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February 25 2014


February 06 2014

LinkedIn Snatches Up Data Savvy Job Search Startup For $120M, In Its Largest Acquisition To Date
linkedin_logoToday, alongside a fourth quarter earnings report in which it beat Wall Street estimates yet again, LinkedIn announced its intentions to acquire data-savvy job search startup,, for $120 million. The deal, which was 70 percent stock and 30 percent cash the company said, will be completed during the first quarter of this year. In a statement today, LinkedIn said that “several members of Bright’s team,” which now numbers over 50 –particularly those on its engineering and product teams — will be joining LinkedIn in the coming weeks. However, one notices that the announcement conspicuously leaves out any mention of Bright’s founders and whether or not they will be joining LinkedIn’s team in Mountain View. Either way, what is clear is that, unfortunately for users and loyalists, as a result of the acquisition, access to the startup’s job search products will continue until February 28th, at which point it LinkedIn will pull the plug. Why did LinkedIn buy Bright, you ask, and whatever happened to that fella? While we can’t answer for the latter, we do know that the purchase is the latest in a fairly short string of acquisitions LinkedIn has made over the last two years. No Yahoo by any means, LinkedIn has been methodically and strategically picking off startups that will either help expand its growing professional content network or its talent solutions products. It more or less began with LinkedIn’s acquisition of popular email-embedded contact management tool, Rapportive, for around $15 million in early 2012. Since then, as LinkedIn’s public-facing product has put more emphasis on facilitating content-sharing rather than contact-sharing, it’s picked up popular presentation, slideshow and document sharing network, SlideShare, for $119 million and made its big news reader play by snatching up Pulse for $90 million. The acquisition, at least in this context, appears to be a return to home base, and LinkedIn’s first acquisition of any product or startup operating on its home turf — i.e. the job search and professional networking market. As such, this could very likely have been a “defensive” play to acquire an increasingly popular “competitor” before it turned into a behemoth. Granted, generally speaking, has traditionally competed more with the old denizens of the job search space like CareerBuilder and Monster, allowing users and job seekers to search for jobs that match their interests. However, Bright’s core value proposition has been that
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January 27 2014

Google Acquires Artificial Intelligence Startup DeepMind For $400M
DeepMind TechnologiesGoogle will pay $400 million to buy London-based artificial intelligence company DeepMind. The deal, but not the exact price, was confirmed to Re/code by Google. We've emailed Google and DeepMind for comment.

January 24 2014

Yahoo Acquires Virtual World Gaming Startup Cloud Party, Will Shut It Down
Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 5.15.13 PMYahoo is doing more than just throwing shade at Google on Twitter today and then taking it back – the company has acquired Cloud Party, a browser-based game creation engine. In a blog post today, the Cloud Party team shared that they will be joining Yahoo after two years of operation, and that the service will shut down on February 21, 2014. Cloud Party is the work of a founding team of MMO and console game industry vets, including Sam Thompson (formerly of Cryptic and Pandemic), Jimb Esser (also ex-Cryptic), Conor Dickinson (ex-Facebook, Tomb Raider dev and Cryptic alum) and Jered Windsheimer (Cryptic, natch). They built Cloud Party as a sort of free-form virtual world experience, similar to Second Life, but with an updated view of what an online virtual world might look like with more emphasis on user-generated 3D content. It’s not exactly clear what the team will be working on at Yahoo, but it will definitely be games related, as Thompson notes in his farewell blog post that the Cloud Party squad is “excited to bring [its] vision and experience to a team that is as passionate about games as [they] are.” Of course, Yahoo has a games portal of its own, but nothing quite so ambitious as a browser-based virtual world. Perhaps it’s thinking about doing something in that direction, but it’s more likely this was a small acquisition designed to bring some strong video game engineering (Cloud Party works in the browser with no plugins necessary) on board, with the ultimate aim of using that talent to fuel Yahoo’s own separate ends. If you happen to be an existing Cloud Party user, there’s a guide provided by the startup to help you export your data. Yahoo continues its habit of picking up small startups with unique and divergent skill sets, but only time will tell if these are merely an engineering talent grab to help shore up some of Yahoo’s talent losses to more appealing firms over the past few years, or whether some of these things result in new product launches for the big purple exclamation mark. It’s also worth noting that Yahoo acquired a gaming infrastructure startup back in May of last year. PlayerScale, the company in question, builds the bones for cross-platform gaming, and supported over 150 million players worldwide at the time of acquisition. The platform continues to operate, and is slated

