Reports suggest Yahoo will invest $20 million in Snapchat, as a part of a financing round that would give the ephemeral messaging app a $10 billion valuation. If it does, it would be joined by among others Kleiner Perkins, who agreed to commit $20 million to the round in May. But how will these investment fit into cash-rich Yahoo’s post Alibaba plans?
The move could be viewed as a new iteration of Yahoo’s decision to invest in Alibaba in 2005, when the Chinese e-commerce giant was still just a promising upstart. While it is true that the cash would come from Yahoo’s $5 billion windfall from the Alibaba IPO, the deals are in fact substantially different. When Yahoo acquired its stake in Alibaba, it did so for $1 billion, fifty times more than what it would spend to purchase equity in Snapchat. Since then, Yahoo has seen its initial financial commitment in Alibaba grow a staggering 51x. For Yahoo’s proposed Snapchat investment to experience the same multiple increase, it would need to see Snapchat valued at $501 billion, a valuation over 30% higher than Google’s current market cap. Even in this highly unlikely event, Yahoo’s share would be worth just $1 billion, a long way from the $36 billion value of its stake in the pre-IPO Alibaba.
Snapchat has already achieved a multi-billion dollar valuation without generating any significant revenues, let alone a profit. While the company does plan to unveil disappearing advertisements and news articles this month, investors are certainly putting a lot of faith in Snapchat’s ability to capitalize on its over 100 million users. Yahoo is likely looking to Facebook as precedent. At three years old, Snapchat is the same age that Facebook was when it received a one-quarter billion dollar investment from Microsoft. At that point it was valued at $15 billion. Facebook’s current market cap is $202 billion.
The rumors come during a turbulent time for Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. Last week, the New York-based activist hedge fund Starboard Value, led by CEO Jeffrey Smith, bought shares in Yahoo in order to call for either a dissolution of the company or a merger with AOL. Starboard has previously initiated the corporate restructuring of Office Depot, Inc. and TriQuint Semiconductor, Inc. Mayer, meanwhile, became the CEO after Daniel Loeb and Third Point LLC purchased a 5.2% stake in the company in 2011 and called for the ouster of former CEO Scott Thompson.
After Bloomberg first reported the Snapchat deal was close on October 3, Yahoo shares rose 1.3% to $41.03 by the close that day. Since then the stock has reached as low as $40.33, but now stands at $41.22 as of 2:30 pm in New York.
Investors would most likely want to see the money from the Alibaba deal returned to them rather than invested in perceived risks such as Snapchat. However, they will be kept happy if Snapchat does manage to monetize its huge number of users – as long as nobody expects the kind of return Alibaba delivered.
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Customer data hub Segment has secured a $15 million Series A round led by Accel Partners, with participation from e.ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The company will use the new funds to integrate new tools for transmitting data into its platform, which allows developers to collect, translate and route customer data for easy integration with third party apps. “Customer data is an essential asset for companies to build better products,” said Peter Reinhardt, CEO and co-founder of Segment. “Unfortunately, businesses waste a huge amount of time extracting this customer data from various silos and pushing it out to their third-party analytics, marketing and product tools. With Segment, companies can collect customer data through a single hub, then flip a switch to translate and route the data wherever they need it.”
Thync, which creates wearable electronics inspired by neuroscience, has raised $13 million in Series A funding from Khosla Ventures. Thync’s technology attempts to shift and optimize user’s states of mind, using neurosignaling algorithms. The company’s first product is set to be released next year. “We share Thync’s belief that unlocking the power of the mind will be a great advancement and a frontier that consumers should have access to,” said Samir Kaul, Partner, Khosla Ventures. “We back the talented team at Thync because we see a revolutionary convergence at the intersection of neuroscience and consumer sales of products and services related to inducing energy and relaxed states exceed $400 billion per year globally.
Lead generation company LeadGenius has raised $6 million in Series A funding, in a round led by Sierra Ventures. Kapor Captial, FunderClub, Fuel Capital, Bee Partners, Scrum Ventures CRCM, 500 Startups and a number of other angle investors also participated. The company has now raised $8.2 million to date and will use the funds to grow its customer base and build out its product, which uses big data analytics to provide more valuable leads to sales organizations. “LeadGenius’ DNA is built around big data, crowd computing, and an interest in providing jobs to underserved communities around the world. Our technology uses crowdsourced labor to verify lead data at scale and discover relationships between potential buyers and sellers. That’s our secret sauce,” said Prayag Narula, CTO, LeadGenius.
OYO Sports, which makes toys similar to Lego with the aim of increasing engagement between fans and professional sports teams, has secured $14.1 million in funding in a combined Series A and seed round. Mandalay Sports Media led the round. The company designs and manufactures figurines of famous sports personalities.
Blockchain, a bitcoin wallet company, has raised $30 million in a Series A round of funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Wicklow Capital. Mosaic Ventures, Richard Branson, Prudence Holdings, Future Perfect Ventures and angel investors also participated. Blockchain currently boasts 2.3 million accounts and this round marks its first funding. “We searched long and hard for the right investors to bring onto the team to help us scale, to advise us, and work with us to bring bitcoin to the next 20 million people,” the company’s founders said in a blog post.
Recruiting platform Jobvite has closed a $25 million Series D funding round, led by Catalyst Investors. Existing investors CMEA, ATA ventures and Trident Capital all participated. The company has now raised a total of $55 million and will use the latest funds to increase the offerings on its platform. “We see Jobvite as transformative and innovative, serving fast-growing companies and enterprises alike in recruiting the best employees,” said Ryan McNally, partner and co-founder of Catalyst Investors. “We are confident that with additional capital and resources, Jobvite will continue to lead the industry in providing best-of-breed recruiting solutions.”
SolidFire, an all-flash storage systems provider, has secured an $82 million Series D funding round led by Greenspring Associates. Current investors NEA, Novak Biddle, Samsung Ventures and Valhalla Partners all participated in the round, which brought SolidFire’s total funding to $150 million. The company will use the latest funds to extend global reach and advance its architecture. “Additional funding allows us to continue to extend SolidFire’s technical advantages over the competition and will deepen our sales, marketing and channel enablement to meet the growing global demand for SolidFire’s leading all-flash storage architecture,” said SolidFire’s Founder and CEO Dave Wright.
E-signature technology startup DocuSign, a former Red Herring Top 100 winner, has raised an extra $30 million in Series E funding from Recruit Holdings, NTT Finance, Mitsui and MKI. The company’s Series E round now totals $115 million. All of the new investors are Japanese companies, and DocuSign will use the latest funds to expand into that country. The company replaced the signature usually used in its digital document signing offering with a hanko, a stamp Japanese business people use to sign documents. DocuSign was founded in 2003 and has raised a total of $230 million to date. “DocuSign is the recognized global standard for Digital Transaction Management empowering the world to keep business digital,” said Masaki Saito, President and CEO, Mitsui Knowledge Industry Co., Ltd (MKI). “MKI is pleased to join the DocuSign Global Trust Network and promote DTM to our partners and customers.”
