Stock photography and video footage leader sold out for $2.4B

Getty Images Inc. the world’s leading creator and distributor of visual content and other digital media announced today that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by affiliates of the private equity firm Hellman & Friedman LLC in a transaction valued at approximately $2.4 billion, including the assumption of existing debt.

Under the terms of the agreement, Getty Images stockholders will receive $34.00 in cash for each outstanding share of common stock they own. This price represents a premium of approximately 55 percent over the closing price on January 18, 2008, the last trading day before the Company announced that it was exploring strategic alternatives. Based on Getty’s 61 million fully diluted shares, the cash offer is worth almost $2.1 billion. The buyer is also assuming about $300 million in debt, pushing the total value of the transaction to $2.4 billion. The company’s shares have immediately jumped $7.22, or 29.5 percent, to $31.67 Monday. The company had more than $850M revenues for 2007.

Ten-year-old Getty, whose nearest competitor is privately held Corbis Corp., put itself up for sale in January after taking a beating on Wall Street for two years. After reaching a high above $94 per share in November 2005, Getty’s shares tumbled 77 percent to $21.80 in Jan. 18 of this year, as higher costs ate away at profits. Four days later, the Seattle-based company said it would consider strategic alternatives to boost shareholder value.

The Board of Directors of Getty Images has approved the merger agreement and resolved to recommend that Getty Images’ stockholders approve the transaction. Completion of the transaction is subject to shareholder approval and other customary closing conditions. The transaction is not subject to a financing condition and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2008.

“Our Board of Directors has thoroughly evaluated strategic alternatives for Getty Images and has determined that this outcome is in the best interests of our stockholders as it provides them with superior and certain value. Furthermore, Hellman & Friedman brings specific industry expertise and support for the vision of the Company’s management team that will benefit our employees, customers and partners,” said Jonathan Klein, co-founder and chief executive officer of Getty Images. “Just over a decade ago we started Getty Images with little more than a vision and have achieved industry leadership due to the extraordinary talent, effort and commitment of our employees and partners. We are enthusiastic about entering the next phase of Getty Images’ evolution by partnering with Hellman & Friedman as we continue to provide innovative offerings to businesses and consumers in a very dynamic digital media environment.”

Andy Ballard, managing director of Hellman & Friedman, said, “Getty Images is the leader and pioneer in the visual content and digital media business. We believe in the vision and execution capabilities of Jonathan Klein and his team, and share their commitment to the Company’s stakeholders and customers. We look forward to working with all of Getty Images’ employees to realize the full potential of its traditional businesses while furthering the evolution of Getty Images into a global digital media company.”

Financing commitments have been provided by Barclays Capital, GE Commercial Finance and RBS Greenwich Capital. In addition, Getty Investments and certain related parties, including the co-founder and chairman, Mark Getty, who collectively hold approximately 15 percent of the Company’s shares, have agreed to vote in favor of the transaction and rollover their shares into the acquiring entity.

Goldman, Sachs & Co. was the financial advisor to Getty Images. Barclays Capital and RBS Greenwich Capital are acting as financial advisors to Hellman & Friedman. Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP are serving as legal advisors to Getty Images and Hellman & Friedman, respectively.

Troy Mastin, an analyst at William Blair & Co., said Getty’s core business of selling more-expensive photographs to newspapers and magazines had declined as those media struggled with the rise of Internet content. Sales to direct mail and brochure customers also cooled.

At the same time, though, Getty’s newer businesses grew faster. The company bought iStockPhoto.com, which sold images for as little as $1 for unlimited use, in 2006. Mastin said customers who once bought the low end of Getty’s core stock photos moved over to buy the even cheaper royalty-free photos.

The company has also bought Pump Audio last summer, and bought Scoopt about a year ago. They have strengthened their positions in  both the music and citizen journalism business with both acquisitions, as well as being a solid friend to the independent and freelance journalist with their wire service.

While Getty didn’t give a specific reason for its January decision to seek a buyer, Mastin said it was likely because Getty felt Wall Street was paying more attention to the stagnating core business than to its emerging segments.

It has probably also something to do with the rapidly emerging web 2.0 companies within the space.

More about Getty Images

Getty Images creates and distributes the world’s best and broadest imagery collections, making them available in the most accessible and usable way — 24 hours a day, every day. From contemporary creative imagery to news, sports, entertainment and archival imagery, our products are found each day in the full range of traditional and digital media worldwide.

Mark Getty and Jonathan Klein founded Getty Images in 1995 with the goal of turning a disjointed and fragmented stock photography market into a thriving, modernized industry able to meet the changing needs of visual communicators. We were the first company to license imagery via the web, moving the entire industry online.

Today, gettyimages.com serves an average of 3.2 billion thumbnails, 7.3 million visits and 4 million unique users in addition to an average of 175 million page views each month. Nearly 100 percent of the company’s visual content is delivered digitally.

The company frequently receives industry recognition for both its photography and its business accomplishments. In 2005, American Photo Magazine acknowledged the company’s commitment to the photography industry, naming Getty Images’ co-founders Jonathan Klein and Mark Getty as number one of “The 100 Most Important People in Photography.”

We believe our success comes from our focus on the areas that matter most to our customers:

Simplicity. We built a one-of-a-kind platform to help customers find and manage the right images, and in a few short years it has become the industry standard. We provide the most accessible and reliable way to search, download, license and manage the broadest and deepest selection of relevant still images and film clips.

Expedience. To serve the demands of a fully digital publishing industry, we provide instantaneous feed of news, sport and entertainment images as well as painstaking archival research. We also offer a full-service photo assignment service that can be tailored to your exact photographic needs.

Relevance. We are the first imagery company to employ creative researchers to analyze demographics, sales data and behavioral trends to anticipate the visual content needs of the world’s communicators.

Experience. Our photographers are subject-matter specialists with years of experience, not generalists — a distinction that helps ensure that our images capture defining moments and deep insights.

About Hellman & Friedman

Hellman & Friedman LLC is a leading private equity investment firm with offices in San Francisco, New York and London. The Firm focuses on investing in superior business franchises and serving as a value-added partner to management in select industries including media and marketing services, financial services, professional services, information services, healthcare and energy. Since its founding in 1984, Hellman & Friedman has raised and, through its affiliated funds, managed over $16 billion of committed capital and is currently investing its sixth partnership, Hellman & Friedman Capital Partners VI L.P., with over $8 billion of committed capital. Representative investments in media and marketing services include: DoubleClick Inc., Catalina Marketing Corporation, Young & Rubicam Inc., Digitas Inc., The Nielsen Company, and Axel Springer AG.

The private equity group has invested in other rapidly changing digital businesses, including online advertising company Digitas, acquired by Publicis Groupe, and DoubleClick, whose buyout by Google Inc. is pending regulatory approval in Europe.

Hellman & Friedman LLC has also some recent acquisitions of non-tech companies like Saipem SA, which is oil and gas related organization, and a number of smaller private equity firms.

More

http://www.gettyimages.com/
www.hf.com
http://corporate.gettyimages.com/source/about/
http://corporate.gettyimages.com/source/investors/index.aspx?pageID=financialReleases&shPage=releaseDetail.cfm&ReleaseID=295764
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=GYI+&hl=en
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Getty
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Klein_%28Getty_Images%29
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/feb/25/mediabusiness.digitalmedia?gusrc=rss&feed=media
http://mashable.com/2008/02/27/getty-images-buyout/
http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2008/02/26/getty_images_accepts_buyout/
http://www.macworld.com/article/132247/2008/02/getty.html
http://www.cnn.com/2008/BUSINESS/02/25/getty.images.ap/index.html
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2004199788_apgettyimagessale25.html
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23333922/
http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/080225/getty_images_sale.html
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/352615_getty26.html
http://mashable.com/2007/03/12/scoopt-acquired-by-getty-images/
http://www.pehub.com/article/articledetail.php?articlepostid=10502
http://mashable.com/2007/06/20/getty-images-acquires-pump-audio/
http://www.newratings.com/en/main/company_headline.m?section=company&option=headline&id=1703741

ETech, the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference is coming

One of the most important technology conferences for the year will be held in March 3-6 in San Diego, California. ETech the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, now in its seventh year, will take a wide-eyed look at the brand new tech that’s tweaking how we are seen as individuals, how we choose to channel and divert our energy and attention, and what influences our perspective on the world around us. How does technology help you perceive things that you never noticed before? How does it help you be found, or draw attention to issues, objects, ideas, and projects that are important, no matter their size or location?

Below is what the 2008 version of ETech, the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference will look at. 

Body Hacking. Genomics Hacking. Brain Hacking. Sex Hacking. Food Hacking. iPhone Hacking.
If you can’t open it, you don’t own it. Take over the everyday aspects of your life and take your senses to the next level.

DIY Aerial Drones. DIY Talking Things. DIY Spectrum. DIY Apocalypse Survival.
As technology becomes more accessible you’ll get to do it all on your own. Self-empowerment starts here.

Emerging Tech of India, Cuba, and Africa. International Political Dissidents.
Different environments incubate new ideas and technologies. What these societies bring out will shake up your cultural assumptions and provide a wider world view.

Visualize Data and Crowds. Ambient Data Streaming.
Dynamic systems require new methods of data capture and interaction. Open a window on the methods experts use to interpret and harness collective intelligence.

Good Policy. Energy Policy. Defense Policy. Genetic Policy. Corruption.
Policy inevitably lags behind technology advances. Learn about some areas where it’s catching up, where it’s not, and how these boundaries shape our creativity and freedom.

Alternate Reality Games. Emotions of Games. Sensor Games.
Games provide a platform for experimentation on so many levels. The ones we’ll see engage their players in new and unexpected ways.

ETech 2008 will cover all of these topics and more. We put on stage the speakers and the ideas that help our attendees prepare for and create the future, whatever it might be. Great speakers are going to pull us forward with them to see what technology can do… and sometimes shouldn’t do. From robotics and gaming to defense and geolocation, we’ll explore promising technologies that are just that–still promises–and renew our sense of wonder at the way technology is influencing and altering our everyday lives.

“There’s more good stuff here, more new directions, than we’ve had at ETech in years, which is only to be expected, as the market starts to digest the innovations of Web 2.0 and we are now featuring the next wave of hacker-led surprises.” Read more of Tim O’Reilly’s thoughts on why ETech is our most important conference.

Registered Speakers

Below are listed all confirmed speakers to date.

