Archive for the ‘Deals’ tag
Pink mustaches attracted a whopping $60 million today as Lyft closed a funding round to fuel growth. It seems like mustaches, like ride-sharing, is a trend that is here to stay. I bet a lot of fist bumps were happening in Lyft’s offices today as they continue spreading the dogma of the ‘stache across the country. I may try to grow one myself.
Lyft team gets $60M more; now it must prove ride-sharing can go global
Ride-sharing startup Lyft has closed a $60 million funding round led by venture firm Andreessen Horowitz, the company announced on its blog. The startup with the tagline, “your friend with a car,” has developed an iPhone and Android app that lets you order a ride from a stranger in a matter of minutes. Lyft has seen some impressive traction since it launched. The company announced today that it is now facilitating 30,000 rides each week. For this reason, it’s attracted significant attention from investors; Lyft today confirmed that the $15 million fundraise led by Founders Fund reported by TechCrunch in January 2013 (closed in October 2012) is accurate. Zimmer said that Lyft intends to spread across the country — and eventually across the world — by the end of next year. With the new boost in capital, it will focus on building out the team. Read more on VentureBeat.
Loyal3 helps consumers put their money where their mouth is
Loyal3 has raised $18 million to make buying stock more social and accessible for people who don’t have much experience with the stock market. In three steps, you can invest as little as $10 in well-known companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Starbucks, Disney, Google, Coca Cola, Walmart etc…DNS-L3, LLC, an entity owned by Michael and Gigi Pritzker Pucker, led this round, along with existing investors Cris Kelly (former Chief Privacy Officer of Facebook) and Barry Schneider, Loyal3′s CEO. This is the company’s third round of financing. Loyal3 is based in San Francisco. Read more on VentureBeat.
Wibidata raises $15M so small businesses can compete using Big Data
Big data is a big trend right now, and Wibidata has raised $15 million to help businesses take advantage of it. Wibidata builds and sells big data applications that companies can use to uncover consumer insights and react in real-time. This technology enables companies to gather data from a range of sources and deploy apps that incorporate content personalization, search relevance, predictive recommendations, and anomaly detection.Canaan Partners led this second round with participation from existing investors NEA and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt. This brings Wibidata’s total capital raised to $20 million. Read more on VentureBeat.
Messaging app Imo.im chats its way into $13M, updates iOS & Android apps
Multi-platform messaging service Imo.im has raised $13 million in second-round funding and updated its iOS and Android apps with a new feature called “Broadcasts.” Palo Alto, Calif.-based Imo.im offers web, iPhone, iPad, and Android apps for communicating with friends and family.Imo.im claims that its apps have been downloaded more than 7 million times and that its 750,000 unique daily visitors send 50 million messages per day. The new funding was led by Imo.im co-founder Georges Harik, who is also known for being one of Google’s first 10 employees. Read more on VentureBeat.
Slyce slices into $3.75M
Slyce, a startup that provides a “point of interest purchasing platform” has closed its seed round at $3.75 million. Slyce’s technology allows users to identify an object when they see it using visual recognition technology, as well as video and audio recognition, QR and barcode scanning, and NFC. Once an item is scanned, consumers can instantly purchase the item online or be directed to the nearest retail location. Product discovieres can be shared on social media and receive commission when a friend also buys.
SimpleRelevance raises $1M for tech that gives emails a personal touch
Impersonal, mass emails are easy to dislike and ignore, which is why SimpleRelevance has raised $1 million. Simple Relevance’s platform gathers customer data and then personalized emails to specifically target individuals. The technology looks at information like past purchase behavior and combines it with geographic, social, and demographic’ data to send highly targeted emails. SimpleRelevance recently graduated from TechStar’s Chicago’s inaugural 2013 class. Hyde Park Angels and Hyde Park Venture Partners led this round with participation from i2A Fund and additional angels. The funding will be used for recruiting and hiring, and to expand its enterprise-level solutions. Read more on VentureBeat.
Filed under: Deals
After acquiring FabKids earlier this year, JustFab announced today the acquisition of another “Fab” brand – The Fab shoes – for an undisclosed amount.
The Fab Shoes is a European-based e-commerce shoe club with over 500,000 members in France and Spain. And that fits well with JustFab’s plans. With its newest acquisition, the subscription-based online store from California adds fuel to its European expansion blueprint. It launched operations in Germany and U.K. last year, and this deal provides it a way into Spain and France.