January 13 2014

Nest Says Customer Data From Devices Will Only Be Used For Nest Products And Services
nest-canadaNest says that it's not going to just hand over its customer data to Google willy-nilly – in a blog post sent to TechCrunch penned by Nest founder Tony Fadell, a question and answer section at the end contains the following:

January 08 2014

Indian Startup Little Eye Labs Confirms Its Acquisition By Facebook, Deal Worth $10-$15M
Little Eye Labs FacebookLast month, we reported that Facebook was planning to buy Little Eye Labs, an Indian startup that makes a software tool for analyzing the performance of Android apps. Now the Bangalore-based company has confirmed it acquisition by the social media giant. A direct source told us that the deal is in the range of $10 million to $15 million. Little Eye Labs' investors have included VenturEast and GSF.

December 04 2013

Yahoo Acquires Team Behind Dreamworks Animation Incubated Mobile Video App Ptch
Ptch, the DreamWorks Animation-incubated mobile video startup, has been acquired by Yahoo. The app was launched just over a year ago and will shut down on January 2, 2014. Until then, you'll be able to download your ‘ptches' if you're a user, or save them out to your camera roll. The announcement was made on the Ptch blog this afternoon. “As part of the Yahoo team,” the announcement reads, “we'll be able to focus our efforts and leverage our technology to make Yahoo's photo and video platforms the best in the world.” Due to the text of the announcement and the fact that the product will be shuttered, we're calling this one an acqui-hire. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Ptch was an app that started inside DreamWorks Animation, as a project of its CTO Ed Leonard, who ended up taking on the CEO role. Co-founder Hans Ku also worked at DreamWorks. When we spoke to the Ptch team last year, there were around 20 of them, about one-third of which came from DreamWorks. About two-thirds of them came from outside places like Yahoo and Myspace. Now, it looks like some of them will boomerang back to the big purple. The app allowed users to remix their videos with effects and music, and to offer their original clips up to others in order to mash them up and remix them further. The concept was centered around allowing friends and people with shared experiences to use all of their combined media to craft the ‘story' of the event. There's no word on where this leaves DWA Investments, the separate company that was funded by DreamWorks and which created Ptch. Since it's equity-owned by the employees, it seems like it would go along with the acquisition, likely to be dissolved. This continues Yahoo's strategy of absorbing talent in the mobile app design and development space. Yahoo is in the process of retooling all of its offerings to be mobile-centric, and developing new properties to bolster its media empire. In order to do that, it's been snapping up small teams and products that have strategic value of some sort, but mostly for the people.

November 20 2013

After Its $6M Series A, PasswordBox Acquires Digital Afterlife Service Legacy Locker To Grow Its User Base
PasswordBox, the increasingly popular password management solution, today announced that it has acquired Legacy Locker, a digital afterlife service that – in the inevitable case that you pass away – grants access to your online assets to your friends and loved ones. With this acquisition, PasswordBox says, it is now "the only free service to manage your online accounts during life and after." Last week, PasswordBox also announced that it had closed a $6 million Series A round led by Canada's Omers Ventures.

