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February 27 2014


February 01 2014

Boombotix Raises $4M For Its Wearable Action Speakers And Audio Sync Software
IMG_9543Kickstarter funding will often lead to the more traditional kind, and in the case of Boombotix, that’s exactly what happened. The California startup raised $17,000 for its music syncing app, which allows people to synchronize playback of music across multiple devices using mobile networks, and nearly $130,000 for its Boombot Rex mobile Bluetooth action-ready portable speaker. Now, it has also raised $4 million in venture funding from Social+ Capital, Baseline, Red Hills and many others. May of its partners in this round are strategic in nature, and Boombotix co-founder Lief Storer says they were chosen for their ability to help build the brand. “The investors’ interest is vested in amplifying our brand through product development and strategic marketing,” he explained in an interview. “There isn’t a single expense [in terms of using these funds] that stands out, but having key human capital in place to continue building the talent in the organization will be essential to the long-term strategy.” Boombotix isn’t saying how many speakers it managed to see since its launch back in 2010, but it has seen its sales grow by triple figures since the debut of its Kickstarter campaigns, which also led to deals secured with retailers including Amazon, T-Mobile, Microsoft and The selling point of the Boombot REX is that it can stand up to mud, dust and some water exposure, as well as take spills, while providing quality sound, portability and also speaker phone functions, including the ability to use Siri on the iPhone from the gadget. Its audio sync tech was designed to be an answer to user requests to broadcast to multiple speakers at once, which isn’t supported with standard Bluetooth. It isn’t perfect, but the app gets around this by allowing multiple devices (i.e. smartphones or tablets) to sync playback of music perfectly over a mobile network, which means that each can output music to their own attached Bluetooth speaker for what is effectively multi-speaker sound. Of course, you need more than one device to make it happen, but it’s a step in the right direction. Boombot has begun to position its speakers as a wearable play, in part to capitalize on the growing interest in that device category. It’s true that they’re small and clip-mounted, and can be easily attached to clothing, but the key to growth will be holding appeal beyond the current action sports group of core buyers.
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January 31 2014

Vector Capital Makes Controlling Investment In CollabNet Developer Platform
CloudsCollabNet is one of the leading agile development platforms in the enterprise and the company behind the Subversion version control software. It has millions of users on its platform, which launched back in 1999. Today, Vector Capital is making a controlling investment in the company as part of a concurrent equity round that includes another, undisclosed investor. The company did not disclose the size of the round, but Vector Capital currently manages over $2 billion in equity capital and typically invests from $100 million to $300 million in each of its portfolio companies. Vector Capital may not be a household name, but the company has previously invested in companies like Corel, LANDesk, RealNetworks, and WinZip. The firm says it usually invests in companies with at least $100 million in revenue. As Vector Capital partner Rob Amen told me, CollabNet is exactly the kind of company the firm likes to invest in. “CollabNet is a gem,” he told me. “It is rare, as a technology investor, to get an opportunity like this. It’s A+ technology and an incredible management team with a ton of experience. All it needs is a partner with deep pockets that can help it grow.” As part of this investment, Amen will take a seat on CollabNet’s board. Last year, CollabNet raised a $2.5 million debt round, which today’s round will wipe out. The company raised most of its funding in its early years, with an $11 million round in 2002 and a $9.5 million Series B in 2005. Previous investors include Benchmark, Norwest Venture Partners and Intel Capital. According to CollabNet CEO Bill Portelli, the 300-person company used this funding to grow through the recession but the industry wasn’t quite ready for its solutions yet. While CollabNet was among the first companies to enable software development in the cloud, enterprises weren’t quite ready for this concept. It’s only now, in his view, that enterprises are starting to catch up with CollabNet’s vision and are starting to adopt agile development. “What we are seeing now,” he told me, ” is that the world is moving to a distributed and fragmented development model, with data inside and outside the company. There is an ever-increasing need for developers to use their favorite tools, but enterprises also need transparency into this.” This fragmentation, he also stressed, is leading to integration issues for enterprises. CollabNet’s tools include its set of TeamForge application