“With our success in Germany and the U.K., we were ready to take JustFab into new territories. After getting to know the team at The Fab Shoes, we saw a natural fit for the businesses; it enables JustFab to quickly extend its European reach and gives The Fab Shoes a new way to distribute quality products to customers through our flexible subscription plan,” noted Don Ressler, a cofounder and co-chief executive of JustFab, in a statement.
JustFab has quickly grown its European presence to 1.5 million members, and it is adding more than 100,000 new customers every month. The Fab Shoes will take this toll to well over the 2 million customer mark.
Its competitors include companies such as H&M and Forever 21.
JustFab has raised $109 million in venture capital from Matrix Partners, Technology Crossover Ventures, Rho Capital Partners, and Intelligent Beauty. After accomplishing $100 million in revenue for the year, the e-commerce website is looking at 2013 as “another high-growth year.”
“We continue to surpass our goals, month after month,” said Adam Goldenberg, the other cofounder and co-chief executive, Adam of JustFab. “With more than 13 million members in the U.S. and Europe growing at such a fast pace, we are on track to reach $250 million in revenue by the end of this year.”
Image Credit: JustFab
Filed under: Deals
LoyalBlocks announced today that it had raised $9 million in its first round of funding. The loyalty marketing solutions company plans on using the capital injection to expand U.S. operations and continue developing its platform for small and medium-sized businesses.
The company was founded in 2011 by Ido Gaver and Eran Kirshenboim and is headquartered in both New York City and Tel Aviv.
LoyalBlocks has two main products that complement one another. The first is their merchant-focused loyalty marketing solution, which enables brick-and-mortar businesses to build an app, set up a base station in their store, and select rewards programs to offer customers. The second product is an app targeted at mobile phone wielding consumers. The base station set up in the business automatically sends rewards to the customer as soon as they walk in the door.
The platform also provides for Facebook integration and smart punch cards that clients can access on customers’ mobile phones. As with other services, the smart punch cards are automatically “stamped” as the customer with the LoyalBlocks app installed on their phone walks into the store.
“We have taken mobile loyalty to the next level by making it easy for merchants to give their clients more, automatically. From a business perspective, it is an incremental layer of marketing that leverages their day-to-day activities. It is a simple, innovative and effortless way of generating more business and establishing long term customer loyalty,” said Ido Gaver, the company’s co-founder and chief executive, in a press release.
General Catalyst Partners led the series A investment round, with participation from Founder Collective and previous investor Gemini Israel Ventures.
The company also announced three additions to its board of directors: General Catalyst Partners managing director Adam Valkin, Gemini Israel Ventures managing partner Yossi Sela, and mySupermarket chief executive Allon Bloch.
Photo credit: LoyalBlocks
Impersonal, mass emails are easy to dislike and ignore, which is why SimpleRelevance has raised $1 million.
SimpleRelevance’s platform gathers customer data and then personalized emails to specifically target individuals. The technology looks at information like past purchase behavior and combines it with geographic, social, and demographic’ data to send highly targeted emails. The goal is to make emails ‘smarter’ so the right message is automatically delivered at the right time, with custom subject line, content, and delivery times.
The company claims that this degree of customization can increase conversion rates by 51 percent, increase open rates by 21 percent, and increase click rates by 29 percent. It also said that companies integrating the technology into their marketing have seen revenue increases ranging from 40 to 400 percent, as well as better customer engagement.
The solutions are comparable to those provided by Sailthru, another digital marketing company that raised $19 million in February for its Smart Data platform that personalizes communications through targeted emails, onsite and in-app recommendations, and text messages.
SimpleRelevance is a newer, smaller company that recently graduated from TechStar’s Chicago’s inaugural 2013 class. Hydpe Park Angels and Hyde Park Venture Partners led this round with participation from i2A Fund and additional angels. The funding will be used for recruiting and hiring, and to expand its enterprise-level solutions.
Box went on a little shopping trip to France. Today, the file-sharing company announced that it has acquired the technology behind a mobile app called Folders.
