VENTURE CAPITAL MARKET REVIEW, ISSUE 16 (DECEMBER 15-21)
Venture capital marked became active before Christmas and New Year vacations. Few merger & acquisition deals finished the year, few announcements about new funds and venture firms starting set the mood for upcoming year.
M&A. 21st Century Fox Acquires Ad Company True[x]
21st Century Fox has agreed to acquire interactive ad company True[x] Media.
Media reported that the acquisition price was $200 million, although the financial terms were not officially disclosed.
Founded in 2007 as SocialVibe, True[x] raised a total of $49.9 million in funding from investors including Redpoint Ventures, Jafco Ventures, Pinnacle Ventures, and Norwest Venture Partners. James Murdoch, co-chief operating officer at 21st Century Fox, joined the True[x] board earlier this year.
Fox says the company will continue to operate as a standalone business but also “work closely with Fox Networks Group to drive engagement between brands and consumers on Fox’s proprietary digital platforms.”
STARTUP. All Day Raises $2 Million To Be A Media Portal For The Twitter Generation
All it takes is a knack for viral content, 2.15 million followers on your marquee Twitter account, and a core team of young social media entrepreneurs. Then you too could be raising $2 million from investors including Upfront Ventures, 500 Startups and Daher Capital — but then, you’d be All Day.
Launched by the 31-year-old Eric Damier, and his co-founders Xavier Di Petta and Kyle Cameron, ages 18 and 20, All Day was on track to make over $1 million per month from the monetization of its clicks.
Their accounts are now feeding into as the main landing page, and the goal, according to Damier, is to expand to 60-70 million followers by 2015 for its Twitter, Instagram, and other social media accounts to 300 million to 400 million unique followers across all social media platforms.
INVESTMENT. SurveyMonkey Snaps Up $250 Million More In Funding
SurveyMonkey, the Silicon Valley company that runs an online survey and questionnaire platform, announced that it has raised $250 million in a new round of funding.
The new money will be used at least in part to fuel more M&A transactions, and to allow some existing investors and employees to cash out if they choose.
This brings the total amount of venture capital invested into the 15-year-old company to more than $1.15 billion. The new round, which included participation from a group of institutional investors, reportedly values SurveyMonkey at some $2 billion, up significantly from the $1.35 billion valuation the company had just one year ago.
INVESTMENT. SoftBank Leads $90M Round For India’s Housing.com
SoftBank’s investment spree in Asia is continuing after the company announced a $90 million round for Locon Solutions, the company behind India’s Housing.com property portal.
The Japanese telecom giant led the round in the property search company, with additional participation from Falcon Edge and other undisclosed investors. This new raise takes Housing.com to $121 million in investor money over the past two years.
Housing.com claims its service includes over 350,000 properties and 15,000 new developments across 45 cities in India. Advitiya Sharma — co-founder of Housing.com — said the company plans to use the capital to expand to cover 40 million listings across over 300 cities in the country.
STARTUP. Goal-Tracking And Self-Improvement App Lift Raises $1.1M
Lift, the mobile app incubated by Twitter co-founders’ Obvious Corp., launched last year to help people build healthier habits and achieve their goals by offering a simple way to track your progress while supported by a social community who provide pushes, motivation and positive reinforcement to keep users on track. Now Lift is expanding its set of support options to focus on more serious goal setters with the introduction of a paid coaching model in version 2.0 of the app, out now.
The update is designed to aid those with specific and more complex goals by offering them the ability to receive personal guidance through the addition of one-on-one coaching.
According to Lift co-founder and CEO Tony Stubblebine, smaller support like that provided for free via the Lift community works for smaller goals, but users in Lift have been tackling goals related to productivity improvements, dieting, exercise, meditation and more, which sometimes require more direct support.
However, instead of bringing in just anyone who calls himself or herself a “coach” of some kind, the coaches in Lift are actually more like peer mentors. They have direct experience with the type of activity or habit you’re trying to change, and users can see what that person has accomplished within the Lift application.
The company has been quietly trialing the coaching model since this summer, and has run a number of tests including those focused on productivity goals, dieting, and other healthy habits. Users converted to premium plans at just over 3% (a standard for freemium conversions).
Today, Lift now has 700 coaches trained for 4,000 goals, and is launching “instant coaching” to the public. Users who want to connect with coaches pay $15/week to message with their coaches through chat, and will soon have the option to pay for additional consultations or products – like phone call consults or diet plans – at higher rates.
INVESTMENT. Upfront Ventures Raises $280 Million For Its Fifth Fund
Los Angeles-based venture capital firm Upfront Ventures has had a pretty good run as of late, due to a number of its recent investments seeing exits in the past year or so. As a result, it was probably no problem for Upfront to raise a new fund, this time bringing in $280 million to invest in startups in its home market and around the world.
It’s been about 18 months since the firm formerly known as GRP Partners rebranded as Upfront Ventures and announced the close of its fourth fund, which consisted of $200 million. The firm had first begun investing out of that fund in early 2012, however, so it’s following the usual three-year lifecycle of these things.
The new fund is being announced after Upfront Ventures has seen a fair amount of success in its investments recently. That includes exits for Maker Studios, which was acquired by Disney for more than $500 million; Gravity, which was acquired by AOL for at least $83 million; and TestFlight-operator Burstly, which was bought by Apple earlier this year. This was also the year of the TrueCar IPO, which Upfront Ventures first invested in back in the mid-2000s.
With the new fund, Upfront doesn’t plan to change its investment strategy too much. The firm makes about half of its investments in L.A., a market that has seen a fair rise in the number of startup success stories in recent years. The other half of its investments are made around the U.S. and internationally.
STARTUP. Adyen Raises $250M To Expand Its International Payments Platform
International payments startup Adyen is growing fast, doubling the number of payments processed over the last year as well as revenues over that time. Capitalizing on that growth, the company has raised $250 million in a giant Series B round of funding that values the company at $1.5 billion.
The new financing was led by growth equity firm General Atlantic with participation from existing investor Index Ventures, which led the company’s Series A round. Also participating were Silicon Valley’s Felicis Ventures and Asian investment firm Temasek Holdings.
Over the last several years, Adyen has worked to enable payment solutions for companies seeking to offer their goods in an increasingly global marketplace. Rather than relying on a combination of different banks and other payments processors for individual markets, they are turning to Adyen to simplify the process of reaching customers globally. To enable that, Adyen has created a platform that allows companies to accept payments from basically anywhere. It has partnerships with all the major credit card companies, as well as local payment processors around the world.
Its platform works in nearly 200 countries, allowing partners to get paid in virtually any currency and through a wide variety of payment methods. Finally, through its platform payments can be accepted either online, via mobile devices, or even in-store for businesses that have operations in multiple countries.
INVESTMENT. Chinese Search Engine Baidu Made Strategic Investment In Uber
It’s official: Chinese Internet giant Baidu has confirmed that it is Uber’s latest investor. Baidu’s mobile search and maps apps will also integrate Uber “request a ride” buttons.
The companies did not disclose the amount of the investment. Bloomberg previously reported that Baidu had taken the entire $600 million surplus that Uber built into its most recent funding round, however a source at Baidu told that this is untrue.