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February 27 2014


February 25 2014


February 11 2014

Georgian Partners Closes $100M New Fund For Expansion-Stage Enterprise Startup Investments
georgian-partnersThe investment pool in Toronto just got bigger thanks to a new $100 million fund closed by Canadian VC Georgian Partners, which is its second growth equity fund. The first one, closed back in 2010, was half the size at $50 million, and this new one includes investment from the recently announced fund of funds initiative from the Canadian and provincial government as well as private investors, the Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund. Other investors include BMO, Kensington Capital Partners, Fondaction and more, and the fund, like its predecessor, will be aimed at helping enterprise-focused startups looking to accelerate their growth take wing. Previous Georgian Partners portfolio companies include live event dynamic coverage platform ScribbleLive and Ottawa-based e-commerce giant Shopify. Georgian’s investment strategy is built around something it calls “Applied Analytics,” which is the overlap point of ‘business processes, big data and information rights’. That’s quite the string of buzzwords, but it essentially amounts to companies that are focused on a particular tool needed by businesses, who use data analysis and above-board and transparent gathering of said data to solve enterprise problems. Their portfolio includes a couple of companies focused on helping media companies embrace the web and mobile, as well as drive digital ad revenue, online shopping, digital rewards and loyalty, and fraud and privacy protection. The new fund will likely be used to support companies in the same general areas. This is also a sign of what the Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund will be used for in terms of helping to inject some life in the Canadian startup ecosystem. Georgian’s specific focus on growth doesn’t necessarily do much for early stage or consumer-focused startups, but B2B players with moderate success looking to kickstart their progress will definitely have a lot to gain from this fresh injection of capital.

January 31 2014

The Complete Quantitative Guide To Judging Your Startup
shutterstock_173632637Raising capital from investors is often a frustrating experience. While part of that frustration will always be present when working on high-risk projects, a lot of the aggravation comes from the lack of clear signposts that allow founders to judge their company’s performance. The reality is, most founders only ever hear a “yes” or a “no” from a venture capitalist, without a lucid understanding of the factors that influenced that decision.

January 24 2014

It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way
evicted-googleI’m worried that if we do not have a civil discussion soon, the situation will become violent or contentious beyond recognition. We have already seen rocks smash windows. Now, there are unidentified protesters stalking and harassing individual Google employees at their homes. The bus protests during the last several months are a symptom of San Francisco’s perennial housing shortage, which has become especially pronounced with 75,000 people moving here over the last decade. Supply just hasn’t kept up with the city’s growth; San Francisco has added an average of 1,500 units every year for the last two decades. This is a textbook supply-and-demand issue, which — Google buses or not — we can’t avoid. On top of that is another labyrinth of policy choices with unintended consequences like Proposition 13, rent control, the Ellis Act and an attitude of slow growth among those with influence over San Francisco’s permitting process. The bus protests are misguided, because taking buses off the road will increase traffic and it won’t reverse the tide of growth-stage companies that have decided to stay like Square, Twitter, Airbnb and Dropbox. But they have done one good thing: they’ve pushed housing to the forefront of the mayor’s agenda. Last Friday, Mayor Ed Lee made a seven-point housing plan the centerpiece of his State of the City speech and announced plans to bring 30,000 new or rehabbed units online in the next six years. It’s not enough, but it’s a start. This is not a new conflict. The Bay Area has two very strong historical legacies of social justice and technological solutionism. They seem more at war than ever, but this is a place where greed and idealism have always co-existed in a peculiar, and sometimes powerful, way. That potent combination created the Mac, which is celebrating its 30th birthday today, and put the world’s knowledge on smartphones in our pockets. Recently, the tech industry has become a focal point of anger because there is such a jarring disconnect between the “Change The World” language of our industry and the very real and rising inequalities that sit in our own backyard. Moreover, tech industry workers are increasingly treated like bankers during 2008 in the mainstream media. It’s strange considering how many people I know who came here because they wanted to work on hard, technical problems with meaningful impact. I’m still researching what can be done, so this

December 17 2013

Facebook’s Silent Autoplay Video Ads Require Custom Content To Shine
Screenshot 2013-12-17 at 2.08.02 PMFacebook could have made it easy for advertisers to port their TV commercials or online pre-rolls into its new video ad unit. Instead, it's spawned a fresh video ad format designed to minimize disruption to the user experience. While advertisers might be a bit annoyed they can't reuse existing creative, Facebook's decision could reduce backlash and preserve its audience. And it's not the first time.