Folders is an application developed in France by Martin Destagnol. It provides (in true French form) “the most elegant client for your cloud storage.” Using its “amazingly polished user interface,” people can manage multiple accounts like Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive; copy, move, delete, or transfer files; sort, search, and share files; and view them clearly on your smartphone.
In a blog post about the news, Box’s VP of Engineering Sam Schillace said the acquisition is all part of Box’s mission to make enterprise software “that doesn’t suck” and make Box’s applications as user-friendly as possible.
“I’m a firm believer that even applications developed primarily for the enterprise, like Box, need to be pushing the leading edge for user experience and design,” he said. “They have to be “consumer-grade” in terms of their usability, simplicity, speed and performance. When we saw Folders we saw a beautiful experience and set of design patterns that we had to bring to Box’s users.”
Earlier this month Box announced the acquisition of Crocdoc, a YC alum that turns documents into interactive, entertaining experiences. Both Folders and Crocdoc are part of Box’s effort to make enterprise products more engaging, well-designed, and fun to use. Folders will be integrated into the next version of Box’s iOS application.
Big data is a big trend right now, and Wibidata has raised $15 million to help businesses take advantage of it.
Wibidata builds and sells big data applications that companies can use to uncover consumer insights and react in real-time. Large organizations like Google, Amazon, Netflix, Yahoo, and Facebook have built their own technology that gathers data about users and delivers personalized content based on the result. Wibidata provides an option for smaller companies, without the same engineering resources, to do the same thing.
CEO and cofounder Christophe Bisciglia was one of the founders of Cloudera and cofounder Aaron Kimball created Apache Sqoop. They are data experts, and Wibidata is designed to make data more accessible to all businesses, not just those that can afford data scientists.
Basciglia said in a statement issued this morning that big data applications are “mission critical” solutions that businesses need to stay competitive. Every industry, vertical, and company has a unique set of needs, and Wibidata’s products are customizable. The company has built four, industry-specific application suites– retail, finance, mobile, and SaaS– that include data integration, analysis, and predictive modeling.
This technology enables companies to deploy apps that incorporate content personalization, search relevance, predictive recommendations, and anomaly detection. The idea is that by providing consumers with an experienced tailored, they will be more engaged.
Wibidata’s applications are based on the open source Kiji Project, which shortens development and deployment cycles, and the system is built on Apache Hadoop and HBase. Clients include Opower, Mobile Posse, and Atlassian. Canaan Partners led this round with participation from existing investors NEA and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt. According to the statement, this investment demonstrates a shift in the big data ecosystem towards “applications that deliver direct value to businesses.” This second round of financing will support recruitment and hiring, product development, and expansion.
Wibidata is based in San Francisco. It was founded in 2010 and has raised $20 million to date.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Yahoo just can’t quit buying up companies. Today, the web giant has acquired PlayerScale, a gaming platform for consoles, the web, PCs, Macs, and mobile games that serves more than 150 million players.
As we wrote in January, PlayerScale’s platform makes it much easier for game developers to integrate functions such as payment systems, multiplayer, in-game chat, data management, and networking across platforms. It was founded in 2009 and is based in Belmont, Calif.
This news comes just days after Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer (pictured) announced the $1.1 billion acquisition of blogging powerhouse Tumblr. Yahoo also has bought many small startups for their talent. Unlike many of its other smaller acquisitions, this doesn’t appear to be a straight-up acqui-hire situation, and Yahoo will not be shutting down PlayerScale’s platform. Yahoo told us in a statement:
The team has built an incredible gaming platform that is used by over 150 million players worldwide. We intend to continue to support and grow PlayerScale’s technology, and we look forward to building great new experiences on Yahoo using the PlayerScale platform.
On the PlayerScale home page, CEO Jesper Jensen said Yahoo will give his company more resources to keep growing swiftly. The platform is already adding more than 400,000 new players each day and wants to grow even faster.
“Our goal has always been to help developers build the best possible games, without having to worry about building and scaling the infrastructure required to operate today’s biggest successes,” Jensen wrote. “In working with the folks at Yahoo, it has become clear that we share this passion. … With Yahoo’s backing, we can crank out awesome products and improvements to our platform faster than ever before. We will continue to support our existing product and deliver new services to help you grow and manage your success in cross-platform gaming — whether it’s casual, social, or mobile.”
Marissa Mayer photo via Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat
Days after finalizing a $1.1 billion Tumblr acquisition, Yahoo has bought yet another company.