London technology firms have attracted a record $1 billion of venture capital in the first nine months of 2014, outstripping last year’s entire total, $719.3 million, by over 30%.
The figure represents a tenfold increase on investments made in 2010, as the European economy continues to bounce back from the 2008 global financial crisis. It has been boosted by a number of high-profile seed rounds and exits, cementing London’s status as a top incubator of tech talent.
“These figures show, without any question, that this is an incredible period for technology firms in our city,” said London Mayor Boris Johnson. “Tech is blossoming and our reputation for innovation and discovery, allied with outstanding talent, is attracting record breaking levels of investment from around the globe.”
Some of the more startling funding rounds have been achieved by takeaway.com and farfetch.com, whose investments both exceeded $50 million. Food ordering service Just Eat, real estate site Zoopla and Candy Crush maker King Digital all floated for large figures.
Since those listings, King has come under intense criticism for its inability to diversify profits beyond its marquee title. The company has seen 20% of its share price wiped since its March IPO.
And Just Eat, which was originally founded in Denmark, was valued at $2.4 billion – or 200 times its pre-tax profit of $14 million – prompting predictions of another costly tech bubble.
However, 2014 has seen the arrival of a number of top-ranking VCs in the British capital, including Google Ventures and Santander joining lthe likes of Balderton, which has been in London for 14 years. “We’ve been working with many of the companies raising capital and growing today for years,” said James Wise, early-stage tech investor at Balderton. “We’ve seen the London community becoming better at sharing knowledge and attracting talent from across Europe, and growth in funding is coming as a result and recognition of those many years of effort.
“Of course it’s important that funding continues to come as a result of growth in the number of innovative businesses, rather than just hype about London being a great scene for tech start-ups,” he added. “So the rise in funding and importantly how it is spent by businesses is something that we are watching closely.
“It’s been an exciting quarter, but nothing has been dramatically different to any other. It’s the result of many years of hard work and change.”
A recent report by Startup Genome, an analyst, named London as the world’s 7th-best city in which to found a tech startup, and first in Europe. According to technology magazine Wired it ranks narrowly ahead of Moscow and Berlin as the continent’s most attractive startup zone.
“The raising of $1 billion capital in the first nine months of 2014 only goes to confirm that London is maturing into a globally competitive technology hub,” said Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, a group which aims to marry startups with investment.
“London is attracting investment due to the strength of innovation in the capital,” he added. “From wearables and healthtech to fintech and adtech, London’s melting pot of digital innovation and creativity is creating world beating companies.
“And with the likes of Google Ventures’, Santander and Bauer Media arrival in London earlier this year, we look forward to further investment throughout the rest of the year and into 2015.”
*Article was amended on 08/10/14 to state Balderton has been operational in London for 14 years.
Data analytics company Alteryx has secured a $60 million Series B investment round led by Insight Venture Partners. Existing investors SAP Ventures and Toba Capital also participated. The latest round puts the company’s total funding to date at $78 million, and Alteryx will use the funds for research and development and global sales and marketing. “Empowering analysts to use all the data available to them, while also making it easy for data analysts to produce advanced analytics is enabling Alteryx to expand its total addressable market through increased user adoption and greater demand for its product,” said Jeff Horing, managing partner at Insight Venture Partners.
Beepi, a peer-to-peer marketplace for buying and selling cars, has raised a $60 million Series B round from new investors Foundation Capital and Sherpa Ventures, existing investors Redpoint Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank and individual investors. The marketplace currently only operates in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, but will use the new funding to expand across the U.S. “Beepi is transforming the antiquated car industry. This investment will help us to continue to make significant strides to change how Americans are buying and selling cars, the most expensive purchase many people are making,” said Ale Resnik, CEO and co-founder of Beepi. “The past six months have shown us that there is a real demand to buy and sell cars 100% online and we’re excited for the next stage of growth for the company.”
Zoomdata, which develops a big data exploration, visualization and analytics platform, has raised a $17 million Series B funding round, led by Accel Partners. Investors NEA, Columbus Nova Technology Partners, Razor’s Edge Ventures and B7 also participated in the round. Zoomdata will use the funds to expand its sales and marketing teams and accelerate product development. “With the rapid adoption of modern Hadoop, NoSQL and Spark datastores, we saw an opportunity to disrupt the legacy market for enterprise and embedded reporting, dashboarding, and analytics with a powerful visual platform designed for the business user,” said Justin Langseth, founder and CEO of Zoomdata.
InfusionSoft, a sales and marketing software for small businesses, has closed a $55 million Series D funding round led by Bain Capital Ventures with participation from previous backers Signal Peak Ventures and Goldman Sachs. The company has now raised a total of $125 million over four rounds. “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the US and the global economy. Yet many small businesses lack an integrated sales and marketing system to help them grow and succeed. Infusionsoft has been providing software, services, education and a community designed to enable small business success for the last 10 years,” said Clate Mask, co-founder and CEO of Infusionsoft.
Leipzig is Germany’s boomtown. The population is up by 12,000 a year, big industry is returning en masse and an exciting creative scene has granted it, in some quarters, the moniker of ‘The New Berlin’. Others, reeling, prefer to call it ‘Hypezig’.
But beneath the shabby-chic cafes, rebuilt city centre and factories-cum-art-galleries, Leipzig is building itself as an entrepreneurial hotbed. A generation of digital startups have sprouted among the art crowds, and calls are growing for the city’s authorities to pump more cash into an already-promising scene.
Michal Jirasek, a Slovakian who set up shop in the city ten years ago, runs FounderScope, an incubator for local tech firms. He’s ebullient about Leipzig’s prospects, as low rents and an increasing cool draw more from Germany’s bigger cities; mainly from the west. His own office, a sprawling, exposed-brick loft in a disused cotton factory, would cost millions in Manhattan. In Leipzig it sets him and his crew back €400 ($500) a month, all-in.
Jirasek points to the breakthrough successes of local SMEs like e-commerce company TowerByte Leipzig, and text miners TextTech, as proof the city is pulling itself from a past wedged between Allied bombs and socialist poverty. City Hall agrees: Mayor Burkhard Jung, credited with bringing boom times back to Leipzig, stresses the importance of innovation: “The most important thing is to get the companies, entrepreneurs, to strengthen startups, the jobs.”
But infrastructure is still evolving in Leipzig. Transport and web networks often founder, 25 years on from the fall of the Berlin Wall. When Jirasek hosted a recent Startup Weekend he had to move sites because the Internet failed. Another recent hackathon attracted just €400 ($500) of investment from the local authorities. “It’s not a lot,” he says. “But for us it was still important.”
