DigitalOcean, which leverages a cloud platform for handling infrastructure, has secured $37.2 million in a Series A funding. Andreessen Horowitz led the round, which saw participation from previous investors CrunchFund and IA Ventures. Over the last 15 months, the New York-based company has deployed more than 1 million virtual servers. Last February, Gartner forecasted the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) market would swell to $9 billion in 2013.
Canary, which offers a smart home security device, has raised a $10 million Series A funding round. Khosla Ventures, Bobby Yazdani, and some of the company seed investors — like Two Sigma Ventures — invested in the round. The New York City-based company had previously raised a $1.2 million round and $2 million on Indiegogo; Canary holds the title of “Most successful campaign ever” on the crowdfunding platform, as the company pre-sold 10,000 of its devices inside a month. According to MarketsandMarkets, the smart homes market is anticipated to drive revenues at $51.77 billion by 2020.
Automated facial expression recognition and analysis company Emotient has finished a $6 million Series B round. Handbag, LLC led the investment, with Intel Capital contributing. In total, backing behind the San Diego company comes to $8 million.
New York-based Payoneer, which provides online payment solutions, has finished a $25 million Series D funding. Susquehanna Growth Equity, LLC, led the round, which saw contributions from Carmel Ventures, Vintage Venture Partners and Greylock IL. Payoneer is profitable and leverages a four-year revenue CAGR of more than 65 percent, according to a press release.
Boxever, which provides big data and personalization solutions to players in the travel industry, has revealed a $6 million funding round led by Polaris Partners. Frontline Ventures contributed to the investment. The Dublin company has also been chosen to serve Singapore-based carrier Tigerair. “Their deep travel domain expertise coupled with their outstanding engineering and data science capabilities is solving a huge unmet need in a $3.4 trillion industry,” said Noel Ruane of Polaris Partners in a company blog post.
Founder, editor and CEO of Business Insider Henry Blodget has confirmed news the media outlet has secured $12 million in a post on its website. Previous backers Jeff Bezos, IVP, RRE and Gordon Crovitz — former publisher of The Wall Street Journal — supplied the money. Funding will be put towards making “Business Insider even more helpful and convenient” for readers; the New York-based company looks to launch a Europe edition out of the United Kingdom.
TownSquared, a social platform for local businesses, has bagged more than $5 million in funding, according to a Form D the San Francisco-based company filed with the SEC. Investors weren’t disclosed. TownSquared can help users stay posted on crime and other goings-on in their neighborhoods, set up local activities and engage with other businesses.
New York’s OnDeck, which provides loans to small businesses, has received a $77 million investment led by Tiger Global. OnDeck offers loans online amounting to no more than $250,000 to “brick-and-mortar businesses like hair salons and doctor’s offices,” according to a press release. The company’s investors include First Round Capital, SAP Ventures, Institutional Venture Partners and Google Ventures. In total, equity funding for OnDeck comes to $180 million while debt financing exceeds $300 million.
Stockholm-based music streaming platform Spotify will acquire Somerville, Massachusetts “music intelligence company” The Echo Nest. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The move will fortify Spotify’s prowess in the realm of music discovery, according to Spotify.
Sunnyvale-based Yahoo continues on its acquisition tear with Vizify, a Portland, Oregon social media-based biography builder. Deal terms were not disclosed. In joining Yahoo, “we will be sunsetting the Vizify service,” said an announcement on Vizify’s website.
Nasdaq has targeted the lucrative pre-IPO trading game, aiming to give investors access to companies before they go public, and build a relationship with tech firms before they choose an exchange to list on.
Nasdaq OMX Group announced the launch of Nasdaq Private Market, a joint project with SharesPost, which offers a similar type of platform but on a smaller scale. Greg Brogger, who founded SharesPost back in 2009, has been made president of the newly-formed company.
Nasdaq Private Market will give the exchange entry into the increasingly valuable secondary market utilized by existing investors or employees who decide to sell. Transactions involving sale of stock by employees or shareholders jumped 51 percent last year to $12.4 billion, from $8.2 billion in 2012, according to data from research firm Nyppex. The same data suggests that number will increase by 55 percent this year to $19.3 billion.
Between 15 and 20 companies have signed up to the platform so far, all meeting the requirements laid down by Nasdaq. Any company that wants to use the service to attract investment must have an enterprise value of $50 million or more and annual net income of $750,000 or higher. Nasdaq Private Market has identified more than 500 companies that fit its guidelines, according to Brogger.
“We listened to the needs of private growth companies and developed Nasdaq Private Market to serve as a fully integrated end-to-end solution for managing their equity functions,” said Brogger in a statement.
For Nasdaq the rewards stretch beyond traction in a blossoming area of trading. The exchange can build lasting bonds with any up-and-coming companies on the Private Market platform, and will offer them services such as public relations. Nasdaq is banking on companies remembering that relationship when the time comes for them to go public, and choose an exchange to list on. It is keen to bring tech companies back onside after losing listings such as Twitter and LinkedIn to the New York Stock Exchange. Their decisions were attributed in part to the mishandling of the Facebook IPO, and Nasdaq now seeks to regain the tech community’s trust. In 2013, the New York Stock Exchange handled 25 tech deals, compared to Nasdaq’s 23, according to research from Dealogic.
This type of trading is possible because of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act signed into law by President Barack Obama in April 2012. The law eased regulatory mandates and allowed private companies to have up to 2,000 shareholders. This caused an explosion in pre-IPO transactions, which was popularized by trading in social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Now, the majority of these social giants have gone public themselves, but investors still want to get in early on tech companies on the up. Nasdaq will face competition in this space from SecondMarket, which has raised over $34 million since it was founded in 2004.
The pre-IPO trading market shows no signs of slowing down, and Nasdaq has made a shrewd decision in making a play in this area. Critics may say that promoting investment prior to going public goes against the best interests of a stock exchange, as it increased funding may delay an eventual IPO. But in this respect Nasdaq plays a long game. In time, the listing choices of the top tech players will reveal if it’s a game they’ve won.
As Russian troops surround Ukraine’s semi-autonomous region of Crimea, the world’s media spotlight has turned on a peninsula that encapsulates many of the ethnic and religious tensions common across the former USSR.
But there are many more ‘breakaway states’ on the continent. And despite significant online hurdles, some are making headway with the Internet and social media in a push for global recognition.
Take, for example, Transnistria. The slither of land between the Dniester River and Ukraine, home to just over 500,000 people, is officially a part of Moldova, Europe’s poorest nation. But since a short war in 1992 Transnistria has effectively been a separate nation in all but name, with considerable economic support from Russia.
Igor Smirnov, a Communist Party veteran, had ruled Transnistria for 20 years when his fourth election rolled along in 2011. Many expected another easy victory. But Yevgeny Shevchuk a 45-year-old lawyer and independent candidate, blasted him away, winning 75% of votes in a second round. Shevchuk’s secret weapon? Social media. Messages disseminated virtually overtook Smirnov’s traditional rally cries. Young people were enamored.
Since his win, Shevchuk has gone on a web-based charm offensive, taking to countless platforms to espouse Transnistria’s status as a peaceful, worthy state. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – as well as popular Russian outlets VK and Odnoklassniki – have all got the Shevchuk treatment. “Accounts belong to officials or institutions: their activity and presence on mentioned platforms are different. All these mean that Transnistria takes its activity on social media very seriously,” says Marcin Kosienkowski, assistant professor of international relations at John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin in Poland.
Transnistria has a slick ‘national’ website containing news, views and information from the quasi-state. Its foreign ministry page “presents the entity as independent and democratic and proceeds to list its many attributes of statehood, including its own constitution, controlled territory, legislation, market economy, developed financial and tax systems, modern communications infrastructure, army, militia, security service, national flag, coat-of-arms, and anthem,” writes University of York politics professor Nina Caspersen.