Dan Albritton (MegaPhone)
Chris Anderson (Wired Magazine)
W. James Au (The Making of Second Life)
Trevor Baca (Jaduka)
Tucker Balch (Georgia Tech)
Kevin Bankston (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
Andrew Bell (Barbarian Group LLC)
Emily Berger (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
Violet Blue (Violet Blue)
Ed Boyden (MIT Media Lab & Dept. of Biological Engineering)
Gary Bradski (Stanford and Willow Garage)
Tom Carden (Stamen Design)
Liam Casey (PCH International)
Elizabeth Churchill (Yahoo! Research)
Cindy Cohn (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
Steve Cousins (Willow Garage)
Bo Cowgill (Google Economics Group)
Mike Culver (Amazon)
Jason Davis (Disney Online)
Regine Debatty (We Make Money Not Art)
Danielle Deibler (Adobe Systems)
Michael Dory (NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP))
Nathan Eagle (MIT)
Alvaro Fernandez (SharpBrains.com)
Timothy Ferriss (The 4-hour Workweek)
Eric Freeman (Disney Online)
Limor Fried (Adafruit Industries)
Johannes Grenzfurthner (monochrom, and University of Applied Sciences Graz)
Saul Griffith (Makani Power/Squid Labs)
Karl Haberl (Sun Microsystems, Inc.)
Jury Hahn (MegaPhone)
Justin Hall (GameLayers)
Jeff Han (Perceptive Pixel, Inc.)
Timo Hannay (Nature Publishing Group)
Marc Hedlund (Wesabe)
J. C. Herz (Batchtags LLC)
Todd Holloway (Ingenuity Systems)
Pablos Holman (Komposite)
Tom Igoe (Interactive Telecommunications Program, NYU)
Alex Iskold (AdaptiveBlue)
Brian Jepson (O’Reilly Media, Inc.)
Natalie Jeremijenko (NYU)
Jeff Jonas (IBM)
Tim Jones (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
Terry Jones (Fluidinfo)
Damien Katz (IBM – CouchDB)
Nicole Lazzaro (XEODesign, Inc.)
Elan Lee (Fourth Wall Studios)
Jan Lehnardt (Freisatz)
Lawrence Lessig (Creative Commons)
Kati London (area/code)
Kyle Machulis (Nonpolynomial Labs)
Daniel Marcus (Washington University School of Medicine)
Mikel Maron (Mapufacture)
John McCarthy (Stanford University)
Ryan McManus (Barbarian Group LLC)
Roger Meike (Sun Microsystems, Inc.)
Chris Melissinos (Sun Microsystems, Inc.)
Dan Morrill (Google)
Pauline Ng (J. Craig Venter Institute)
Quinn Norton
Peter Norvig (Google, Inc.)
Nicolas Nova (Media and Design Lab)
Danny O’Brien (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
Tim O’Reilly (O’Reilly Media, Inc.)
David Pescovitz (BoingBoing.net, Institute for the Future, MAKE:)
Bre Pettis (I Make Things)
Arshan Poursohi (Sun Microsystems, Inc.)
Marc Powell (Food Hacking)
Jay Ridgeway (Nextumi)
Hugh Rienhoff (MyDaughtersDNA.org)
Jesse Robbins (O’Reilly Radar)
Eric Rodenbeck (Stamen Design)
David Rose (Ambient Devices)
Dan Saffer (Adaptive Path)
Joel Selanikio (DataDyne.org)
Peter Semmelhack (Bug Labs)
Noah Shachtman (Wired Magazine)
Michael Shiloh (OpenMoko)
Kathy Sierra (Creating Passionate Users)
Micah Sifry (Personal Democracy Forum)
Adam Simon (NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP))
Michael J. Staggs (FireEye, Inc.)
Gavin Starks (d::gen network )
Alex Steffen (Worldchanging)
John Storm (ind)
Stewart Tansley (Microsoft Research)
Paul Torrens (Arizona State University)
Phillip Torrone (Maker Media)
Kentaro Toyama (Microsoft Research India)
Gina Trapani (Lifehacker)
Nate True (Nate True)
Lew Tucker (Radar Networks)
Andrea Vaccari (Senseable City Lab, MIT)
Scott Varland (NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP))
Merci Victoria Grace (GameLayers)
Mike Walsh (Tomorrow)
Stan Williams (Hewlett-Packard Labs)
Ethan Zuckerman (Global Voices)

Attendee Registration

You can register as an attendee online or by Mail/Fax at the following address:

O’Reilly Media, Inc.
Attn: ETech Registration
1005 Gravenstein Hwy North
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Fax: (707) 829-1342

The conference fees are as follows (through Jan 29 – Mar 2 )
Sessions plus Tutorials $1,690.00
Sessions Only $1,390.00
Tutorials Day Only $595.00

Walk-ins: Standard registration closes March 2, 2008. The onsite registration fee is an additional $100 to the Standard Price above. 

More about ETech

Now in its seventh year, the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference hones in on the ideas, projects, and technologies that the alpha geeks are thinking about, hacking on, and inventing right now, creating a space for all participants to connect and be inspired. ETechs past have covered peer-to-peer networks to person-to-person mobile messaging, web services to weblogs, big-screen digital media to small-screen mobile gaming, hardware hacking to content remixing. We’ve hacked, blogged, ripped, remixed, tracked back, and tagged to the nth. Expect much of what you see in early form here to show up in the products and services you’re taking for granted in the not-too-distant future.

ETech balances blue-sky theorizing with practical, real-world information and conversation. Tutorials and breakout sessions will help you inject inspiration into your own projects, while keynotes and hallway conversation will spark enough unconventional thinking to change how you see your world.

More then 1200 technology enthusiasts are expected to attend ETech 2008, including:

  • Technologists
  • CxOs and IT managers
  • Hackers and grassroots developers
  • Researchers and academics
  • Thought leaders
  • Business managers and strategists
  • Artists and fringe technologists
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Business developers and venture capitalists

Representatives from companies and organizations tracking emerging technologies
In the past, ETech has brought together people from such diverse companies, organizations, and projects as: 37signals, Adaptive Path, Amazon.com, Attensa, August Capital, BBC, Boeing, CBS.com, Comcast, Department of Defense, Disney, E*Trade, Fairfax County Library, Fidelity Investments, Fotango, France Telecom, General Motors, Honda, IEEE, Intel, Macromedia, Meetup, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Mozilla, National Security Agency, New Statesman, Nielsen Media Research, Nokia, NYU, Oracle, Orbitz, Platial, Salesforce.com, Sony, Starwood Hotels, Symantec, The Motley Fool, UC Santa Barbara Kavli Institute, Zend, and many more.

Some of ETech’s past sponsors and exhibitors include: Adobe, Aggregate Knowledge, Apple, AT&T, Attensa, eBay, Foldera, Google, IBM, Intuit, iNetWord, Laszlo, MapQuest, mFoundry, Root, RSSBus, Salesforce.com, Sxip, TechSmith, Tibco, Windows Live, Yahoo!, and Zimbra.

The conference is expected to gather some of the brightest minds of today’s technology world and Web in particular. 
More

http://conferences.oreilly.com/etech/
http://en.oreilly.com/et2008/public/content/home
http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2008/01/why-etech-is-oreillys-most-imp.html
 

Yelp: $200M valuation, $31M total funding, 8M uniuqes, SEO – all for local reviews

The 4 years old Yelp, which is a local review site, has already reached a hefty popularity on Web. Today we have read online the site claims to have more than 8M unique visitors per month, which can already be called a hugely popular site and all that achieved within 4 years only. Pretty impressive one may say. But the company seems to have raised tons of money in 4 rounds totaling $31M to date. The pre-money valuation was rumored to be in the $200M range, which for a site with almost 10M uniques per month is becoming an industry standard already. The revenues, also rumored, are said to be in the $10M range per year, which was widely criticized on different tech blogs as not enough taking into consideration the site’s already massive reach. Well, we are not quite agreeing with those critics. Take for example Digg and Technorati, both sites are hugely popular and their revenues are not quite impressive either and are perhaps in the Yelp’s annual range. Not even to mention WordPress.org‘s case and their strong NO to a $200M buyout deal last year on little to no revenues, as far as we know. We would guess that just like Digg and Technorati, Yelp will also try to shop itself around and their investors are in fact looking for an acquisition deal with hefty exit price tag rather then building a self-sufficient company taking into consideration the very favorable time for web 2.0 companies in the Valley. Yet, we think $10M per year off 8M unique visitors per month is pretty well done job in monetizing their traffic, for now. 

Their forth round of funding is said to be in the $15M range and led by DAG Ventures. Yelp says that they will be using the money to expand geographically, add onto their sales team, and establish an office in NYC. With this latest round, DAG joins previous investors Max Levchin who put $1 million back in the summer of 2004, Bessemer Venture Partners with their $5 million round closed in 2005, and Benchmark Capital ($10 million, Q4 2006). The company’s total funding is now $31M. If the rumored pre-money valuation is correct then DAG Ventures seems to have bought only 7.5% for its money.

The company is based in San Francisco and was founded back in 2004 from former PayPal early employees.

Yelp claims they are relying on “word of mouth marketing” but from what we have seen their site is heavily search engine optimized with several million of indexed pages at Google, which is well done and good after all, but you should refrain from claiming you are all about word of mouth marketing. We have no access to their Google Analytics files where the traffic sources are visible, but we are pretty sure a vast majority of their 8M uniques per month is coming from Google and some of the other top search engines. 

Other critics of the company’s strategy say that a viable approach to building a company like Yelp would be to prove that your business model works in the cities that you initially target and then replicate that model elsewhere once you have your validation. If you cannot establish a profitable business model in the cities you initially target, expanding your sales force, adding additional offices and replicating your unsuccessful model elsewhere are not viable solutions for developing your company.

The local space is very crowded area as it seems. Yelp’s competition includes companies like InsiderPages (acquired by Citysearch), Viewpoints, YellowBot, Google Local, Yahoo Local, JudysBook.com, Rummble, LocoGopher.com, Zvents, Upcoming, Qype, Tipped, GenieTown, YellowPages.com, among others.

More about Yelp

Yelp is the fun and easy way to find, review and talk about what’s great (and not so great) in your world. You already know that asking friends is the best way to find restaurants, dentists, hairstylists, and anything local. Yelp makes it fast and easy by collecting and organizing your friends’ recommendations in one convenient place.

Yelp is the ultimate city guide that taps into the community’s voice and reveals honest and current insights on local businesses and services on everything from martinis to mechanics. Yelp is just real people, writing real reviews, and that’s the real deal. Yelp is a fun and engaging place for passionate and opinionated influencers to share the experiences they’ve had with local businesses and services. Yelp is the definitive local guide in the San Francisco Bay Area and a force to be reckoned with in Chicago, New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Seattle. But really, we’re everywhere. From Austin to Madison and everywhere in between, reviews are coming in from all over the country!

Yelp is word of mouth marketing – amplified. Savvy local marketers now have a great channel to effectively target local consumers. Since July 2004, co-founders Jeremy Stoppelman (CEO) and Russel Simmons (CTO) and their Yelp crew have been striving to make life better for people who love to patronize great local businesses. Discovering accurate information on local establishments has never been this entertaining. Writing reviews has never been this fun, easy and addictive!

The Yelp Management Team

Jeremy Stoppelman
Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer
Jeremy co-founded Yelp Inc. in July 2004 with former colleague and friend Russel Simmons.
Prior to Yelp, Jeremy was the VP of engineering at PayPal. He left PayPal in the summer of 2003 to attend the Harvard Business School. Upon completing his first year at HBS, Jeremy joined an incubator started by Max Levchin (co-founder of PayPal) for a summer internship. It was there that he was reunited with his old colleague Russel Simmons and the two teamed up to create a vibrant community around local information. Jeremy holds a B.S. in computer engineering from the University of Illinois.

Russel Simmons
Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer
Russ co-founded Yelp Inc. in July 2004 with former colleague and friend Jeremy Stoppelman.
Prior to Yelp, Russ was one of the early employees and the lead software architect at PayPal. He led a team of top engineers on critical projects related to security, scalability, stability, and internationalization as the company scaled rapidly. Following his time at PayPal, Russ joined Max Levchin’s (co-founder of PayPal) incubator, where he teamed up with Jeremy. Russ holds a B.S. in computer science from the University of Illinois.