One area Jirasek is excited about, is education. Leipzig University, which was founded in 1409 and was where Goethe, Tyco Brahe and current German chancellor Angela Merkel once studied, has seen a modern renaissance: 47,000 students are now enrolled from 12,000 in 1989, when Leipzig was still a part of the German Democratic Republic (DDR).
At the heart of the university’s progress are its biotechnology courses, which have spawned a number of exciting startups. Last month ImaginAb, a leading-edge antibody imaging firm, signed a deal with Leipzig’s Novotectid to research imaging together in Germany and California.
Leipzig University rector Beata Schücking sees biotech as the core in its development over the next few years. “As a member of German U15 – the large research universities – we want to become European top-level university,” she says. “Therefore we have built up strategic alliances with partner universities.
“A first success of these efforts was to establish the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity at Leipzig, a research centre funded by the German Research Foundation with three universities involved,” adds Schücking. Leipzig University’s efforts have been matched by HTWK – Leipzig University of Applied Sciences – which since German reunification has risen to become one of the country’s largest and best-such institutions.
“It really is the best of its kind for a long way,” says Jirasek, beside the table football set at his office. “Let’s hope we can stop everyone going to Berlin.” Leipzig may have one of the world’s startup capitals just a two-hour drive northwest. But the former industrial city is proving to be a worthy neighbour in the digital field – and looks set to continue that way.
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Windows 8 to Windows 10
Microsoft announced the successor to Windows 8 this week – Windows 10. Given Microsoft previously followed up the Xbox 360 with the XBox One, perhaps the oddly numbered product launch shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.
Neither should Microsoft’s attempt to win back the enterprise customers it once alienated with Windows 8, by creating a hybrid Windows 10 mixing the most missed elements of Windows 7 with the modern upgrades of Windows 8.
Terry Myerson, head of Microsoft’s operating system group, addressed the confusion by saying “Windows 10 will be our most comprehensive platform ever. It wouldn’t be right to call it Windows 9.” Perhaps the exclusion symbolizes something of a complete fresh start for the tech giant. Other reports suggest it could be more to do with old programming code, where it would be hard to distinguish between Windows 9 and the old Windows 95 and 98 systems.
Sometimes a fresh start requires a reversion back to what once worked – hence, Microsoft has re-introduced the Start Menu that features a conventional list of tasks and programs. Animated and customizable tiles still exist for those who feel inclined to use them, but the overall feel of the new operating system is aimed at bringing back a sense of comfort and familiarity to loyal Windows users.
According to research firm NetMarketshare, only 13.4% of current desktop PCs run Windows 8. In stark contrast, 51.2% are powered by Windows 7 and 23.9% by the even older Windows XP, showing that the majority of enterprises did not make the abrupt jump into modernity envisaged by Microsoft’s Windows 8.
Perhaps the most standout feature of Windows 10, assuming there are no problems with execution, is the concept of One Windows. The new operating software will unify PC desktops, Windows phones, and Windows tablets with one user interface and one account. For example, Windows will aim to create universal apps that can be used and synced between all devices running that Windows software.
David Johnson, a Forrester consultant who watches Microsoft, claimed in a note that only one in five enterprises are offering Windows 8 to employees right now. Microsoft’s profits are almost two-thirds comprised from sales to enterprises, and the company will hope that Windows 10 can regain a foothold in the business world. However, the OS won’t be available to users until after Microsoft’s April 2015 Build developer conference, while businesses likely won’t fully adopt the system until the end of 2015.
JP Morgan breached
JP Morgan, America’s largest bank, revealed on Thursday that it had been subjected to a cyberattack that could affect 76 million private customers and 7 million businesses. The news was reported through a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
“User contact information — name, address, phone number and email address — and internal JPMorgan Chase information relating to such users have been compromised,” the SEC filing stated. However, the danger could have been worse; JP Morgan confidently believes that no information regarding account and social security numbers was affected and that customers do not need to take protective measures at this time.
While the situation seems contained and exposed, previous reports shed an ominous light on the breach. In August, Bloomberg reported a potential Russian cyber invasion on JPMorgan, while the New York Times reported at one point that checking and savings account information had been breached. Whether such reports are credible or not, the uncertainty surrounding cyber attacks will concern many consumers. The news comes on the back of breaches earlier in the year at retail giants Target and Home Depot, the nude celebrity photo hacking scandal, and the viral Bash Bug that could be exploited to breach operating systems everywhere.
In an effort to keep customers calm, the company said “The Firm continues to vigilantly monitor the situation and is continuing to investigate the matter.” Still, the lingering cyber vulnerability shown by some of the world’s most notable names, whether in finance, retail, or other sectors, is cause for significant alarm.
Angry Birds, unemployed people
Whether it is during downtime, a long commute to work, or just out of sheer boredom, millions of people have picked up their smartphone and slingshotted round, animated, exploding birds into piles of wood and pigs to try to win points. It sounds slightly barbaric, but it is the foundation for Rovio Entertainment’s continued success over the past four years.
Rovio, a mobile game developer based in Finland, created the Angry Birds phenomenon in 2009 and has since ridden the game’s wave of success, peaking at 263 million active users at the end of 2012 and eventually reaching the one billion download mark.
However, Rovio announced this week that it would skin its workforce by 16%, making 130 people out of a job. The decision is a move towards simplicity, according to Rovio’s CEO Mikael Hed.
In a blogpost, Hed said Rovio had been “building our team on assumptions of faster growth than have materialized.” In other words, the Angry Birds fad is slowing down despite the company’s attempts to extract maximum value from the brand (a TV series, stuffed angry bird toys, an educational platform, a cookbook, and even a motion picture set to be released in 2016) and without another viral game to take its place, Rovio is being forced to downsize.
This is not the first example of the fickle nature of mobile gaming. Developer Zynga laid off 250 workers last year after the success of its most notable games, Farmville and Draw Something, faded. King.com, creator of the global hit Candy Crush Saga, saw a slip in profit and revenue that coincided directly with a fall in the games popularity in the app store. King.com recently went public, and now hovers at $12 price, nearly half of the IPO pricing.
Creating the next blockbuster game is ridiculously lucrative, but Rovio’s CMO Peter Vesterbacka admits that it is “very tough to produce consistent hits.”
With game developers like Kabam and Supercell now in the mix, the latter’s flagship game being Clash of Clans, the creators of Angry Birds need to find the next new thing, pronto, or else fade from relevancy in the mobile gaming sector.
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This week in numbers
Houzz secures $165m funding round
Reddit attracts $50m Series B
Credit Karma snaps up $75m
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The German e-commerce company Zalando sold 24.5 million shares on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange Wednesday, raising €605 million. The deal gives the company a €5.3 billion valuation based on the share price it set of €21.50, the price to which shares returned at Wednesday’s market close. Two-thirds of Zalando’s over €1 billion in revenue comes from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, but it expects to use some of the capital raised to grow its global presence.