January 30 2014

Enigma Raises $4.5M To Help Plumb The Depths And Derive Insights From Public Data
enigma-google-smallNYC startup and TechCrunch Battlefield winner Enigma has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding, the company has revealed today. The new round was led by Comcast Ventures, and includes participation from American Express Ventures, Crosslink Capital and the New York Times Company. Some of the new funders are clearly strategic partners, who are interested in seeing where Enigma’s unique approach to mining public data can take them. Enigma launched at Disrupt in NYC last year, and since then it has offered up access to its platform for accessing public data via API and end-user dashboard on the web. Already, the company has partnered with big name companies including the Harvard Business School, S&P Capital IQ and more. The startup gathers public data from sources including FCC documents, government databases, and many, many more using data crawlers set loose on the web. The real value of the service lies in its ability to make sense of all that data, however, and index it in a way that makes it easy to retrieve by even people who have no special training in data analytics. “This year is really going to be about developing the public data graph, which is really our marquee huge next iteration,” explained co-founder Marc DaCosta in an interview. “What we’re trying to do is not only collect all this information but interpret it. We think that we’re pretty far in terms of clearing those obstacles ahead of us, technologically, and we’re just super excited to have partners who believe in that vision and that goal.” This group of investors has strategic goals for Enigma’s platform: There’s a financial service firm and two media firms in the investor pool, so what the company aims to do during the next year splits along those lines, too. There’s a concerted effort working with financial organizations to increase access to credit for small businesses, Enigma’s founders tell me, leveraging publicly available data to replicate some of the expensive, closed proprietary systems used by larger organizations. For news orgs, the data store offers a chance to break and augment stories, and we’ve already seen some of the results of that from Enigma’s partners like the NYT. While they have clients, the focus isn’t on revenue yet, the company tells me. “The focus from our investors is less on profitably and more on size and quality of the deals that are coming through,

January 17 2014

Dropbox Closes Roughly $250M Round At $10B Valuation, WSJ Says
dropbox-foundersDropbox has raised a massive $250 million funding round, valuing the company at $10 billion according to the Wall Street Journal. The new funding round is led by a BlackRock fund, according to the WSJ, which cites “two people familiar with the deal” as the source of the report. This is actually the second time that Dropbox has raised $250 million: It did so before in 2011 in a round including Goldman Sachs, Sequoia, Index Ventures and Accel Partners. Back in November, a rumor about an additional $250 million raise put the valuation of the company at a supposed $8 billion, which based on various revenue estimates could have been viewed as anywhere from expensive to cheap. When news of the raise was first circulating last year, revenue for the cloud storage company was rumored to be in the “hundreds of millions of dollars” range according to BusinessWeek, which helps justify the company’s huge valuation. Other companies in the same ball park in terms of worth pre-IPO include Twitter, which was valued at $10 billion back in May, 2013; Google, which went public with a $2.7 billion valuation; and Box, which is a direct Dropbox competitor and had a valuation of $2 billion when it raised $100 million late last year. The fact that Dropbox raised at a $10 billion valuation instead of $8 billion could indicate that the round was competitive, with third-parties bidding for a chance to scoop up Dropbox shares. And, naturally, at a valuation that rich, Dropbox is placing itself far up the IPO queue. Prior to this raise, Dropbox has collected $507 million in funding. Provided that the WSJ has the new capital story correct, Dropbox will have raised a total of around three quarters of a billion dollars. Dropbox’s new capital dwarfs the $100 million that its traditional rival Box recently absorbed, perhaps granting it a competitive edge as both companies look to expand their core business and diversify their product lines. Also included in this round are existing investment partners, the WSJ says, but it’s unclear who exactly was involved at this stage. We’ve reached out to Dropbox to find out more about the reported funding and the backers in the round, and will update if we find out more. More to come…

January 15 2014

Academic Research Platform Sciencescape Raises $2.5M, Partners With Educational Publisher Elsevier
IMG_9500Canadian startup Sciencescape has just closed a $2.5 million round of funding, and is considering extending it into a $3 million round since it was oversubscribed, co-founder Sam Molyneux revealed on stage today at the Extreme Startups 4th cohort demo day in Toronto. Molyneux was giving an update on his company’s progress, which was a member of the last graduating class of the Canadian accelerator. The round isn’t the only progress the startup has made, as Molyneux also revealed that Sciencescape has now partnered with Elsevier, the global educational publishing giant that snapped up Sciencescape sort-of-competitor Mendeley last year. Like Mendeley, Sciencescape hopes to become a social connection point for academics, researchers and students to work together on real academic progress. Sciencescape’s platform employs natural language processing and sophisticated content identification algorithms to essentially become a series of curated feeds of papers and studies that can then be more easily perused and followed by academics actually doing the work. This helps make the huge mountain of academic research going through journals and other sources much more manageable, according to what founder Molyneux told me at Extreme’s demo day last year. The partnership with Elsevier provides access to 11 million full-text articles through Sciencescape directly, which is a great boon to anyone using its platform since they don’t require any subscription to any outside journals or databases to get at that content. And as Elsevier has proven hungry for this kind of acquisition target in the past, it’s worth keeping an eye on that to see if they might not want to swallow up even more of the burgeoning academic tech market. Research-oriented startups working in academic markets have become a hot investment target lately, with ResearchGate drawing a whopping $35 million from Benchmark, Bill Gates and other investors midway through last year. Sciencescape raising this much this early as a Canadian startup is just further proof that investors are very excited about this area.

