VENTURE CAPITAL MARKET OVERVIEW, ISSUE 50 (AUGUST, 10 – 16)
Mergers and acquisitions’ market remains still before the autumn season starts, investors are focused on direct investments, startups are closing previously anounced rounds and try themselves in reorganisation issues, no news about new players on the market.
M&A. India’s Housing.com Buys Software Startup HomeBuy360
Housing.com, the SoftBank-backed real estate platform in India, recently let go of its controversial CEO. Few days later it’s back in the news for more positive reasons, after it announced a $2 million acquisition that gives it new software chops for serving real estate professionals.
The company has picked up HomeBuy360, a Bangalore-based startup that provides an online sales and customer relations management platform that connects developers, agents and buyers. The four-year-old company claimed more than 70 developers across seven cities in India.
Housing.com, which claims to be the only real estate platform that owns its own CRM software, plans to extend the service so it can reach the 20,000 real estate developers that it said use its platform across India. It added that the software will be channeled into its data science lab, where it will complement the firm’s existing data and analytics on the real estate industry.
“Developers are key stakeholders to drive efficiency in the Indian real estate sector. Our vision is that every developer uses HB360 to bring down their sales and operating costs,” said Rishabh Gupta, Housing.com’s COO and interim CEO.
STARTUP. Smart Glass Maker View Raises $150M
View, a company which specializes in creating something called dynamic glass, raised a ton of new capital to fund their specialized windows that can change tint in response to weather conditions or smartphone commands.
The company announced a raise of $150 million in funding. Those participating in the round included NZ Super Fund, Corning Incorporated, Madrone Capital Partners and others. The company has already raised nearly $500 million to date.
The team will be utilizing the new funding to “continue product development, advance the growth of our manufacturing capabilities, as well as accelerate our sales, distribution and marketing efforts,” according to View VP of Marketing Brett Murray.
View specified that its windows have already seen “more than 100 installations across North America with an additional 100 underway in various commercial markets such as corporate offices, healthcare, government, higher education, and hospitality.”
STARTUP. Group Commerce Startup Massdrop Raises $40M
Massdrop is announcing that it has raised $40 million in Series B funding. The company focuses on what it calls “community-driven commerce.” It allows people who are interested in things like high-quality audio, man’s fashion and quilting to connect with other enthusiasts, discuss products, make purchases with group discounts and even help design new products.
Massdrop has already created communities in 11 categories. Co-founder and CEO Steve El-Hage said the oldest communities are the most popular, if only because they’ve had a head start. Massdrop says it now has a registered user base of more than 1 million people.
El-Hage plans to launch four new communities before the end of the year, and then add a new community every month in 2016. He’s also hoping to offer more content, such as in-depth reviews or do-it-yourself explainers. To do that, he’ll find people online “who have expert knowledge but no following.”
Naturally, El-Hage thinks Massdrop is the place where those experts can find the audience they’ve been looking for. As for whether Massdrop’s commerce business will make it hard for those writers to be critical and honest, El-Hage said he’s more focused on building community than on driving sales.
Massdrop raised a $6.5 million Series A about a year ago.The new round was led by August Capital, with additional investment from First Round Capital, Mayfield Fund and Cowboy Ventures. August’s David Hornik is joining Massdrop’s board of directors.
STARTUP. Livspace Lands $8M To Expand Its Online Home Design Service In India
Livspace, an interior design and home furnishings e-commerce startup in India, has closed $8 million in fresh funding to expand its nine-month-old service.
The Bangalore-based company landed a $4.6 million Series A round earlier this year, and this new raise is described as an expansion of that round. Existing investors Helion Venture Partners, Bessemer Ventures Partners and Jungle Ventures fronted the cash, while a number of undisclosed “prominent” angels also put in. The company said the money will be used to expand into more cities, make senior hires and develop its mobile apps and other products.
Livspace, which launched in December 2014, aims to make outfitting a property in India as easy as buying groceries or other products online. The online store includes a range of usual home furnishing products — think beds, tables, wardrobes, kitchens, etc. — as well as bespoke room/flat designs created by designers. Customers can also use the service to create their own unique style via a roster of designers who can be hired on a consultancy basis via Livspace.
Livspace didn’t reveal any specific details pertaining to its user base or growth, but Bessemer Venture Partners’ VP Akash Goel said it has seen “outstanding growth… across all business metrics — user traffic, engagement, product launches, and business traction.”