Rocket Internet, a German startup incubator and early investor in Zalando, listed on Frankfurt’s Stock Exchange Thursday, the day after Zalando. While founder Oliver Samwer went on record to say that the model for his company’s IPO was Alibaba, the results were decidedly not as good. After opening at €42.50, shares in the company fell over 10% almost immediately to €38.00 and finished the day even lower, at €37.00. Despite the poor public market response, Rocket Internet did end up raising €1.4 billion, nearly double its initial estimate.
Box, the cloud storage company that originally filed for its IPO in March, reportedly will not go public until 2015. While the company has cited unfavorable market conditions, analysts believe that it has more to do with a worrisome burn rate and continued failure to turn a profit.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp will pay $950 million in an all-cash deal to buy 80% of Move Inc., a network of property listings websites that includes Realtor.com and Move.com. The company, which owns The Wall Street Journal and New York Post, will leverage the acquisition to support its declining revenue from classified ads. The deal is expected to close by the end of the calendar year. The remaining 20% of Move, Inc. will be controlled by REA Group, in which News Corp. has a 61.6% interest. Describing the motivations for the deal on the company’s website, News Corp CEO Robert Thomson said: “In addition to boosting Move’s subscription, advertising, and software services, this acquisition will give News Corp. a significant marketing platform for our media assets, which will benefit from the high-quality geographic data generated by real estate searches.”
The Japanese Internet and telecom conglomerate SoftBank, which already has major stakes in Sprint and Alibaba, is reportedly eyeing DreamWorks Animation as an acquisition target. Rumors suggest that SoftBank offered $32 per share, and $3.4 billion overall to buy the film production company, but that interest has cooled after the initial offer was made. If the deal does go through, it would be in line with the current trend in the media and telecom industries towards consolidation. Just this year, it has been announced that Comcast will buy Time Warner Cable, and AT&T will buy DirecTV. Meanwhile SoftBank, through Sprint, had pursued buying T-Mobile in August, around the same time that talks between News Corp and Time Warner, Inc. broke down.
The post The Exit Report: Rocket Internet, Zalando, Move Inc. appeared first on Red Herring.
Roost, a smart home technology company, has secured a seed round worth $975,000 from investors including DCM and Legend Star. The company’s offering provides smart home functionality to consumers, through easy retrofitting of household products. “The fast growing smart home industry is currently focused on selling ‘shiny,’ often costly and complicated new hardware,” said Roel Peeters, Roost CEO and co-founder. “Roost will offer consumers a simple and inexpensive way to transform their existing home products into smart connected devices.”
Building Robotics, which provides cloud-based software for commercial buildings comfort, has secured a $5.5.million Series A financing round led by Claremont Creek Ventures (CCV) and The Westly Group. The company aims to increase productivity and employee health through its main product Comfy, which is used to control temperature in offices. “We are investing in companies that are integrating intelligent, comprehensive product design with innovative technology to drive productive experiences. Comfy does exactly that,” said Nat Goldhaber, Managing Director of Claremont Creek Ventures. Building Robotics has raised a total of $6.7 million and the Oakland, California-based company will use the funds for new product development.
Social media engagement company Insightpool has raised a $4million Series A round, led by TDF Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank. Notable angel investors including Peter Knight and Chris Walters also participated. The company will use the funds to grow its data science and sales teams as well as add features to the Insightpool platform and expand its operations. Insightpool is an analytics and social media platform that helps companies find their audience online. “Identifying influencers is only part of the equation for organizations trying to find measurable business value in digital media,” said Devon Wijesinghe, Insightpool CEO. “Insightpool focuses on how likely someone is to take action when a brand proactively engages them on a topic. Our proprietary analytics engine targets the real, yet often inconspicuous people who are most likely to interact with a brand and ultimately have the biggest network effect on actual conversions according to campaign goals.”
Appboy, a marketing automation service for apps, has closed a $15 million oversubscribed Series B funding round, led by InterWest Partners. Icon Venture Partners, Blumberg Capital, T5 Capital and IDG Ventures also contributed to the round. The company has now raised a total of $22.6 million. “Traditional marketers have been using CRM and conversion-testing platforms for years, however, those conventional techniques do not translate perfectly to mobile. As marketers become more experienced, it will be crucial to adopt techniques to effectively cultivate personal relationships with their audiences. Appboy is successfully bringing marketing automation to the mobile space in a way others have yet to master,” said Doug Pepper of InterWest Partners.
Fertility startup Glow has raised a Series B round worth $17 million. Formation 8 led the round, with participation from Founders Fund and Andreessen Horowitz, both previous backers. The company claims to have helped 25,000 women conceive since it was founded in May last year, and has raised a total of $23 million, TechCrunch reports. Glow will use the funds to scale its operations and expand its team.
Home décor website Houzz has raised a $165 million funding round led by Sequoia Capital. Oren Zeev, New Enterprise Associates, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers and GGV Capital were all new investors in the round, while existing investors DST Global and T. Rowe Price also participated. “Since day one, we have been focused on creating the single best home renovation and design experience by bringing everything people need to improve their homes together under one roof,” said Houzz Cofounder and CEO Adi Tatarko. “This focus has enabled us to grow organically to over 25 million monthly unique users around the world. We now have a tremendous opportunity to meet the enormous demand for our platform and make Houzz synonymous with the home on a global scale.” The company has now raised $214 million to date.
Tile, which makes a wearable device capable of making anything trackable, has closed $13 million in funding. The investment includes a $9.5 million Series A round led by GGV Capital and a $3.5 million seed round led by Tencent. The company will use the funds to accelerate development of its Android app and scale production to meet global demand. The Tile device can be attached to any object, including luggage, keys, computers or wallets, and will provide the user with a method of tracking that object. “The Internet of Things market is about to go mainstream and Tile is poised to be a dominant player because of its incredibly innovative product platform which provides simple, elegant, ‘every day’ functionality to any consumer with a mobile device,” said GGV Capital managing partner Jeff Richards. “With the rapid growth of the Tile community, the company is creating an incredibly powerful network effect. We’re thrilled to help finance Tile’s expansion and scale on a global basis.”
EBay announced this week it will spin off PayPal in the second half of 2015, but that’s just the latest sign that financial services is in a software-induced flux. Although PayPal pioneered online payments fifteen years ago, a dramatic shift towards mobile represents the next frontier in the digitization of money.
The market is crowded. Not only with established online payments service like PayPal and credit card companies such as Visa, but also Apple, Google, and several upstarts, some of which are backed by original members of the PayPal team.But according to International Data Corporation, there might be enough to go around. The research firm expects mobile user spending to hit $1 trillion annually in 2017.