Geoff Donaker
Chief Operating Officer
Geoff joined the team in November 2005.
Prior to Yelp, Geoff spent five years building Web communities at eBay, most recently as director of international category management and previously as director of collectibles. His previous experience includes business development and marketing management roles at Excite@Home, Voter.com, Classifieds2000 and Mercer Management Consulting. Geoff has a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Stanford University.
More

http://yelp.com/
http://blog.yelp.com/
http://jeremy.yelp.com/
http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Ayelp.com
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/26/yelp-raises-15-million-fourth-round-valuation-200-million/
http://www.drama20show.com/2008/02/27/yelp-raises-more-money-for-business-stuff-and-parties/
http://valleywag.com/tech/jeremy-stoppelman/the-hard-life-of-a-web-founder-244590.php
http://valleywag.com/tech/party-report/party-correspondent-confronts-ghosts-of-yelp-parties-past-331048.php
http://www.timeout.com/chicago/articles/features/25797/amateur-hour
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18349445
http://money.cnn.com/2008/01/23/smbusiness/manage_online_reputation.fsb/index.htm?postversion=2008012409
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/14/AR2007081401782.html
http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.showArticleHomePage&art_aid=64844
http://startup.wsj.com/ecommerce/ecommerce/20070719-richmond.html
http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=199100332
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB117272184209823054-search.html?KEYWORDS=yelp&COLLECTION=wsjie/6month
http://venturebeat.com/2006/10/04/local-review-site-yelp-raises-10-million-from-benchmark/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/09/25/garageseek-rates-mechanics-but-yelp-will-kill-this-category-too/
http://gesterling.wordpress.com/2008/02/27/yelp-raises-15-million-in-round-four/
http://bub.blicio.us/?p=732
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/yelp
http://joeduck.com/2008/02/27/yelps-new-funding-round/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/2/yelp_raising_more_money_opening_ny_office
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yelp%2C_Inc.

The entire internet advertising market was estimated at $21B in 2007

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has today released its estimation about the total online advertising market for the entire 2007, which was said has been over $21B with nearly $6B in Q4 2007. 

Both IAB and PwC say that this is yet another record year measured year-over-year – a 25% increase over the previous revenue record of nearly $16.9 billion for full year 2006.

Other research companies like the Kelsey Group and IDC put U.S. Internet advertising for 2007 at $22.5B and $25.5B respectively. The Kelsey Group also provides a global estimate of $45 billion for Internet advertising, which is 7.4 percent of the total $600 billion global advertising market. This perhaps can explain why 2007 was full with deals for any type and size of online ad networks, companies and exchanges. We do expect the trend to be preserved for the next 2 years. The internet advertising market in its various types and media is growing more than ever before and is creating huge opportunities for all new entrants as well as for the serious players like Google, which is the dominant force on the market of online advertising with over $10B in annual revenues from contextual ads.

“Interactive media continue their unabated growth,” said Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO of the IAB. “There is no media as measurable as interactive, and they provide products and services at the precise moment a consumer desires them. I applaud the industry on maintaining this extraordinary momentum of innovation, which has fundamentally changed the way we live today.”

“The record $21.1 billion year of interactive advertising is the culmination of consecutive record quarters throughout 2007,”said David Silverman, partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers. “The continued record growth evidences the importance and uniqueness of interactive media to both consumers and the marketers that are trying to reach them.”

The IAB sponsors the Internet Advertising Revenue Report, which is conducted independently by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The full report is issued twice yearly for full and half-year data, and top-line quarterly estimates are issued for the first, third and fourth quarters. Fourth quarter and full-year online ad revenue estimates result from surveying and aggregating data from the top 15 online ad sellers, and then extrapolating those to calculate the total estimated industry revenue figure.

Some people have commented online that they think this is causing Google’s stock to drop today with almost 6%. Their current market cap is roughly $144B which is more than 6x the total market for their entire industry per year. That’s also half of what Microsoft has offered for Yahoo! alone.

About PricewaterhouseCoopers
PricewaterhouseCoopers (www.pwc.com) provides industry-focused assurance, tax and advisory services to build public trust and enhance value for its clients and their stakeholders. More than 146,000 people in 150 countries across our network share their thinking, experience and solutions to develop fresh perspectives and practical advice. “PricewaterhouseCoopers” refers to the network of member firms of PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited, each of which is a separate and independent legal entity.

About the IAB
Founded in 1996, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (www.iab.net) represents over 375 leading interactive companies that actively engage in and support the sale of interactive advertising. IAB members are responsible for selling over 86% of online advertising in the United States. On behalf of its members, the IAB is dedicated to the continuing growth of the interactive advertising marketplace, of interactive’s share of total marketing spend, and of its members’ share of total marketing spend. The IAB evaluates and recommends standards and practices, fields interactive effectiveness research, and educates marketers, agencies, and media companies, as well as the wider business community, about the value of interactive advertising.

About The Kelsey Group’s Annual Forecast
The Kelsey Group has published a five-year forecast covering the broadly defined directional and Internet media market annually since 2003. The firm draws from its proprietary data, primarily the Local Commerce Monitor, User View and Global View studies, as well as from company, industry and country information in the public domain. Further, Kelsey Group analysts engage clients and non-clients in numerous discussions about the direction and pace of development in the local media marketplace. The Kelsey Group’s Annual Forecast is available to clients of the firm’s continuous advisory services. This forecast does not include mobile ad platforms. The Kelsey Group’s mobile forecast, released in September 2007, will be updated later in 2008.

About The Kelsey Group
The Kelsey Group is the leading provider of research, data and strategic analysis on directories, small-business advertising, online local media, vertical market advertising and mobile advertising. Founded in 1986, the company has built a reputation as the premier analyst firm covering the directory publishing community and the emerging local search marketplace, providing advisory services (The Kelsey Report®, Interactive Local Media and Marketplaces), publishing (Global Yellow Pages™), consulting (more than 400 individual assignments) and conferences (71 events).

More

http://www.iab.net/about_the_iab/recent_press_releases/press_release_archive/press_release/195115?o12499=
http://www.kelseygroup.com
http://www.iab.net
http://www.pwc.com
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/26/estimates-put-internet-advertising-at-21-billion-in-us-45-billion-globally/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/12/iab-internet-advertising-continues-to-head-north/
http://www.kelseygroup.com/press/pr080225.asp
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/11/idc-googles-ad-market-share-slipped-in-fourth-quarter/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/31/some-of-the-web%e2%80%99s-biggest-acquisition-deals-during-2007/

Glam Media raises a massive round of funding – $85M

A controversial site Glam that runs both a network of its own web sites as well as runs ads on a network of third party sites geared towards women online has raised a massive amount of funding – $85M.

Glam Publishing Network operates more than 450 popular and influential lifestyle websites, blogs and magazines, but it seems Glam.com is the main anchor with the largest reach among those web properties. They also sell advertisements for other sites, which make up the vast bulk of its huge amount of page views. The network has been criticized in the past for claiming to be the largest women’s site on the Internet, and the fastest growing site in the U.S., based on traffic coming from third party sites they sell ads for. We tend to agree with those arguments because we do believe it is inaccurate for an ad network to claim the traffic of its participating web publishers for its own. ComScore allows publishers to “assign” their traffic to another organization, letting ad networks pool the traffic from all client sites. If a widely used ad network like Google AdSense used this system, Google’s network would be by far the largest. But, it’s a disingenuous statistic, especially since Glam likes to pretend it’s not an ad network.

Glam, opposes that it’s more than a network: They say, like Microsoft has done with Facebook and Digg, and Google has done with MySpace, their network buys up some sites’ ad inventories at a guaranteed rate. That means the profit — the loss respectively — from those ad buys is entirely Glam’s. But it’s said to be a very risky business model. For an example even the mighty Google has recently said, in their earnings call, that ads on MySpace weren’t performing quite well, which means losses for Google. So what will happen to Glam if the ad inventory they are buying does not perform well too?

Public information is that Glam pockets about 40 to 50 percent of the revenues it gets from advertising on its partner sites, giving the rest back to the publishing partner. What is remarkable is that Glam pays nothing to produce the content on those publisher sites, meaning it is milking those sites for a full 40 to 50 percent of their worth — merely for providing them with advertising technology.

Nonetheless the company has shown a tremendous increase of its traffic compared to the year before. ComScore reports that worldwide uniques across all sites that Glam sells advertising for had nearly 47 million unique visitors and 1.1 billion page views. Glam Network says it has over 200,000 quality articles across the sites involved.

Glam has landed some top-tier investors like Hubert Burda Media, GLG and DAG. Glam has offices in Brisbane, Calif. and New York and the pre-money valuation is said to be $425M.

Glam Media, Inc. has closed $84.6 million in private financing, with $64.6 million in Series D funding and $20 million in revenue-based debt financing. Proceeds of the financing will be used to accelerate the growth of the company’s distributed media network that connects premium brand display advertisers with online audiences worldwide.  The equity financing round is led by Hubert Burda Media, an international media powerhouse and publisher of more than 260 magazines titles and an investor in more than 25 high-growth digital holdings.
 
Other investors for the round include:  GLG Partners, a leading alternative asset manager; Duff Ackerman & Goodrich Ventures (DAG), a leading crossover fund with a rich history in Internet and TV networks; and existing investors Accel Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Walden Ventures and Information CapitalHercules Technology Growth Capital, a leading provider of debt and equity capital, will provide the debt financing.

The new funding will fuel Glam Media’s aggressive global expansion in 2008 across new territories and categories, focusing on transforming brand display advertising on the Web as the market shifts away from the dominance of portals and destination sites to the distributed media network model that Glam Media helped pioneer. The funding will also be used to make strategic acquisitions, invest in technology to grow the distributed media model and further global growth.

Christiane zu Salm, who joins the executive management board of Hubert Burda Media in April 2008, will join the Glam Media Board of Directors as an observer.  Ms. zu Salm was founder of interactive TV network Neun Live and formerly managing director of MTV Central Europe.  Dr. Marcel Reichart, managing director of Research & Development, Marketing and Communications at Burda, and co-founder of the prestigious DLD conference, will oversee the relationship between Burda and Glam.  In a separate announcement today, Glam unveiled its rollout in key international markets starting in the United Kingdom, where Glam along with its publishers is already number one in audience reach, ahead of long established media companies including iVillage and CondeNet.

“Glam Media is well positioned to enable global brand advertisers via their distributed media network model,” said Dr. Marcel Reichart of Hubert Burda Media.  “The investment by Burda leverages our strong position in women and lifestyle media brands and further enables our transformation towards digital media.”

“Glam Media is ideally situated as an influential player in the emerging global digital media landscape,” said Samir Arora, chairman and CEO of Glam Media.  “In 2007, Glam Media was the fastest-growing in comScore Media Metrix Top 50 properties, becoming the number one women’s property on the Web in the U.S. with unprecedented speed.  With fragmentation increasing on the Web, our proven distributed media network model both supports our key publishers and is the optimal way to bring premium brand display advertisers to the Web.”

Banc of America Securities and Allen & Company served as the lead placement agents, with Deutsche Bank as a participating investment bank helping in the placement of this round.

Glam Media continues to experience significant growth both in traffic to Glam-owned-and -operated properties and via the reach of its publisher network of 450+ lifestyle websites and blogs.  Recent strategic hires—including senior sales executive John Trimble from Fox Interactive, former Yahoo! Smart Ads platform executive Dr. Kiumarse Zamanian and Joe Lagani, former Conde Nast publisher—further position the company to take advantage of the market focus and demand for premium brand display advertising.

