VENTURE CAPITAL MARKET REVIEW, ISSUE 20 (JANUARY 12-18)
The first really active week in venture capital market: companies start to acquire startups, implementing them into company’s ecosystems, startups continue raising rounds, from time to time spending money for acquiring smaller startups
M&A. Teradata Buys Marketing Platform Appoxee
Teradata, the publicly-traded analytics company, has made another acquisition to beef up its operations in mobile: the company has acquired Appoxee, an Israeli push-messaging startup aimed at publishers and developers that want to increase user engagement in their apps. We have had direct confirmation of the deal from a source very close to Appoxee, and Israeli-language paper Calcalist is reporting it, too (in Hebrew). A source confirms to us that Teradata is paying between $20-25 million for Appoxee.
It’s a good exit for Appoxee. Originally founded in 2010 by Itay Levy and Elad Kushnir, it had raised less than $2 million. Kushnir is no longer with the company; Levy is currently the CEO.
Appoxee’s business addresses one of the bigger issues in the world of apps today: keeping users coming back to and using your app, in the face of those users downloading yet another new app instead, always moving on to the next big thing.
Appoxee gives developers a way to addresses this using push messages — sending messages to you to remind you to finish playing a game, or to send you info about an app update, or coupons for goods in the app. It also has a platform to help build these push messaging campaigns.
M&A. Capital One Acquires Budgeting App Level Money
Capital One has acquired San Francisco-based money management app, Level Money, the companies are announcing this morning. The app, which is focused on allowing consumers to keep track of their spendable cash and savings, had 700,000 users at the time of the acquisition, and has helped its customers manage over $12 billion in transactions. The startup will now continue on as a part of Capital One, but will remain a standalone application. The Level Money team of 11 will also stay together, including co-founder and CEO Jake Fuentes.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The startup had raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
Level Money was founded in 2012, and released its application in fall 2013. The app connects to 2,500 U.S. banks, but doesn’t hold money itself – its purpose is to help users better control their money housed in their various accounts and track their spending. The app is specifically aimed at those in their twenties and early thirties (Millennials), who want to figure out things like how to pay back student loans or start saving. Users of the app can set savings goals, plus the app will offer suggestions of what you should do with extra cash left over at the end of the month – like whether you should put it towards an extra loan payment, for example, or if should you invest it.
The appeal of the app, available on both iOS and Android, is not only the insights it delivers, but also the presentation. In a simplified, easy-to-read interface, Level Money offers data visualizations that help you better picture your current cash management situation.
M&A. Elsevier Acquires Newsflo To Strengthen Mendeley Tool
Educational publisher Elsevier has picked up another London startup to boost its tech-based portfolio of products that serve the academic community. It’s acquired Newsflo, a bespoke media monitoring service that enables academics to get ‘impact’ analytics for their published research, thus helping academic institutions keep track of media coverage and social media mentions, as an additional metric to more traditional citations.
Previously available only as a subscription service, the media monitoring features of Newsflo will now be rolled into Mendeley, the academic research tool and community that Elsevier acquired early in 2013 for a price pegged at between $69 million and $100 million.
Terms of Elsevier’s acquisition of Newsflo aren’t being disclosed, though media are told that the startup’s two founders, Ben Kaube and Freddie Witherden, are joining Elsevier for at least the next 18 months and will work out of Mendeley’s office, specifically and most immediately to integrate Newsflo-powered media mentions on individual researchers’ Mendeley profiles.
Launched in 2012, Newsflo’s academic-specific media monitoring service tracks over 55,000 English-speaking media sources, based on feeds from 20 or so countries, and plans to add more sources and languages post-acquisition. Its pitch to the academic institutions who subscribe to the service is that it enables them to provide additional evidence of the ‘societal impact’ of their research, something that can also be touted when competing for funding and attracting students.
Meanwhile, it’s easy to see how that metric will be attractive to individual researchers, too, many of whom are already users of Elsevier’s existing Mendeley product offering, so chalk this up as a smart acquisition for the Amsterdam-headquartered educational publisher.
STARTUP. Mobile App Engagement Startup Accengage Raises $3M
French startup Accengage, which provides mobile app engagement tech for push notifications, in-app messages and mobile retargeting, has raised a $3 million round in funding from private equity and venture capital firm OTC Aggregator, and the mobile marketing company Mobile First Alliance — money it will use to increase head-count, build out new features and scale its tech to meet demand in Europe and further international expansion.