In order to understand the mobile payments market, it’s still important to start with understanding PayPal. The company posted $6.6 billion in 2013 revenue, one-third of which came from facilitating transactions on EBay. In the last 12 months the company processed $203 billion in payments, and currently counts 153 million active digital wallets. It makes its money the same way it always has, by charging sellers a $.30 fee plus a 1.9-2.9% surcharge, depending on the size of the transaction, and a $30 per month fee to websites that use the service to process payments.
Despite PayPal’s continued success and clear market lead, early PayPal conspirators Peter Thiel and Elon Musk have chosen to fund alternative online payment processing because of a perceived complacency within the company they built. In fact, the entry of these well-funded and aggessively growing start-ups is one of the main reasons why EBay CEO John Donahoe agreed to divest PayPal. The thinking was that only as a separate entity, unfettered from a major e-commerce company seen as a rival to many potential customers, could PayPal adequately confront the upstarts and maintain its leading position in the growing market.
Stripe offers real competition
The company backed by Thiel and Musk specifically is Stripe. Stripe was co-founded by brothers John and Patrick Collison in 2010, and was incubated shortly thereafter at Y Combinator. Today, up and coming payment-intensive services such as Lyft, Instacart, and Shopify all use Stripe to facilitate their transactions, and it was recently announced that the company would be powering the new “Buy” buttons on both Facebook and Twitter.
There are several reasons for Stripe’s growing popularity, but they largely come down to its tight security and elegantly crafted API. From a security standpoint, Stripe.js, stores credit card information with Stripe directly, instead of the user’s own local server. This process ensures that the data, stored on Stripe’s secure servers, is Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant. Developers also rave about the usability of Stripe’s API. In fact, when PayPal launched its version of its own newest API, the RESTful PayPal API, it borrowed heavily from what Stripe had done. In effect, the challenge from Stripe has forced PayPal to improve its own product. It is perhaps not a surprise that Stripe’s most recent $80 million Series C valued the company at $1.75 billion.
While PayPal elected to emulate some of Stripe’s features, the company outright bought one of its other emergent competitors. Braintree, a Red Herring 2013 Top 100 North American finalist, was founded in 2007, three years before Stripe. Like Stripe, Braintree secures sensitive credit card data by sending it directly to the company’s servers, and has also been applauded for its easy to use API. The company’s does over $12 billion in sales volume annually, dwarfing the $1.5 billion handled by Stripe, and its A-List collection of high-growth customers includes Uber, Airbnb, GrubHub, and Dropbox. One of Braintree’s most compelling products, however, is Venmo, a generally fee-free overnight money transfer service that has been set up as a social network to facilitate payments among friends. If PayPal’s purchase of Braintree in 2013 for $800 million turns out to be a bargain (as Stripe’s current valuation suggests), Braintree’s decision to buy Venmo in 2012 for $26.2 million will most certainly be viewed in the same light.
Apple enters the market
Then there is of course Apple Pay, a service announced on September 9th alongside the iPhone 6 which has yet to be released. When it is, it will undoubtedly provide a boost to mobile payment figures overall. “Apple Pay is good for everyone in the payments ecosystem because ultimately, it increases the amount of transactions that are happening on mobile,” Stripe co-founder John Collison recently told The New York Times. While the seamless integration of a digital payments system with iOS would seemingly make Apple Pay popular on its own, it also takes a different approach to the security question. Instead of storing the data on its own servers, Apple Pay relies on the combination of a device-specific account number and a dynamic security code to complete each transaction. As a result of this system, Apple claims that it will never be privy to the transaction its users make.
In announcing his decision to EBay’s investors, Donahoe declared: “The era of digital payments is upon us.” A number of companies, both big and small, are convinced they will lead it.
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Hipcamp, an advanced search service for finding and comparing campgrounds across a wide range of criteria, has raised $2 million from O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Slow Ventures, Maiden Lane Ventures, the AngelList Syndicate Fund, and angel investors Sam Shank and Gregg Brockway. The company is expected to use the funding to expand outside of California and into campground coverage of New York and Texas.
EventBoard, a meeting room management system, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from Google Ventures, Zetta Venture Partners, Salesforce.com founder and CEO Marc Benioff, Domo founder Josh James, and InsideSales.com founder David Elkington. The company is based in Salt Lake City, UT.
Expensify, a San Francisco-based expense management platform, has secured $3.5 million in funding from strategic investor Barracuda Networks. Expensify’s core offering allows users to export expenses and receipts from mobile devices for the purpose of building out corporate expense reports. Founded in 2008, the company has now raised over $10 million.
The Internet aggregator Reddit has raised $50 million in its Series B, a round led by Y Combinator president Sam Altman that also included participation from Marc Andreessen, Alfred Lin, Peter Thiel, Ron Conway, Jared Leto, Snoop Dogg, and others. Reddit was incubated at Y Combinator in 2005 (the same year its current president Altman went through the program), purchased by Conde Naste in 2006, and currently has 133 million monthly active users. The Reddit deal is simply the latest VC investment by Academy Award winning actor Jared Leto and rap icon Snoop Dogg. Jared Leto’s portfolio also includes Zenefits, Robinhood, Radius Intelligence, and Superpedestrian, while Snoop Dogg became an investor in Robinhood last month. Reddit will reportedly distribute 10% of the newly raised equity to its users.
Good Technology, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based enterprise mobile security solutions provider that filed with the SEC for an IPO in May, has raised $80 million from a group of late-stage investors, including Rustic Canyon Partners, Oak Investment Partners, Meritech Capital Partners, ePlanet Capital, Draper Fisher Jurveston, and Blueprint Ventures. The latest financing likely pushes back the company’s plans to go public, though CEO Christy Wyatt, in speaking to Re/code, insisted that the company still plans to do so when the time is right. “Nothing has changed in our plans,” she said, “There’s a whole bunch of [factors], a lot of them external…We continue to watch the market.”
Marketing intelligence company Datorama has secured $15 million in Series B funding in a round led by Market LLC and Innovation Endeavors. Previous investor Cedar Fund also participated. The company will use the new funding to invest in sales and marketing staff as it looks to expand into new markets. “Datorama provides a seamless, comprehensive and lightning-fast platform that is easy for anyone to deploy and use,” said Marker LLC Partner Rick Scanlon. “With Datorama, marketers are able to show meaningful improvements in top-line performance and unit economics, all without having to dedicate resources to pulling together and making sense of disparate data.”
Remind, which securely connects teachers, parents and students through a mobile platform, has secured a $40 million Series C round. Existing investor Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers led the round, while Social + Capital Partnership and First Round also participated. The company currently boasts around one million teachers and 17 million students as users. Remind has raised $59 million to date. “Remind originated from the idea of what the world could look like if we could make it easier for millions of teachers to personally connect with students and their families,” said Brett Kopf, CEO and cofounder of Remind. “We exist because of teachers and this latest funding round will keep us working hard to ensure we are meeting the needs of educators across the world.”