Glam Media’s distributed media network currently includes Style, Living, Entertainment, Wellness and Shopping channels.  Each channel brings together a blend of original editorial, syndicated and media partner content and curated content from the 450+ sites in the Glam Publisher Network.  Glam Media provides media services—display and video advertising, content syndication, advertorials, search and other application services to its highly select network of publishers and managed vertical networks for traditional media companies.  Glam Media’s pioneering distributed media model has helped hundreds of publishers start and build their businesses by helping them focus on what they love doing the most—creating original content and engaging their audience—while Glam Media creates the “ecosystem” that helps support and leverage the publishers’ power for advertisers worldwide.

More about Hubert Burda Media

Hubert Burda Media is a $2.4 billion in revenue international media group with more than 7,000 employees that first entered the market more than 100 hundred years ago.  Today, the company’s portfolio comprises more than 260 magazines worldwide, over 25 digital holdings, radio networks and television productions as well as media sales, printing and direct marketing operations.

More about Glam Media

Glam Media’s distributed media network model is revolutionizing the very definition of what a media company is in the 21st Century.  With 44 million global unique monthly visitors (comScore MediaMetrix), Glam Media provides a compelling mix of fresh, original content created in-house with a carefully curated Glam Publishing Network of more than 450 popular and influential lifestyle websites, blogs and magazines. For premium national brand advertisers, Glam Media offers an unprecedented array of targeted options that are singularly attractive to both upscale and aspirational consumers.

About the founder

Samir Arora, Founder, Chairman, and CEO
Samir Arora founded lifestyle hub Glam Media to create a better way for brand advertisers to connect with their audiences on the Web. A tech-industry veteran, Arora was previously the chairman of Emode/Tickle, Inc, which was later sold to Monster in June 2004. Prior to that, Arora was chairman and CEO of NetObjects, Inc. where he drove the creation of the first web site building product NetObjects Fusion. Arora also currently serves as chairman of Information Capital LLC, a venture capital fund based in Woodside, Calif., that invests in leading-edge “big idea companies” in consumer publishing, media, and technology.

Other team members include:

Fernando Ruarte
Co-founder, CTO and VP, Engineering
Scott Schiller
EVP, Sales, Women’s Markets
John Trimble
EVP, New Markets Sales
Carl Portale
VP and Publishing Director
Joe Lagani
VP and GM, Glam Living
Karin Marke
VP, Sales, Western Region
Jack Rotolo
VP, Sales, Eastern Region
Bernard Desarnauts
VP, Products and Marketing
Scott Swanson
VP and GM, Glam Media Publisher Network
Raj Narayan
Co-founder and Architect
Dianna Mullins
Co-Founder, VP Glam Publisher Network & Ad Operations
Ralf Hirt,
VP, International
Jennifer Salant
VP, Business Development
Ernie Cicogna
Co-Founder and CFO

Online sources have reported than Glam was looking to raise as much as $200M in August 2007. A document from Glam’s financial advisers, leaked on the Internet last year, suggested the above whopping amount but Mr. Arora says that Glam didn’t plan to raise that much in this round, and that the funds actually raised exceeded its board’s targets. He says the company expects to continue to increase its debt financing to as much as $100 million, in line with its revenue growth. Theresia Gouw Ranzetta, a Glam director and general partner at Accel Partners, a Glam investor, says she had initially wanted the company to raise just $40 million or $50 million. She concluded it wouldn’t be bad to raise a bit more as a “rainy-day fund” because of current macroeconomic uncertainty. The company, according to their original offering document is not yet profitable. They lost around $3.7M on $21M in revenue in 2007 but they project revenues in $150M range for 2008 with promised $40M in profit. The company was launched in 2005 and had previously taken $30M. The company has an ambitious plan to build its own “AdSense”, which they call Glam Evolution Ad Platform.

Major competitors include iVillage, AOL Women, CondeNet, Elle.com, auFeminin.com, Womensforum.com, SINA Women, QQ.com Women, BabyCenter Network, among others.

In today’s hugely competitive environment ad networks are working in everything boils down to who pays more the web publishers. Glam claims it pays most to its web publishers, but it is hard to believe how Glam can out pay Google when they had just $21M in revenues last year while Google’s payout was almost $4B to its web publishers for 2007. Let’s put it that way who earns more from the ad networks is who is going to be capable enough to pay more to the web publishers.  
More

http://www.glam.com/
http://www.glammedia.com
http://www.glammedia.com/about_glam/news/2008/02/25/glam-media-raises-85-million-in-private-strategic-financing/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/24/glam-closes-massive-d-round/
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120390178731489459.html
http://www.docstoc.com/docs/412152/Glam-Media-Teaser-August-2007
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/08/12/is-glam-a-sham/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/13/more-misplaced-glam-exhuberance/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/glammedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glam_Media,_Inc.
http://venturebeat.com/2008/02/24/womans-network-glam-raises-846-million-at-half-a-billion-valuation-adconian-raises-80m/
http://www.glammedia.com/about_glam/our_story/competitive_landscape.php
http://news.speeple.com/business2.com/2007/08/13/bubble-watch-glam-media-shops-around-a-200-million-private-placement.htm
http://valleywag.com/360436/glam-media-raises-84-million-far-short-of-its-200-million-goal
http://valleywag.com/tech/online-advertising/glam-media-not-looking-so-beautiful-288964.php
http://venturebeat.com/2008/02/20/trends-secretive-new-york-bank-allen-co-gets-into-silicon-valley-media-tech/
http://www.foliomag.com/2008/glam-media-gets-85m-private-equity-financing
http://samirarora.com/html/bio.html

Most recent Facebook and MySpace visitor numbers

Despite Facebook’s US traffic has fallen down over the past few months the social networking site seems to be rapidly reaching its major rival MySpace. The most recent data revealed by comScore shows that Facebook had 33.9M unique visitors for January 2008, which represents 2% down from its traffic for December 2007.

Earlier this week, the U.K. unit of audience measurement firm Nielsen reported that traffic from several social-networking sites, including Facebook, had slightly declined in January 2008 from December 2007.

Facebook’s international traffic, however, seems to keep on growing. It is reported to have grown with 3% in January 2008 over December 2007 reaching the astonishing number of 100,7M unique visitors worldwide. MySpace, by contrast, has been reported to have had 109,3M for the same period – increase with 2% month over month. MySpace has also shown a slight decline in its American traffic for the same period, so it has something to do with the entire social networking sector on Web and not really with Facebook in particular.

However, the little drop of traffic in perhaps the hottest start-up company in Silicon Valley after Google reveals something interesting. It could mean the free lunch (buzz) for Facebook is over and no more the company’s rapid growth will be taken for granted and something that would last forever. It’s now the time for a real test for Facebook’s concept, business model and sustainability. In our view there is really nothing wrong with a company that from 100.8M, say, uniques per month drops down to “only” 100M a month later – it is all about the overhype and huge buzz that company got over the past year, which has risen the expectation level to the skies and now it is pay back time.

Otherwise it seems there is nobody noticing that slowly but surely the Facebook’s traffic is reaching the traffic numbers of its main rival MySpace – 100,7M and 109,3M for MySapce respectively. Yet the MySpace’s pure American traffic (68.6M) seems to be double more than Facebook’s (33.9M).

Facebook is based in Palo Alto, Calif, and it has taken more than $330M to date in funding. Microsoft, a Honk Kong billionaire and The Samwer Brothers are among the company’s most recent investors. MySpace, by contrast,  has been bought on July 1, 2005 by Fox Interactive Media for $580M and is currently based in Beverly Hills, Calif. 
More

http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/22/facebook-fatigue-visitors-level-off-in-the-us/
http://seekingalpha.com/article/65849-facebook-fatigue-visitors-level-off-in-the-u-s
http://www.news.com/8301-13577_3-9876942-36.html?tag=cd.blog
http://www.techmeme.com/080222/p66#a080222p66
http://www.news.com/8301-13577_3-9875962-36.html
http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/02/24/facebook_traffic_the_dip_looks_more_like_a_trifle.html http://www.centernetworks.com/facebook-dip-seasonal-erick-schonfeld
http://mashable.com/2008/02/10/social-networking-statistics/
http://mashable.com/2008/02/22/facebook-growth/
http://blog.compete.com/2008/02/22/15-million-facebook-application-users-in-jan-2008-more-statistics/c
 

Ancestry.com has been bought out by a private equity firm, preparing for an IPO

One of the few dot com success stories Ancestry.com and their parent company The Generations Network has entered into a private buyout, a couple of months ago, with the private equity firm Spectrum Equity Investors for a reportedly $300M acquisition deal. Private equity buyouts have been a serious, if not the only, alternative of IPOs these past years.

Spectrum Equity Investors has led the investment of $300 million to purchase a majority interest in the company. Spectrum is a private equity firm based in Menlo Park and Boston and has been a shareholder in The Generations Network since 2003. Following the transaction, Vic Parker and Ben Spero from Spectrum will serve on the company’s new board of directors, along with Tim Sullivan, President and CEO of The Generations Network. Additional terms of the transaction were not disclosed but the investment was said will support and accelerate the company’s “strategic direction and growth plan”.

This is being said to be a liquidity event for most of TGN’s shareholders, although it was said that the deal does not represent a complete buyout. Employees and possibly some outside shareholders still have equity in the entity, which is almost certainly preparing for an IPO or other larger liquidity event. The company is said to be making over $150M in revenues per year and is reported to be hugely profitable according to online sources. The company’s current management team will continue to lead the company.

The Generations Network (formerly MyFamily.com Inc) is a genealogy discovery company which helps you map your family tree. The Generations Network, Inc. provides people the content, community, and technology to empower them to find the people most important to them — and discover and share their unique family stories. The company’s most popular brand is Ancestry.com, which has more than 5 billion names and 23,000 searchable databases for family history information, including the web’s largest collection of historical records.

The Generations Network operates a number of popular sites among which ancestry.com, ancestry.com.uk, ancestry.com.au, ancestry.ca, ancestry.de, ancestry.se, ancestry.fr, ancestry.it, myfamily.com, genealogy.com, rootsweb.comfamilytreemaker.com, ancestrymagazine.com.

In late 2007 the company has launched DNA Ancestry — a new service combining the precision of DNA testing with Ancestry.com’s unrivaled collection of 5 billion names in historical records and the site’s unmatched online family history community.

This DNA testing service provides Ancestry.com’s growing network of more than 15 million users a tool that helps solve family-tree mysteries through science. By taking a simple cheek-swab test and comparing DNA test results in DNA Ancestry’s expanding results database, individuals may be able to extend the branches of their family trees, prove (or disprove) family legends, discover living relatives they never knew existed and find new leads where traditional paper trails dead end.

“DNA testing in family history is reaching critical mass,” said Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian for Ancestry.com and co-author of the no. 1 selling book on genetic genealogy, Tracing Your Roots with DNA. “As more people add their results, the DNA Ancestry database becomes a powerful asset for users to make connections and discover their family tree. Already, many people have taken a simple DNA test to uncover genetic cousins and tap into their research, gathering names, dates, places and stories for their own family tree.”

DNA Ancestry offers Y-DNA and mtDNA tests — the two types of DNA tests most useful in family history, ranging in price from $149 to $199. The Y-DNA test analyzes the DNA in the Y chromosome, which is passed virtually unchanged from father to son. Test results can help users identify living individuals who share Y-DNA as well as predict ancient ancestors’ origins. Women can benefit from Y-DNA by having their father or other related male take the test. The mtDNA test analyzes DNA in an individual’s mitochondrial DNA, which passes from a mother to her children. Test results predict ancient ancestors’ origins and migration route from Africa and can aid in identifying living cousins.

Ancestry.com has also recently introduced the largest collections of U.S. military records and African-American historical records.

