VENTURE CAPITAL MARKET OVERVIEW, ISSUE 32 (APRIL 6-12)
Main sensation of the week – LinkedIn acquires Lynda.com for $1,5 billion. Nevertheless that’s not the only one piece of news from venture capital market. Issue 32 consists of different news worth attention. And, surely, Apple.
M&A. LinkedIn To Buy Online Education Site Lynda.com
Professional network LinkedIn purchased Lynda.com, the online learning company founded in 1995 by technical skill instructional book author Lynda Weinman and co-founder Bruce Heavin. Lynda.com has long been the go-to resource for online learning on subjects like Photoshop, basic HTML, CSS, management practices and many more, offering instructional videos and tutorials from industry experts and vets long before e-learning was at anywhere near the level of interest it enjoys today.
The acquisition is valued at $1.5 billion total, combining 52 percent cash payout and 48 percent stock, with an expected close date sometime in the second quarter of this year. “Most” Lynda.com employees will join LinkedIn as part of the deal.
In a blog post addressing the deal, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner talks about how the acquisition helps his company move closer towards a goal of connecting job seekers with jobs, by providing more equitable access to education and skill acquisition. Lynda.com CEO Lynda Weinman described the combination as a “perfect cultural fit” and discussed how it should help them continue to rarify the skills gap in the marketplace. LinkedIn head of content products Ryan Rolanksy describes a future in which job seekers are not only made aware of skills required for positions they’re applying for, but can also take courses to get those skill immediately through the social network.
LinkedIn isn’t saying exactly what its plans are for the education resource just yet, but Rolansky does say that Lynda.com remains open for business and accessible to users as they work together on what comes next.
M&A. Amazon Quietly Acquired Shoefitr To Improve How It Sells Footwear Online
Amazon has purchased Shoefitr, a startup based in Pittsburgh that has developed 3D technology to help match online shoppers with shoes that will fit them better.
Will Amazon implement the Shoefitr tech itself directly on its own site, will it integrate it into Zappos subsidiary, or both? Also unclear is whether Shoefitr will continue to work with its existing customers, which included the likes of Nordstrom, Cole Haan, REI and others.
Shoefitr’s technology works in a couple of different ways.
First of all, customers enter their own shoe size and your current shoe model, and then Shoefitr matches up this data with shoes in its database to recommend which size and shoe models would give you a similar fit.
Second of all, it takes into account lots of different variables such as shape, sole thickness, weight and so on, giving you comparisons against your current pair.
Founded in 2010 by Matt Wilkinson, Nick End, and Breck Fresen — all college athletes — Shoefitr uses 3D technology that it developed in house to scan shoes both inside and out to have the most accurate information. It then has keeps a big database for each customer where it is able to match up a customer’s own specific stock against the wider world of shoes for compatibility.
Shoefitr raised $1.3 million in funding from Vital Venture Capital, Innovation Works and the AlphaLab incubator.
M&A. Singtel Acquires Chicago-based Cybersecurity Firm Trustwave For $810M
Singtel, the biggest telecommunications firm in Southeast Asia with over 500 million mobile customers, will acquire Chicago-based cybersecurity company Trustwave in a deal worth $810 million. Founded in 1995, Trustwave developes software that helps business ward off cybercrime and protect their data.
Trustwave, which currently claims three million business subscribers, will continue to operate as a separate business after the deal closes in three to six months.
According to the terms of deal, Singtel will take a 98 percent equity stake in Trustwave, while Trustwave chairman and CEO Robert J. McCullen will hold on to the remaining two percent. Trustwave’s enterprise value is $850 million, while Singtel’s take is worth $810 million, not including net debt.
M&A. Apple Quietly Bought A Keyboard App Dryft
Apple quietly bought Dryft, a startup that develops keyboard apps — an acquisition that appears to have occurred last year.