December 12 2013

A Merger In Gaming Services: Playhaven, Kontagent Combine In An All-Stock Deal Worth “Hundreds of Millions”
kontagent-playhavenConsolidation ahoy! Playhaven and Kontagent, two of the bigger gaming services companies that help developers run analytics and retain their players, have decided to merge into a combined company worth “hundreds of millions” of dollars in an all-stock deal. Neither company could give more specifics on how the deal was structured. “The valuation in the hundreds of millions, but I won’t tell you where,” said Andy Yang, who was Playhaven’s CEO and will lead the combined company. They have yet to choose a new name. Playtagent? Konplaygent, anyone? Playhaven is a company that the biggest game developers use to retain their players with personalized promotions. They help studios segment out players, by whether they tend to play for free or are bigger spenders (known as “whales”). With the top gaming studios reaching tens of millions of players, retention has evolved into a big data problem. Kontagent, on the other hand, is an analytics company that started off by catering to social game developers on the Facebook platform. They are used by everyone from EA to Zynga to China’s Tencent. It’s a natural marriage of sorts. One company provides very deep analytics on game play, while the other offers a monetization solution. “With this combination, we’ll be the 800 pound gorilla and the clear market leader,” Yang said. “Our clients were asking us about how they could take all the valuable data they’ve collected in Kontagent and act on it. We ended up having a shared vision.” Yang said negotiations took somewhere between two and three months, and the boards of both companies were supportive. The two companies will end up reaching 22,000 apps and 400 million monthly active users together. The new company will employ 160 people and Yang and Kontagent’s CEO Josh Williams said there were no layoffs or redundancies with the deal. Williams will become the chief technology officer of the new company, while Yang will take the helm as CEO. They expect to merge their two products by the end of 2014. “At the moment, we’ll have to take one step at a time and have a simple integration at first,” Yang said. “It’s day one of our marriage, and we just moved in together.” The merger comes at a time where we could be seeing more consolidation. As mobile and social gaming have matured, literally dozens of service providers offering competing analytics and monetization solutions have

December 11 2013

Palantir’s Latest Round Valuing It At $9B Swells To $107.8M In New Funding
palantirPalantir, the big data company that started off with clients like the FBI and CIA before building up a large private-sector roster of customers, just added more funding to its coffers. Last week, the company filed that it was raising $57 million with the SEC. Now that round is coming in at $107.5 million, according to a new amended filing today. Sources close to the company told us that the round valued the company at $9 billion. This is a boost to an earlier $196.5 million round in the fall that valued the company at $6 billion. Strong investor appetite convinced the company to bring in more capital at a 50 percent bump to their overall valuation. Palantir, which expects to see more than $1 billion in contracts next year, sells a big data platform to private-sector and government clients. It helps them make sense from disparate silos of data and point out trends that they would otherwise not see. For example, rescue workers operating in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy used Palantir to manage requests for water, medical supplies, and home repairs. Financial clients tend to use it to look for cybersecurity or fraud threats. While the company was originally founded back in 2004 to take anti-fraud technologies and ideas developed at PayPal and use them to fight terrorism with government agencies, the company is now working with lots of private sector clients. Today, government contracts make up less than 40 percent of the company’s revenues, a source familiar with the company tells me. The company was the brainchild of Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel, who recruited current CEO Alex Karp, Joe Lonsdale (who went on to found Asia and Silicon Valley-focused investment firm Formation 8), Stephen Cohen and chief technology officer Nathan Gettings to put together an initial product.