According to Quantcast, the company’s main site Ancestry.com is reaching 3M uniques per month but the site is not reported quantified so we can easily assume the site’s real reach is larger. Comscore, by contrast, says TGN’s group of sites had 8.2 million unique worldwide visitors in August 2007 (the only public date we have discovered online).

The Generations Network properties have more than 900,000 paying subscribers off the 8.2 million worldwide unique visitors per and in the last 18 months the company has solidified its position as one of the largest and most profitable subscription businesses online with success in several areas:

  • Ancestry.com is the world’s leading online family history resource, with more than 5 billion names from historical records, unmatched and proprietary search technologies and an engaged and passionate community f more than 2.5 million active members.
  • A redesigned Ancestry.com experience has transformed an online research tool into a platform for aggregating the world’s family history memories. Since late July 2006, more than 3.8 million family trees have been created on Ancestry.com, over 330 million names added to Ancestry Family Trees™, and more than 3.5 million individual photos, stories, or scanned documents have been uploaded by members.
  • Ancestry.com now boasts the only completely indexed online U.S. Federal Census Collection (1790-1930), the most comprehensive online compilation of U.S. ship passenger lists (1820-1960), the largest online collection of African American historical documents and the most comprehensive online collection of U.S. military records.
  • Beyond the United States, the Ancestry global network now includes local country sites for the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, Italy, France and Sweden.
  • The recent launch of DNA.ancestry.com™ now extends the Ancestry service into the rapidly growing field of genetic genealogy.
  • AncestryPress™, a digital publishing platform integrated into Ancestry.com, now gives every family the ability to create completely unique, professionally printed family history books.
  • Family Tree Maker® 2008, the No. 1-selling family history software package, is now available online and in major retail stores throughout North America and Europe.
  • The redesigned myfamily.com site now has new features, providing families everywhere a safe, private, and free family home on the Web.

“Spectrum Equity has been an incredibly supportive and strategic-minded investor in our company for several years, so I am thrilled to have them acquire this majority interest in The Generations Network,” said Tim Sullivan, company President and CEO. “2007 has been the company’s most successful and profitable year to date, and 2008 looks even more promising as we grow our core businesses further, expand our global presence, and innovate with new products and services that help us realize our mission to connect families across distance and time. I appreciate Spectrum’s vote of confidence in our direction and vision, and I am excited to work even more closely with Vic Parker and Ben Spero to continue to transform this amazing and unique business into a truly great company.”

Lehman Brothers acted as financial advisor to The Generations Network, Inc. in the transaction.

The Generations Network, Inc. has been founded in 1983 as a print publishing company called Ancestry and is based in Provo Utah. They’ve raised $95 million to date, although the last round of financing was closed back in 2001.

About Spectrum Equity Investors

Spectrum Equity Investors is a private equity firm focused on investing in profitable, growing services businesses. Founded in 1994 with offices in Menlo Park and Boston, Spectrum manages over $4 billion in capital across five funds. The firm’s investment team has deep experience in information services and online media, including investments in Demand Media, Interbank FX, iPay Technologies, NetQuote, Mortgagebot, RiskMetrics Group, Seisint (acquired by Reed Elsevier PLC) and WorldCheck.

The company’s web sites compete with a number of web 2.0 start ups that have aggressively entered the space one of which is Geni. Other companies include MyHeritage, familytreemaker.com, Story Of My Life, Our Story and 23andMe, founded by one of the Google’s founders, which competes with TGN’s DNA unit, among others. 

More

http://www.tgn.com/
http://www.ancestry.com/
http://www.spectrumequity.com/
http://dna.ancestry.com/
http://www.ancestry.com.uk
http://www.ancestry.com.au
http://www.ancestry.ca
http://www.ancestry.de
http://www.ancestry.se
http://www.ancestry.fr
http://www.ancestry.it
http://www.myfamily.com/
http://www.genealogy.com/
http://www.rootsweb.com/
http://www.familytreemaker.com/
http://www.ancestrymagazine.com/
http://blogs.ancestry.com/
http://blogs.ancestry.com/circle/?p=1960
http://tgn.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=111
http://tgn.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=110
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/16/private-buyout-of-ancestrycom-for-300-million/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/thegenerationsnetwork
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/03/05/100-million-valuation-for-geni/
http://www.quantcast.com/ancestry.com
http://www.news.com/Google-invests-3.9-million-in-biotech-start-up/2100-1014_3-6185860.html
http://www.news.com/Ancestry.com-parent-sold-for-300-million/2100-1038_3-6214028.html?tag=resourceshelf
http://www.searchengineworld.com/tech/3456440.htm
http://www.topix.com/com/spectrum-equity-investors/2007/10/ancestry-com-parent-sold-for-300-million
http://www.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idUSN1729430020071017

Page creator Jimdo landed the Samwer Brothers as investors

It has been so much noise around Facebook lately and whose their next investor is going to be so that great small start-ups have naturally been overlooked. One of those is a tiny German based start-up called Jimdo. What is in common between Jimdo and Facebook, you may ask? There is nothing in common aside the fact that they have an investor in common – The Samwer Brothers. Just two months before they invested in Facebook with plans to take the company to Europe, the brothers have poured money into Jimdo through their European Founders Fund. The Samwer Brothers are Jimdo’s first large-scale investor. The amount of the investment is not publicly disclosed.

Jimdo is an AJAX-based web pages creation tool similar to Google Page Creator, allowing users to create homepages completely over the Web, without any knowledge of HTML. Jimdo is perhaps most popular with the fact that you can easily grab a design from any site and apply to yours in a couple of steps. Jimdo is available in several major languages such as Deutsch, English, French, Chinese, Italian and Russian

Jimdo is really easy to use as the company’s web site claims. Once you’ve registered for your own JimdoFree-Page, they will immediately send you an e-mail with a link to your Page. After logging in to the admin mode, you’ll discover Jimdo’s greatest innovation: you practically won’t notice a difference between the site as it appears online and the site as it appears in admin mode!  You can also integrate photos, videos, RSS feeds and downloads just as easily! Your visitors will immediately be able to see any changes that you make.

More about Samwer brothers

After selling the German Internet auction site Alando.de to eBay for $50 million in shares, the brothers have made names for themselves and have become even more involved with startups since. After a brief spell working for eBay, they then set up ringtone firm Jamba, which they sold to the U.S. company Verisign for $273 million in shares and cash in 2004. Little later they have also invested in the German Twitter clone, Frazr, and a handful of other startups. Interestign fact to note is that the Samwer brothers also invested in the Facebook clone StudiVZ, which was sold about a year ago for $112 million. Taking these facts and achievements into consideration we would not be that far in our conclusions if we say the guys are successful serial entrepreneurs and they have something to do with the social networking, at least in Europe. It already comes as no surprise they are interested to bring the most popular social site into Europe and lock down exclusivity for the market.

The Samwer brothers have become the strategic partners for Facebook in Europe. In 2006, they established the European Founders Fund to invest in promising Internet companies.

More about Jimdo

In 2004 we founded NorthClick on an old farm. Without a cent we moved in at Fridtjof’s home and developed the online-software that now is the core of Jimdo. NorthClick distributes this software to small and medium sized enterprises who can use the software for updating their websites really easily. Short after the founding we won a business plan competition, which gave us approximately 20,000 USD.

In combination with some basic agreements and our first customers we had enough money to move to Hamburg and rent our first office. Since then, we already moved into a bigger office and have a rising number of customers and colleagues!

During the last four years more and more of our friends asked us whether they could use our system for private stuff. We were so fascinated by the cool pages they created! Some used the system for pages about themselves, three guys used it to document their sailing trip from Germany to Sydney, some to promote their bands… and the feedback was just unbelievable!

That’s when the idea was born to give Pages to the People!

The team (the founders)

Matthias Henze
Marketing, Distribution
1979. Matthias has a diploma in business studies. He studied at the universities of Kiel, Germany and Goteborg, Sweden. In 2004, he was one of the founders of NorthClick, and of Jimdo in 2007. Almost every evening he puts up a good fight against Fridtjof and Christian (it’s all about being the best in Atomic Bomberman).

Fridtjof Detzner
Interface Design, System Development
1983. Fridtjof and co-founder Christian founded his first company, web agency dream-up.de when they were still going to school. Later he founded NorthClick and Jimdo together with Christian and Matthias. At the moment, he practices handstand-running and furthermore he is innovator of the so-called “salary-golfing”.

Christian Springub
Programming, System Development
1982. Christian founded with Fridtjof the web agency dream-up.de, later with Matthias and Fridtjof NorthClick and Jimdo. If Christian is not in the office, the noise level decreases at once!

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More

http://www.jimdo.com/
http://www.jimdo.com/blog.php
http://howsyourburger.jimdo.com
http://cornelia-travnicek.jimdo.com
http://mashable.com/2007/10/16/jimdo-samwer/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/01/21/after-samwer-brothers-nokia-is-also-going-to-invest-in-facebook/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/08/15/steal-this-template-with-jimdo/
http://venturebeat.com/2007/08/15/jimdo-lets-you-create-a-website-or-clone-someone-elses/
http://www.downloadsquad.com/2007/04/04/create-websites-easily-with-jimdo/
http://webware.com/8301-1_109-9704384-2.html?tag=blog
http://blog.outer-court.com/archive/2007-03-16-n33.html
http://ajax.phpmagazine.net/2007/03/jimdo_pages_to_the_people.html
http://themarketingblog.wordpress.com/2007/07/29/people-pages-and-fun/
http://www.genbeta.com/2007/03/15-jimdo-y-noovo-servicios-de-creacion-de-sitios-web-de-forma-facil
http://nioumedia.com/?p=158
http://www.europeanfounders.com/

Mint.com – the financial-planning startup with an army of high-profile investors

First off, Mint.com is a neat, well organized and professional web site to put your finances under control. Explained in layman terms Mint helps you find better interest rates on bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial products. But here is the interesting part. The site officially launched in September 18, 2007, after nearly two years of development and significant private beta testing, and in just a few weeks, after being announced winner on TechCrunch40, the site took seriously off. In just 18 days, the company said, they had reached more than $2 billion worth of people’s personal financial accounts, and identified more than $40 million in potential savings for those members. In a moment Mint ended up having a new member every five seconds. It turned out that people really will do anything to save a buck. There were more than 50,000 accounts opened up. And logically the investors jumped in. Total funding in no time reached $5.5M for Mint Software. Institutional investors include Shasta Ventures and First Round Capital and the company’s angel investors are Josh Kopelman, Rob Hayes, Tod Francis, Ron Conway, Mark Goines, Geoff Ralston, Jeff Clavier, Sy Fahimi and the last but not least Ram Shriram. Some of the angels are top executives from  eBay, Intuit, Google, Yahoo, Charles Schwab, Wilson Sonsini, Reuters, Adteractive, and Weblogic/BEA. Under no doubt it is not every day you can see such a jumpstart for a start-up company.  The company’s founder Aaron Patzer has an interesting story to tell about one of his angels – Ram Shriram (an early Google investor). Ram Shriram actually came in about a month after we closed our round. At the time we only had about $200k open in the round. Unlike most investors (who wait a week, talk to their friends, bring you back for multiple meetings), Ram said “Okay, I’m in” before I was done with the presentation. He then explained that he had no upper limit on what he could invest (good problem to have!), but that his accountants lose track if he doesn’t invest at least $500k. So needless to say, we opened the round up a bit.

