VENTURE CAPITAL MARKET REVIEW ISSUE 8 (SEPTEMBER 8-14)
Second week of September was not a time of great news and important information. Everybody waited for Apple event and nothing could change the situation.
Market drew attention to unverified rumor about Microsoft’s plans to acquire Swedish Minecraft developer and some attention was paid to Japanese e-commerce tycoon Rakuten (Viber owner since February, 2014), that acquired Ebates service for USD one billion.
M&A. Rakuten pays $1 billion for Ebates
Japanese company has announced that it has agreed to acquire Ebates for $1 billion.
Ebates offers a website that offers customers a way to earn cash back when shopping online at over 2,600 stores including Amazon.com, Macy’s, Best Buy, Home Depot and others. In 2013, 2.5 million members spent over $2.2 billion shopping through Ebates.
With the acquisition, Japan’s largest e-commerce firm now has a new entry point into the U.S.’s growing e-commerce market, as well as a means to offer similar products, including online e-coupons, back home where they could complement Rakuten’s own online shopping loyalty program, Rakuten Super Points.
With Ebates, Rakuten says it believes that the combination of the two companies will “help create the world’s most attractive and innovative membership-based, loyalty-driven marketplace for consumers.”
STARTUP. FlightCar received $13.5 million
FlightCar, a car-sharing company that allows other people to rent out your car at the airport while you’re traveling, announced $13.5 million in Series A financing. The company will use the funding to expand into new locations.
This round of financing was led by GGV Capital, and Hans Tung, managing partner at GGV, will be joining FlightCar’s board. Major existing investors, including General Catalyst, SoftBank Capital, and First Round Capital, participated in this round. In addition, Comcast Ventures also invested in the company.
FlightCar has received a total of $20 million in funding to date, making co-founders Rujul Zaparde, 19, and Kevin Petrovic, 20, the youngest entrepreneurs ever to have raised $20 million in total venture capital, according to the startup. They were admitted to Harvard and Princeton, respectively, but instead chose to start FlightCar.
STARTUP. Google shares its Cloud Platform for startups
Internet-giant Google announced Cloud Platform for Startups, a new program to help early-stage startups with $100,000 in Cloud Platform credit, 24/7 support, and access to the company’s technical solutions team. The goal is to help them use the cloud to speed up the process of launching and scaling their idea.
While the offer is available to startups around the world through 50 of Google’s partners (top incubators, accelerators and investors), there’s a catch. To be eligible, your startup must be currently less than 5 years old and generate less than $500,000 in annual revenue.
The Google Cloud Platform team says the offer fits into the service’s core philosophy: “we want developers to focus on code; not worry about managing infrastructure.” If that means you get hooked on Google’s technologies and services, then the company won’t protest.
STARTUP. Educational startup The Loop received $2 million
Australian web startup The Loop has secured $2 million investment ahead of an ambitious global expansion plan that will kick off with a roll out in the UK. The new investment has been used to bolster the business’ team, including marketing and sales heads. Expansion to the UK is expected to take place in the first quarter of next year. The business, which was launched in December 2009, has received the funding from seven private investors.
The Loop acts as a jobs resource for creative professionals, ranging from architects to web designers. The site allows creatives to display their portfolios, rather than just their resumes. More than 20,000 people are signed up to the resource. The business has attracted an impressive client list, despite being under two years old, including Google, MTV, The Nine Network, Sydney Opera House and Pacific Magazines.
STARTUP. Farm software startup Conservis harvests $10 million
Conservis, a company that provides software to farming industry, has raised a fresh $10 million round of funding today.
Conservis provides an enterprise-level platform where farmers can get an overview of a farming operation, as well as the ability to manage planting, harvesting, controlling inventory, marketing, and more. The platform gives those farmers a real-time view of the operations across both desktop and mobile. It also backs up all the data in the cloud. The new funding round was led by Cultivian Sandbox Ventures with participation from Middleland Capital and Heartland Farms.
STARTUP. Ifbyphone raised $30 million
Voice marketing software company Ifbyphone announced today it has raised $30 million in new funding and has acquired Mongoose Metrics to develop call tracking technology for its Voice360 platform.
The funding, which included investments from NewSpring Capital, Apex Venture Partners, SSM Partners, Origin Ventures, River City Capital Funds, i2A Illinois Accelerator Fund and Spring Mill Venture Partners, increases its total amount of fundraising to $60 million, the company announced.
Ifbyphone provides voice-based marketing to businesses and marketing agencies by analyzing incoming phone calls from ad campaigns and routing them to the correct people.
INVESTMENT. Salesforce is out with new product: money
The CRM/marketing giant announced today it is launching the $100 million Salesforce 1 Fund as the first dedicated fund of its rebranded investment arm, Salesforce Ventures.
Salesforce has been investing successfully in startups for the last five years, with financial bets placed on 100 companies, but until now it invested simply under the Salesforce name.
Five companies will be the initial recipients of the Fund, including several well-established ones. Salesforce declined to reveal the amounts, but noted they vary in size and are all co-investments.
The Salesforce 1 Fund will “typically do A, B or C rounds,” he said, “but, from time to time, we might do seed [rounds.]“ Past investments, have gone “well beyond CRM.” As an example, he pointed to Kenandy, a company that created a Salesforce-backed app so a user could manage a factory from a phone.