December 09 2013

Counsyl Co-Founder Balaji Srinivasan Steps Up As Andreessen Horowitz’ Newest General Partner
balaji-sBalaji Srinivasan, a Stanford academic who co-founded a major genetic testing company Counsyl, is stepping up as Andreessen Horowitz’ eighth general partner. The firm, which is just four years old, tends to pick general partners who have built or operated large companies before. So this is in keeping with that philosophy. While teaching at Stanford, Srinivasan started Counsyl, a South San Francisco-based company that helps prospective parents test their risks of passing on genetic conditions to their future children. While Counsyl doesn’t get as much hype as other consumer Internet or mobile startups in Silicon Valley, they are the forefront of “big data” meeting the rapidly dropping costs of full genome sequencing. The company is testing somewhere around 3 to 4 percent of all births in the U.S. So with 4 million births per year, that would put them at around 120,000 to 160,000 tests per year. At around $500 to 600 per test (depending on whether there are insurance discounts), they’re on a annualized revenue run-rate of about $60 to 80 million a year and we hear that the company was last valued at $1 billion in the most recent round. What Srinivasan brings to Andreessen Horowitz is the kind of expertise that will help the firm sort out health-related deals. But he has a pretty broad range of interests. He also runs the Stanford Bitcoin group and teaches a MOOC (or a massive open online course) about startup engineering at Stanford that has reached about 125,000 students. “I’m interested in businesses that take digital bits and turn them into interfaces for physical atoms,” said Srinivasan, who will be the firm’s youngest partner at 33. “I’m also interested in drones, Bitcoin and 3D printing.” It took Andreessen Horowitz about six months to recruit Srinivasan over. “Marc was very persuasive with the idea that I could have leverage across a bunch of industries,” Srinivasan said. “Being a VC will definitely be different in certain ways. The biggest change is that I can’t be as hands-on in a company as I normally would be.” The firm’s co-founder Marc Andreessen added, “We met Balaji back in the spring. He’s spent a lot of time at the firm. We’ve gotten to know him, built a great relationship so we decided to pull the trigger.” Andreessen said that he has no plans to open any kind of health or biotech-specific funds. Instead, he’s looking

December 05 2013

Spotify Backer Northzone Raising New $272M Fund For Startups With “Nordic DNA”, $204M Secured So Far
Northzone, the Scandinavian VC that was an early backer of music streaming service Spotify and other notable startups out of the region, today announced that it is raising a new, €200 million ($272 million) fund, which it will use to invest in more startups with "Nordic DNA". It says that €150 million ($204 million) has been secured so far.

November 19 2013

Niklas Zennstrom's Atomico Raises $476M For Growth Stage Investments, Mainly Outside Silicon Valley
Atomico, the VC firm co-founded and led by Niklas Zennstrom of Skype fame, has just announced its third and biggest fund, $475 million, which the firm says it will use mainly for later-stage rounds in startups to help them scale. Taking a page from Zennstrom's own entrepreneurial trajectory -- Skype started in Estonia -- Atomico has put a lot of emphasis on finding and funding startups outside of Silicon Valley, and that is exactly where it plans to invest this latest fund, too. "This is absolutely global," a spokesperson told me, "but primarily outside Silicon Valley."

November 18 2013

Atlas Ventures' Fred Destin Believes Funding Seed Stage Companies Is Like Falling In Love
One of the best moments at our TC Boston Meetup + Pitch-off was an on-stage interview with Atlas Ventures' Fred Destin, a Belgian gone Boston investing in super early stage startups. To Destin, investing in an early stage company is never about the mathematics of the business model or any quantifiable prediction of success, but rather like falling in love.

November 13 2013

Pitch-Off. Tonight. Boston.
Boston! TechCrunch is in you! And it's damn cold here. Tonight, at 6:00pm at The Estate, we're hosting our first Boston event in far too many years. The response from Boston has been overwhelming. We love you too, Boston, and are very excited to see you tonight.
Tags: Startups TC VC

November 12 2013

Early Aereo, Pinterest Backer FirstMark Capital Raises $225M For Its Third Fund
Five years and more than $500 million in investment later, FirstMark Capital has today announced securing its third fund of $225 million which will go toward early stage investments. The fund will be called FirstMark Capital III, and is the exact same amount as the last round at $225 million. FirstMark doesn't disclose it's investors.