Today, just a few months later, Mint claims to have already well over 100,000 registered members (accounts) and is now organizing $6 billion in user transactions, and has identified nearly $90 million in savings opportunities. The company says users are telling them, via their rapid adoption and through survey feedback, that Mint.com is enabling them to do more with their money.

Mint.com’s first customer survey, conducted in December, 2007, shows that 87% of respondents feel they better understand their spending after using Mint. And nearly half of them have changed their spending behavior as a result of what they’ve learned.* the most frequent change being eating and drinking at home more often.

More about Mint

Mint is the freshest, most intelligent way for you to manage your money online. Not only is Mint free, it saves you money. While existing personal finance software packages require hours to set up, a passion for accounting (is that possible?) and hours of weekly maintenance, Mint is virtually effortless.

With Mint, you can be fully up and running in less than five minutes. After that, revolutionary, patent pending Mint technology does the rest, with virtually no more work required. It automatically pulls together your bank, credit union and credit card data, and provides up-to-date and amazingly accurate views of your financial life – from the big picture to specific details, in a friendly and intuitive way.

In addition, Mint goes beyond visibility and analysis; providing personalized money-saving and money-making suggestions. Mint provides users an average of $1,000 in savings opportunities during their first session. Plus, Mint is proactive— alerting you when you are overbudget, have a low balance, need to pay a bill, and more.

Mint is safe and secure: we never know your identity and we provide bank level data security.

How Mint works
Mint is a modern, powerful, easy and secure web-based solution for managing your finances. And it’s free. You register anonymously using any valid email address, and then add the log-in information for the online bank, credit union and credit card accounts you want to consolidate in Mint.

Mint connects to over 3,500 US financial institutions. Your account information is updated each night. Mint automatically categorizes all your purchases, showing you how much you spend on gas, groceries, parking, rent, restaurants, DVD rentals and more, with amazing precision. An advanced alerting system highlights any unusual activity, low balances, unwanted fees and charges, and upcoming bills so you’re in constant contact with your money – effortlessly. 


Mint goes way beyond just reporting. Using a patent-pending search algorithm, Mint constantly searches through thousands of offers from hundreds of providers to find the best deals on everything from bank accounts to credit cards; cable, phone and Internet plans, and more. Mint’s suggestions are “unique to you” as they are based on your individual spending patterns. For example, if you have $20,000 in a bank account that’s earning no interest, Mint might recommend a high interest rate savings account from ING or HSBC. Acting on that suggestion would give you an extra $900 in interest income over a year.

Key Benefits
Mint is an entirely new approach to personal financial management. You don’t work for Mint, it works for you. We think you’ll love Mint because it’s:

Easy to use: You’re up and running in under five minutes. And Mint does virtually all the rest.

Comprehensive: Mint provides detailed visibility into virtually all your financial relationships with a single, secure login.

Visual and Analytical: Mint gives you powerful insights into your finances – making it easier to make good financial decisions

Constantly working to find you savings: Mint typically finds users $1,000 in savings opportunities in their first session – minutes after registering. And Mint keeps looking for new ways for you to save every day — continuously comparing your needs to product, service and bank offerings most relevant to you.

Secure: Mint provides bank level data security and industry leading identity protection. Its security and privacy have been validated by VeriSign and TRUSTe.

Always On: You’re automatically notified of upcoming bills, low balances, and any unusual activity in any of your accounts, through one (m)interface.

Anywhere/anytime access: You can get to Mint anywhere, anytime over the web

And it’s Free!

Breakthrough Technology
Aaron’s personal experience led him to create to two breakthrough technologies which make Mint so useful, intuitive and unique:

Patent-pending categorization technology that automatically identifies and organizes purchases from descriptions in the electronic records at banks and credit card companies.  A proprietary search algorithm which finds savings opportunities unique to each user.  Mint’s technology does everything automatically in a way that other online banking applications and personal finance management software can’t. It provides useful information and smart, specific recommendations for saving or making more money based on each user’s individual purchase history. Today, after nearly two years of development and significant private beta testing, Mint is preparing to announce the public beta of Mint.com. The company has put together an experienced executive and engineering team, and has attracted funding from top tier venture capital firms and angel investors.

Security

Security is crucial when someone is dealing with your financial information and it is no wonder there were many debates surrounding Mint in the public space. We have dug information up ourselves and have found many interesting commentaries made by Mint’s CEO, which we enclose below. Below is what Aaron Patzer, Founder & CEO at Mint.com, has to tell about security.

To all those who are concerned over Mint.com security, a few points:
1) You’re anonymous on Mint.com
2) Our security is independently verified
3) Email & text-message alerts help identify fraud immediately… and being proactive is the best measure.

I’ll make a bold statement: You’re safer on Mint then with online banking. On Mint, you’re completely anonymous. We never ask for a name, address, or SSN – just an email. We know about your finances…but not about you. We’re also independently verified by VeriSign, TRUSTe, and several outside agencies.

We also have serious physical security. Our servers are in a secure, unmarked facility. To get in, you need to pass 3 biometric scanners, 4 locked doors, and several guards. We have our own cage so we’re physically separated from all other companies. Cameras monitor our servers and power supplies 24/7. The servers themselves have additional locks. The hard drives are encrypted. It’s like Mission Impossible (except without the electrified floors…maybe one day).

Perhaps more interestingly, 90% of all fraud actually occurs offline, not online (e.g. someone swipes your card at a restaurant or from your mail). Because Mint sends proactive alerts for low-balance or unusually high spending, you’ll know right away. It’s better than logging into 4-5 different banks every day, or waiting 30 days for a paper statement before finding that something went wrong.

By law you have:
– $0 liability for credit card fraud,
– $50 liability for bank fraud (if you notify your bank within two days)

Again, 90% of all fraud starts offline, for example when someone takes your credit card at a restaurant, or digs through your mail. Sadly, a large portion of fraud is actually committed by friends and family members.

Mint.com helps keep you safe by providing email and text-message alerts for:
– Low balances (e.g. someone is draining your account)
– Unusual spending (e.g. someone buys $1000 in electronics in a day)
– Low available credit

If there are any anomalies, Mint.com shows you right away. The alternative is to a) login to every single credit card, checking, and savings account every day to check for fraud, or b) wait 30 days until a paper statement arrives before noticing an issue.

By taking a proactive approach, Mint.com actually helps protect you from the vast majority of fraud – better than just about any website out there.

Concerning whether using Mint.com violates your bank terms & conditions:

Consider that Quicken and Microsoft Money ask you for the exact same credentials as Mint.com, and have been for the past 10 years. MS Money even uses Yodlee to make it’s connection to banks (same as Mint.com, BofA, and Fidelity).

The problem with those tools is they cost $30-$80, sunset their products every 2-3 years to force an upgrade, require an hour to setup, and take an hour a week to maintain.

Mint is like an extension to online banking: pull all your accounts together in one place, finally see where your money goes, get alerts on anything out of whack, and find savings opportunities worth an average of $1,000/user.

Mint never gives your information to third party advertisers. We have a proprietary database of financial offers, interest rates, and communications (phone, tv, internet, wireless) providers. The matching is done in software, anonymously.

Your information never leaves Mint.com. If or when you click through on a savings opportunity, no information is passed except that the click came from Mint.com.

Mint does make a small referral fee from advertisers on some offers. That’s what keeps Mint free. Whether we have a relationship with a provider in no way affects our ranking algorithm – we find users the best interest rate or lowest price regardless.

What this means in the end is Mint only makes money if we can find ways for the user to save money. And we think that’s pretty revolutionary. The only ads you see are ads that make you money…think about how different that is as a business model.

What the company, by that time, seemed not to be dealing with is the offers it makes are often not competitive with or comparable to what users are getting, mint is just having no way to know that!

For example, I have a Capital One card with 1% back. You see my Capital One account with ? for a cash return, and “offer” me a 1% back card (a *savings* of $250/year!). There needs to be a way to user input the specifics of current accounts and products before you offer to “save” me all that dough!

Mint has told by that time they are tackling the issue within the next month or so, they will be able to accurately capture the rewards earned on just about every credit card. Then, it will be able to accurately reflect the fact you are earning 1% back on your Capital One card. We were unable to dig something up from the public web as to whether this issue has been fixed or not.

Some more drawbacks as we have found them around Web are as follows. You can’t import data to Mint in any way other than through your financial institution, meaning that if you’ve got years’ worth of financial data in Quicken, don’t count on importing it to Mint. That said, Mint can load over a year of your most recent financial data (depending on how long your institution provides it) when you sign up.  On a similar note, Mint doesn’t export data—meaning if you decided to ditch Mint for another money management solution, you’re not going to get a CSV file or any other export of your data.

The most notable and practical drawback to Mint came in the form of strangely named, incomplete transaction descriptions (the imported name was strange—the actual transaction name at the originating financial institution was more descriptive). As a result, I ran into problems setting up renaming rules for transactions in Mint. For example, a transaction that read in my checking account (at the actual US Bank web site) as “Web Authorized Payment AT&T” showed up in Mint as “Web Payment” or something along those lines. I set Mint to automatically rename this transaction to AT&T, but then every Web Authorized Payment in my account was renamed AT&T, although some were gas or water and power bills. Similarly, “Purchase with PIN” shows up in the ledger as “With,” which is not terribly helpful. Next to the all-in-one account integration, automation is Mint’s biggest draw—which means these sort of minor issues need worked out before you can set up renaming rules with complete confidence (especially since you can’t currently undo renaming rules). On the flip side, Mint claims to accurately identify and rename 90% of imported transactions without any need for user import, compared to Quicken’s 40% (their numbers).

Management team

Aaron Patzer
Founder and CEO
Aaron is both the visionary and technical mind behind Mint, the first free, automatic and secure way to manage and save money online. He designed Mint to meet his own needs and those of people like him who value the immediacy of the Web, simplicity and their free time. With 10 patents filed or pending, Aaron brings strong innovation skills to Mint. Prior to founding Mint, Aaron was an architect and technical lead for the San Jose division of Nascentric. Before Nascentric, Aaron worked for IBM and founded two web development and online marketing companies: PWeb and International. Aaron holds an MSEE from Princeton University and a BS in computer science, computer engineering, and electrical engineering from Duke University.

Aaron’s Financial Personality? Über-Frugal but lusting in his heart for expensive cars.

Donna Wells
Chief Marketing Officer
Donna brings over twenty years’ experience in strategic management and marketing to the Mint team, with specific expertise in the financial services industry and online demand generation. She led client acquisition/retention, brand-building and product development for organizations ranging from start-ups to global brands – including Expedia, myCFO, Intuit, Charles Schwab and American Express. Prior to Mint, Donna was Senior Vice President of Marketing at Expedia, where she was responsible for strategic direction of the company’s brand, advertising, direct marketing, customer and partner marketing and market research. At Intuit, as Vice President of Corporate Marketing and acting CMO, she led the company’s corporate marketing functions and general marketing strategy. She also served as Vice President of Intuit’s Small Business and Personal Finance division, responsible for direct marketing, channel marketing and market research for the Quicken, QuickBooks and Small Business Services businesses. Donna joined Intuit from myCFO, Inc., where she was Chief Marketing Officer. She previously held senior positions at Charles Schwab, where she led marketing for segments representing 70% of all Schwab client households, and American Express, where she launched the Gold Rewards and Platinum Corporate Cards. Donna holds a MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and a BS in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a past Board member of the Financial Women’s Association of San Francisco and the Marketing 50.

Donna’s spending personality: Unremarkable, except in her weakness for luxury hotels.