December 13 2013

How Oculus Plans To Be Riding High When The Virtual Reality Wave Breaks
oculus-largeA company that was conceived less than a year ago today announced its Series B round of funding late last night, with a massive raise of $75 million to add to its existing $16 million Series A and $2.4 million in Kickstarter crowdfunding dollars. That company is Oculus Rift: A virtual reality headset dreamt up by Gaikai veteran Brendan Iribe and a team of other startup vets. With nearly $100 million invested, expectations are huge, but the company is ready to meet those expectations, Iribe tells TechCrunch, and exceed them with a vision of the future that blurs the line between the virtual and the real.

December 12 2013

Shopify Raises $100M To Drop The ‘E’ And Become The Commerce Company That Spans On- And Offline
bg-sct-bannerOttawa-based Shopify has already raised a considerable amount of money, especially for a Canadian company, and its Series C round continues that theme: The ecommerce company has raised $100 million from existing investors and new ones including OMERS Ventures and Insight Venture Partners, and the goal is to help Shopify drop the 'e' and embrace all kinds of commerce, for all kinds of merchants, in all kinds of settings.

December 10 2013


iBeacon Pioneers Estimote Raise $3.1M Seed Round

Jakub Krzych, founder of Estimote, has announced a $3.1 million seed round raise from Innovation Endeavors, Betaworks, Bessemer Venture Partners, Birchmere Ventures, Valiant Capital Partners and others. The company is already shipping its small Bluetooth products, called Beacons, to retailers and they expect a huge rush in orders as they line up large clients next year.

“In the future apps will not be designed just for smartphones. They will also be developed and installed on top of retail stores and other real world locations – like airports, museums or hospitals,” said Krzych. “We are shipping thousands of beacons per week and more than 10,000 developers around the world are already experimenting with Estimote beacons in contextual computing applications.”

Macy’s is already experimenting with the technology while Apple plans to add iBeacon to 254 of their retail stores. Estimote is poised to grab hundreds of those locations with its low-cost devices. They are also building a digital platform for handling iBeacon interaction with cellphones as well as improved wireless payment solutions. Estimote won Best Hardware Startup at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco.

“Estimote is Steve Cheney as SVP of Business Operations, who will open a New York office and build out Estimote’s business and operations teams,” said Krzych. The company already has headquarters in Krakow, Poland and San Francisco. The company hopes to announce further partners over the coming months.

December 04 2013

German Startup Yetu Raises $8 Million To Create Open Standards For Smart Homes
Yetu AG (not to be confused with Yeti ARGGHH!) has raised $8 million in series A capital from Bilfinger Venture Capital and KfW. The company, which appeared at Disrupt in Berlin, aims to connect all in-home devices using the same standard, creating a sort of full-home operating system.

November 20 2013

Clypd Raises $7.2M In Series A-1 To Help Sell Short TV Commercials
Clypd, founded by the creators of Paypal-acquired WHERE, has raised $7.2 million in series A-1 funding, gathering cash from Atlas Ventures, Freestyle Captial, and Boston Seed Capital. Angels included John Battelle and Brightcove.