Credit Karma, a consumer finance company, has raised $75 million in growth funding from Google Capital, Tiger Global Management and Susquehanna Growth Equity, all of which are previous investors. The round reportedly values the company, which provides free credit scores and helps consumers find credit cards and other financial products, at over $1 billion. “We believe this investment speaks to two themes: Continued confidence that we are the industry’s leading consumer credit and finance platform, and repeated strong consumer demand for our product,” said Ken Lin, CEO and founder of Credit Karma. “Today’s complex marketplace requires a pro-consumer resource that makes financial comprehension easy, transparent and empowering. Credit Karma delivers that.” Credit Karma has now raised $193 million to date.
Netpulse, a digital platform for the fitness sector, has raised a new round of funding worth $18.6 million led by Nokia Growth Partners. August Capital, Javelin Venture Partners, DFJ Frontier and Docomo Capital also participated. The company has now raised a total of $40 million. “Our platform provides club operators with a turnkey solution to participate in the industry’s digital transformation. Clubs are now able to provide new services to increase engagement and generate new sources of revenue by reaching the members via mobile and connected products,” said Bryan Arp, Co-Founder and CEO of Netpulse.
Real estate crowdfunding platform Fundrise has added more funds to its Series A round of funding, which now totals $38 million. The new investors include Debbie Ratner Salzberg of Forest City, Terrence Rohan of Index Ventures, Onyx Equities co-founder Jon Schultz, Michael Gerwiz of Potomac Investment Properties, Artemis Real Estate Partners CEO Debbie Harmon, and Haniel Lynn of Corporate Executive Board. “These investments from top players in the real estate and financial industries provide further confirmation of real estate crowdfunding as a viable and effective investment tool,” stated Ben Miller, co-founder of Fundrise.
Qubit, an e-commerce technology startup, has secured a Series B investment round worth $26 million and led by Accel Partners. Balderton Capital and Salesforce Ventures were also involved in the funding. Qubit offers an integrated personalization platform for e-commerce businesses. The company will use the latest funds to expand its presence in the U.S. “We’re delighted to welcome Accel into the Qubit family and Bruce Golden onto our board of directors. To date we have carved ourselves a position in the market by offering clients the market’s best, most flexible and integrated range of personalization applications; ones that drive real uplifts that CFOs can see in the bottom line,” said Graham Cooke, Qubit’s CEO and co-founder.
Consumer robotics company Anki has raised a Series C round worth $55 million, led by J.P. Morgan. Previous investors Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures and Two Sigma also participated according to Re/code. The company’s first product is an intelligent toy race car that is controlled using an iPhone app. Anki has raised $105 million since it was founded in 2010 and will use the funds to develop additional products.
Skillz, an eSports platform where users can play mobile games against each other for cash, has raised $6 million in a financing round led by Atlas Venture. The company will use the funds to attract new players to the site. “eSports are quickly becoming big business,” said Jeff Fagnan, Partner at Atlas Venture. “What’s most exciting about Skillz is that they are completely transforming the industry by making competitions available on mobile, tapping into an enormous, previously untouched market.”
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Blackberry’s new Passport
The days of BlackBerry Messenger, roller balls, and physical keyboards seem a long time ago now. The once revolutionary BlackBerry, a must-have utility tool for businesses and individuals alike, became eclipsed by competitors such as Samsung and Apple, who each have claimed substantial market share in the mobile world.
At simultaneous launch events in Toronto, Dubai, and London on Wednesday, September 24, BlackBerry took strides towards reclaiming relevancy in the mobile phone world with the unveiling of its BlackBerry Passport. BlackBerry said its new phone was named this way not only for its unusual square shape, but also to represent a “universal symbol of mobility.” With its 4.5 inch square shaped display and a return to BlackBerry’s signature hardware keyboard, the phone is indeed distinguished from its competitors.
Once known as the ultimate enterprise tool, the new BlackBerry device is aimed in particular at the business world. New feature BlackBerry Blend allows users to connect the Passport with non-BlackBerry devices, allowing them to conduct business on the go and follow up with the same project later on a PC or tablet. BlackBerry has also taken steps to close the gap on its established competitors by forging a deal with Amazon that will give users access to 1000s of Android apps. Features like voice assistant, BlackBerry Hub, and a far superior battery life (provides up to 30 hours of mixed use) also figure to aid in the company’s return to relevancy.
“The BlackBerry Passport was created to drive productivity and to break through the sea of rectangular-screen, all-touch devices, said John Chen, CEO and chairman of BlackBerry.
But while BlackBerry loyalists may relish the revamped device, Wall Street’s sentiments seem much more cautious, if not skeptical. The amount of people who never successfully adapted to touch screen typing is sizeable, and investors admit the keyboard’s comeback could resonate with people.
Analysts from the likes of Citi and Deutsche Bank worry about issues like the compatibility of Android Apps on the unconventional square screen and the BlackBerry Passport’s competitiveness at a $599 price point without contract, a level just $50 cheaper than the newly released iPhone 6.
While BlackBerry stock has reversed its abysmal 2013 decline and risen by 37% in 2014, critics on and off Wall Street are not overly faithful that the Passport is BlackBerry’s claim back to fame. However, with the promise of security in a vulnerable online world, a physical keyboard, and unparalleled battery life, the Passport could make some noise in the mobile sector.
The Bash bug threat
Vulnerable operating systems have been hot topics amongst not just the tech industry, but all business sectors this year.
The latest worry is a viral bug said to be even worse than Heartbleed, dubbed Shellshock. The flaw was detected in Bash, a software component of many Linux systems and Apple’s Mac operating system. According to security experts, Bash is the software used to control the command prompt on many Unix computers, allowing hackers to exploit the bug and take control of a targeted system. The bug in the software has gone undetected for 22 years, meaning that Bash has been widely used in these operating systems and the Shellshock flaw in the software could end up affecting hundreds of millions of people and devices.
The bug has been given a top-rating of 10 on the vulnerability scale by Tod Beardsley, an engineering manager at cybersecurity firm Rapid7. Compounding the problem is that the bug has been given a rating of “low” on the complexity scale, meaning that once hackers catch wind of the bug, it is easy for them to take capitalize on it and remotely control entire operating systems. The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) warned that Shellshock “allows unauthorized disclosure of information; allows unauthorized modification; allows disruption of services.”
The U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-Cert) has been actively encouraging system administrators to implement security patches, while Linux provider Red Hat has also released a patch, despite it being incomplete. Apple has yet to offer a patch or solution to mitigate the problem for Mac OS X.
Yet another potential pitfall for Apple, christened “Bendgate,” came to light this past week with multiple complaints from owners of the week-old iPhone 6 Plus that the device t is susceptible to bending while in a pocket.