David K Michaels
VP Engineering
David has over 10 years experience in building secure, distributed, fault-tolerant systems. David was most recently leading the development of server products for PGP, where he helped design, build and ship three major versions of the company’s  flagship product: PGP Universal. Prior to PGP, he built a high-volume financial information product targeting online retail equity traders. David was on the server team at NetDynamics (acquired by Sun Microsystems), implementing core features for security, scalability, fault-tolerance, distributed load balancing, and performance. He has also worked at GeoCities, where he developed the company’s first capability to insert advertising banners on its pages. He has held several positions with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory working on distributed systems and the WWW. David holds a M.S. in Computer Science with honors from Stanford University and a B.S. in Computer and Information Science from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

David’s Financial Personality? Conservative and analytic in all spending categories Dining Out. Major Foodie.

Aaron Forth
VP Product
Aaron brings over ten years’ of product development and product management experience to Mint. Prior to joining Mint, Aaron held several leadership positions at eBay and Half.com (acquired by eBay Inc.). Most recently, as Director of Advertising, Aaron was responsible for product strategy, design and product development. Aaron has a background in multivariate testing used to drive analytically-based decisions around product design, improved user experience and strategic partnerships. Prior to working in advertising, Aaron managed internet marketing and product management teams, focused on search engine marketing, search engine optimization and affiliate marketing. Aaron’s career in software was established at Kana Communications, Inc., a CRM software start-up. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Earth Sciences from University of California, Berkeley.

Aaron’s spending personality: Frugal at heart. Focused on enjoying life in practice.

Anton Commissaris
VP Business Development
Anton is responsible for Mint’s business strategy, revenue and partner development. Anton brings to Mint over 15 years of experience in the software and Internet sectors spanning legal, operations, marketing and business development roles. Prior to Mint, Anton was Vice President of Business Development at Right Hemisphere, the leader in visual product communications and collaboration. Prior to Right Hemisphere, Anton was Director of Business Development at Spotlife (Logitech) a pioneer in Web consumer video solutions. Anton began his career as an attorney working in London and Paris, and then in Palo Alto, California at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, the leading law firm for emerging growth high technology companies. He holds law degrees from the University of Auckland and the University of Montpellier, France.

Anton’s Financial Personality? The ultimate deal-seeker and most passionate negotiator. We love having him run Biz Dev.

Mint has been named Best of Show at the 2007 Financial Innovations conference. Mint has also been chosen as the best presenting company at TechCrunch40 and has won a $50,000 cash award. In December 28, 2007 Mint.com has also won the 2008 PC World 25 Most Innovative Products Award.

Competitors and similar companies include BillMonk, Expensr, Wesabe, Zecco, Buxfer, SpendView, Geezeo, sMoneyBox, FreeAgentCentral, Covestor.com, Yodlee, wclipperz.com and passpack.com, among others. Of course, Intuit is the major player in the space.

More

http://www.mint.com
http://www.mint.com/blog
http://www.mint.com/press/downloads/release_20080108.pdf
http://www.mint.com/press/downloads/release_20071228.pdf
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/16/mints-47-million-a-round/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/mint
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/09/18/mint-wins-techcrunch40-50000-award/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/14/billeo-secures-7-million-in-financing/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/07/mint-rakes-it-in/
http://www.netbanker.com/2007/10/mint_mortgagebot_and_prosper_w.html
http://www.informationweek.com/windows/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=178600217
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/aaron-patzer
http://www.linkedin.com/in/apatzer
http://twitter.com/apatzer
http://digg.com/users/apatzer
http://consumerist.com/commenter/apatzer/
http://www.spock.com/Aaron-Patzer-NBd4i1sF
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/09/18/techcrunch40-session-5-productivity-web-apps/
http://blog.mint.com/blog/personal-finance-interview/personal-finance-interview-with-aaron-patzer-of-mymintcom/
http://blog.mint.com/blog/personal-finance-interview/mint-team-spotlight-sid-bhatt/
http://www.finovate.com/
http://r3fresh.com/2007/10/09/how-secure-is-mintcom/
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/22/fashion/22CYBER.html?ex=1353819600&en=6199204353c38df5&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink
http://venturebeat.com/2007/09/18/mint-the-easiest-way-to-manage-your-personal-finances/
http://lifehacker.com/software/screenshot-tour/is-mint-ready-for-your-money-312083.php
http://consumerist.com/consumer/budgets/mintcom-+-a-new-free-personal-finance-management-site-301172.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_Shriram
http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,140663-c,technology/article.html

Peanut Labs closes its Series A round of funding

Yesterday we were tipped off that both LeapFrog Ventures and BV Capital have invested in San Francisco start-up called Peanut Labs. The funding is in the $3.2M range and is the company’s Series A round.

Peanut Labs helps social networks monetize, not through the traditional ad-based models, but via market researches and online surveys. The company also says that publishers — more than 70 found on social networks, applications and online communities like Facebook, MySpace, and members of Google’s OpenSocial — receive on average $20,000 per publisher a month.

CEO and Founder Murtaza Hussain isn’t new to the business. Peanut Labs developed their technology based on their own efforts to monetize Xuqa, the now-profitable social network in Turkey. By expanding this business model across several social networks, Peanut Labs proves that social networks and Facebook apps can create profitable revenue streams.

Peanut Labs is said to be profitable but no public information as to the revenues and profits is available, aside claiming profitability and seven figure revenues. The same is for the next year – Peanut Labs expects eight figure revenues in 2008. It can be anything between $1M and $9M and it could also mean anything between $10M and $99M respectively!?

The $3.2 million cash infusion will be used for continued product development towards Peanut Labs’ patent pending market research sampling technology, which is highly effective at reaching the sought after 13-25 year-old demographic known as Gen-Y.  The funding will also be used to actively service Peanut Labs’ burgeoning list of market research clients and enhance the survey-taking experience, a crucial part of Peanut Labs’ Sample3.0 technology.

“With surveys from the gaming, consumer products, entertainment, automotive and cellular industries, the demand for our uninhibited access to this taste-making demographic is exploding.  This round of funding will allow us to expand service to our active list of premier market research clients to give them the highest quality sample,” said Murtaza Hussain, chief executive officer and co-founder of Peanut Labs.  “We feel our business model proves that social networks have alternative ways to maintain profitability that yield revenue increases up to five times higher than with ineffective, ad-based models.”

Found across more than seventy social networks, Peanut Labs helps web publishers create revenue streams through market research surveys.  Each time a member of the social network completes a survey, the publisher earns a sum of money.

“Partnering with Peanut Labs has proven to be a most profitable way to monetize our Facebook applications,” said Josh Liptzin, CEO of Phase 2, Inc., a Peanut Labs publisher.  “There has been much talk surrounding the effectiveness of advertising as a means of revenue, but there is no question that Peanut Labs’ market research surveys are an excellent source of income and appealing to our users to enhance their overall experience.”

More about Peanut Labs

Peanut Labs is a rapidly growing provider of market research services backed by the investors of Skype, Yahoo eGroups and Del.icio.us. We provide access to hard-to-reach demographics for market researchers – and are the leading provider of Gen Y sample for market researchers today.
 
We have developed a research technology integrated across 70+ social networks and an online community that has demographically profiled, aggregated, and engages with millions of members each day. Our technology provides access to a recruitment audience of more than 27 million users.
 
Peanut Labs has partnered with many of the most popular MySpace, FaceBook and Google Open Social applications.

The company claims their network is able to reach more than 10 million users. Their platform enables publishers to better monetize their communities by allowing their users to participate in market research studies. On the other side their platform enables market researchers to gather high-quality data from Gen Y users by reaching them where they spend most of their time – on the Net. Because of their recruiting methods, their panel is free of professional survey takers. Peanut Labs enables access to hard-to-reach groups for the market research community.

Peanut Labs claims to have more than 70 sites participating in their network with total audience of 27M where the daily reach is said to be 4M. The site also claims to have 58 new sites applying to join the network monthly with only 10% of them being accepted.

The company also claims to be able to increase your revenues 3x – 5x more than what your are earning from advertising, which means 100,000 – $1 million in net profit for your organization in one year.

To be eligible, your site needs to have an Alexa ranking of 10,000 or better. At least 25% of your users must be from the US. You must have some way to communicate with individual, registered users (such as on-site messages or emails) on your site. And you need to have some type of incentive system (point, virtual items, community rankings, premium content, locked features etc).
 
Alexa ranking is seriously discredited so we do not understand why Peanut Labs is relying on Alexa to determine the real number of visitors a web site has.

The People

Murtaza Hussain, Chief Executive Officer Murtaza Hussain is the co-founder and CEO of Peanut Labs, provider of advanced market research services and developer of Sample3.0. In his role, Murtaza leads the company’s overall strategy and product direction. Murtaza has been instrumental in forming industry changing partnerships that bridge social media and online communities with the business application needs of the market research community.
 
In recent years, Murtaza has been heavily involved in the technologies supporting social media, and is has developed expertise in the practice of building online communities. Murtaza participates regularly as a speaker at industry events, including the Facebook Developer’s Conference, Widget Summit 2007, SNAP Summit, and Community Next.
 
He was most recently co-founder of XuQa.com, a leading online casual gaming community, which was built to 2M+ users and profitability. In 2001, Murtaza founded Gaming Ventura, an international entrepreneurship holding group which he has successfully been leading in his capacity as President for the previous 6 years.
 
Murtaza is a natural inventor and web developer, leading his team to three consecutive first-place finishes in the Intel International Schools Educational Olympiad from 1999-2001. He was the captain of Team Pakistan in the International Enterprise Olympics, where his team finished third globally. For two seasons, Murtaza also hosted a national youth TV show in Pakistan that boasted a viewership of more than 10 million.
 
He was pursuing a Bachelors of Arts in Anthropology at Williams College, MA prior to leaving academia to start the company.

Other members of the management include Ali Moiz, Prosper Nwankpa, Sean Case, M. Noman Ali and Lisa Duryea.  Board of Directors include Murtaza Hussain, Prosper Nwankpa, Thomas Gieselmann, Pete Sinclair and Simon Chadwick.

Investors

BV Capital
Silicon Valley and European based BV Capital invests in new opportunities and innovations in the internet space. BV Capital’s portfolio includes companies that are significantly changing the landscape of business and communication today including Angie’s List, Cranite, and shopping.com (eBay).
LeapFrog Ventures
Enablers of great ideas, LeapFrog Ventures has invested in companies that are well positioned for high growth. Known for their commitment to excellence, LeapFrog has had a selective portfolio companies including Octel, Symantec, Intrisa, Striva Software and Netli.

The company has also been named one of 50 “Companies to Watch in 2008” by the Dow Jones VentureOne Summit advisory board.

Similar companies include AdFish, PollDaddy.com, Constantcontact.com/survey, surveyclub.com and BoxTticker.com, among others. 

More

http://www.peanutlabs.com
http://www.peanutlabs.com/peanutlabs/files/documents/PeanutLabs_Sample3.pdf
http://ventureonesummit.dowjones.com/
http://en.oreilly.com/gspwest2008/public/schedule/speaker/2026
http://www.pehub.com/article/articledetail.php?articlepostid=10405
http://sanfrancisco.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/gen/company.html?gcode=74717C66139341F49A7F47D27A548B82
http://sanfrancisco.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/2008/02/18/daily6.html
http://www.leapfrogventures.com
http://www.bvcapital.com/

Microsoft’s stock has fallen 13% since its offer for Yahoo

We have read tons of stories and points of views about the potential deal between Microsoft and Yahoo over the past weeks. We guess all people did. Everything seems already being said about the deal. Yet, something interesting popped up in the news today. It turns out that Microsoft is the big loser from the situation with Yahoo’s acquisition because it has lost 13% of its market capitalization since it has announced its bid to buy Yahoo almost a month ago.