However there are considerable boundaries to online progress for countries that don’t officially exist. Top-level domains are one. While Germans may use the suffix .de, or Britons .co.uk, Transnistrians – or Abkhazians (Georgia), or Northern Cypriots (Cyprus) – must use the suffixes of their ‘parent’ nations, providing both an electronic and societal barrier to recognition. Similarly, drop-down menus required by platforms such as Skype or Amazon, do not include stateless regions. And almost all breakaway regions lack the talent pool or financial clout of their parent, meaning that their government sites and/or social media accounts can appear unprofessional and lackluster.
Another hurdle to progress is the autocratic mindset of many stateless governments, which many attribute to their residual fondness for the Soviet Union. Social media, and free speech, are often viewed with caution as any dissent could undermine a fragile push for recognition, or simply routes toward foreign trade.
“The strategies used by the unrecognised territories can…be described as “competitive democratization” or ‘competitive state-building,’” says Caspersen. “They are trying to convince the world that they are more democratic and more stable than their parent states. Since most of these entities emerged from violent conflicts, they are also keen to demonstrate their peaceful intentions.”
However in Transnistria Mr Shevchuk is rarely the most visible political face, preferring to remain distant like his predecessor Smirnov. That accolade belongs to Nina Shtanski, a smart-dressing, 35-year-old lawyer who is the region’s foreign minister. Ms Shtanski has an active Facebook profile with 1,293 photos and over 1,800 friends. She often responds to personal messages, which has garnered much praise with her electorate.
“Shtanski doesn’t part with her account, even while on holiday,” says Kosienkowski. “Speed of information is an important factor, given the contentious nature of the conflict between Transnistria and its parent state, Moldova, and the internet could be used, for example, to ease tensions quickly.”
The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is a spot of landlocked greenery within Azerbaijain, but whose ethnic and linguistic ties are with nearby Armenia. The tiny state of under 150,000 people was subject to several conflicts in the midst of the Soviet breakup, but has not managed to win its own independence. Journalist and social media expert Arzu Geybulla sees potential in the region’s social media output, but thinks it has a long way to go.
“The president has a Twitter account and allegedly holds the largest followers base on Twitter but thats arguable (the account of Bako Sahakyan, @NKR_President, has since been blocked),” says Geybulla. “And while there are sometimes online statements emphasizing independence of the country when it comes to relations with its neighbor, social media tools are often used only to dehumanize the neighbor, showing the inhumanity.
Internet coverage is still sparse in Nagorno-Karabakh, and pro-independence blogs and forums are still limited to a few thousand people. But while the region’s political rulers are behind the times, a younger generation is taking to social media to spread the word for recognition. “These young men and women (mostly men) are better equipped with the knowledge and also have more time on their hands. These people often push for political messages, calling for “territorial integrity”, recognition of Azerbaijan’s pain and the suffering its people had to go through fighting the war, recognizing Armenians as aggressors and occupiers, etc. So far, social media proved to be very effective in the hands of these young people.”
Nagorno-Karabakh, however, remains a part of Azerbaijan, as Transnistria continues as a Moldovan region. Recognition for these nonexistent nations will likely be a long time coming. But if it ever does, the Internet will play a huge role.
Mobile measurement and analytics company AppsFlyer has received $7.1 million in a Series A round from Pitango Ventures and Magma Venture Partners. The Israeli company’s Software Development Kit has been installed on upwards of 800 million mobile devices, according to a company blog post. Customers of AppsFlyer, which crossed into profitability last year, include Glassdoor, Kaspersky Lab, Foursquare, Kingsoft and Baidu.
Berlin-based TVSMILES, which leverages an app that rewards users for watching TV advertising, has raised $7 million in a Series A funding. Ventech S.A., e.ventures, German Startups Group, Brandenburg Ventures, Magix AG and angels invested in the round. Among the companies customers: Wrigley, Johnson & Johnson and Mitsubishi.
Raleigh, North Carolina-based Aseptia, the “food processing technology company” that owns Wright Foods, has wrapped up a $28 million Series C Preferred Stock financing. Lookout Capital, SJF Ventures, the F.B. Heron Foundation and Prudential invested in the round. The funding is earmarked for backing expansion of Wright Foods’ Troy, NC-based operations.
Clinicient, which provides technological solutions to outpatient rehabilitation therapy businesses, has secured $15 million in Series C funding from Catalyst Investors. The Portland company leverages revenue cycle management software and clinical services, and is handling close to $1 billion in payments, according to a press release. Clinicient has also appointed Rick Jung chairman and CEO.
Enterprise Platform as a Service (PaaS) company CloudBees has gained $11.2 million in a Series C round led by Verizon Ventures. Previous investors Matrix Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners, plus fresh investor Blue Cloud Ventures, participated in the funding. Backing behind the Woburn, MA-based company now comes to $25.7 million. MarketsandMarkets forecasts the worldwide PaaS market will swell to $6.94 billion by 2018.
Field service management company ServiceMax has raised $71 million in a Series E funding led by Meritech Capital with contributions from Kleiner Perkins. Cross Creek Advisors, Sozo Ventures and QuestMark Partners joined prior backers Emergence Capital Partners, Trinity Ventures, Mayfield Fund, Crosslink Capital, salesforce.com and Adams Street Partners in the round. The Pleasanton, CA-based company serves more than 300 customers such as Kodak Alaris and Canon U.S.A., Inc., and is expanding with triple digit revenue growth, according to a press release.
DocuSign has gained $85 million in funding. The lion’s share came from big institutional public funds, with current investors contributing. The San Francisco company helps companies digitally handle transactions and counts upwards of 95,000 companies as clients. Funding behind the company now comes to $210 million.
Irvine-based online real estate platform Auction.com has gained $50 million in funding from Google Capital. Shareholders in the company include Starwood Property Trust, Starwood Capital Group, Stone Point Capital and funds handled by affiliates of Fortress Investment Group, according to a press release. Auction.com’s CEO said in the same release the company’s marketplace hosted trading for $7 billion of commercial and residential real estate last year.
Menlo Park, CA-based employee communications company GuideSpark has secured more than $15 million in funding. New Enterprise Associates, Storm Ventures and IDG Ventures led the round. The company’s customer list includes L’Oreal USA, 7-Eleven, Adobe and BOX. Enterprises drop upwards of $62 billion on training in America, and more than half of that heads into technology, coaching, tools, and alternative non-instructor lead solutions, according to Bersin by Deloitte. GuideSpark seeks to “disrupt this market in the HR communications space,” according to a company press release.
Austin-based vacation rental platform HomeAway has picked up Santa Rosa Beach, Florida’s Glad To Have You, “creator of the vacation rental industry’s leading mobile guest management solution.” Right now, more than 300 American property management companies employ the GladProfessional mobile app.
Palo Alto-based media aggregator Flipboard has acquired San Francisco’s mobile magazine company Zite from CNN. The broadcast network reported the transaction could grow in value to $60 million. “Adding Zite’s expertise in personalization and recommendations to Flipboard’s product experience and powerful curator community will create an unparalleled personal magazine for our millions of readers,” writes Flipboard’s CEO Mike McCue in a Flipboard blog post. Atlanta-based CNN has now launched on Flipboard as well.
San Francisco-based Beats Music, which recently deployed its own music-streaming app, has bought Santa Monica’s Topspin Media, the “software for musicians” company. Beats Music’s CEO Ian Rogers used to serve as Topspin’s chief executive.
Allen Park, Michigan engine tech company EcoMotors is teaming with First Auto Works subsidiary First Auto Works Jingye Engine Company (FAW JY) to “develop, manufacture, sell and service” EcoMotors’ opposed-cylinder engine technology in China. FAW JY is providing more than $200 million to build a plant that will have a production capacity gauged at 100,000 engines per year starting 2015, according to a press release. EcoMotors will take 49 percent of the venture, while FAW JY will be the majority partner.