The acquisition seemed to be confirmed by Randy Marsden’s LinkedIn profile, which lists him as joining Apple last September. Marsden, the chief technology officer of Dryft and also a co-founder of Swype, now leads development for Apple’s internal keyboard efforts. Whether Apple acquired Dryft for its assets or its talent in Marsden and others, we’re not exactly sure. Financial terms of the deal weren’t available.
The Dryft keyboard appears on screen only when the user places their fingers on the display, a unique way of creating an on-screen keyboard. It’s essentially a keyboard for tablets that tracks your fingers’ movements. Since releasing iOS 8, Apple has allowed developers to tinker with the device’s keyboard, opening the doors to startups like Swype and SwiftKey to create custom keyboards for the iPhone.
M&A. AfterCollege Acquires CollegeFeed To Support Recent Grads Hunting For Jobs
AfterCollege, a platform supporting entry-level jobs and internships for recent college grads, just acquired CollegeFeed, a social network for job-seeking college students started by a former Googler.
CollegeFeed, started by Sanjeev Agrawal and Aman Khanna, helps students from universities like Stanford and Carnegie Mellon connect with entry-level jobs.
The company had raised about $2.5 million in funding from investors including Accel Partners and S-Cubed Capital. To date, the platform has facilitated about 8,000 connections between job seekers and employers. That adds to AfterCollege’s 1.5 million student profiles and 400,000 job and internship listings.
Agrawal is joining AfterCollege as an adviser but not as a permanent employee, and the company’s senior product team will join the company to guide the integration of the two products. The companies didn’t disclose the terms of the acquisition.
M&A. India’s Largest Online Furniture Store Scores $50M
Urban Ladder, the e-commerce store that claims to be India’s largest online seller of furniture and home accessories, has stocked its coffers with $50 million in new funding led by Sequoia Capital and TR Capital. Returning investors Steadview Capital, SAIF Partners, and Kalaari Capital also pitched in.
Its latest funding brings the total Urban Ladder has raised so far to $77 million. Founded in July 2012, the site now lists 4,000 products in more than 35 categories.
The company will use its new capital to improve its technology by providing better images of products and making it easier for shoppers to browse and purchase items on mobile, says Urban Ladder co-founder and chief operating officer Rajiv Srivatsa.
M&A. Stanza Raises $4.3M To Better “Add-to-Calendar” button
An “Add-to-Calendar” button might not sound the most exciting foundation for a startup, but the team behind Stanza sees the button as a new way for organizations to reach their fans, customers, and team members.
The company, known until today as SpotOn.it, is announcing that it has raised $4.3 million in seed funding from Metamorphic Ventures, Founder Collective, Tekton Ventures, Western Technology Investment, Stanford-StartX Fund , and angel investors including Ronnie Lott and Harris Barton (both former NFL players). And although it counts more than 300 sports teams in NFL, NBA, NHL and NCAA among its customers, it’s also expanding from sports to a broader group of beta testers.
The starting point for Stanza is the Add-to-Calendar button — the button that lets you add online events to your personal calendar. Using Stanza’s technology, it becomes a more powerful tool, allowing the event organizer to push additional updates (such as scores after a game or recipes after a cooking class) and to integrate with other services (like buying tickets or taking an Uber to the venue). The organizer also gets analytics about how people are engaging with the event listing.
INVESTMENT. Android Co-Founder Andy Rubin Is Now A Partner At Redpoint Ventures
Back in October of 2014, Android co-founder Andy Rubin parted ways with Google after nine years with the company.
At the time of his departure, word trickled out that he was building a hardware-focused incubator called Playground — and sure enough, that incubator just disclosed this morning that they’ve raised $48M .
Turns out, that’s not all he’s got on his plate: he’s also now a venture partner at Redpoint Ventures.
Prior to selling Android to Google in 2005, Andy was the co-founder of Danger — a company best known for creating the Sidekick/Hiptop.
Redpoint was founded in 1999, and has over 300 investments in its portfolio — including names like Nextdoor, Path, Sonos, Stripe, Twilio, and even Android-based Android competitor Cyanogen. It’s also an investor in Rubin’s Playground incubator.