VENTURE CAPITAL MARKET REVIEW, ISSUE 22 (JAN, 26 – FEB, 1)
Dropbox is still a newsmaker in a venture sphere with its’ new acquisition, other M&A deals of the week are about infrastructure widening. Venture funds-backed startups are representatives of software, analytics and marketing spheres.
M&A. Dropbox Acquires Pixelapse
Pixelapse, a startup incubated by Y Combinator and StartX, has been acquired by cloud storage company Dropbox. The news was announced on the Pixelapse blog, and Dropbox has confirmed it.
Pixelapse offers version control and other collaboration tools for designers. Earlier startup added integrations with Dropbox.
The company says that Pixelapse will continue to operate as a standalone product “for the next year,” but it sounds like the eventual goal is to migrate customers over to Dropbox.
The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
M&A. Slack Buys Screenhero
Slack, the enterprise collaboration service that has raised $180 million and proven to be a runaway success with 365,000 daily active users, has made another acquisition to add more functionality to its platform and position itself as a sharper competitor against the likes of Microsoft. It has bought Screenhero, a Y Combinator alum that competes against WebEx, letting users speak to each other and access each other’s screens for editing and more.
Stewart Butterfield, the co-founder and CEO of Slack, tells that Screenhero will continue to operate for the time being as a separate product for new and existing customers, but that will not include its current pricing tiers, which start at $11 per user per month, and scale up to $444 per month for 50 users.
Over time, Screenhero’s functionality will be integrated into Slack and Screenhero itself will shut down.
All six employees of Screenhero will join Slack, bringing the total number of employees to just over 100. The financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed, beyond the fact that it is a cash-and-stock deal.
M&A. Kids App Maker Acquires Two Mobile Education Companies
Kids’ app maker Fingerprint, which was backed by Dreamworks last summer with a $10.9 million round of funding, has put some portion of that cash to use with the acquisition of two children’s mobile education companies, Cognitive Kid and Scribble Press.
Fingerprint declined to detail the terms of the acquisitions announced today, but notes they’re part of a bigger trend at the company to grow through similar deals as well as partnerships. The company tells us it’s adding a new partner or buying a company around every eight weeks these days.
Deal for Scribble Press and Cognitive Kid are focused on bringing educational and productive content to Fingerprint’s network. The former, Scribble Press, launched in 2011 and offers a digital book-making product that’s been used in over 25,000 classrooms by children ages 6 to 12, and has produced over 3 million books which kids build using text, art, soundtracks and more. Meanwhile, Cognitive Kid offers seven apps that teach kids on a variety of subjects including history, math, dinosaurs and more.
To date, Fingerprint has worked with over 400 developers and children have spent more than 100 million minutes on Fingerprint games.
STARTUP. Singapore Property Site Lands $1.6M From Sequoia
99.co, a property rental and sales site that launched in Singapore last November, has scored a deal of its own after closing $1.6 million in funding from Sequoia and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin. The company confirmed that the round values it at $8 million.
This new funding will go towards continuing to scale the business, as it begins to look at overseas expansion opportunities this year. 99.co raised a $650,000 seed round from a range of investors including 500 Startups last year when it soft-launched its website.
At this point, 99.co is operational in Singapore only. That may be a relatively small market of five million people, but its real estate industry is arguably the most developed in Southeast Asia.
99.co CEO and co-founder Darius Cheung told that the ad-based model of other services effectively allows real estate agents to pay to have their listings feature more prominently. 99.co takes a more user-centric approach, it doesn’t prioritize any results and uses only its search algorithm to surface listings.
“We’re offering a new way of doing property search. Our search results are relevant to our visitors and not corrupted by advertising money,” told Cheung, who sold his previous security software startup to McAfee for a reported $25 million.
STARTUP. Tune Raises $27M To Unify Mobile Marketing Data
Tune, a company that bills itself as “the enterprise platform for mobile marketing,” is announcing that it has raised $27 million in Series B funding.
Founded by twin brothers Lucas and Lee Brown with CEO Peter Hamilton, Tune was previously known as HasOffers — it rebranded last summer, giving it what Hamilton called “a more flexible, bigger name.”
HasOffers was the company’s first product, which helps ad networks manage their relationships with publishers. The second product was MobileAppTracking, which helps mobile publisher see which ad campaigns are driving the most installs, engagement, and purchases. Those are still the company’s two main offerings, but it sounds there are new products in the works.
“We’ve really focused on increasing our product development … we did some acquisitions and got a lot done,” Hamilton told. “So we’re going to start launching things over the next couple of quarters.”
And the funding, of course, should accelerate all of this. The round was led by Icon Ventures, with participation from Performance Equity Management and Accel Partners.
INVESTMENT. Alibaba Affiliate Launches Financing Program For Female Entrepreneurs In China
Ant Credit, a company affiliated with e-commerce giant Alibaba, announced that it will set up a financing program for female entrepreneurs in China with an $80 million loan from International Finance Corp (IFC).
The loan program can potentially boost the amount of borrowers who use Ant Financial’s services. Ant Credit provides small online loans and says many of its current clients are women who sell products on Alibaba marketplaces Taobao and Tmall. It claims that half of businesses owned by women on those sites are already available for loans.
Ant Credit’s new program, which it calls the “first Internet-based gender-finance program in China” is a partnership between Ant Financial Services Group, which runs Ant Credit; IFC; and Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women Initiative, an entrepreneurship program for women in emerging markets.
INVESTMENT. Kickstart Seed Fund Raises $39.2 Million
Early stage venture capital investors Kickstart Seed Fund announced that it has raised a $39.2 million investment round from various Utah investors. This is the third round for the seed fund and one of the larger rounds in Utah venture capital history.
The Utah-based firm typically invests $500,000-$1 million rounds of capital in local startups. Much of this is in the enterprise software category, though some investments, like amiigo and cotopaxi are more consumer-based.
Kickstart is just one part of the state’s investor ecosystem. According to a Dow Jones report, the much larger Utah VC firm Sorenson Capital is on track to raising $400 million.
The new funds will give Kickstart the opportunity to invest larger amounts and possibly get into some Series A investments. “We’ve considered that,” says Kickstart founder Gavin Christensen.