Play-i, which makes robots for kids to program, has received $8 million in a Series A investment from Charles River Partners and Madrona Venture Group. Through crowdfunding, the Mountain View company had previously gained more than $1.4 million in 30 days from almost 11,000 pre-orders. Play-i is also teaming with 100+ developers that signed up for first dibs on its API and intends to issue its API more widely when the robots get shipped, according to a press release.
Zumper, which helps users find home and apartment rentals, has finished a Series A investment round from Kleiner Perkins. NEA and Dawn Capital, both seed backers, contributed to the round. Other seed investors include KPCB, Andreessen Horowitz, CrunchFund, Greylock, The Experiment Fund, and the deWilde family trust. The San Francisco company’s platform plays host to more than 500,000 active listings.
Analytics company Reflektion, which serves retailers like Converse, Inc., has secured $8 million in a Series B funding round led by Intel Capital. Other investors like NIKE, Inc. contributed to the funding. San Mateo-based Reflektion leverages an analytics platform that identifies trends and forecasts consumers’ next probable purchases, according to a press release.
Beijing’s pet-focused e-commerce and social platform Boqii has realized a $25 million Series B investment, according to TechNode. Among its backers: prior investors led by Goldman Sachs and an undisclosed U.S. VC. The site leverages a place to buy pet necessities like food or to learn about animal care.
The WSJ is reporting Appian Corp. of Reston, VA, provider of Business Process Management software, has secured $37.5 million in Series B funding from New Enterprise Associates. The company had previously gained $10 million from Novak Biddle Ventures in 2008. According to the company’s LinkedIn, Appian serves more than 3.5 million global users.
Beacon Securities has led a $10.75 million funding in Slyce, which provides visual search solutions. Myriad private investors, PI Financial, Harrington Global, Salman Partners, and AlphaNorth Asset Management contributed as well. Total funding now exceeds $14.5 million. Toronto-based Slyce just acquired computer vision technology from York University and MaRS Innovation this past February.
Borro, which operates in the pawnbroking and auction industries, has completed a $112 million financing through Victory Park Capital, according to a press release. The “personal asset lender” makes loans that value $12,000 on average, but will dole out up to $2 million. U.K.-based Borro is a Red Herring 2012 Top 100 North America company and a 2012 Top 100 Global company.
According to reports, SoftBank Ventures Korea has funded Ini3 Digital, which delivers web game services, and snapped up a 23 percent stake in the company. Bangkok-based Ini3 is behind games like Pangya, Club MStar, Boomz and C9.
New York’s stock imagery and more company Shutterstock will acquire WebDAM, “a leading provider of web-based digital asset management software,” according to a press release. The San Mateo company serves customers like Symantec and New Balance.
Boston-based Flashnotes has said it will pick up Moolaguides. Both companies enable people to obtain study materials. Moolaguides was started by a senior at Florida State University, and has driven $250,000 in revenue, according to a press release. Flashnotes’ user base expanded by 175 percent this past year and gained $3.6 million in Series A funding this past February.
Apple’s plans to integrate its devices in cars have ramped up from first to second gear. The company announced three car brands will soon sell vehicles equipped with CarPlay, which transforms vehicles into mobile iPhones.
Apple has driven around this particular block before, as the company has already introduced its technology into automobiles. At last year’s Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue told the crowd 95 percent of cars currently sold incorporated music playback and control from an iOS device. The same conference teased iOS in the Car, what Apple called its automotive initiative the first time around. “What if you could get iOS on the screen that is built into your car so that you can make phone calls, play music, go to maps, get your iMessages right on the screen in your car or eyes-free using Siri?” Cue asked.
Now Apple has resurrected the idea of iOS in the Car, this time under the name CarPlay. The Cupertino behemoth’s new system puts iPhone apps and capabilities in a 4-wheel casing and “takes the things you want to do with your iPhone while driving and puts them right on your car’s built-in display,” according to CarPlay’s website. Drivers in CarPlay-enabled vehicles can use voice activation or the vehicle’s buttons, knobs and touchscreen to calls people, send and receive messages, and play music. Siri, Apple’s vocally-controlled assistant, plays a crucial role here as the interface allows drivers to do all the above hands-free.
Other perks include an intelligent Maps service that can forecast where users want to get based on addresses from their email, texts, calendars and contacts. Plus, CarPlay leverages support for a few apps that aren’t Apple-branded, like Beats Radio, Spotify, Stitcher, and iHeartRadio, with more on the way.
Apple’s swerve into the automotive sector marks the company’s increased focus on convergence. The new direction proves necessary as technology companies battle for attention from automotive vendors that will eventually need their products to satisfy mass demand for connected cars. Research company SBD anticipates that by 2018, nearly 36 million new cars will get shipped worldwide with embedded telematics, a number approaching a third of all cars shipped for that year. The GSMA and SBD predict the connected car market will swell 200 percent from 2012 to 2018, from €13 billion ($18 billion) to €39 billion ($54 billion).
Apple isn’t the only technology company with its eyes on the road. Google has recently prioritized developing automotive innovations. The company is working on self-driving vehicles, and its mapping app has a definitive edge over Apple’s offering. According to comScore, Google Maps reached 43.1 percent of the smartphone app audience compared to Apple Maps’ 23.2 percent share in October of last year. This past January, news broke of an Open Automotive Alliance, an initiative to usher Android into cars. Its members: Google, Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai and NVIDIA. The Android platform served 52.2 percent of smartphone subscribers over Apple’s 40.6 percent in October 2013, according to comScore — so even though CarPlay might come to automobiles first, it may see less adoption than an upcoming Android system.
At last year’s WWDC, Cue said Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Chevy, Volvo, Acura, Nissan, Kia, Jaguar, Ferrari, Opel, Hyundai and Infiniti would debut iOS integration in 2014. The company announced that Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo vehicles will present CarPlay to consumers this week. Later, the integration will come to more brands like BMW, GM, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Jaguar, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Suzuki, Toyota and Subaru.
Despite its popularity and success, Apple has only a limited range of devices on offer to consumers. That narrow focus of smartphones, music, tablets and TV makes Apple vulnerable to major shifts in any of those markets. Putting its technology in cars may keep the company steered in the right direction for sustained success.
The talent industry embarked on its own recruitment drive recently, as three of its biggest names secured large acquisitions in the last month.
LinkedIn, the social media platform aimed at professionals, has made increasingly large strides into the recruitment sector over the past few years, and enjoyed considerable success. This progress has been augmented by a deal to buy Bright.com, a job-search startup with an emphasis on data. LinkedIn agreed to pay $120 million for the San Francisco-based company at the start of February. Bright.com launched from stealth mode in 2012, when it announced $6 million in funding from various unnamed angel investors. The company then raised a Series B round of investment in September of last year, which saw Toba Capital and Passport Capital participate.
LinkedIn has been much hyped by investors, and commands a startlingly high valuation. The company has a market capitalization of $24.44 billion, despite predicting revenue of $460 million or less for the first quarter of 2014. But this acquisition will strengthen the company’s hold on the social recruitment market, one which it already dominates. The company has also made moves to enter other markets, and will launch a Chinese version of its platform. The professional network already boats 4 million users in China, despite the service being in English. In China it will compete with the likes of Tianji, Ruolin and Dajie.
