20 April 2015 at 09:01



Microsoft and Apple acquired small startups to improve BI and hardware segments, Indian startup Zomato joined the Unicorn Club. Some news are coming from European market, where Rocket Internet continue the creation of global takeaway network.

M&A. Apple Buys LinX, A Camera Module Maker

Apple has acquired LinX, an Israeli camera tech company whose most recent offerings include multi-aperture camera models which can enable effects like background focus blur, parallax images and 3D picture capture. Media received the following from Apple, which is a statement the company provides in lieu of confirmation when it has, in fact, acquired a smaller company: Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.

The LinX acquisition was valued at around $20 million according to sources familiar with discussions between the two. The Israeli startup’s hardware was targeted at tablets and smartphones specifically, and could not only offer the kinds of background defocus that’s popular on low aperture lenses paired with DSLRs, but could also help achieve better low-light performance, ideal for taking pictures indoors or at night without using flash.

M&A. Microsoft Acquires Mobile Business Intelligence Service Datazen

Microsoft announced that it has acquired Datazen, a mobile business intelligence and data visualization service.

Datazen, which launched about three years ago, allows businesses to create mobile dashboards from data in Microsoft Excel, but also from other cloud and enterprise database sources. To run Datazen, enterprises need to run Windows Server, IIS and .NET behind their firewalls, as well as Datazen’s server software.

The company offers apps for Windows, Windows Phone, iOS, Android and the web. According to today’s announcement, all of its products will remain available for the time being and the team will continue to work on Datazen’s server and client products.

After the deal completed, Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise Edition customers (version 2008 and up) can already download Datazen’s server software at no cost.

Microsoft will likely integrate Datazen’s technologies and expertise into its Power BI product, but it’s unclear what the roadmap for this integration looks like.

M&A. BlaBlaCar Acquires Carpooling.com To Dominate European Market

BlaBlaCar, a marketplace for city-to-city ridesharing, is acquiring its German competitor Carpooling.com, as well as Hungary-based competitor AutoHop. This is no surprise when you know the French company’s aggressive expansion strategy. While the terms of the deal are undisclosed, Carpooling.com definitely represents an important acquisition for the French company.

BlaBlaCar is a marketplace where you can find a driver who is driving from one city to another and book a seat in advance. Drivers can make a bit of money while riders can travel for cheap. It has the same business model as Airbnb — you pay or get money every time you ride or drive, and the company takes a 10 percent cut on average.

As a reminder, BlaBlaCar is one of the most promising French startups. It raised a massive $100 million round last summer to create a global long distance ride-sharing network.

But Carpooling.com isn’t just a small local competitor as the site had 6 million members before the acquisition, and BlaBlaCar is already available in Carpooling.com’s home market Germany. It was the second largest ride-sharing platform after BlaBlaCar. Now it’s pretty clear why BlaBlaCar needed all this cash last year — the company wants to take over as many markets as possible, and as quickly as possible.

After these two deals, BlaBlaCar now has 20 million members in 18 markets mostly in Europe — India was the company’s first expansion beyond Europe.

STARTUP. India’s Restaurant Search App Zomato Raises $50M At $1B+ Valuation

Time to loosen Zomato‘s belt: the Indian startup whose restaurant search app is now used in 22 countries is growing some more. The company has raised $50 million more in funding, and it has made its first acquisition of a product outside of the restaurant search space: it has bought payments platform MaplePOS. The funding values the startup at over $1 billion.

MaplePOS’s original service has been shut down as the product has been absorbed into Zomato’s platform and the plan is to roll it out globally later this year. New Delhi-based MapleGraph co-founders Arun Tangri, Varun Tangri, and Abhishek Rohilla have all joined Zomato. The acquisition — not to be confused with U.S.-based food delivery startup Maple — was a cash-and-equity deal, although the price is not being disclosed.

Meanwhile, the funding, a Series F, had been reported in local press about a week ago, but we have now been able to confirm it, along with the other details. Led by strategic investor Info Edge, which runs a classified advertising business in India, the round also had participation from Sequoia Capital and Vy Capital. It brings the total raised by Zomato to just under $164 million since being founded in 2008.

