VENTURE CAPITAL MARKET REVIEW ISSUE 10 (SEPTEMBER 22-28)
World No.1 event in the financial sector last week was an IPO of Chinese Alibaba service.
It is one of the best results in stock history and the best result for e-commerce sphere ever: taking into account organizer’s option, Internet-giant has acquired $25 million. Except Alibaba, there were no important news: Adobe proves rumors about online-services ambitions by merging Aviary platform, e-commerce M&A transactions go on, German incubator Rocket Internet prepares for IPO.
M&A. Adobe Acquired Aviary – Platform for Photoediting
Aviary offers a software development kit to developers who want to add photo-editing capabilities to their apps. Aviary has also created apps of its own, as well as options for advertisers to turn filters and stickers into ads. At the beginning of this year, Aviary announced that the platform had been used to edit 10 billion photos — partners include Yahoo/Flickr, MailChimp and Walgreens.
According to Tobias Peggs, Aviary CEO, there should be no interruption of service to Aviary’s tools. However, the two companies are working on ways to offer integrated versions of Adobe products to Aviary developers, such as the ability to save creations to Creative Cloud in Adobe file formats and access Photoshop technology.
The financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed, but Peggs said that the entire Aviary team will be joining Adobe.
Since its founding in 2007, Aviary raised a total of $19 million in funding, including a recent $2 million debt round. The company’s investors include Spark Capital, Bezos Expeditions, Vision Ventures, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Joi Ito, Thomas Lehrman and Payman Pouladdej.
M&A. BuySellAds Acquired LaunchBit
The financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed. LaunchBit co-founder and CEO Elizabeth Yin told me via email that the LaunchBit ad network will continue to operate business as usual, while it’s “too early” to say what will happen to the LaunchBit team.
The startup first launched as an email ad network in 2012, raising a seed round of a little under $1 million from 500 Startups (where LaunchBit was incubated), Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s VegasTech Fund, TriplePoint Capital, and others later that year. More recently, it shifted focus to lead generation (though it included email ads as part of that mission) — a shift that involved partnering with BuySellAds.
Asked how she feels about the deal, Yin said, “Honestly, we would’ve liked to have gone all the way to become the next Google, and I wish we could’ve gone IPO!”
BuySellAds has acquired a number of other ad networks in the past, including Carbon Ads, Fusion Ads and Beacon Ads.
STARTUP. Index Ventures Invests $13 Million in RobinHood
Index Ventures led the round with participation from other investors that include Ribbit Capital, Aaron Levie, founder of Box, Jared Leto, Snoop Dogg and Nasir Jones of QueensBridge Venture Partners.
In addition to the funding, Jan Hammer will join the company’s board of directors.
STARTUP. Akeneo Has Raised $2,4 Million in Round B
The fresh funding will be used to further develop its product base and expand internationally. The company is in the process of setting up new offices in Germany and the US, which are due to open next year.
The company also plans to hire five new software developers by the end of the year.
Alven is currently investing from its fourth fund, Alven Capital IV, which held its final close in March last year on its hard-cap of €120m after nine months on the road. The fund originally had a target of €100m.
The firm most recently took part in a €1m funding round for Textmaster, a Belgian provider of translation, proofreading and web content writing services alongside Belgian incubator eFounders and investor Cédric Siré.
STARTUP. Invoice2go App Has Raised $35 Million in Round A
Invoice2go offers an invoicing app, which helps small businesses manage cash flow through invoicing, expense tracking and operational tools. It’s currently the top grossing business app in the Australian App Store, has over 100,000 customers worldwide, processes over 10 billion in invoicing every year, and is available in nine different languages.
The $35 million funding round is Invoice2go’s first and is led by Accel Partners supported by Ribbit Capital. Strode says it was Accel Partners’ track record of building startups into lasting category defining companies that appealed to him.
Strode says the fund raise was pretty straightforward once the startup had decided exactly what they wanted. Invoice2go had a number of offers from the “big incumbents in Australia and globally” and had contact from a lot of venture capital firms.
The funds will be used to help accelerate Invoice2go’s growth.
STARTUP. Typeform Secured €1.2 million
Founded by Robert Munoz and David Okuniev, and exiting Beta in February this year, Typeform’s service aims to make it easy to create device agnostic web forms. The emphasis is not only on making sure they look great and have a good User Experience, therefore increasing engagement, but, with the help of modern web standards, work across a range of devices, not least touchscreen phones and tablets.
Typeform said it totalled 100,000 users as of August 2014 and, to date, users have created more than 160,000 Typeforms, which received more than 13 million unique visits and collected 7 million responses. It also boasts customers such as Uber, Facebook, Adobe, Airbnb, WeTransfer, BBC, New York Times, and the Financial Times.
In addition, the startup plans to release an open API so that developers can programatically build forms.
STARTUP. Realty Mogul has raised $73 million
This is the startup’s first partnership of this kind with an institutional investor, but founder and CEO Jilliene Helman said she’s interested in pursuing similar deals with other investors. The goal, she said, is not to “cut off our high net worth accredited investors,” but rather to increase the amount of capital on the platform and to further validate Realty Mogul in the eyes of its real estate industry partners.
Realty Mogul’s model is similar in some ways to more consumer-focused crowdfunding sites — users look at different projects (in this case, real estate investments), decide which ones they want to back, only pay when and if a project is fully funded, and receive regular updates afterwards. In other ways, it’s very different — these really are meant to be investments (with regular cash distributions), and as I mentioned, you need to be an accredited investor to participate.
The company, by the way, also raised a $9 million Series A earlier this year.
STARTUP. JW Player Secures $20 Million
JW Player was founded as an open-source project and served as the the original player for YouTube. Since then, the company has grown to become one of the world’s most widely distributed video services, delivering nearly five percent of all video streamed on the planet. Each month, over 900 million people watch video through JW Player across more than two million mobile and Web-based sites. The company also has a thriving enterprise business with 200 members of the Fortune 1000 as customers today.
STARTUP. UK-based Recipe Startup Gousto has raised $8,3 Million
It also comes amid increasing competition from Rocket Internet’s HelloFesh, which, although taking a multi-country approach, including the U.S., recently raised a whopping $50 million D round of its own. That said, at least one competitor in the UK has thrown the towel in the ring; Sadly, Housebites quietly dead-pooled early this year, after pivoting a number of times to avoid such fate.
INVESTMENT. Rocket Internet Plans a Record IPO
Berlin-based Rocket, started by Oliver Samwer, is a cross between a venture-capital fund and a consulting firm that fosters startups. It focuses on transplanting successful e-commerce models, such as online retail, food-delivery and payment systems, to emerging economies including Nigeria, Indonesia and Argentina. It plans to raise €750 million in its IPO.
Founded in 2007, Rocket derives its overall value from the roughly 70 companies it has established or invested in. It also helps connect companies in its portfolio with additional funding. Its biggest success has been Zalando SE, Europe’s largest online fashion retailer, whose shares Rocket has almost entirely sold off.
INVESTMENT. $140 Million Mosaic Ventures Launches for European Startups
On its website, the group said: “We love renegades who take a fresh look at the world and want to shape it their way.”