Meanwhile, one of the online recruitment industry’s oldest and biggest players, Monster.com, acquired two young startups, TalentBin and Gozaik. Both companies focus on recruitment through social media and Monster will hope to capitalize on the shift to social in the careers space, largely pioneered by LinkedIn. Boston-based Gozaik matches candidates to jobs primarily using Twitter, while TalentBin, founded in San Francisco, uses all social media platforms to bring employers and talented individuals together. TalentBin raised $3.2 million over two rounds of investment last year. SV Angel, FundersClub, First Round Capital, Charles River Ventures, Foundation Capital, New Enterprise Associates and Lightbank all pumped money into the company. In contrast, very little is known about Gozaik or its investors.
Financial terms for both of the acquisitions were not disclosed, though Monster.com has promised more details during an investor briefing in May. The company has suffered from falling revenues in the past year. In the last quarter of 2013 revenue for Monster.com stood at just under $199 million, compared to more than $211 million over the same period last year.
Workday, which offers cloud-based applications designed to make the jobs of HR professionals easier, has also taken a big step into the recruitment space, acquiring Identified for an undisclosed amount. Identified, which has raised $22.5 million to date, provides analytics-based recruitment software. Workday, in contrast to Monster.com, has enjoyed an increase in revenue over the last year. The company’s last quarterly report showed $468.9 million in revenue, an increase of 71 percent from the same period last year. It’s not yet clear how Identified will fit into Workday’s business, but there is huge potential in the alliance. Identified raised a $21 million Series B round in 2012, and the likes of VantagePoint Capital Partners, Capricorn Investment Group, Bill Draper, Innovation Endeavor and Transmedia Capital contributed.
Analytics-based recruitment, which is used in some way by all of the above companies recently acquired in this sector, represents not just a trend in the talent industry, but a monumental shift. These programs can gather data from different forms of social media and suggest the right candidate a company should hire. LinkedIn has a strong advantage in this field as it holds a huge amount of data from its own users. But there are still parts of the market up for grabs. LinkedIn primarily features university-educated individuals, while companies such as Identified claim to be able to match candidates with hourly-paid positions that might not require a degree.
The talent sector is packed full of promising, up-and-coming companies, seemingly headed for profitable exits. One of them, Glassdoor, raised $50 million in December and has begun to consider an IPO, according to the company’s CEO Robert Hohman. The job-review site is also a recruitment platform and aims to become a global company. Glassdoor’s latest investment round was led by Tiger Global Management. Entelo is another trailblazer in this industry, and has already raised over $3.5 million from Menlo Ventures and Battery Ventures. The company uses algorithms to narrow job searches and counts Yelp and Square among its customers. Entelo scours through millions of data points to provide recruiters with a detailed picture of potential employees.
The use of data analytics is a wider trend of the whole technology industry, and in recruitment it has a well suited purpose. Any startups currently active in this field are either enjoying the benefits this form of analysis brings, or ruing the fact they are not yet involved. The exits of Bright.com, TalentBin, Identified and Gozaik show just how important, and valuable, this space is. Those late to the data analytics field, may just have missed the boat.
San Francisco’s security-focused messaging app Wickr has secured $9 million in a Series A funding led by Alsop Louie Partners, according to reports. Other notable backers include Thor Halvorssen, President of the Human Rights Foundation; Gilman Louie of Alsop Louie Partners, former CEO and founder of In-Q-Tel; Juniper Networks; and others. The application allows users to send encrypt communications and emphasizes privacy and security.
New York media outlet Mashable has finished its Series A round with $14 million, up from $13.3 million, which the company received in January. The new investment comes from Tribune Digital Ventures. The round marks the New York-based company’s first-even funding since it was founded in 2005.
Oak Investment Partners has led a $17 million Series B investment in business information company DueDil. Passion Capital and Notion Capital participated. In the last 10 months, the company has secured $22 million in funding, as the London company had previously raised $5 million last year. The company has grown to be twice its size since its Series A funding round; it is anticipated to do the same in the next year.
Top10.com has completed an $8 million Series B investment. Balderton Capital led the round, which saw participation from Forward Partners, Idealab, and Accel Partners. The U.K. company presents the top 10 hotels in “any destination in the world,” according to a press release. The platform now generates more than $1 million a month in hotel bookings.
Molecular testing company RainDance Technologies has realized a $16.5 million Series E investment round extension. All previous financial backers were joined new ones GE Ventures and Northgate Capital. Total backing now exceeds $100 million from investors like Mohr Davidow Ventures, Quaker BioVentures, Acadia Woods Partners, Alloy Ventures, Northgate Capital, Sectoral Asset Management, and Capital Royalty Partners.
Great Yarmouth-based 3sun Group, which focuses on the energy industry, has received a £10 million ($16.7 million) investment from Business Growth Fund. The company “operates in the oil and gas onshore and offshore wind sectors” and is on schedule to drive revenues amounting to more than £25 million for 2014. 3sun has bases in Aberdeenshire; Bergen, Norway; Lubeck, Germany; and Esbjerg, Denmark, and is exploring more places.
Softgarden and 1000jobboersen, two companies based in Berlin that provide recruitment solutions, have merged. Softgarden leverages recruiting software while 1000jobboersen suggests job boards. “With the most modern technology and comprehensive analytical qualities combined with HR-experience and longstanding expertise in multi posting our clients will become winners of the war for talents,” Softgarden writes in a blog post.
FrontStream Holdings, LLC, dba FrontStream Payments, has picked up Washington, D.C.-based TRUiST, which offers corporate philanthropy services. TRUiST will help FrontStream attend to nonprofits and charitable donors; in 2013, the Reston, VA company officially debuted its NonProfit Division made up of three brands concentrating on nonprofit: FirstGiving, Artez Interactive, and GiftWorks.
Samsung revealed its new Galaxy S5 smartphone at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week. The Korean company gives the latest installment in the Galaxy S series a makeover rather than a complete overhaul, but will it be enough to dominate the competitive smartphone market?
The smartphone left some enthusiastic and others underwhelmed. Its new specs promise upgraded power-saving, security and camera offerings, but improvements seem incremental. It’s not so much a phone for a distant tomorrow packed with next-generation technology than it is a device for next month or next year. And while this may disappoint those waiting on Samsung to make the iPhone look like a brick, progress made with the S5 still impresses.
Judging the S5 by its cover, it’s a prettier device than its predecessor. The company’s president and CEO J.K. Shin called the phone’s dimpled back “modern and refreshing.” The S5’s casing also acts like a suit of armor, as the device comes furnished with a fingerprint security and IP67 dust and water resistance — meaning the S5 will work even after getting dunked in water for a half hour. The latter point drew a round of applause from the Barcelona crowd.
Other upgrades show Samsung’s emphasis on wearable and health-orientated technology. The S5 tracks users’ heart rates, and claims to be the first smartphone ever to pack a heart rate sensor. Samsung has also paid attention to enterprises’ ‘bring your own device’ needs and introduced KNOX 2.0, an update on its mobile security platform. In addition, the S5 has Near-field communication (NFC) connectivity, which will facilitate mobile commerce and payment.
Each of these up-and-coming sectors represent a massive opportunity. Mobile health revenues worldwide could reach $23 billion by 2017, according to PwC and GSMA. Global Industry Analysts forecasts the mobile security market could swell to $14.4 billion by the same year. And Juniper Research predicts in 2017, the volume for NFC transactions could hit $110 billion. Getting into these markets, and getting there first, seems a priority for Samsung.
Samsung’s market position is the envy of all other vendors whom the South Korean company watches from the apex of the industry. It battles strong competition in arch-rival Apple, but shipped nearly a third of all smartphones worldwide last year, more than double its Cupertino challenger. Though Apple’s 5s device debuted more than five months ago and Samsung’s S5 won’t hit markets until April, the smartphones share a lot of similarities, without even mentioning their inverse names. Now, the two devices both fingerprint security features and design elements like a drop-down notification center.