STARTUP. Who What Wear Closes $8 Million Series B From Amazon, Others
Who What Wear, the shoppable fashion site with 3.8 million uniques, has today announced the close of an $8 million Series B round with participation from Amazon and Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments. Existing investors, such as Greycroft, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Advancit Capital, Mesa Ventures, and Double M Partners, also participated in the round.
Who What Wear was started in 2006 by founders Hilary Kerr and Katherine Powers, after the former previous wrote for ELLE Teen Vogue and Nylon and the latter held the West Coast Editor position for ELLE and ELLEgirl.
Who What Wear was born, and is one of three media properties that fall under the Clique Inc. umbrella. Byrdie, a site that focuses on everything beauty, and MyDomaine, which offers up 100 percent shoppable advice, are also under that umbrella. All three sites together see 11.2 million uniques.
Who What Wear, on the other hand, is all about offering up fashion advice. What makes WWW different is that the media site has been doing its own version of native advertising since before 2007, but even beyond advertorial products, the entire site is shoppable.
In other words, every piece of content mentioned on Who What Wear can be clicked on and push the reader into a buyer.
The new funding will be used to grow the content business as well as expand internationally, first in Europe and Australia. And beyond that, it seems that Who What Wear is looking to launch its own ecommerce product.
STARTUP. BounceX Raises $6.5M To Make Advertising Less Obnoxious
Bounce Exchange, a startup that helps websites strategically advertise by analyzing user behavior, has pulled in $6.45 million in new funding.
500Friends founder and angel investor Justin Yoshimura led the Series A-1 round, with participation from Contour Venture Partners, Primary Venture Partners, and New York Yankees’ All-Star Alex Rodriguez.
According to BounceX founder and CEO Ryan Urban, the current method of converting website visitors looks more like “attacking people” than selling them something useful. When you’re reading an article or browsing a website, the last thing you want is a huge advertisement to pop up and take over the screen.
Instead, BounceX watches the behavior of each user — how they entered the site, how long they’re there, what they’re looking at, and if they’re commenting or sharing, among other metrics — and adjusts the marketing accordingly.
Someone who reads multiple business-related articles and shares them on Twitter, for instance, is a much better target for a yearly subscription to TIME than someone who reads half of one article about celebrities that popped up on Facebook.
BounceX is currently working with over 800 clients that range from startups, such as Handy and Plated, to big publishers such as CNBC, USA Today and TIME.
STARTUP. Startups.co Will Restart Virtual Assistant Service Zirtual
Following the “pause” in operations of Zirtual, founder and CEO Maren Donovan published a blog post last night offering a few more details about what went wrong. She also announced that she’s made a deal to sell Zirtual to startup launch platform Startups.co.
Apparently Wil Schroter, Startups.co’s founder and CEO, was a Zirtual customer himself, and the company says that after hearing the news, he “immediately began working with the CEO and Board of Directors to put a continuity plan in place, and ultimately, begin the acquisition of Zirtual.”
Zirtual service is scheduled to resume on August 17.
After acquiring startups services like LaunchRock and Clarity.fm, equity crowdfunding company Fundable rebranded as Startups.co earlier this year (it still operates the Fundable service).
“As a young company ourselves, having access to a curated on-demand workforce that can help us grow and scale is a huge opportunity,” Schroter said in the announcement. “It’s an enormous challenge for the 1 million registered startups that we have across the Startups.co platform, and one that we absolutely can’t see go away.”
INVESTMENT. Tiger Global Leads $30M Investment In E-Commerce Robots
Robotics is the latest area of interest in India for Tiger Global, after the New York-based hedge fund led a $30 million investment in GreyOrange, a company that automates e-commerce and logistics processes.
Tiger Global has been on a prolific spending spree in India since raising $2.5 billion in new funds last year. The firm led this Series B round for GreyOrange, which included participation from existing investor Blume Ventures.
GreyOrange is registered out of Singapore, and it counts more than 300 staff — 200 of which are engineers — across offices its offices in Hong Kong, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Singapore.
GreyOrange uses advanced robotics to add efficiency and speed to the handling processes within the e-commerce and logistics space. For example, its Butler robots rush around a warehouse floor collecting products that are due to be dispatched to customers. Its system also audits inventories, and re-stocks supply based on demand to ensure that stock doesn’t run out. GreyOrange’s other offering, Sorter, handles package sorting, the final step before your order is dispatched.
Touting Tiger Global’s investment in e-commerce firms as a potential door-opener, GreyOrange said it plans to use the new capital to invest in R&D, beef up its executive team and “accelerate” its international expansion plans. In particular, it has eyes on the wider Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East and Europe.