October 29 2013

As VC Firms Eye Europe, 500 Startups Plans A Berlin Arm For Next Year
Today at Disrupt Europe, five major investors in European startups took the stage to talk about funding in Europe. While they all agreed that Europe’s track record for building successful startups is nowhere near as long as Silicon Valley’s, there are a few shifts happening. Many VC firms are positioning themselves to get serious about European investments, and, according to Dave McClure (500 Startups), Roberto Bonanzinga (Balderton Capital), Sonali De Rycker (Accel Partners), Saul Klein (Index Ventures) and Ciaran O’Leary (Earlybird Venture Capital), European startups should be very hopeful. In particular, McClure announced that the investment company will be open for business in Berlin at some point next year. “We will have a presence on the ground in Berlin some time next year,” McClure said. 500 Startups has already made 40-50 investments in Europe, but doesn’t currently have an office in Berlin. The European ecosystem remains largely dominated by London. “[Europe] is a big market. The only challenge is that it’s fragmented across languages,” McClure said. Klein had a lot to say about London as well, and why Berlin is not on London’s level just yet. “In Europe, for a variety of reasons, while there are amazing flowering companies in many cities, London is becoming the key tech hub in the region because of the density not just of startups but of capital, corporates,” she said “And it shares a language with the U.S.,” she continued. O’Leary agreed on the importance of speaking and doing business in English to have a say in the startup ecosystem. “The capital is super mobile — the single contraint is how you get a critical mass of talented people to work for you. You need an urban English-speaking area,” he said. As is often the case, the debate inevitably compared Silicon Valley to other European cities. While many people talk about a lack of funding in Europe, it seems like the continent is just where the U.S. was a few years ago. “It’s becoming easier, but as we seen with Silicon Valley’s perception of Europe, it takes a few years to catch up with reality,” Klein said. “There are companies that still don’t have all the options that they would have in the U.S.” And it’s true that not every company can get the funding that they need to grow. Some of them don’t encounter any funding gaps, but it remains a very small

October 28 2013

Kids Love Snapchat Because They See Facebook Like Adults See LinkedIn
Kids are in a petri dish, where their every social post can be scrutinized and used against them. That's why disappearing media startup Snapchat is important, says its investor, Benchmark's Bill Gurley. Teens don't want their daily lives permanently recorded. Gurley said at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin that Snapchat board member Mitch Lasky's kids tell him they view Facebook like adults view LinkedIn.

September 16 2013

Video Site Upworthy Closes $8M Round, Will Build Revenue Through Sponsored Content
Upworthy, the website aiming to make meaningful videos go viral, has raised $8 million in Series A funding led by Spark Capital, an early investor in Tumblr and Twitter, along with Catamount Ventures, Uprising, and the Knight Foundation.

August 13 2013

Time Equity Partners Wants To Launch A New $130M Fund To Invest In 10 French Startups
French later-stage VC firm Time Equity Partners is looking to raise a second fund to fuel its investments. The company needs $130 million (€100 million) before the end of the year, according to Les Échos. The government could invest between $26 million and $40 million (between €20 million and €30 million). Multiple investors are already committed to financing two-thirds of the new fund -- Time's parent company Yam Invest will add $43 million (€33 million) to it. Big French companies, such as EDF, Bouygues or car companies, could also participate to put a foot in the startup ecosystem and to invest a tiny portion of their cash on hand.

May 02 2012

Russian VC Firm NGI Will Invest Heavily in French Startups
Leonid Reiman
Russia was once known for its undying adoration for all things French back in the day, and a century and a half later you could argue that some of that spark is still hanging around. New Generation Investment, the Russian VC firm part-owned by Leonid Reiman, former Minister of Communications and Information Technologies, has announced that it would like to start investing into the startup scene in France. It's starting with a fund of €20 million ($26.4 million) -- relatively modest by American standards but decent in France considering how little is invested in startups in the country. During the first quarter of 2012, French companies raised €168 million ($222 million) from venture capitalists while American companies raised $5.8 billion. That works out to VC investment being 26 times lower in France than it is in the U.S.

April 07 2012

Dave McClure On What’s Next For 500 Startups [TCTV]
Today was a pretty big day for 500 Startups, the Silicon Valley seed venture capital firm and startup accelerator founded by outspoken tech investment extraordinaire Dave McClure. The firm disclosed in a regulatory filing that it's halfway finished raising a brand new $50 million round of funding, the second in its two-year history and a significant step up from the $29 million investment that it raised in its first round. 500 Startups also named four new partners -- Paul Singh, Christen O'Brien, Bedy Yang, and George Kellerman -- who will help select and manage the more than 100 investments that the firm makes each year. So we were very happy to have McClure as a guest today on TechCrunch TV. Because of regulatory limitations on what companies can say while they're in the process of raising funding, his hands were tied on lots of topics on the details of the new fund -- but we were still able to get some great details from him on the future direction of 500 Startups and the venture funding world in general.
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