However, new funding aside, the Paris-based company is perhaps most noteworthy due to the traction its getting, specifically in its home market of France where it claims its tech is installed on 95 percent of smartphones.
Furthermore, the startup’s CEO and co-founder Jérôme Stioui tells Accengage now powers 130 million installed applications, sending 500 million push notifications monthly to users in over 70 countries. That’s not bad going for a company hailing out of Paris, one of the lesser-hyped tech hubs in Europe.
To that end, Accengage boasts over 300 ‘blue chip’ customers who are using its tech to boost app performance, including the likes of Disney, Universal Music, Rocket Internet, Nestlé, Century 21, KLM, Rakuten, Europcar, Orange, and Dafiti.
STARTUP. Lynda.com Gets $186 Million For A Shopping
Online personal and professional continuing education company lynda.com has raised $186 million at a roughly $1 billion valuation to go shopping for education technology companies.
It’s the second mammoth round for Lynda, following a $100 million initial investment from Accel Partners, Spectrum Equity and Meritech. The new round was led by TPG, a private equity firm with some $65 billion worth of assets under management.
For lynda.com, the new round is all about a shopping allowance. The company already has letters of intent out with three potential acquisition targets and has several more companies in its sights, according to an interview with the company’s chief executive, Eric Robison.
According to Robison, Lynda.com will look to add another 150 to 250 employees to its roster of 550 current staff members.
Lynda.com has a library of 5,700 classes with 255,000 video tutorials in English, French, German and Spanish.
INVESTMENT. China Will Launch A $6.5B Venture Fund
China’s government will launch a new 40 billion RMB (about $6.5 billion) venture capital fund to invest in seed-stage tech startups. The news comes as investor interest in Chinese VC firms recovers after several years of decline.
The Chinese government said the fund will include capital from the government as well as private investors.
In an announcement earlier, Li Keqiang, premier of China’s state council, said that the purpose of the fund is to support development of emerging industries, which the government hopes will eventually translate into greater economic growth.
As the Financial Times notes, the launch of the government-sponsored VC fund fits into China’s efforts at financial reform by increasing investment in private sectors and reducing its economy’s reliance on fixed asset investments in infrastructure and property.
INVESTMENT. Tandem Raises $100M Third Fund To Back More Mobile Startups
Mobile startup accelerator Tandem is announcing that it has closed a third fund totaling $100 million — a big step up from its second, $33 million fund.
Tandem has previously backed startups like Bash Gaming (acquired by GSN), lost-item tracker Tile, and PlayHaven (now known as Upsight). It invests $200,000 initially and also brings startups to its Burlingame, Calif. offices for a six-month mentoring program.
Co-founder Doug Renert told that the new, bigger fund will allow Tandem to invest in more startups, to find startups from around the world, and to invest more money after the initial funding. (Tandem can invest $10 million or more in a startup.)
Renert added that Tandem’s focus has expanded to include the Internet of Things, i.e., Internet-connected hardware. In fact, the new office includes a hardware lab. He said he’s particularly excited about startups that aren’t just selling a gadget but offer a service as well, and startups targeting “boring industries that people have actually forgotten about” — he pointed to companies in the current group that focus on swimming pools and home security.
INVESTMENT. Holtzbrinck Ventures Closes $331M Fund
One of the more prolific VCs in Europe with close ties to e-commerce startup factory Rocket Internet has closed another fund — its biggest yet — to back more consumer internet businesses in the region and beyond, with an emphasis on e-commerce. Holtzbrinck Ventures has raised €285 million ($331 million) for HV Holtzbrinck Ventures Fund VI, which will be used for early, middle, and late-stage investments, ranging from around $500,000 to $50 million per round.
World is in a heady period for venture investment at the moment. Dow Jones VentureSource released figures that noted 2014 VC investments totalled more than $52 billion, up 47% compared to 2013.
Holtzbrinck Ventures is tapping into that. It says this fund was not only its biggest yet, but it closed in less than four months and was oversubscribed.
HV — which first opened for business in 2000 as the investment arm of the German media and publishing group but went independent in 2010 — has also been one of the firms leading the VC charge in the tech world.