The public outcry via social media, particularly Twitter, is still in its early stages. Testing by YouTube channel Unbox Therapy showed that the iPhone would bend with the application of significant force, proved with a video that has gone viral. Such claims contradict warranty provider SquareTrade’s reports that the phone is robust and passed all “breakability tests with flying colors.” However, the insurance company’s experiments apparently did not include testing for “bendability.”
In a statement to the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, Apple responded by saying that only nine customers have reported a bent iPhone 6 Plus. Given the record 10 million iPhones Apple sold in the first weekend of the phone’s launch, nine would seem a number of little importance and might serve to discredit claims of the phone’s fragility.
Apple will hope this is the case, as it had other issues to address this week. The tech giant has released an apology to users who experienced problems with the iOS 8.0.1 operating systems released with iPhone 6. Some users were unable to make or receive telephone calls, while others said the fingerprint scanner feature also malfunctioned.
You may have missed…
This week in numbers
T-cell therapy company Adaptimmune raises $104m
Hootsuite secures $60m investment round
Radius raises $54.7m Series C round
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The online home furnishings company Wayfair hopes to raise over $300 million when it goes ahead with its IPO. The company’s intention to do so was made public last month, though the Boston-based firm had filed with the SEC under the JOBS Act before that. Wayfair has raised over $358 million from the private markets, from backers such as Spark Capital, Battery Ventures, and T. Rowe Price, and posted a $51.4 million loss in the first half of this fiscal year. Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Allen & Co. have been charged with leading the offering.
Yodlee, an Accel Partners-backed financial application services company with over 17 million individual users of its services, will offer 6.3 million shares in the $11-13 price range with the hopes of raising $75 million in its upcoming public offering. Bank of America, which will be leading the process alongside Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, and BofA Merrill Lynch, was responsible for 14% of Yodlee’s revenue in the first six months of this year. Yodlee was founded in 1999 and is based in Redwood City, Calif.
CyberArk Software, an IT security solutions provider with headquarters in both Israel and Newton, Mass., began trading on Wednesday at $16 per share, and reached as high as $23. The company ended up raising $98.6 million. Jerusalem Venture Partners owns 38% of shares, while Goldman Sachs owns 19%.
A Malaysian online payment company called MOL Global Inc. hopes to raise over $260 million by selling 19.5 million shares for between $12.50 and $14.50. It is planning on pricing the week of October 6. When it does, it will become the first Malaysian company to list on an American stock exchange in over ten years, according to Renaissance Capital.
Travelport, a travel booking platform acquired by Blackstone in 2006, went public on Thursday, selling 30 million shares at $16 each to raise $480 million at a $2 billion valuation. Travelport was a significant investment for Blackstone, which poured $800 million into the company and weathered the company’s contraction through the recession. According to Bloomberg, Blackstone’s remaining stake is $137.6 million based on the pre-IPO price.
Hubspot, a sales and marketing SaaS company based out of Boston, will sell 5 million shares for between $19 and $21. The company is backed by General Catalyst Partners (27.1% pre-IPO equity stake), Matrix Partners (17.1%), Sequoia Capital (10.3%), Scale Veture Partners (6.8%), and Charles River Ventures (5%).
Vista Equity Partners and Thoma Bravo are reportedly in talks to buy Tibco Software. Tibco has a current market cap of $3.1 billion. Tibco’s founder and CEO is Vivek Ranadive, who in 2013 bought the Sacramento Kings.
Adaptimmune, a biotech company focused on using T-cell therapy to treat cancer and infectious disease, has secured $104 million in Series A financing. New Enterprise Associates (NEA) led the round, and other new investors included OrbiMed Advisors LLC, Wellington Management Company, LLP, Fidelity Biosciences, Foresite Capital Management, Ridgeback Capital Management, Novo A/S, QVT, Rock Springs Capital, venBio Select and Merlin Nexus. The University of Oxford was among the existing investors which also participated. “We are delighted to secure this strong financial support from some of the most prestigious and highly regarded biotechnology investment groups in the US, led by NEA,” said Adaptimmune CEO James Noble. “Their commitment, and the perspective and experience of our new board members, will be invaluable as we build the company up and accelerate the development of our own pipeline of clinical programs.”
Sao Paulo-based financial services company Nubank has raised $14.3 million in a Series A round led by Sequoia Capital, according to the New York Times. Kaszek Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank also participated in the round, which was Sequoia’s first investment in a Brazilian company. Nubank also launched a Mastercard platinum credit card which can be managed through an Android or iOS app, allowing users to avoid fees and high interest rates.
Context Relevant, a big data analytics company that works in the finance sector, has completed a $13.5 million Series B-1 financing round, with participation from Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Formation 8, New York Life, and Bloomberg Beta. The company previously raised a Series B round worth $21 million earlier in the year. “We have the right software, the right people and the right partners to make a difference in protecting and improving the global financial system, which is the number one job of our team,” said Stephen Purpura, CEO of Context Relevant. “Our technology is not just for data scientists, it is used throughout our clients’ workforce. The platform represents a disruptive quantum leap over existing analytics solutions used in financial services.”
Taulia, a supplier-financing company, has raised $13 million in additional Series D financing, bringing the round’s total to $40 million. The company received additional interest in investment after its $27 million initial round in July. The additional funds came from BBVA Ventures and EDBI, the corporate investment arm of Singapore’s Economic Development Board. “We’re very pleased to see continued and growing interest in our solutions across the globe,” said Taulia CEO Bertram Meyer. “It’s exciting to see our significant market traction recognized by these leading international investors, BBVA and EDBI.”
FiveStars, a digital loyalty rewards platform for small businesses, has reeled in $25 million in Series B financing from lead investor Menlo Ventures and return backers Lightspeed Venture Partners, DCM, and Rogers Communications. The company is a 2011 graduate of Y Combinator. Since then, it has raised $42.7 million and has grown its network of small businesses to 5000. “FiveStars’ mission is to help local businesses turn every transaction into a relationship. This new round of funding brings us one step closer to making that vision a reality,” said Victor Ho, CEO and co-founder of FiveStars.
Intel Capital, Romulus Capital, TriplePoint Capital, and Y Combinator president Sam Altman all participated in E la Carte’s $35 million Series C round. The company develops tablets for restaurants that serve as both menus and payment mechanisms for customers. E la Carte, which was founded in 2008 at MIT but now operates out of offices in Redwood City, Calif., has now raised $52.5 million.
Dollar Shave Club, a subscription-based personal grooming delivery service, has secured $50 million in Series C financing from Pritzker Group Venture Capital and Venrock. The company has over 500,000 customers and has gained popularity in part through a series of web videos describing the product that have gone viral. The company’s seed round, back in 2012, was backed by Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins, among others.
Miaopai, a video app company based in China, has raised $50 million from Kleiner Perkins (officially KPCB Holdings), Redpoint Ventures, Ren Quan Ventures, StarVC, and Sina.