PlayerScale, a cross-platform game infrastructure startup that provides tools for games played by 150 million users on platforms such as iOS and Android, announced the acquisition on its site today. And — unlike recent Yahoo acquisitions like Astrid, CEO Jesper Jensen said that the company would continue to operate as it has, supporting over 2,600 developers and 4,000 games.
In fact, he added, PlayerScale is adding 400,000 users a day.
“With Yahoo’s backing, we can crank out awesome products and improvements to our platform faster than ever before,” Jensen said.
That would be a major change from recent Yahoo acquisitions such as Stamped, OnTheAir, Snip.it, Alike, Summly, Jybe, and Astrid, all of which have been shuttered or put on notice. But it makes sense, given PlayerScale’s volume of business and growth rates.
And, presumably it makes sense given Yahoo has now signaled a move into casual gaming on iOS, Android, Facebook, the web, and even Xbox.
PlayerScale’s platform helps game developers with pretty much everything they need to make their game platform work, except the game itself. It includes payments, chat, analytics, virtual currencies, distributed caching, authentication, social sign-on, leaderboards, localization, and more.
Here’s CEO Jesper Jensen’s announcement in full:
Today is a great day — both in our journey with PlayerScale and for users of our Player.IO product. We are happy to announce the next big step toward our goal of building the best possible gaming infrastructure platform: we have been acquired by Yahoo!. And don’t worry, we’re not going anywhere. Our platform will continue to support the same great games that you love playing today … and in fact, it will only get better from here!
Our goal has always been to help developers build the best possible games, without having to worry about building and scaling the infrastructure required to operate today’s biggest successes. In working with the folks at Yahoo!, it has become clear that we share this passion.
We have spent the past four years growing a three-person startup into a product that powers games played by over 150 million people worldwide and we are adding over 400,000 new users every day. In the last four months alone, we have increased our daily user growth rate by almost sixty percent. With Yahoo!’s backing, we can crank out awesome products and improvements to our platform faster than ever before. We will continue to support our existing product and deliver new services to help you grow and manage your success in cross-platform gaming — whether it’s casual, social or mobile.
Today marks a milestone for PlayerScale and I want to sincerely thank the team, our developers and millions of users for the adventure so far and can promise there will be more to come.
- Jesper Jensen
Image credit: Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat
Multi-platform messaging service Imo.im has raised $13 million in second-round funding and updated its iOS and Android apps with a new feature called “Broadcasts.”
Palo Alto, Calif.-based Imo.im offers web, iPhone, iPad, and Android apps for communicating with friends and family. The new Broadcasts feature inside iOS and Android creates a channel where Imo.im users can meet new people who have similar interests and discuss those interests. Connections to new people are auto-generated based on your interests, location, and friends. Users can also share photos directly to the Broadcasts feed.
“Social discovery is an important feature,” Imo.im CEO Ralph Harik said in a statement. “We want users to find relevant and useful information, people, news, and other content that will make their lives better. imo broadcasts is a platform to achieve that.”
Imo.im claims that its apps have been downloaded more than 7 million times and that its 750,000 unique daily visitors send 50 million messages per day.
While those numbers might sound good, the messaging landscape is incredibly competitive now. Hot messaging service MessageMe just announced that it hit 5 million registered users just 75 days after launching. And then there’s WhatsApp, the hugely popular service that claims to be processing more than 20 billion messages per day.
The new funding was led by Imo.im co-founder Georges Harik, who is also known for being one of Google’s first 10 employees.
Photo via Imo.im
Filed under: Deals
Carl Esposti is CEO of crowdsourcing advisory firm massolution.
If you think that participating in crowdfunding simply means investing in smaller companies that launch games and devices on Kickstarter, think again. With crowdfunding volumes reaching $2.7 billion in 2012, it has emerged as a viable, scalable alternative to public and private finance across the globe.
After surveying more than 350 active crowdfunding platforms, including IndieGoGo, CrowdCube, Symbid, and Gambitious (full site directory at crowdsourcing.org), and completing an in-depth analysis of market trends, research firm Massolution has identified five major crowdfunding developments for 2013 and beyond.
1. Niche platforms
As crowdfunding platforms try to benefit from market differentiation, niche-, industry-, and sector-specific platforms are emerging.