Samsung has updated and upgraded, but takes a risk in avoiding a knockout new feature which could potentially win new customers from Apple. Improving on a theme and going back to basics can be good cliches for a technology innovator on some occasions, but in the ultra-competitive world of smartphones, where the number one spot only lasts so long, it’s an interesting philosophy to employ.
King Digital Entertainment’s IPO announcement is, despite its impressive user numbers, a risk. The Dublin-based developer’s games have been downloaded on over 500 million mobile devices and 408 million of those consumers play at least one game per month. Approximately 124 million users play every day. Which means that on any day, 1 in every 60 people on Earth is smashing virtual lumps of candy on their phone. So where does the risk come from?
King’s profit margins are eye-boggling too: 665 employees generated $1.9bn of revenue in 2013. Some analysts value the company at over $5bn, which would make King, founded in Sweden in 2003, the ninth most valuable publicly-listed Irish firm of all time. Guinness-maker Diageo, by the way, tops out that list with a value of just under $50bn.
Virtual candy needs virtually no production. Mobile comprises 73 per cent of total bookings (ie, virtual goods sold). Zynga made only 35 per cent of its own business from mobile. When it comes to platform, King is on the curve.
But many more experts have pointed to the failure of Zynga, maker of pixelated agrarian utopia Farmville, which since its 2011 public offering has lost half its share price. And there are signs King might only be ready to list because it knows its business is running out of profitability time. For starters, revenues have begun to drop on Candy Crush, whose players are increasingly shunning the extras and add-ons that King gets its revenue from (the game itself is a free download.) Currently only 3 per cent of Candy Crushers pay to play, down from a high of only 4 per cent in Q2 2013.
In addition, the number of ‘monthly unique payers’ shrank by 847,000 in the past quarter, suggesting that, while King added 47 million players to its gargantuan base, its games are beginning to plateau. Not the best omen for a public offering. In fact, King has dished out $500 million in dividends to private shareholders in the past six months, including $287m in October 2013 and $213 this month. Why are people taking their money and running? It might be because Candy Crush, which, as had already been mentioned, seems to be reaching a peak, makes up almost 80 per cent of King’s business. The next-best is Pet Rescue. When it comes to treats, people prefer candy to critters.
So what can King do to increase its market value? First, it should be piling more cash into development. It currently spends six per cent of revenue on R&D, but with Candy Crush dominating the company so much this figure should be far higher (Facebook spends 16 per cent.) Increase the number of games people are playing, and an IPO will be a far safer.
Secondly, King should avoid being characterized as a ‘mean’ company. King dropped its plan to trademark the word ‘Candy’ in the US. But that plan still holds for the rest of the world, and some view the aggressive tactic as less assertive, more desperate. Which could translate to a difficult public offering.
Finally, King should make its games more social. Playing one of the company’s games might be a technicolor, musical affair. But it’s still a lonesome one. If King can find a way to connect its gamers more effectively (Rovio, maker of Angry Birds, has suffered similarly in this respect), it may be able to increase that three per cent who’ll dip into their pockets to play. Mobile games such as Word Worm are good at this, turning a one-player lexicographic exercise into a two-player battle.
Despite all this, expect a flurry of excitement and activity around King’s IPO. Just remember, investors: you have been warned.
Finance app developer Wacai has received a $15 million series A+ injection from Qiming Venture Partners, according to TechNode. Previously, Hangzhou-based Wacai had secured roughly $10 million in a Series A investment from IDG Capital Partners. Total backing comes to almost $30 million.
New York’s Skillshare, which leverages an online learning platform, has raised $6.1 million in funding. Eleven investors participated in the round, though their identities were not disclosed. Among its prior investors: Union Square Ventures, Spark Capital, SV Angel, Founder Collective, Collaborative Fund, and individual backers including Jason Finger of Seamless, Karl Jacob of Facebook and David Tisch of Techstars.
Jewish Business News reports Guggenheim Partners has pumped $9 million in new equity capital into Replay Technologies, purveyor of freeD technology. Cervin Ventures is listed as an investor on the company’s website. Globes recently reported the NBA would utilize the Tel-Aviv based company’s freeD technology for the NBA All-Stars game and dunking contest.
Mono Consultants, which delivers network support solutions to the mobile telecoms industry in the U.K., has raised £7 million ($11.7 million) from the Business Growth Fund, according to reports. GrowthBusiness.co.uk states Glasgow-based Mono Consultants is looking to reach a £40 million turnover this year.
Identified announced on its website the company has been picked up by enterprise cloud company Workday. The San Francisco-based big data and analytics company had secured $22.5 million from backers like VantagePoint Capital Partners, Bill Draper, Tim Draper, Capricorn Investment Group and Innovation Endeavors. Pleasanton, California-based Workday recently announced revenues of $468.9 million for fiscal year 2014, which represents a 71 percent increase year-over-year.
Nippon TV will snap up Los Angeles-based Hulu’s business in Japan. “As part of the acquisition…Hulu will license its brand and technology to a subsidiary of Nippon TV,” according to a Nippon TV press release. Hulu says in the last three years, the Tokyo company has topped average household viewer ratings.
Enterprise software startup Bitium has secured a $6.5 million Series A investment from Polaris Partners. Amplify, Resolute VC, Double M Partners, Karlin Ventures, Social Leverage, Rob Glaser, and Lazerow Ventures contributed. The Santa Monica company helps customers manage apps. Dave Barrett, managing partner at Polaris, said in a press release that Gartner forecasts global IT spending is on track to hit $3.8 trillion this year.
Spire Technologies, a big data tech company out of Bangalore, has raised $8 million in a Series A investment. The funding came “at a post-money valuation of $23 million, from a strategic long-term” backer, according to a press release. Spire Technologies’ $8 million injection will be put towards development in markets including the U.S., APAC, and EMEA.
Authentication company Nok Nok Labs has received $16.5 million in a Series B funding from Lenovo Group Limited, DCM and ONSET Ventures. This investment brings total backing behind the Palo Alto company to $31.5 million. According to MarketsandMarkets, the multi-factor authentication market will swell to $5.45 billion by 2017.
San Francisco-based ClearSlide, which provides a platform for sales engagement, has raised a $50 million Series C funding round. The Social+Capital Partnership led the investment, while all current investors contributed. Among them: Greylock Partners, Felicis Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners. Total investment comes to $90 million. The company, which serves sales teams at companies such as LinkedIn and The Wall Street Journal, has ramped up revenue by 2.5x over the past year.
Medical device company Bruin Biometrics has realized a $10 million funding round oversubscribed by nearly $2.7 million. The Los Angeles-based startup “previously completed two initial rounds of funding for $4 million,” according to a press release. The United States medical device market stood gauged at $127.1 billion last year, according to Espicom.
According to an eBay blog post, the San Jose-based company is leading a roughly $133.77 million investment round for Snapdeal, a web marketplace out of New Delhi, India. EBay had funded Snapdeal before and with this new round increases its stake in the company. One year ago, Snapdeal had accrued more than 20 million registered users. “Both companies are well poised to capitalize to on the opportunity of a growing 200 million Internet user base and 140 million mobile Internet users,” eBay in its blog post.
The board of EKF, Denmark’s “official” export credit agency, has greenlit a $600 million loan to Massachusetts’ Cape Wind, according to reports. Cape Wind will be the first offshore wind farm in the United States, according to its website. A 2012 report by Greenpeace International and the Global Wind Energy Council says that by 2020, “wind power could supply up to 12 percent of global electricity.”
IBM CEO Virginia Rometty has stressed the importance of data in the future of her company’s business structure, while announcing new strategies for the New York-based tech giant.
Rometty, who rarely speaks in public, told journalist David Kirkpatrick how data is fast becoming an integral part of any business model, and highlighted the current period’s fluctuating markets.