October 29 2013

Payments Giant First Data Acquires Mobile Loyalty Startup Perka For ~$30M To Take On Square And PayPal In SMB Market
In an effort to catch up with Square and Paypal, payment processing giant First Data has been quietly increasing its presence in the mobile payments market. As the largest credit card processing company in the U.S. with over one trillion dollars in card transactions passing through its network each year, First Data is looking to throw its weight around — even if its competitors do have a head start. Today, the payment infrastructure company announced that it has acquired Perka, the mobile loyalty startup whose launch TechCrunch was first to cover back in October, 2011. Perka is First Data’s second acquisition in October and follows its purchase of Andreessen Horowitz-backed mobile payments startup, Clover, two weeks ago. With its acquisition of Clover, First Data has been looking to ramp up its support for small businesses, particular around point-of-sale (POS) infrastructure. The move enables First Data to give customers that are using its old school credit card terminals an opportunity to upgrade without having to turn to the Squares and PayPal Here’s of the world. And, today, by adding Perka’s subscription mobile loyalty services to the mix, First Data is beginning to build out the other side of its fledgling in-store payment solution. While terms of the Perka deal were not disclosed, sources tell us that the acquisition price was slightly lower than what it had paid for Clover, which we have confirmed in a 10K filing (page 71) to be a net-cash consideration of $34.1 million. Alan Chung, Perka’s co-founder and CEO, said that the startup’s 8 product developers and 28 total employees are still with the company and that Perka will continue to operate autonomously out of its Portland, Oregon and New York offices. In its two years as an independent company — with less than $1 million raised in angel funding — Perka has manage to scale to 50 U.S. states and several countries, catering to customers that range from local coffee shops to modern retailers like The Melt. Since launch, Perka introduced two loyalty subscription services, which essentially bring those “buy 10, get 1 free” punch cards we all know and love online — and to your mobile device. Through its mobile apps, Perka allows customers to connect with their favorite local merchants and receive recognition for their patronage in an increasing tier of “perks.” On the other side, Perka allows merchants to tap into customer intelligence,

October 09 2013

14:00 Makes Its First Acquisition With Dispatch, Will Roll Out Improved Messaging & Communications In Early 2014
New York-based, an online platform for organizing real world get-togethers, is today announcing its first acquisition since its founding back in early 2002. The company is acquiring Dispatch, a TechStars grad focused on email-based collaboration, which got its start as a TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2011 hackathon participant. Given its ambitions, Dispatch had only raised a small (under $1 million) amount of outside funding to date. The acquisition terms were not provided, but from what we're hearing it was basically a small deal.

September 17 2013

XO Group Acquires “Ambience Search Engine” Hoppit
Hoppit, a search engine that lets you find restaurants based on their atmosphere, today announced that it has been acquired by the “lifestage media” company XO Group (formerly known as “The Knot”). Hoppit will join XO Group’s lineup of wedding- and marriage-related brands, including The Knot, The Nest, The Bump, and “Together, we now embark on a mission to make finding products and services incredibly fast, relevant, and beautiful during life stages, i.e. preparing for a wedding or having a baby,” the company told its users in a blog post today. “The entire Hoppit team is excited to join the market leader in this endeavor.” As Hoppit’s founder and CEO Steven Dziedzic told me earlier this week, Hoppit itself will remain alive “for the foreseeable future.” The team, however, will also work on applying the service’s technology to all of XO Group’s brands “to make finding products and services incredibly fast, relevant, and beautiful during life stages like wedding planning (The Knot), new home nesting (The Nest), and first time parenthood (The Bump).” Hoppit launched its service publicly in early 2012 and took about $500,000 in seed funding from a diverse group of investors, including Aimee Higgins, Earl Tucker III, Phil Landler, Graham Smith and Dziedzic. The project was incubated — and this is not a joke — at the Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York after the team wasn’t accepted into TechStars but won a Christian business competition. Since its launch as an iOS and web service, the company added an Android app to its lineup late last year, but it’s been pretty quiet around the company since. The service, Dziedzic told me, eclipsed 100,000 unique users since its launch in 50 cities and was growing at about 8-10% per month. XO Group approached the company while it was in the process of raising its first institutional funding round.

July 29 2013

Yahoo And Google Are Both Spending Big Money On Acquisition Sprees And What That Says About Their Futures
These days it seems as if a startup so much as glances in Marissa Mayer's direction, it can expect a bid within 24 hours. There's been a lot of buzz about Yahoo's new role as an acquisition hound of late, and Mayer's attempts to turn the beleaguered giant into a mobile-first company and energize its ranks with young, acqui-hired talent.

