07 September 2015 at 09:01



Venture market is starting to work actively, even boiling in some places. Big players, like AOL, came out to the market, startups are closing multimillion rounds, new investment funds are announcing almost daily. New season has started.

M&A. AOL Acquires Photo And Messaging Startup Kanvas Labs

AOL is announcing another acquisition — Kanvas Labs, maker of mobile social apps.

The company will continue to offer the existing Kanvas Labs products. Those include photo editing app Kanvas; Kanvas Keyboard, which allows users to add GIFs and stickers to their mobile conversations; and Kanvas for Messenger, which integrates the startup’s products into Facebook Messenger.

There are plans to integrate Kanvas technology with AOL’s products, too.

The financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed. AOL said the entire Kanvas Labs team will be joining the company and working out of its New York City headquarters.

The startup actually began as a photo-sharing app called Tracks before launching the Kanvas app in 2013 and rebranding the company six months later. Across its various incarnations, Kanvas Labs has raised more than $3 million in funding from investors including KEC Ventures, Scout Ventures, Dace Ventures, ARC Fund, Sierra Maya Ventures, Social Starts and Eniac Ventures.

STARTUP. Social CRM Provider Raises $45M, Acquires MartJack

Capillary Technologies, the Singapore-based social CRM company, has raised a $45 million Series C to fuel its evolution into a omnichannel retail platform. The round was led by Warburg Pincus with participation from returning investors Sequoia Capital and Norwest Venture Partners and brings Capillary’s total funding so far to $79.1 million.

Most of the capital is earmarked for the acquisition of e-commerce software platform MartJack, which significantly expands Capillary’s online retail capabilities. Capillary also announced the purchase of Ruaha Labs, a machine learning startup.

Co-founder and chief executive officer Aneesh Reddy says that while Capillary already had a strong portfolio of cloud-based software for offline retail stores, the company realized that it needed to expand its e-commerce offerings, too.

The combined company claims 250 large enterprise clients as well as about 600 to 700 small retailers and SMBs. Capillary’s software, which integrates with point-of-sale devices, has served over 150 million customers and processed about $8 billion in gross merchandise volume, or about 500,000 transactions per day.

STARTUP. WellAware Raises Additional $16 Million For Its Oil And Gas Monitoring Services

WellAware, the well-connected San Antonio-based provider of monitoring and management services for oil wells, pipelines, and refining and chemical facilities has raised an additional $16 million in its latest round of financing.

The capital, which the company is calling a B-1 was raised from strategic investors Mitsui Corp. and Genscape, a provider of information for the commodities and energy industries.

With the new money WellAware looks to double down on its expansion in the oil and gas industry in the U.S. and abroad. Despite the collapse of the price of oil, WellAware’s business is doing just fine, according to chief executive and president Matt Harrison.

There are 1 million oil and gas wells currently operating in the U.S. alone, and WellAware is monitoring a fraction of those wells to ensure that everything is operating effectively.

Using WellAware, the company’s customers have managed to save 15% on operational costs and reduce downtime by 30%, Harrison says. The company’s technology tracks oilfield production data, and it just launched a service to optimize and manage chemical usage on oilfield production sites.

STARTUP. NewsCred Raises $42M As It Sets Its Sights Beyond Content Marketing

NewsCred is announcing that it has raised $42 million in additional equity funding.

Founded in 2008, the company started out as a system for readers to rate the credibility of every online publication and story. It shifted focus a couple of times before settling on helping brands find content for their marketing efforts, first by licensing articles from big-name publications, then by connecting those brands with freelance writers.

Customers now include Barclays, Cisco, NASDAQ, Pepsi, Toyota and Visa. The company says its annualized revenue run rate has tripled in the past year, while the pieces of content created on the platform have increased by 182 percent.

CEO Shafqat Islam said that a big driver of growth has been NewsCred’s software. He described the company’s approach as “SaaS platform plus marketplace,” where the different parts of its business complement each other — brands can use the software to plan and manage their content marketing campaigns, and use the marketplace to actually find the content they need.

NewsCred has now raised nearly $90 million in funding. The new round was led by FTV Capital, with previous investors FirstMark Capital, InterWest Partners, and Mayfield Fund participating. FTV partner Liron Gitig is joining NewsCred’s board of directors.