November 14 2013

Online Real Estate Veteran Redfin Lands $50M From Tiger Global, Investment Giant T. Rowe Price As It Looks To Gain Market Share In The U.S.
As the real estate market regains some life after an extended dip, people are beginning to get comfortable with the idea of selling their home again and, in turn, getting comfortable with looking around for that special place. To help in an increasingly fast-paced market, technology-powered real estate brokerage, Redfin, has been on a mission to help people not only find the right house, but to help potential sellers get feedback on the price of their home from hundreds of potential buyers. On the heels of launching a series of these “Price Whisperer”-like tools that aim to reduce the costs of the real estate search process for both homebuyers and sellers, Redfin is doing a little price whispering of its own. The company today announced that it has raised $50 million in late-stage growth capital from a handful of investors, beginning with Tiger Global and T. Rowe Price Associates. The new round, which also includes contributions from the company’s existing investors, like Greylock Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Vulcan Capital, Globespan Capital Partners and The Hillman Company, brings the company’s total funding to just under $100 million. In addition, from what we’ve been hearing from sources, the round values its online brokerage and search business in the ballpark of $500 million. With the new injection of capital, Redfin becomes yet another addition to the list of companies pursuing growth capital from backers outside the usual confines of the venture capital world. The investment is the second of its kind that T. Rowe Price, in particular has made in recent months, following its investment in MongoDB last month, for example. The new capital will also likely help the Seattle-based company gear up for IPO, although that may not happen in the near future, according to the company. Having the help of late-stage firms like Tiger Global may allow the company to extend its runway as a private company and avoid going the route of an IPO. Regardless, the new capital will allow Redfin to continue expanding its current marketshare, and go deeper, which according to the latest data, sits at around 3 and 4 percent in the company’s hometown of Seattle. Redfin currently operates in 22 markets and will use its growth capital not only to expand its marketshare within these cities, but broaden its scope within the U.S. While it nominally competes with the likes of Trulia and Zillow, the company

October 03 2013

With $3M In New Funding, Memoto Lifelogging Startup Rebrands To Narrative To Go Global
Swedish startup Memoto did well on Kickstarter – well enough to earn the company 11 times its funding goal, or $550,000 to drive the creation of its lifelogging camera. The small camera is designed to be worn on your person, features no buttons and takes pictures constantly while worn, but as of today it's called the "Narrative Clip," not the Memoto, as its creators rebrand to Narrative with $3 million in new funding. Both the rebrand and the new money will help Narrative expand on a global scale, the company says.

September 30 2013

Game-Streaming Platform Twitch Lands $20M Series C Ahead Of Its Xbox One, PS4 Integration
Twitch, a popular video game streaming service, announced today that it has raised a $20 million Series C round led by Thrive Capital. WestSummit Capital participated in the funding, as did, notably, well-known game publisher Take-Two Interactive. According to its release, Twitch currently sees 45 million monthly unique viewers on its service. Twitch allows gamers to stream their play, which might sound niche, but as competitive gaming grows in popularity, the company has been riding its wave.
Varentec Raises $8M From Bill Gates And Khosla To Reinvent Industrial And Utility Power Grid Management
San Jose-based Varentec, a company that builds power management and monitoring solutions for the electric grid, today announced the close of an $8 million Series B round of funding from Bill Gates and Khosla Ventures. The new funding follows its $7.7 million Series A, which was led by Khosla, and previously secured funding from the U.S. government. Varentec is about to start rollout of its energy monitoring and analytics solution for global electric utility companies and other industrial customers, and the funds will help it do that.

August 07 2013

500px Scores $8.8M Series A From Andreessen Horowitz & Harrison Metal To Build A Photo Marketplace, Expand Consumer Reach
500px, the Toronto-based photo sharing service aimed at enthusiasts and pro photographers, has closed on $8.8 million in Series A funding dually led by Andreessen Horowitz and Harrison Metal, the company is announcing today. Others in the round include Creative Artists Agency, Rugged Ventures, Dustin Plett, and ff Venture Capital.
Fast-Growing Cloud Hosting Service Digital Ocean Raises $3.2M Seed Round Led By IA Ventures To Build Out Its Infrastructure
Digital Ocean, one of the fastest-growing cloud hosting services around, today announced that it has raised a $3.2 million seed round led by IA Ventures, with participation from CrunchFund and TechStars. The company, which is currently adding new subscribers at a rate of about 500 a day, plans to use the funding to hire and build out its infrastructure.