“Data, cloud, engagement: they’re all at once. How many more clients I now see starting to put in place chief data officers, reporting to the CEO,” said Rometty, at the Barcelona conference’s third day of four. “These are not technical positions.”
IBM has a big-data analysis division worth $16 billion, said Rometty, whose company has suffered a turbulent twelve months. IBM also has 40 data centers around the world, and recently reported record earnings. But shares are still 14 percent below their value last March, and revenue has dropped seven months in a row.
Rometty, who recently made headlines for eschewing a bonus worth up to $8 million, admitted that this period is the “most exciting,” but also the “most disruptive” in history. IBM is going through plenty of changes itself. The company sold its x86 server business to Chinese firm Lenovo for $2.3bn last month. But it has also recently announced a decision to acquire Boston-headquartered Database-as-a-service (DBaaS) provider Cloudant.
This is part of the company’s shift away from its traditional position as a hardware company towards cloud based offerings and software. IBM software sales accounted for 29.2 percent of the company’s total revenue in 2013, up from 24.4 percent in 2012. In contrast, hardware sales as a percentage of total revenue has dropped from 16.9 percent in 2012 to 15 percent last year.
And Rometty used the Mobile World Congress to challenge mobile developers to make apps that use its intelligent, cloud-based service Watson, which Facebook Effect author Kirkpatrick views as a positive shift for IBM towards the cloud. “I think she has the right vision, of the right changes: data, the cloud, and…engagement, which others would call social,” he told Bloomberg TV.
Cybersecurity company CyberSense has received $5 million in Series A funding from investors BRM Group and Opus Capital. According to a press release, CEO Yaniv Alfi said the Menlo Park company, which has also now opened of its Silicon Valley HQ, “will use the investment to continue to develop advanced cybersecurity solutions that are helping some of the world’s most-often-targeted organizations reduce the risk of costly and disruptive compromises, data breaches and compliance violations.”
Kahuna, which provides mobile marketing automation services, has gained $11 million in a Series A investment from Sequoia Capital. The Mountain View company serves clients like the New England Patriots and Yahoo. Kahuna will also team up with Branding Brand, which links more than 250 retailers — including Ralph Lauren, Sephora and American Eagle Outfitters–– with Kahuna’s product.
Spree Commerce, which provides e-commerce services, has secured $5 million in Series A funding. Thrive Capital led the round, which saw contributions from Red Swan Ventures, True Ventures, AOL Ventures and Vegas Tech Fund. The Bethesda, MD-based company serves more than 45,000 retailers including Nutrisystem, SmartThings, Bonobos and Chipotle, according to its website.
EA founder Trip Hawkins’ If You Can Company has raised $6.5 million in a Series A round led by Greylock Partners and launched an iPad game. Other investors included Almaz Capital. The San Mateo company, whose game “IF…” aids players with social and emotional learning (SEL), had gained $2.8 million from backers like Andreessen Horowitz, Maveron Capital, Founder’s Fund and more.
Medical device company Respiratory Motion, Inc. has realized its Series B Preferred financing round. At first close, funding totals $5.8 million; the Waltham, MA-based company anticipates $3 million more. Easton Capital led the round. Respiratory Motion’s ExSpiron product line for monitoring respiration aims to attend to pulmonary problems that have driven more than $12 billion in healthcare costs in America, according to a company press release.
Institutional Venture Partners has led a $30 million investment into ZEFR, “the leading SaaS platform for brands and content management on YouTube.” U.S. Venture Partners, Richmond Park Partners, Shasta Ventures and First Round Capital participated in the funding. The Venice, CA-based company — which serves customers like Saturday Night Live, Warner Bros., and Sony Music — has experienced 100 percent revenue growth year-over-year for the past three years.
San Francisco’s Tradeshift, which helps businesses interact, has gained $75 million in a Series C investment from Scentan Ventures of Singapore. Total backing behind Tradeshift comes to $112 million, and its prior investors include Ru-net, Kite Ventures, PayPal, Intuit and Notion Capital. The company serves upwards of 500,000 companies, linking them with supply chains.
Waltham-based CounterTack has closed its Series B round, originally at $12 million, with $3 million more. The extension adds Siemens’ venture capital arm (SFS VC) to the company’s list of investors; among them: Goldman Sachs, Fairhaven Capital and a group of private backers. CounterTack customers include SK Infosec, an information security company in South Korea.
Distributed database tech company NuoDB has raised $14.2 million in a funding round from previous investors, the 3DEXPERIENCE Company, and Dassault Systèmes. Total backing now comes to $26.2 million. Prior investors include Longworth Venture Partners, Morgenthaler Ventures and Hummer Winblad Venture Partners. The Cambridge, MA company serves clients like AutoZone and Zombie Studios.
Stockholm-based InDex Pharmaceuticals AB has realized an oversubscribed, $20 million new rights issues/funding round led by NeoMed. The company’s product candidate, Kappaproct, can aid people with severe ulcerative colitis.
GSN Games will acquire Bash Gaming, which it had reportedly sued previously for breach of contract, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Bash Gaming, with offices in Bangalore and Foster City, CA, is behind Bingo Bash, which draws upwards of 4.8 million monthly active users (MAUs). The acquisition will bring GSN Games’ MAU count to almost 10 million, according to a company press release. GSN is headquartered in Boston, according to the company.
Demand-side platform The Trade Desk has secured $20 million in a Series B investment. Hermes Growth Partners led the round and IA Ventures contributed. Ventura, CA-based The Trade Desk has established offices in Singapore, Sydney and Hamburg in the last year and will head further into Asia Pacific, Europe, Northern Asia and Australia. The spend on worldwide advertising comes to almost $600 billion per year, with the real-time bidding market at $4 billion.
Palo Alto-based Piazza, the “social learning platform,” has debuted Piazza Careers and revealed a Series B investment. The company has raised $8 million in funding round led by Khosla Ventures. Bessemer Venture Partners, Piazza’s Series A lead investor, contributed as well. Its new platform helps connect students with companies like Palantir, SpaceX and Yelp.
d.light, provider of solar lighting and power products, has raised $11 million in a Series C funding round. DFJ, Nexus India Capital, Acumen Fund, Gray Ghost Ventures, Omidyar Network, and Garage Technology Ventures were among the investors that participated in the round. Total backing behind the San Francisco company now comes to $40 million in capital. This past year, d.light has sold 6 million power and solar light products, according to a press release.
Norwest Venture Partners has led a $40 million Series C funding round for Shape Security. Sierra Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Venrock, Allegis Capital, Google Ventures and TomorrowVentures contributed. The Mountain View company emerged from stealth last month with its ShapeShifter product, which safeguards businesses from cyber attacks. Total backing now comes to $66 million, as this most recent round adds to the $26 million received by the company in Series A and B.
Cheetah Medical, founded in Tel Aviv and headquartered in Boston, has realized a $9 million investment. Fletcher Spaght Ventures led the funding, which saw participation from MVM Life Science Partners, Ascension Health Ventures, Robert Bosch Venture Capital and Springfield Investment Management. The company leverages a non-invasive way to “measure key hemodynamic parameters,” according to a press release.
Calgary-based oil and gas monitoring company Hifi Engineering has gained $5.4 million in funding. Enbridge Inc. and Cenovus Energy invested. The company’s tech is in more than 500 wells in North America. Its customers include Shell, Halliburton and GE.
San Francisco ad platform AdStage has raised $1 million in fresh seed investment from Digital Garage, a backer of Twitter. In total the company has secured more than $2.5 million from investors including Quest VP, Dave McClure/500 Startups, XG Ventures, Freestyle Capital, and others. “AdStage has over $500,000 of daily budgeted ad spend between 8,600 active campaigns across all Google, Facebook, Bing & LinkedIn, along with over $9 million in indexed ad spend from the past four weeks alone,” according to a company press release.
