28 September 2015 at 08:58



Last week will stay in memory because of interesting and nor ordinary startups that closed rounds: detailed service for guided meditation, financial data outsourcing platform and stealthy and ambitious project that hopes to change world trade ecosystem.

M&A. Crédit Mutuel Arkéa Acquires Money Pot And Payment Service Leetchi

French startup Leetchi has been acquired by French bank Crédit Mutuel Arkéa. While the startup isn’t giving any official number, Les Échos reported that Crédit Mutuel Arkéa spent more than $56 million to acquire 86 percent of the company and it’s an all-cash deal.

In addition to acquiring the company, Crédit Mutuel Arkéa will commit about $11 million in new investment. Founder and CEO Céline Lazorthes is keeping 14 percent of the company. The new subsidy will work on internationalization, product development and more. The team will grow from 40 to 80 people in the next two years.

It will be interesting to see whether Crédit Mutuel Arkéa ends up developing a full stack payment and transaction management solution by combining all of its services. Lazorthes also told that this acquisition lets Leetchi develop new services.

Following the acquisition, everybody is staying at the company for now. And it should help the team deliver on this ambitious roadmap.

STARTUP. Blue Jeans Network Raises $76.5M For Video Conferencing

Blue Jeans Network, a company that provides cloud-based video conferencing services, has raised $76.5 million in its fifth round of financing.

NEA led the Series E round, joined by Accel Partners, Battery Ventures, Glynn Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, and Quadrille Capital. Jeter Ventures, a new fund launched by MLB all-star Derek Jeter, also participated.

When Blue Jeans launched in 2011, the entire video conferencing market was sized at 200 million minutes per year, according to co-founder and CEO Krish Ramakrishnan, because companies relied primarily on audio-only conference calls.

Today, Blue Jeans alone facilitates over one billion minutes of video conferences each year for over 25 million users across 5,000 companies.

For work-related conference calls, Blue Jeans provides a single platform for audio, video, and document sharing, and it’s compatible with nearly every major hardware and software platform. So you can choose to dial in to that all-hands meeting from anywhere, whether you’re on the go with your iPhone, at home on your laptop, or using the existing hardware system in the conference room.

STARTUP. Premise Raises $50 Million To Outsource The Collection Of Economic Data

Three-year-old Premise, an economic data tracking platform, has raised $50 million in Series C funding from earlier backer Social + Capital Partnership and new investor Valor Equity Partners.

Valor’s Antonio Gracias, who is also a director at Tesla and SpaceX, is joining the board. He joins the company’s earlier board members Chamath Palihapitiya, who founded Social + Capital; Larry Summers, the former Treasury secretary; and investor Karim Farris of Google Ventures.

It’s easy to understand Premise’s appeal. The 40-person, San Francisco-based SaaS company does something that’s somewhat singular: it uses 25,000 “contributors” in 32 countries and tasks them with photographing and otherwise documenting economic data in order to provide customers like the World Bank with highly valuable information. Others of its customers include Bloomberg and Standard Chartered Bank.

Just how extensive is the impact of government-driven food rationing in Venezuela? Premise has boots on the ground who will show up at grocery stores and send back information that Premise’s data analysts then parse. In Yemen, where there’s an emerging famine, how much of the food aid being dropped into the country is reaching its intended destination? Because of its recruits, Premise knows more, and faster, than the relief organizations that are becoming some of its customers.

STARTUP. Meditation Startup Headspace Raises $30 Million To Help You Be More Mindful

Headspace, a guided meditation and mindfulness startup, recently raised $30 million from The Chernin Group, Advancit Capital, Allen & Company, Breyer Capital, The Honest Company Co-Founder Jessica Alba, actor Jared Leto, TV personality Ryan Seacrest, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and others. The plan is to hire more engineers and content marketers and expand Headspace’s content.

The size of the round has been reported at $34 million based on SEC filings, but sources close to the company have confirmed that the actual size was $30 million.

Headspace doesn’t disclose numbers around engagement, but in terms of user base, Headspace has 3 million users in over 150 countries who use the app.