The social media management platform Hootsuite has secured a $60 million investment from a host of backers, including Accel Partners, Insight Venture Partners, OMERS Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank, and likely Fidelity. While it is not yet profitable, Hootsuite has over 10 million enterprise (mostly SME) and individual customers. The Vancouver-based company has raised $285 million to date. It also announced that it had acquired Zeetl, another social media ad platform for enterprise. “This financing will help us scale even faster on a global level and bring the most innovative products to market. The strong commitment from investors during this time of amazing growth marks an exciting milestone for Hootsuite,” Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite said in a press release.
Despite some high profile tech setbacks, such as those suffered by Uber and Google, the German technology sector is thriving. Despite slow national growth overall, small and medium companies comprise 99.7% of the economy, with the German IT market set to grow to over €65 billion ($83bn) by 2016. Berlin, the capital, has over 2,500 startups. Its digital economy contributes over 6% of the city’s output. German ventures are upping their game too: between January and June this year €2.79bn ($3.56bn) was put into almost 700 local firms, beating the same period last year by a third.
Rocket Internet has drawn praise for its incubation of over 100 successful companies – and ire for its alleged ‘copycat’ model, which aims to emulate existing ideas. But what cannot be ignored is the number of profitable and growing startups that have emerged from the country in recent years.
“It’s very exciting being part of what’s currently happening in Berlin,” says Niklas Ostberg, CEO of Delivery Hero, a European food delivery network with over $650 million in funding. “The tech scene is exploding and it’s great to be a part of it.”
These are the most active VCs in Germany since 2009, according to data from CB Insights.
Most Active VCs in Germany, since 2009
1. High-Tech Gruenderfonds
Preferred Stage: Early, Mid
Fund Size: €304 million
Recent Investments: Opentabs, eGym, Medineering
Notable Exits: Bayer AG (IPO in 2009, Acquired by Boston Scientific in 2014)
2. T-Venture (Venture Arm of Deutsche Telekom)
Preferred Stage: Mid
Fund Size: €280 million
Recent Investments: Lookout, Boxfish, Affirmed Networks
Notable Exits: BelAir Networks (Erricson, 2012), Ubiquisys (Cisco, 2013, $310M)
3.HV Holtzbrinck Ventures
Preferred Stage: Early, Mid
Fund Size: €177 million
Recent Investments: Quandoo, HelloFresh, Delivery Hero, Zalando
Notable Exits: Citydeal.de (Groupon, 2010), brands4friends (eBay, 2010, $200M)
4.German Startups Group
Preferred Stage: Late
Fund Size: n/a
Recent Investments: SoundCloud, Solar Tower Technologies, Delivery Hero
Notable Exits: n/a
5. IBB Beteiligungsgesellschaft
Preferred Stage: Early (€200,000-2.5 million)
Fund Size: n/a
Recent Investments: Babbel, Zimory, sofatutor
Notable Exits: AUPEO! (Panasonic, 2013), gate5 (Nokia, 2005)
6. Bayern Kapital
Preferred Stage: Early (€250,000-600,000 investments)
Fund Size: n/a
Recent Investments: eGym, Crealytics, Altruja
Notable Exits: Corimmun (Johnson & Johnson, 2012), Art of Defence (Zeus, 2011)
7. Target Partners
Preferred Stage: Early, Mid
Fund Size: €230 million under management
Recent Investments: Quobyte, Hetras, Finanzchef
Notable Exits: JouleX (Cisco, 2013), P21 (Heliocentris, 2012), Scoreloop (Blackberry, 2011)
Preferred Stage: Early
Fund Size: $100 million
Location: Hamburg and Berlin (San Francisco HQ)
Recent Investments: Deltamethod, Auctionata
Notable Exits: kaufDA (Axel Springer, 2011), CityDeal.de (Groupon, 2010
9. Wellington Partners
Preferred Stage: Early, Mid
Fund Size: €265 million
Recent Investments: Festicket, Nosto, Opvizor
Notable Exits: Sapiens (Medtronic, $200M, 2014), Readmill (Dropbox, 2014), Seesmic (Hootsuite, 2012)
10. Seventure Partners
Preferred Stage: Early, Mid (€500k-20M)
Fund Size: €550 million under management
Recent Investments: MinuteBuzz, Mint Solutions, Testbirds, Presta Shop
Notable Exits: Vistaprint (IPO, 2005), Mauna Kea Technologies (IPO, 2011)
Invoice2go, the company behind a mobile app for small business owners to manage invoicing and expense tracking, has secured a $35 million investment from Ribbit Capital and Accel Partners. Founded in 2002, Invoice2go is used to manage billions of dollars in invoices each year. The company is based in Australia.
The peer-to-peer Chinese car rental service Uuzuche.com has raised $10 million from Lightspeed China Partners, China Renaissance K2 Partners, and Wang Gang, an angel investor. “Private car sharing platforms like uuzuche.com not only can help to optimize a city’s vehicle resources and help create a well-structured environment, but also can help with the remission of traffic and encouraging greener driving patterns,” said Han Yan, a partner at Lightspeed China Partners through a press release.
Jared Leto, Snoop Dogg, and Box CEO Aaron Levie are among the investors in the $13 million Series A round of Robinhood, a fee-free mobile app for trading stocks. The round was led by Index Ventures. “We’re making investing accessible to young people,” co-founder Vlad Tenev told TechCrunch. Robinhood’s seed round involved participation from Andreessen Horowitz.
Qualtrics, an online survey company based in Provo, UT, has raised a staggering $150 million in Series B funding from Insight Venture Partners and existing backers Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners. Qualtrics has 6,000 enterprise customers, including half of the Fortune 100 and 99 of America’s 100 leading business schools, who collect information from 2.1 million surveys per day on average. With the latest round of financing, Qualtrics joins SurveyMonkey as online survey companies with $1 billion valuations. “All a survey is…[is] a form with an analytics component,” Qualtrics co-founder and CEO Ryan Smith told Businessweek, before adding, “We have the best form.” Founded in 2002, Qualtrics waited ten years before first raising venture funding.
Udacity, the massively open online courses (MOOCs) platform created by GoogleX Lab founder Sebastian Thrun, has raised $35 million to expand its nanodegree program. Drive Capital, a Columbus, OH-based firm founded by two former Sequoia partners, led the round. It was joined by repeat backers Andreessen Horowitz, Charles River Ventures, Peter Levine, and George Zachary, with additional participation coming from media, HR, and investment firms from Germany, Japan, and Brazil respectively. The company announced its nanodegree program, which provides job-specific training crafted by employers for $400 a month, through a partnership with AT&T earlier this year. Udacity classes are taught by industry professionals and focus on computer programming skills in particular. Thrun and his company are targeting underemployed 24-34 year olds, but some fear that the model represents an attack on the traditional four-year American collegiate system.