STARTUP. Indonesian Live-streaming Startup Zeemi.tv Grabs $1M

Indonesia has been dubbed the “social media capital of the world” thanks to the popularity of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram there. Now armed with $1 million in seed funding from DeNA and 500 Startups, Zeemi.tv is betting that its live-streaming video platform will prove just as popular in the country as other social networks.

Launched last year by Thomas Damek, the co-founder and former CEO of Lazada Indonesia, Zeemi.tv’s content can be broadly divided into two categories. Performers and celebrities schedule shows to connect with fans, while ordinary users broadcast bits from their life on the platform.

The concept is similar to Periscope and Meerkat, both of which launched after Zeemi.tv, but Zeemi.tv differentiates by focusing on local content for Indonesian viewers and making streams accessible on its responsive website.

The company will use its seed funding to release an iOS app, marketing, and improving its live-streaming technology. It is eyeing expansion into other Southeast Asian markets, but Damek says that is a long-term goal.

INVESTMENT. Rocket Internet Backs European Restaurant Delivery Service Take Eat Easy

Similar to Deliveroo in the U.K., and DoorDash in the U.S., Take Eat Easy lets you order food online from restaurants that don’t traditionally offer a take-out and delivery service. It operates in Belgium, and France, but outside of those markets the company has been flying somewhat under the radar.

Today that changes with news that the Brussels-headquartered startup has raised a €6 million Series A funding round. Backers include Rocket Internet, no less, along with DN Capital, and Piton Capital. Take Eat Easy says it plans to use the money to bed down in its existing markets and to expand across Europe. The U.K., Spain, and Germany are pegged to be next.

Meanwhile, the participation of Rocket Internet is particularly noteworthy given that the German ‘startup factory’ and e-commerce behemoth has been aggressively building out its Global Online Takeaway Group, a roll up of all its food delivery companies, which include online take-out ordering service Foodpanda, and a significant stake in rival Delivery Hero.

INVESTMENT. Menlo Ventures Closes On $400 Million For Its Twelfth Fund

Uber investor Menlo Ventures is announcing today that it has $400 million in fresh capital to invest in new startups, thanks to the close of its twelfth fund. With a size equal to the firm’s previous fund, the firm’s partners hope to carry forth the same strategy that served them well in Menlo Ventures XI, and hopefully to repeat some of its success.

Menlo has been around since the 70s, but for most of that time it had invested primarily in enterprise-focused companies. With the firm’s last fund, Menlo Ventures XI, the partnership worked to ensure a more even mix between the amount it invested in consumer and enterprise investments.

Menlo Ventures XI also had a smaller group of partners running it, and much less capital to work with. The firm shrunk its partnership from nine active partners to six with the close of the fund in 2011. It also had just $400 million to invest for the eleventh fund, compared to $1.2 billion for Menlo Ventures X.

Despite a generational transition and reduced fund size, that last fund has performed pretty well. The most successful investment from Menlo XI was undoubtedly its bet on Uber, which came about when it led the transportation startup’s $32 million Series B funding round. Since then, Uber has gone on to raise more than $5 billion in funding and is valued at more than $40 billion.

That said, a number of other portfolio companies from Menlo XI have also done pretty well, including Roku, Betterment, Warby Parker, Tintri, and Stance, all of which have seen their valuations increase dramatically of late.

The firm has also seen its share of exits in the last eighteen months, including the acquisition of Dropcam by Nest for $555 million, Intuit’s acquisition of Check for $360 million, and Verizon’s purchase of Edgecast for $395 million. Other acquisitions in that timeframe include Flurry (acquired by Yahoo), Cellfire (Catalina), Voltage Security (Hewlett-Packard), and Exelate (Nielsen).

INVESTMENT. Helion Venture Partners Raises New $300M Fund For Startups In India

There’s another new startup fountain in town in India, after Helion Venture Partners announced its fourth fund worth $300 million.

Helion is the latest in a flurry of firms to raise money for investments in fast-growing India. Accel last month announced a $305 million fund, while Tiger Global, Sequoia, SoftBank, SAIF, Lightbox VC, and smaller players like 500 Startups and Blume Ventures have each committed money to the country over the past year.

With its new fund, Helion — which includes Housing.com, TaxiForSure, and Komli among its portfolio — is again targeting early to mid stage tech startups in India. Typical investments will range from $1 million to $10 million, and the fund is expected to last for three to four years.