STARTUP. European Premium Restaurant Delivery Service Take Eat Easy Closes €10M Series B

The European premium restaurant delivery space appears to show no signs of cooling. As recently as July, London’s Deliveroo raised a $70 million Series C for further international expansion. Now it’s the turn of Rocket Internet-backed Take Eat Easy.

After raising a €6 million Series A funding round in April, the Brussels-headquartered startup has already returned to investors with the closure of a €10 million Series B round led by Eight Roads Ventures (previously Fidelity Growth Partners), and existing investors Rocket Internet, DN Capital and Piton Capital.

Take Eat Easy co-founder and CEO Adrien Roose tells that the new capital will be used to consolidate the company’s presence in France and Belgium and to expand further into Europe, namely U.K., Germany and Spain.

That puts it on a trajectory where it will have to compete with heavily funded Deliveroo and a host of other local premium restaurant delivery startups, including Germany’s Volo, which Rocket Internet recently acquired.

INVESTMENT. With $50 Million Edison Nation Looks To Back A New Generation Of Inventors

Touting a direct pipeline to Amazon’s Launchpad program and sporting $50 million in commitments to help finance the businesses of young inventors, Edison Nation is preparing to embark on a nationwide tour to find the country’s next great tech invention.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based company, whose business model is akin to the faltering Quirky, took in $50 million from a group of undisclosed backers to finance businesses that show up to its Amazon Inventions Tour, beginning in Atlanta on September 25.

Edison Nation, with backing for the tour from Philips and Anheuser-Busch, is taking 1,000 applicants who are willing to hawk their wares in front of the company’s panel of experts to see if they’re worth some Edison money to further develop the product or take the idea to market.

According to Edison Nation founder and chief executive Louis Foreman, financing for inventors’ ideas and companies will come in one of two ways. One is commercial factoring whereby the company will receive a loan to manufacture their product and repay Edison Nation with the money coming in from sales. The other option is for Edison Nation to take an equity stake in a company.

STARTUP. Databox Raises $3.3M Seed Round To Help Marketers Understand Key Metrics

Businesses of all sizes now have access to reams of data about their performance, but it can be difficult to read the story behind the numbers. Boston-based startup Databox’s mobile app draws in data from different analytic platforms, analyzes it, and then presents the results in customized reports.

The company has raised a seed round of $3.3 million led by Founder Collective with participation from Accomplice and other investors. The capital will be used to develop Databox’s app using feedback from early customers.

Swami Kumaresan, who recently joined Databox as its CEO from the founding management team of cloud backup company Carbonite, says most businesses have so much data that important numbers are easy to miss.

INVESTMENT. 500 Startups Closes Its Newest Fund with $85 Million

500 Startups, the five-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based venture firm, has closed its third global fund with $85 million. The nearly 500 investors in the vehicle include Tokyo-based Dentsu, Yahoo Japan and Malaysia Venture Capital Management Berhad, a venture firm backed by the Malaysian government. According to 500 Startups, it had originally targeted $100 million for its newest fund.

Firm is already in the process of raising its fourth global fund, as well as a growth fund it would use to invest more resources into some of its breakout investments.

500 Startups has now invested in more than 1,200 companies, often taking a stake of no more than 1 or 2 percent. Among its many portfolio companies are the privately held businesses Twilio and Credit Karma, which were most recently valued by their investors at $1.1 billion and $3.5 billion, respectively.

500 Startups was co-founded by Dave McClure, former marketing director and conference organizer for outfits including PayPal, Simply Hired, and O’Reilly Media; and Christine Tsai, a former product marketing manager at Google.

INVESTMENT. IDG Ventures Closes on $120 Million for Its Third Fund

IDG Ventures, an early-stage venture firm that was among the first VC outfits to plant its flag in San Francisco instead of Silicon Valley, has raised $120 million for its third and newest fund.

IDG Ventures was the lead investor in the mobile social game developer Funzio, which sold in 2012 to the Japanese internet company Gree for $210 million in cash. It was also a seed and Series A investor in Vidible, which sold software that helped publishers manage their syndicated video business.

In another unique twist, IDG Venture is part of a global network of independent venture funds that share an investor in IDG. That can be a tad confusing. There’s IDG Capital Partners in China, and IDG Ventures in India, and two smaller independent outfits in Korea (IDG Korea) and Vietnam (IDG Ventures Vietnam).

Then again, those far-flung friends are nice to have. Each outfit talks with the others in an effort to help their portfolio companies establish a more global footprint.