Santa Clara entertainment tech company Rovi Corporation is snapping up Andover-based Veveo, Inc., a “leading provider of semantic technologies to bridge the usability gap in connected applications with intelligent search, discovery and personalization solutions.” When the deal closes, Rovi will provide about $62 million in net cash, as well as up to $7 million in further cash payments pending the attainment of landmarks.
Redwood Shores, CA-based Oracle has said it will acquire big data and marketing company BlueKai. The Cupertino company offers a cloud-based big data platform that facilitates companies’ customization of offline, online and mobile marketing campaigns with insights about the audience. Terms of the deal went undisclosed, but reports estimate the acquisition could run Oracle roughly $400 million.
San Francisco-based CloudFlare has picked up Burlingame, CA malware spotter StopTheHacker. CloudFlare “protects and accelerates any website online,” according to its website. No financial terms were disclosed.
Greensboro, North Carolina RF Micro Devices, Inc. (RFMD) is merging with TriQuint Semiconductor, Inc. of Hillsboro, Oregon. Both provide radio frequency solutions, according to a press release. The deal is made up entirely of stock and builds a new enterprise with revenues exceeding $2 billion. RFMD reportedly pays about $1.6 billion for TriQuint. “The combination is expected to achieve at least $150 million in cost synergies,” according to a company press release.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has claimed that the Internet is in better health than before the NSA spying scandal erupted. Speaking to an audience at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which began today, Zuckerberg said that increased collaboration between service providers has made the web stronger and safer.
Facebook brokered a deal with Barack Obama’s U.S. government last month, to disclose more information about NSA surveillance requests. In a talk with journalist David Kirkpatrick, Zuckerberg reiterated claims that these requests numbered in the “thousands, not millions.” Google, Microsoft and several other high-profile web firms were involved in the case.
“The government blew it on this. They were way over the line in terms of not being transparent,” said Zuckerberg. “The NSA issues are real issues…Trust is such an important thing when you’re using a service that shares important information.”
However Zuckerberg stressed that the Internet has emerged a stronger entity in the wake of the scandal. “The issues with the NSA have the industry working together better than it has worked together before.”
The entrepreneur added that working on Internet.org, a project which aims to get the two thirds of the world’s population without the Internet online, has led to healthy collaboration between web-based heavyweights. Facebook has worked alongside Ericsson, Mediatek, Samsung, Opera, Nokia and Qualcomm as part of the scheme.
Zuckerberg also had plenty to say about his firm’s headline acquisition of WhatsApp that broke last week. The $19bn price tag has been questioned in many tech quarters. But Zuckerberg highlighted WhatsApp’s growing user base, which stands at 450m and which he believes can top 1bn, as proof of a good deal. “By itself (WhatsApp) is worth more than $19 billion. There are very few services that reach one billion people in the world, and they are very valuable.”
The Mobile World Congress continues until Thursday. Other keynote speakers include Virginia M. Rometty, chairman, president and CEO of IBM, and Jan Koum, co-founder and CEO of WhatsApp.
Wearable tech and healthcare company Quanttus has raised $19 million in a Series A investment from Matrix Partners and Khosla Ventures. The Cambridge startup had previously received $3 million in seed funding led by Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures. The market for wearable electronics could reach $8.36 billion by 2018, according to MarketsandMarkets.
Sunnyvale-based Saisei Networks, “a developer of flow-based network visibility and control solutions,” has gained $5.6 million in Series A funding. Oxygen Ventures led the investment, which also saw contributions from several early seed investors, according to a press release.
Semiconductor company Newlans has received $15 million in a Series B funding round led by Intel Capital. Paladin Capital and Lockheed Martin Corporation joined the investment. Adoption of the Acton, Massachusetts company’s Programmable Duplexer “will reduce cost and time to market for 4G mobile devices with global LTE operation,” founder and CEO Dev Gupta said in a press release.
San Diego-based Thesan Pharmaceuticals, a biotech that develops dermatological treatments, has realized a $49 million Series B funding round. The investment was led by Novo Ventures, while SV Life Sciences and Lundbeckfond Ventures accompanied Novartis Venture Fund in the syndicate, according to a company press release. Visiongain forecasts the global market for dermatological drugs will swell to $24.4 billion next year.
Big data and SaaS startup eCommera has secured $41 million in a Series C funding. The round was led by Dawn Capital with West Coast Capital, ePlanet Capital, Frog Capital, WPP, and Wti. The London-based company, which has maintained a compound annual growth rate of 46 percent for the past three years, operates in the $15 trillion worldwide retail market.
Sarasota-based Voalte, which delivers healthcare communication services, has gained $36 million in a Series C investment. Bedford Funding led the round. The mobile health industry, which Voalte serves, could exceed $10.2 billion by 2018. Last year, the company grew by almost 3x. Its technology helps care teams connect via voice calls, text and more, whether they are inside or outside of the hospital.
SpareFoot, which claims to run America’s biggest online marketplace for self-storage, has received $10 million from Insight Venture Partners. The funding brings total investment behind SpareFoot to $26 million since its founding in 2008 — with nearly 85 percent of that money coming from Insight. The Austin company’s other backers include FLOODGATE, Silverton Partners, and Capital Factory.
Software company TraceLink has raised $5.5 million more in growth investment led by FirstMark Capital. Massachusetts-based TraceLink serves eight of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies and leverages a Life Sciences Cloud network platform, according to a company press release. According to the World Health Organization, the worldwide pharmaceuticals market is anticipated to grow to $400 billion inside three years.
Brazilian real estate platform VivaReal has raised more than $12.7 million in funding, according to an SEC filing. The Sao Paulo company has raised $27.7 million in total, according to CrunchBase.
London PE firm Cinven has pumped a majority investment into Cincinnati contract research organization Medpace, Inc. Total consideration comes to $915 million “plus certain cash inflows relating to the period of ownership, acquired from CCMP Capital Advisors, LLC,” according to a press release. Medpace’s adjusted EBITDA for last year stood at $94 million.
Rakuten’s $900 million acquisition of Viber last week was the starting pistol, and Facebook’s $19 billion punt on WhatsApp was a signal cannon. Over-the-top messaging platforms have become the latest must-haves for a technology empire. But Google has been left out — and its options to regain ground are slim.
The mobile messaging market has changed drastically over a short period of time. Japanese Internet retailer Rakuten announced it had captured Cyprus-based Viber last weekend. And that was just the start. A mega-deal for WhatsApp has rocked the whole technology industry, and anyone who wasn’t previously paying attention to the mobile messaging space before, surely is now.
According to those in the know more acquisitions could follow. Riku Salminen, CEO at Jongla, a Finnish mobile messaging application, says his company saw a deal such as this one coming. “More news like this is definitely coming soon. We believe that 2014 will be the year when we are going to see a number of transactions and public listings to happen in mobile messaging space in particular,” he said.
Facebook appears to have embarked on a new strategy to buy standalone apps and services that will operate independently under the Facebook umbrella. But at its core, the WhatsApp deal buys the social media giant numbers. Facebook currently has 1.2 billion users, and it has just bought a company with over 450 million active monthly users. WhatsApp only charges those users $1 a year for its service, and has kept its platform ad-free. Facebook is not buying the company for its revenues. Founder Mark Zuckerberg knows social media sites have a shelf life: if he can make Facebook more than that, his firm can stay relevant for longer.
But what of Google? It seems the giant is hungry for more than its own Gmail-incorporated messenger, Gchat. Fortune wrote recently that Google offered $10 billion for WhatsApp, only to be gazumped by Facebook. It also reportedly bid $4 billion for Snapchat (another mobile messaging app, where messages are deleted after a short, set amount of time). The Mountain View-based firm has neither confirmed nor denied any acquisition attempt.