August 05 2013

Maxwell Health Raises $2M To Take On Zenefits With Concierge Service, Personal Health Incentives
Maxwell Health, a platform that provides easy-to-manage health insurance, has raised $2 million in Series A funding. Leading the round is Tribeca Venture Partners, with participation from Lerer Ventures, Vaizra Investments, BoxGroup, TiE Angels and a few other angel investors. This round brings the company’s total funding to $3.8 million. Launched in February, Maxwell Health is a no-cost, benefits management service for businesses for medical, dental, vision, life, disability, COBRA administration, HRA/HSA, FSA and 401(k). CEO and co-founder Veer Gidwaney says the new round of funding will go to adding new service features, increasing outreach and building distribution. The startup allows employees to see a greater selection of insurance plans and provides advice on which to choose. Employees with existing plans can use Maxwell Health’s platform to manage their benefits on the portal. Its dashboard allows businesses to track hiring, employee engagement and company spending. Maxwell Health can provide all this for free, because it earns commission for each insurance plan chosen by its users. If Maxwell Health’s business model sounds familiar, that’s because it is– to a startup called Zenefits, which has seen large success in California and just raised $2.1 million. Zenefits has about 110 clients and is in the top five percent of California’s insurance brokers, according to our recent coverage of the company. Its service provides management of payroll, hiring, medical, dental, vision and 401(k). But a couple of Maxwell Health’s features could give it an edge against Zenefits, as well as healthcare organizers like Cake Health and Simplee. Maxwell Health puts a heavy focus on independent health by offering incentives for employees to eat healthy diets and exercise regularly. Each employee uses a fitness device and receives points for activity, which can be traded in for rewards. Another notable addition is its “concierge service,” which acts as an advisor for health related questions and takes care of bills, insurance disputes and medical appointments. Users can send photos of their medical claims to the concierge and he or she will handle it on the user’s behalf. “When we walk into a company, our aim is to be the single point of reference of advice, of a trusted advisor on everything to do with benefits, health and well-being,” Gidwaney tells me. “We want to meet the company’s needs across the board.” With dozens of businesses on board, Maxwell Health a ways away from Zenefits client base. However, it is licensed to

July 30 2013

Social Media Dashboard Bottlenose Raises $3.6M
Bottlenose, a web platform to organize social media streams, has raised $3.6 million in Series A funding. The round was led by ff Venture Capital and joined by Lerer Ventures, Transmedia, Advancit, Stage One Capital, Social Starts, The Social Internet Fund and several angel investors. Including a seed round in 2012, this brings Bottlenose’s total to $4.6 million. The last time we talked to them in 2012, Bottlenose was about to launch its public beta and had about 50,000 users. Bottlenose beta allows you to sync multiple accounts so all news streams are aggregated in one place. The free version is available online, and uses its sonar tool to make connections between tweets, mentions, hashtags, images and other media. CEO Nova Spivack says all new funding will go to scaling its engineering, sales and marketing operations in preparation to publicly launch its new product, Bottlenose Enterprise. Bottlenose Enterprise expands on trend and real-time data analysis, with features to view audience response, sentiment, impressions, volume and correlations. You can list topics you want to track, and the program will automatically keep tabs on its activity, connections, media mentions and more. The goal is to help marketers and brand managers determine trends as they are happening and capitalize on popular topics and events. “There are other tools that don’t really show you what’s going on in real time. They’ll show you what happened yesterday and in the last hour. It’s static,” Spivack tells me. “Other tools basically give you a lot of data, but you have to figure out what’s important. And we’re doing the next step, we’re helping you figure out what’s important.” Spivack has been involved with several other startups, including EarthWeb, Radar Networks, The Daily Dot and StreamGlider. He says he has had experience building search engines, and helped in the original technology that eventually became the iOS personal assistant, Siri. Bottlenose isn’t the only company that’s adjusting to meet the needs of real-time marketing. Another startup,, measures social media campaign effectiveness by monitoring media channels for advertisers. However, Bottlenose Enterprise is less about gauging effectiveness and more focused on getting ahead on the most viral trends. While the previous version of Bottlenose is comparable to social media managers such as HootSuite and TweetDeck, the new edition is focused on analyzing data from thousands of sources. Now it faces competition from media analysis platforms such as Networked Insights, which has raised almost $30 million in
VC Firm YL Ventures Raises $27.5M For Second Fund
YL Ventures, which backs SaaS companies such as ClickTale and Seculert, has announced the raise of $27.5 million in its second fund (YLV II). The VC firm says the fund was oversubscribed, and increased its hard cap by ten percent to accommodate interest. Managing partner Yoav Andrew Leitersdorf declined to disclose any previous funding information. Founded in 2007, YL Ventures focuses on early-stage Israeli startups with SaaS models and proprietary technology. Other areas of interest for the firm’s second fund include cloud computing, big data, cyber security, mobile technology and related fields. Investments usually range from $1 million to $2 million for seed-stage startups, with capital reserved for later rounds. “SaaS is a relatively new business model, and few investors have true domain expertise in it. The belief at YL Ventures is that SaaS is the perfect model for selling software to enterprises while maintaining capital efficiency,” Leitersdorf tells TechCrunch. YL Ventures’ interest in the Israeli market is due to an increase in Israeli startup acquisitions in the past few years, such as Google acquiring Waze and Facebook acquiring YLV II is aimed to invest in eight portfolio in three years. Previous investments also include AcceloWeb, which was acquired by Limelight Networks in 2011, Upstream Commerce, 6Scan and BlazeMeter.
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