DocuSign,
  • Wheretoget, a community of dedicated fashion enthusiasts, raised $2M (€1.4M) from Alven Capital, Fabrice Grinda, Emmanuel Brunet and other angels. The company now gets 2.2M unique visitors per month.
  • UK-based Satago, which officially launched at TechCrunch Disrupt Europe in Berlin last year, has secured a $1M second round funding to expand its automated credit control business. The startup previously raised $48,500 (£30,000) from 61 investors in 15 days through the crowdfunding platform Seedrs. Interestingly for a UK-based startup, most of the investment round came via AngelList, which connects Angel investors to startups. The main investors were E-merge in Belgium; BDMI (the VC arm of Bertelsmann – the big German publishing group); Edward Wray (Betfair founder); and William Reeve (LOVEFiLM co-founder). Satago automates credit control, enabling small businesses and freelancers to get paid on time. They simply link their accounting software to Satago, and the platform anonymously reports when they get paid by their clients to all those who share that payments date data. Everything happens automatically.
  • French startup Bunkr raised $1.4M (€1M) from Idinvest Partners, Deezer co-founder Daniel Marhely and Free founder Xavier Niel. The service now has 50,000 registered users and 1,000 paid clients. A year ago, the service was much less usable than it is.
  • Earlybird has announced three investments: video app Flipps, job site Tjobs and real estate portal Metrekare. Flipps was actually confirmed at the end of April, is for $2.4M and also had participation from the likes of Tim Draper and Hasan Alanoba. Tjobs and Metrekare, meanwhile, are each “seven figure sums”. Metrekare, pursuing an opportunity in a market that hasn’t really been touched by other big players, is applying a data-driven approach to housing search and sales in a country that has had its housing market ups and downs. That has possibly kept others away and could end up working to its advantage (remember that Google really came into its own during a dot-com “bust”). Flipps, whose reach can currently expand up to 250M connected TVs in use, is compatible with some 5,000 manufacturer models. It says it has already picked up 10M users to date.
  • Germany’s Auxmoney,  a peer-to-peer marketplace for lending money, has closed a $16M Series B funding round, led by Foundation Capital. Partech Ventures and Scott Bommer also participated, alongside existing backers Index Ventures and Union Square Ventures. The latter two invested $13M in the company last year — so Auxmoney’s total funding to date stands at around $29M. In Germany it competes with the likes of Smava. While it shares an investor (Union Square Ventures) with the U.S. focused Lending Club.

Asia

  • Tokyo-based Gree Ventures announced the initial closing of its second fund, valued at 5 billion yen (approximately $50M). The fund, dubbed AT-I Investment Limited Partnership, has attracted key regional investors including parent company Gree, SME Support Japan, Credit Saison, Ateam, and Mizuho Capital. A second closing will be announced this summer as Gree Ventures continues fundraising. As with previous investments, the firm will take a broad approach that excludes gaming. The fund will be allocated to series A investments ranging from roughly $1M to $3M per company.
  • Tokyo-based startup BASE, a company that aims to help users to create an ecommerce website within 30 seconds has raised $3M from Global Brain. Founded in December 2012 by Yuta Tsuruoka and Kazuma Ieiri, BASE is similar to Shopify except that it is free. It is currently powering over 80,000 online shops in Japan. Prior to this financing round, BASE has previously raised $2.73M from PartyFactory, CyberAgent Ventures, Suneight, and East Ventures. The BASE team currently has 18 members.
  • WeComics, a user-created comics shareable over social media, has raised $1.5M in funding. The Chinese startup has adapted WeComics for its home market by allowing sharing via Sina Weibo, WeChat messaging, or WeChat Moments. Users first create their comic-ified avatar, and then can choose one of many preset scenarios that have a comedy caption, and optionally change the caption or add in more comedy gold with some speech bubbles.
  • Monk’s Hill Ventures, a new VC fund who wants to help close the mentoring and post-seed stage VC funding gap for startups in Asia, has just raised a $100M SGD (about $80M) fund that will provide early-stage funding and guidance from experienced entrepreneurs, including founders of Match.com, Zalora and Bubbly, to Asian startups that want to expand globally. The new firm currently has offices in Singapore and Jakarta. Monk’s Hill Ventures will provide portfolio companies with early stage and Series A and B funding and also support startups from other parts of the world that want to expand into Asia.
  • Shakr is attempting to help small business owners – especially ones such as real estate agents, restaurant owners, and car dealers – to make a video-based ad campaign using its marketplace for high-quality video themes and clips. As well as the themes available for sale, Shakr has an easy-to-use video creator so that an ad can be spliced together. The Seoul and San Francisco-based startup announced that it has secured its latest funding round from POSCO Venture Capital. There are no financial details pertaining to the latest funding round, but Shakr now has a total of $3M in funds that will enable the team to expand the business serving other industries.
  • Shanghai-based digital marketing company AdSame has raised a Series C round of $30M led by Pacific Venture Partners and Dream Capital Group with participation from existing investors Matrix Partners and Vertex Ventures. AdSame provides intelligent digital marketing services such as online media planning, campaign management, and performance monitoring and optimization. Founded in 2009, AdSame has over 400 employees globally and plans to IPO in the U.S. market in 2015.
  • ESTmob, the Seoul-based team behind file-sharing app Send Anywhere (which we reviewed about a week ago) revealed it has completed a $1M seed round led by Rakuten Ventures. Send Anywhere delivers a basic, somewhat mundane utility to device owners. After one downloads the app, a user selects a file he or she would like to send, and is then given a six-digit code (or a QR code). That code is then shared with the intended recipient, who then inputs it into the app on his own device. Send Anywhere has accumulated over 200,000 “monthly active devices” that use its app, of which Kang estimates 65 percent make up its monthly active userbase. The team hopes to pass the 1M monthly active user benchmark by the end of the year.


Mergers & Acquisitions
US

  • Quest Visual, the maker of an app which translates the wording on signs captured with your smartphone’s camera automatically, has been acquired by Google. With the acquisition, Google gets Quest Visual’s tech, which it will incorporate into Google Translate in the future.
  • Facebook has acquir-hired the founders of Switchcam, a startup that specialized in video sharing. The founders Chris Hartley and Bret Welch both now list Facebook as their employer, and Switchcam has been shut down. Switchcam was part of the February 2012 500 Startups class, and the San Francisco-based company went on to raise $1.2M from Mark Cuban, 500 Startups, Turner Media Camp and more that summer. Over the years, Switchcam worked with music festival Lollapalooza, PBS, and Anheuser Busch.
  • Data giant Acxiom acquired LiveRamp for $310M. The acquisition brings LiveRamp’s “data funneling” capabilities to Acxiom customers.
  • Yahoo is buying an ephemeral mobile messaging app Blink. The company behind Blink, Meh Labs, will discontinue the app for Android and iOS devices. Yahoo did not announce plans for Blink’s technology or its developers. The Blink app has been installed 10,000-50,000 times, according to Google Play Store statistics.
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Posted on May 20, 2014, in Internet weekly update and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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