That limits the list of potential targets for Google. Speculation, however, continues to mount that the company will make another run at Snapchat. It’s no surprise that Google was also interested in a mega-deal for WhatsApp – the acquisition is similar in many ways to Google’s purchase of YouTube in 2006. Google paid $1.6 billion for the video sharing site, and as with Facebook’s acquisition, investors were initially spooked. But over the long term the move made sense and Google had a firm footing in an upcoming market segment. Facebook will hope that the same is true of its purchase of WhatsApp. Investors have already come round. Facebook shares dipped as much as 2 percent on the WhatsApp news, but have since recovered.
Aside from Facebook and Google, Microsoft is one of the only other companies with the cash to finance a deal for WhatsApp. There are no suggestions the company will bid for a mobile messaging platform soon: it already owns Skype, which has similar features. Microsoft has only just welcomed a new CEO, Satya Nadella, and appears to be focusing on cloud-based software and hardware offerings.
Twitter has also placed emphasis on direct messaging in the past month. Speaking on a quarterly earnings call, CEO Dick Costolo acknowledged that while Twitter is a “town square” for conversation, people want to whisper in their friends’ ears from time to time. Twitter is cash-rich following its IPO last November, but there is little evidence to suggest the platform will move for a messaging company. It is far more likely Costolo was referring to developing Twitter’s own direct messaging function further.
The biggest and most valuable mobile messaging app in the world is arguably WeChat. The Chinese platform is estimated to be worth $30 billion by Barclays, and operates in the same region as other Asian giants such as Line and KakaoTalk. But WeChat is already part of its own mega-company, Tencent, which has a staggering market cap of $140 billion. Tencent may not be content with WeChat though, and has also been linked with a move for Snapchat in the past few months.
Many will question Facebook’s decision to spend $19 billion on a company with so little revenue. But it seems that more deals like it will follow in time. All eyes are now on Google.
It’s been yet another turbulent fortnight for Bitcoin, the crypto-currency that’s either the best or worst thing in the world right now, depending on your news source.
A headline from Stanford University reads ‘Stanford scholars say Bitcoin offers promise, peril’. That about sums it up at the moment. News has been breaking thick and fast on Bitcoin, and most of it has been negative of late. First there was the February 7 announcement that Apple had cut leading purse app, U.K.-based Blockchain, from the iOS App Store. Blockchain complained that Apple’s “bean counters (sic) are now firmly in charge” of the company. The app had over 120,000 downloads, which represents a small but significant fraction of bitcoin’s 2.5 million users.
This was followed by the slow implosion of Japan’s Mt Gox, which just a few days later had to halt all currency withdrawals amid an ‘increase in withdrawal traffic’. Now the firm is in turmoil after a glitch allowed thieves to steal users’ Bitcoins. Mt Gox users have taken to firesales for the rights to their frozen bitcoins ($118: around $450 less than the rate on unaffected exchange sites), banking that Mt Gox will fix the problem.
This merry-go-round has already been likened to the subprime lending that led to the global financial crisis. “The market is telling you there’s a huge risk that Mt Gox is completely insolvent,” Leigh Drogen, CEO of Estimize, told CNN. Mt Gox is the largest bitcoin exchange around, by some margin. It’s little surprise, therefore, that at the time of writing a bitcoin’s value was around $567, down from an all-time high of $1,242 in December.
But there was good news too. Bitcoin ATMs are springing up all over the world, particularly in America, and Mt Gox’ sticky situation doesn’t appear to have translated to lower prices on other exchange programs (however, the current markets are redder than a political map of southern Texas – prices are falling.) And despite the gloomy news, it seems that people are still highly enthused by the currency, which Bitcoin Foundation CSO Andreas M. Antonopoulos views as its biggest challenge. “Bitcoin is so much more than the price,” he says. “At this point, the most important metric is user adoption and on that metric Bitcoin is growing exponentially. Adoption is all that matters right now. Bitcoin works as a means of exchange regardless of price.
“Volatility continues to decrease over time and more and more people are joining this global phenomenon,” adds Antonopoulos. He also rubbished claims that Russia’s prosecutor-general has banned bitcoin there, saying the Russia decision has been “misrepresented” in the media. “It would not be the first time a narrow ruling has been mistranslated as a blanket ban, that’s what happened with China,” Antonopoulos says.
In a surprising turn, and in response to Mt Gox’s implosion, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, of almost-Facebook fame, and owners of around $25m in bitcoins, have launched their own price-tracker for the currency called ‘Winkdex’. Aside from the fact it sounds like a questionable dating service, Winkdex aims to reflect “the true value of a bitcoin…an index that better reflects accurate pricing is the next step in wider acceptance of bitcoin as an asset class,” said the twins. Judging by the last two weeks of news, that might prove harder than they thought.
Online social platform Hubub has gained $8.5 million in Series A funding. Todd Ruppert, Edgar Bronfman, Jr., and Tom Kalaris were among its investors. TechCrunch reports the company, headquartered in Toronto and New York, will debut a mobile client soon.
Mobile-based payments startup Ezetap has secured $8 million in a Series B funding round led by Helion Advisors, Berggruen Holdings and Social+Capital Partnership. Total backing behind the Bangalore company comes to $11.5 million. Ezetap serves up its solutions to emerging markets. In 2013, Visiongain expected worldwide mobile payments networks to do $251 billion in transactions that year.
Cybersecurity company Cylance has raised $20 million in a Series B funding round “supported by” a group of private investors, Blackstone, Fairhaven Capital and Khosla Ventures, according to company press release. The Irvine venture, founded 2012, operates in a market that could swell to $120.1 billion by 2017, according to MarketsandMarkets.
San Antonio-based medical-device company Seno Medical Instruments Inc. has collected $39 million in a Series C funding round led by MedCare Investment Funds, according to VentureWire. The investment will be put to “push[ing] further into clinical studies in the U.S. and closer to regulatory approval in Europe.”
Local services booking platform ClubLocal has realized a $10.7 million investment led by individual investors, Groupon, and two founders of ReachLocal, Inc. The initial amount invested was $7.5 million, with “an option” for Groupon of injecting $3.2 million more in the next year. The Dallas-based service, deployed in 2012, has carried out more than 11,000 home repairs jobs, according to a press release.
TechNode reports Kmsocial, a social media marketing company, has raised “tens of millions” in its second institutional investment round led by Fosun Venture Capital Investment of Fosun Group. Fidelity Growth Partners Asia joined the funding. The Beijing-based company counts Audi, Starbucks, SAP, Dove and Microsoft among its customers.
MINDBODY, which delivers software solutions for the beauty, health and wellness space, has gained $50 million from a syndicate of investors like Montreux Equity Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, Institutional Venture Partners, W Capital Partners and Catalyst Investors. The San Luis Obispo company serves more than 500,000 practitioners in 92 countries.
Technology blog GigaOm has gained $8 million in funding from True Ventures, Reed Elsevier Ventures, Alloy Ventures, and Shea Ventures. The site’s founder, Om Malik, is “hanging up [his] reporter’s notebook” and heading to True Ventures, where he will work as a partner.
Google announced on its DoubleClick Advertiser Blog it has picked up London-based Spider.io, which battles advertising fraud. “Our immediate priority is to include their fraud detection technology in our video and display ads products,” said the blog post.
U.K. carrier Vodafone has officially sold its 45 percent interest in Verizon Wireless. New York-based Verizon and Vodafone first decided Verizon would buy the stake back for $130 billion in September.
Mobile social advertising company MOKO Social Media Limited, with offices in New York, D.C. and Perth, will raise A$8 million ($7.2 million) before costs through “a placement of 38.1 million new ordinary shares at A$0.21 per share to qualified institutional and sophisticated investors.” The placement will occur pending shareholder approval.