August 07 2012

99designs Makes Its First Acquisition, Scoops Up European Rival 12designer
99designs, the polarizing crowdsourced design marketplace, announced its first acquisition tonight, as the Accel-backed startup scooped up its European rival, 12designer, for an undisclosed amount. In the near-term, 12designer will continue to operate as a standalone site. Since raising $35 million from Accel, 99designs has been focused on international growth, said Patrick Llewellyn, the company's President and CEO. 12designer is based in Germany, which has become 99design's top non-English (and fastest-growing) market, with European users now accounting for 15 percent of the site's graphic design contests.

August 01 2012

The Mechanics Of A Small Acquisition – How One Startup Navigated a Multi-Million Dollar Exit
Stypi is a YCombinator backed startup that was recently acquired by Their story details the mechanics for how a small company can manage an acquisition. It provides lessons for startups going through the process for the first time. Stypi is a real-time editor that multiple people can edit at the same time. It also supports several programming languages which makes it an especially cool collaborative tool. Jasen Chen is one of the founders who now works at on the Stypi project. His story mostly relates to acquisitions of $25 million or less. Here are his five insights into the courtship and the eventual exit:

April 25 2012

20:15 Acquires For $100 Million
Archives homepage
Utah-based genealogy site just announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Silicon Valley-based startup Inflection to acquire its competitor for $100 million is cash and assumed liabilities. Inflection's other product, people search public records site PeopleSmart, is not part of this acquisition. A number of's employees, including some of its key product and engineering executives, will join the team after the acquisition closes.

January 16 2012

Young Polling Startup Pollbob Acquires Older Site Misterpoll
Pollbob, a small, three-person polling startup from New Orleans' The Idea Village accelerator has just acquired the older polling site Misterpoll. Prior to the acquisition, which closed on Friday, Pollbob had over 12,000 downloads and 7,000 active registered users. With Misterpoll's 270K+ userbase now in tow, Pollbob is ready for rapid growth, says Pollbob Co-founder Zach Kupperman.

December 22 2011

Motorola Mobility Acquires Video Guide Startup SetJam
Today, SetJam, a company that describes itself as "building the future of TV," has announced it has been acquired by Motorola Mobility. The company's products currently include a customizable TV and movie widgets designed for embedding on websites, plus developer-friendly tools like a REST API and XML download of the SetJam database.

July 05 2011


Educated Buy? Providence Equity Partners To Acquire Blackboard For $1.64 Billion In Cash

Blackboard, the maker of learning and education software for enterprises and schools, announced Friday that it is being acquired by a group of investors led by Providence Equity Partners, a private equity firm that specializes in media, entertainment, communications and information investments. Providence has also invested in several for-profit educational companies, like Education Management Corporation and Archipelago Learning. The acquisition is an all-cash deal valued at $1.64 billion, with Providence assuming approximately $130 million in Blackboard debt.

The educational software giant, which went public on NASDAQ back in 2004, will be dishing out $45.00 in cash for each share of common stock owned by its shareholders as a result of the acquisition. According to Blackboard’s press release, the company has been “evaluating strategic alternatives” to its current trajectory in an effort to provide its stockholders with better value (than presumably what they’ve been getting up to this point).

Since rumors over a potential acquisition began percolating back in March, and the company more broadly announced that it was seeking prospective buyers on April 18 of this year, Blackboard’s stock has largely hovered above $40.00 per share. (Compared to its being priced at $37.16 a share on April 18, and averaging over $35 the last few years, $45.00 a share at acquisition does indeed seem to be relatively positive return on investment for its sharedholders.)

According to Blackboard’s press release, the transaction must be approved by a majority of stockholders, and is subject to other closing conditions and regulatory approvals, but the deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2011. Once the transaction is finalized, Blackboard will return to being a privately held company. Blackboard said that it will remain headquartered in Washington and will continue to be led by its senior management team; however, when a company is purchased by a private equity group, and goes back to being a private company, changes are presumably ahead.