Platforms offering reward-based crowdfunding see an especially high value in serving a common niche or industry. Examples include platforms focusing on video games, recording art, performing art, real estate, food and beverage, fashion, journalism, and more.
While it’s smart for a new platform to choose a specific niche simply to differentiate its service, there is another big reason why this trend is likely to prevail—it helps build a repeated crowd on the platform. Having crowdfunders visit a platform, not just because they have been invited onto a specific campaign, but because the campaigns appeal to their tastes, is extremely valuable.
In her 2011 book, Locavesting, business and finance journalist Amy Cortese describes how “a revolution in local investing” is emerging and that crowfunding is boosting it. This year, we are going to see increased momentum in this revolution because many new crowdfunding platforms will actually specialize in locavesting.
It’s been over a year since President Obama signed the JOBS Act, but legislation is stymied in the hands of the SEC.
However, at least four states – Louisiana, North Carolina, Georgia and Kansas – have taken the initiative to allow crowdfunding for business loans. Crowdfunding platform Rebirth Financial is specializing in locavesting and offers intrastate, lending-based crowdfunding. Although Rebirth’s offerings are open to anyone within state borders, successful campaigns have so far been driven by very local support – all the way down to the customer-base level.
#3. Enterprise crowdfunding
Large enterprises and associations have begun to look into crowdfunding and how this tool carries new potential for their companies, including raising social profiles, market testing, and spin-ins of entrepreneurial ventures. The perceived benefit is not the additional funding itself, but the democratization of specific decisions that would otherwise be made internally in the company.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) represents the interests of more than 85,000 member architects across the U.S., a sector that has been hit particularly hard by the recent financial crisis. Recently, the AIA published a report examining crowdfunding’s potential as a new source of capital for residential, commercial, and industrial infrastructure projects.
Crowdfunding shows significant promise for attracting investors to smaller projects and getting them off the architect’s drawing board. In this case, crowdfunding will be used to spur community support and financing for an assortment of infrastructure ventures that would ordinarily have difficulty finding money due to their smaller size.
#4. Crowdfunding economic development
Major development banks and similar institutions — including The World Bank and The Inter-American Development Bank — are seeking to leverage crowdfunding for economic development. Crowdfunding’s social profile and its strong connection to micro-finance are the main drivers.
Crowdfunding has historically been embraced by philanthropic ventures, especially for donation-based crowdfunding and interest-free lending. The models naturally merge with micro-finance because the funding needs are very small, and individual donations or loans are likely triggers of funding success. The next step for crowdfunding in this particular space is the evolution and scaling up to economic development at the macro level.
The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) of the Inter-American Development Bank is currently exploring the potential of crowdfunding in Latin America, and how crowdfunding can be used to improve small businesses and bring financing to entrepreneurs who have less access to it. In Latin America, crowdfunding is just gathering momentum with about 40 online platforms, including Crowdfunder.mx and Idea.me, established over the last couple of years.
Platforms in the areas of solar energy, education, and urban development are expected to be the most promising in this region.
5. LIVE crowdfunding
The final trend that we see emerging in the crowdfunding space are launch-party events at the initiation of campaigns or LIVE crowdfunding expos. Besides creating media attention and offering a great marketing opportunity, LIVE Crowdfunding taps into an investor need that is hard to come by through the web: exclusivity.
Exclusivity in access to new products or deal flow can be a triggering factor in itself, and LIVE crowdfunding augments online crowdfunding with exactly that.
This October, the CrowdfundingRoadmap is hosting its second Global Crowdfunding Convention and Bootcamp, this year with its first ever LIVE Crowdfunding Expo, where anyone will be able to participate in donations- and rewards-based crowdfunding campaigns right on the spot.
All attendees will need to do is simply walk up to the booth!
In addition, if entrepreneurs are unable to attend the event or are launching their projects after October, CrowdfundingRoadmap is offering them the opportunity to showcase their crowdfunding pitch videos on the big screen at the expo, with a designated QR code, to help them get in front of potential investors and industry influencers.
Crowdfunding represents a breakthrough in how businesses and local projects are funded and disrupts centuries-old financial flows. While 2012 was the year of acceleration for the crowdfunding markets, these new developments above will fuel its growth for years to come.
Image credit: Shutterstock/Hands with dollars