The startup makes money through selling subscriptions to its guided meditations. But anyone can try out the service for free through Headspace’s “Take 10” program, which offers ten, ten-minute guided meditation sessions. If you want access to hundreds of hours worth of content on everything from stress and creativity to relationships and happiness, you can select one of four plans: monthly ($12.95), yearly ($7.99/month), two years ($6.24/month) or forever ($419.95).

Andy Puddicombe, a Headspace co-founder and the one who leads Headspace’s guided meditations, spent about 10 years as a monk practicing meditation and mindfulness. Having him on the team really makes Headspace an authentic experience for its users. Headspace is based in London and Venice, California. It’s available on iOS, Android and the web.

STARTUP. Globality Raised $10M To Restructure Global Trade

Globality, an ultra stealthy startup based in Menlo Park, has raised $10 million from a group of high profile angel investors to build an ambiguous new ecosystem for global trade.

The funding comes from fourteen angel investors, including Al Gore, Sheryl Sandberg, former J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson, and Yahoo CFO Ken Goldman.

Globality’s mission statement is just as ambitious as it is vague. According to co-founder Joel Hyatt, a serial entrepreneur and former Democratic National Finance Chair, Globality is building artificial intelligence tech that will enable mid-size and small businesses to play a greater role in driving the global economy.

Currently a team of 14 founded by Hyatt and Lior Delgo, whose former two startups were acquired by Yahoo and Microsoft, Globality plans to publicly launch in the second quarter of 2016. Hyatt says he expects to grow to a couple hundred employees by the end of next year.

INVESTMENT. Zuckerberg-Chan Family Invested Into Personalized Education

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan have been quietly amassing a portfolio of both philanthropic and venture investments in education, from a $120 million commitment to Bay Area schools to the funding they contributed to Altschool’s most recent $100 million round.

Now they’re adding another educational technology company to the group. They’re expanding a pre-existing Series B round for Salt Lake City-based MasteryConnect with a $5 million investment. It brings the company’s total funding to $29 million and will help grow its headcount beyond its current 140 employees.

MasteryConnect builds software for teachers to plan and measure individualized student progress. They’ve racked up 1,800 paying customers, which are usually individual schools or districts across the country. The company says it’s been used in 85 percent of school districts across the United States and has a reach of 2 million teachers.

Chan, notably, was a teacher before she went to medical school. So the pair have a keen interest in supporting technological innovation in education.

INVESTMENT. Arielle Zuckerberg, Zuck’s Youngest Sister, Is Joining Kleiner Perkins

Arielle Zuckerberg, the youngest sister of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is joining Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers next month in a bid by the firm to inject youth and diversity into its line-up of partners.

Zuckerberg, a former Googler who is currently a product manager with phone management app firm Humin, will start her new role as associate partner for Kleiner Perkins on October 19. The 26-year-old — the youngest of the four Zuckerberg siblings — is being brought on as “personable” partner to interface with and relate to early-stage startups for the firm’s growth fund.

Despite the potential to be overshadowed by big brother Mark Zuckerberg and elder sister Randi, Arielle has developed a reputation for being reluctant to cash in on her name and she appears acutely aware of diversity issues.

INVESTMENT. Jungle Ventures Returns To The Table With A New $100M Fund For Asia

Jungle Ventures, one of a group of fresh VC firms that burst on the scene in Asia these past few years, is stepping things up after announcing a new $100 million fund.

The Singapore-based firm raised a $10 million fund back in 2012 so its new vehicle is a major upgrade. That first fund was targeted at early-stage deals and now Jungle Ventures is coming of age with its new fund, which will target later stage Series A and Series B deals in addition to some early stage bets.

Jungle Ventures’ first fund is impressive. Already it has yielded three exits — Zipdial (acquired by Twitter), Travelmob (acquired by HomeAway) and eBus (acquired by IMD) — and, according to Anand, investors have seen a 50 percent return on capital already. Quick exits aren’t the be-all and end-all of investing, of course, and Anand said the fund’s other investments are well placed for the future. To that end, he revealed that over half of the investors from fund one are financially committed to the second coming, that’s impressive given the very different economics and focus of each one.

The focus will remain the same for Jungle Ventures, with its second fund devoted to finding future “category leaders” in India, Southeast Asia and rest of the Asia Pacific region.