Although the announcement made no specific mention of cost or personnel cuts, these tend to be an inherent part of this kind of acquisition, so Blackboard may be on its way to a bit of a shakeup — or at least some streamlining and trimming — in the coming year.

While Blackboard’s products are certainly widely-used, with over 5,000 education institutions using the company’s software, Blackboard has not always had the best reputation among students, especially in terms of user experience. In fact, my college opted for its own customizable educational software for this very reason.

Yet, both because Blackboard got a head start on the market and has become fully entrenched in universities and across secondary education systems and because its user experience has left room for improvement, many education startups have popped up with their own models aimed at snatching up some of Blackboard’s market share, like CourseKit, Instructure, Nixty, to name a few.

Blackboard acquired Presidium for $53 million back in January of this year, and Saf-T-Net for $33 million in March of 2010.

For more, check out Blackboard’s announcement here.

May 24 2011


Twitter Buys TweetDeck For $40 Million

Word has been circulating for weeks now that Twitter was soon to be swooping up the popular third-party app, TweetDeck. In early May, Mike Arrington reported that the deal was as good as done, but the two companies were not yet willing to publicly release the numbers. Today, CNN and CNET broke the news that TweetDeck has been acquired by Twitter for $40 million. Twitter has yet to officially confirm, but judging by what we’re hearing from sources close to the deal, it’s done and done.

As you may remember, the story of TweetDeck’s acquisition has changed a bit since February, as reports indicated at that point that TweetDeck was on the verge of being acquired by Bill Gross’ UberMedia — the price speculated at between $25 and $30 million. And, as it seems, Twitter was having none of that. They apparently rushed in with a counteroffer — an offer now proved to be on that TweetDeck couldn’t refuse. You can check out TechCrunch EU for the full story on how it all went down.

It seems that Twitter just wasn’t comfortable with allowing UberMedia to snatch another chunk of market share. After all, Twitter can’t just go allowing Twitter-related startups and products to fall into the hands of those companies that aren’t Twitter. Just ask UberTwitter and EchoFon, for example. As Mike reported in early May, sources close to Twitter revealed that an UberMedia acquisition would give them too much leverage over Twitter, and so the bidding war (or really, non-war) was on.

For an alternative perspective, check out Nova Spivack’s thoughts on Twitter and TweetDeck, in which he advised Twitter against buying TweetDeck, saying their money could be better spent elsewhere.

What do you think? Is this a win, lose, or draw for Twitter?

January 13 2011


GE To Buy Lineage Power, Makers Of Green Data Center Equipment, For $520 Million

Consumer and business uptake of cloud computing, mobile internet voice, video and real-time data are increasing energy demand dramatically among data centers, telecom and IT service providers. Anticipating the trend will continue for quite some time, General Electric (GE) today announced its plan to acquire Lineage Power Holdings from Los Angeles private equity firm, Gores Group, for $520 million.

Lineage Power, formerly Tyco Electronics Power Systems, designs, manufactures and sells what it calls “high-efficiency power conversion infrastructure technology.” Its used to convert alternating to direct currents or vice versa in a wide variety of contexts. The equipment is installed in systems that run small to large power plants, data centers, networks, even airplanes (namely in navigation tools in the cockpit, or in-flight entertainment systems).

The company claims its technology in the data center can:

“Reduce energy loss and lower cooling costs by 50-70%…prioritize sustainable energy sources like solar, wind, water and fuel cells over traditional utility grid or diesel generator sources – and [allow power systems to] intelligently respond to smart grid information to reduce [a company's energy] consumption during peak demand periods.”

Among Lineage Power’s clients are Verizon, Cisco, Ericsson, HP and Oracle.

This acquisition will cost GE more than five-times what the company is investing through its Ecomagination Challenge in earlier stage clean tech companies and concepts. GE Energy Services has been involved in about a dozen deals in the last 6 months, with its offer to acquire Dresser — another privately held energy infrastructure company — for $3.1 billion was the largest. Its other acquisitions during that time have been in smart grid companies in the U.K., Australia and Canada, and in joint ventures and other deals with energy businesses in China and Turkey.

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