After Microsoft’s stock has fallen 13% since its offer for Yahoo, the Microsoft’s offer price seems to have also been reduced to $29 – $41.7B as of today. Yahoo shares, by contrast, closed at $29.66 on the NASDAQ on Friday, indicating that investors’ expectations are for Microsoft to raise its bid.

While the software giant’s founder and chairman has taken a back seat to CEO Steve Ballmer in the Yahoo bid, Gates wasted no time in tempering expectations if Microsoft failed in its effort to buy Yahoo.

Chairman Bill Gates said yesterday that they are not planning to raise the bid for Yahoo and called the current offer “very fair.” Instead Bill Gates said they are having plans to invest heavily — and they said they can afford it — in anything but web search to compete against Google, with or without Yahoo. Just like what we have always been thinking — it is all about Microsoft vs. Google and Yahoo was only an instrument — Gates’s statement reconfirms it: “Google is the only company with “critical mass” in Web search.”

Yet, he admits that they’d get there faster if the great engineering work that Yahoo has done and the great engineers there were part of the common effort

“There is nothing new in terms of the process. We’ve sent our letter and we’ve reinforced that we consider that it’s a very fair offer,” said Gates, who remains the public face of Microsoft, even though he plans to switch to a part-time role at the company in June to focus on his philanthropic work.

What will happen with the stock prices of both companies if a deal does not go thru? We think both companies will get punished by the public market and have their stock prices reduced. Yahoo’s hit is expected to be stronger. 

More

http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=MSFT
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=yhoo
http://uk.reuters.com/article/technology-media-telco-SP/idUKN1819990520080219
http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6231021.html
http://mashable.com/2008/02/18/bill-gates-were-not-raising-the-yahoo-bid/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/01/yes-we-were-right-yahoo-was-seriously-undervalued-microsoft-offers-446b-for-the-company-a-62-premium-over-their-value-from-yesterday/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/02/is-google-going-to-be-the-winner-from-the-microsoft-yahoo-deal/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/04/google%e2%80%99s-chief-legal-officer-vs-microsoft%e2%80%99s-general-counsel/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/08/one-after-another-the-potential-competitive-bidders-for-yahoo-drop-off-is-yahoo-going-to-surrender-to-microsoft/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/11/yahoo%e2%80%99s-official-response-to-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer-no/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/12/and-here-is-what-microsoft-has-to-tell-yahoo/
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/080211/aqm241.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?d=t&s=msft
http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/09/magazines/fortune/yahoo_rejects_bid_report.fortune/?postversion=2008020914
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fffc1006-d5e8-11dc-bbb2-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1
http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2008/02/05/yahoo-the-five-scenario-analysis/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/08/yahoo-board-to-determine-fate-of-company-today/
http://www.techmeme.com/080201/p78#a080201p78
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_8149194
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2008/tc2008021_885192.htm?chan=rss_topStories_ssi_5
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/02/AR2008020200568.html
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/02/MN8OUQGNB.DTL&type=tech
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080201/microsoft-to-yahoo-two-days-to-respond-or-else/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/hold-everything-we-may-get-another-yhoo-bidder.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/what-would-a-combined-microsoft-yahoo-look-like/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/ballmers-internal-e-mail-to-the-troops-explaining-the-yahoo-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/02/news-corp-scrambles-to-bid-for-yahoo/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/microsoft-yahoo-combined-financials.html
http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=206107168
http://mashable.com/2008/02/10/yahoo-aol-merger/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/10/wait-yahoo-and-aol-i-was-looking-forward-to-something-moreintelligent/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/09/microsofts-80-billion-and-growing-yahoo-headache/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer

Sharing digital media start up has raised $2.5M

A couple of months ago a tiny start up called Treemo has taken its first round of funding in the $2.5M range. The funding was led by JK&B Capital. The company is a media sharing service for the Web and mobile phones service and like many other players in the space Treemo looks to appeal to musicians and artists and build online communities around them. The company recently held a contest with Sony featuring the band Velvet Revolver.

The site’s users can chose whether to allow advertising on video and audio pages and receive part of the revenue derived therein or decide to keep ads off their video pages. Company founder Brent Brookler says that revenue sharing will start once a critical mass is reached and that the split will probably be 50/50. Beyond advertising revenue, some sort of premium service level will be made available. There is also drag and drop file management, flash embedding and public or friends network permission levels.

Treemo has secured deals with a few US mobile carriers including AT&T.

The company plans to use the additional funding to help expand its entertainment partnerships as well as gain further distribution with mobile carriers. Known angel investors in the company include Intermix/MySpace co-founder Brett Brewer.

The company, known prior to launch as HyperMob, is made up of executives with extensive experience in mobile technology. The company’s founder is Brent Brookler.

We have consulted with Quantcast to see how popular the site is today and it turns out to be not popular one reaching less than 10,000 American visitors. The site is not quantified so that this traffic number might not be accurate.

More about Treemo

Treemo is an online and mobile community dedicated to sharing digital media, empowering self-expression, and transforming creativity into action. By offering an ever-evolving gallery of video, audio, photography, words, and visual art, Treemo inspires visitors to create their own digital expressions, and to share those creations with the world – on the web and on mobile phones.

The Treemo team is comprised of passionate individuals, pioneers in creating Internet and mobile applications with companies like Mobliss, MountainZone, MSN, AT&T Wireless, Cingular, McCaw, Lucent, and a wheelbarrow full of others. With our combined know-how, we’ve built a flexible, intuitive platform to usher in the golden age of ubiquitous broadband; an innovative infrastructure that enables everyone everywhere to broadcast their unique life experience to the whole wide world.

Treemo believes in the freedom of expression, the sanctity of diversity, and the brain-boggling possibilities inherent in new technology. We also have a yearning for learning, a desire to oblige our planetary obligation, and a drive to do our part for art. We believe in the Accountability Trifecta: people, planet, profits – in that order.

Let’s work together and harness all that creative energy. Let’s share stories, energize our communities, and preserve this perfect planet.

Treemo is located in Seattle, WA.

Similar companies include Mobango, Juice Wireless, PixSense and Zedge.net, which was rumored to have been acquired by a telecom company called IDT.

More

http://treemo.com/ 
http://blog.treemo.com/
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2003284456_btinterface02.html
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/09/treemo_transfor.php
http://mashable.com/2007/10/16/treemo-funding/
http://mashable.com/2007/07/10/treemo/
http://mashable.com/2006/12/17/zedgenet-acquired-by-idt/
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/284106_treemo08.html
http://mobilecrunch.com/2006/09/07/treemo-launching-today-new-mobile-content-network-opens-public-beta
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/09/07/treemo-to-build-a-home-for-concerned-multimedia-producers/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/treemo
http://www.quantcast.com/treemo.com
http://mashable.com/2006/09/07/treemo-launches-youtube-plus-photobucket-on-your-phone/

fix8 has taken $3M for animated avatars for your cam

A couple of months ago the tiny start up company fix8 has raised $3 million in a series A round of funding from Vickers Venture Group, which is a Singapore-based private equity firm. Fix8 is a web cam avatar community that lets you create animated avatars with your web cam by reading your expressions and gestures. When we took a look into their web site we have discovered tons of tools that you can play around with, including fix8’s wide selection of pre-made avatars and other accessories like voice manipulation, graphics and editing tools. Those clips can easily be embedded in your website or social networking profile, or use it for your instant messaging client like AOL, MSN, Skype or Yahoo Messenger.

Fix8 has recently teamed up with a couple of other companies like Pringo and Stickam. fix8 has also expanded its signature technology through a key partnership with Shanghai Media Group (SMG) offering Auditions(TV) to create a new world of Interactive TV where audiences can submit fix8 content for insertion into LIVE or taped programming. fix8 will further bridge the gap between communication devices with the launch of fix8 MOBILE.

Fix8 has also teamed up with Camfess, the premier site for online confessions. The ability to choose your own level of “incremental anonymity” and “confess” without anyone knowing who you are makes Camfess and Fix8 the “perfect fit.”

“Our investment in fix8 is in response to ever-increasing consumer demand for User Generated Content from instant messaging to video sharing and interactive TV,” said Managing Director, Jeffrey Chi, Vickers Venture Partners. “fix8 is well-positioned to lead virtual communications for UGC, and we look forward to supporting their expansion.”

In-Stat estimates global UGC revenues will grow from $80 million in 2006 to $1.6 billion by 2011. IDC estimates enterprise IM will grow from 40 million users in 2007 to more than 140 million by 2009, making it the fastest growing communications medium of all time.

“From camera-to-camera chats to webcasting, video blogging to interactive TV — fix8 allows consumers to unlock their creative desire for expression through a new world of unique, rich animated content,” said CEO, Linh Duy Tang. “We are pleased to be aligned with Vickers, which understands the significance and monetization of User-Generated Content, a phenomena that has broad international appeal.”

While we kept on researching around for more information we came across the following user review on the service. Gave it a try for fun. The idea is great but they have a way to go.

  1. It does not work if you have glasses on, and some people’s eyes do not work with them off.
  2. I did not play around long enough to have my body in the picture also, but from the image above it seems the avatar sits in front of the user. It needs to be placed around them so that when users turn their heads sideways, you can not see their head, but the side of the avatar’s head.
  3. It could not see my mouth moving unless I tilted my head backwards so as to get more light on my face (I have a fluorescent light above me so my room aint dark).

Fix8 is based in Sherman Oaks, CA and is a division of Mobinex, Inc.

More about fix8

Fix8 is a unique interactive communication application that allows people to customize their on-screen virtual appearance in real-time using avatar technology and creative accessories. Fix8 integrates human expression analysis and rendering capabilities, avatar/facial sculpting and animation technology, voice manipulation, and one click 3D face maker design capabilities in one package. Fix8 can create live streaming enhanced video to integrate into IM or other broadcast (such as TV) experiences, or record still images and fully-rendered videos.

While certain elements of the Fix8 product line can be found in the competitive landscape, the core technology to provide real-time animation in a consumer oriented application is unduplicated. Further, the specific feature set(s) offered in the Fix8 product line is unique and disruptive.

Fix8 differentiates itself from the competitive set by offering a unique easy to use application that incorporates avatar technology, 2D/3D facial accessories and flash animated accessories, voice masking and altering, and the ability to for a user to create their own individual set of avatars through use of photorealistic images all married with Fix8’s own IP that analyzes and renders human expressions so that the rich animated creations match the movements of the user in real-time for use in video and streaming.

Fix8 has coined the term user-generated reality to define the broad spectrum of creative self-expressive user-generated animation in real-time. Fix8 enhances the entertainment and enriches the communication experience of its clients’ customers by breathing new life into digital channels across multiple mediums.

The team

Linh Duy Tang, but you can call him “TANG”
President / CEO
 
Mr. Linh Tang is a senior executive (but he is really quite young at heart) with a demonstrated record of accomplishment in worldwide business operations. Tang’s vast experience in technology, operations and management make him the ideal fit to lead Fix8 on its mission to revolutionize virtual communication and expression. Tang is responsible for more than just Fix8’s vision and strategy; he is responsible for driving the “Innovation Bus” all the way to the user. A veteran of several startups with 15+ years in IT and consumer goods industries, Tang is – quite simply – THE MAN.
 
Chuning Ho, our very own voice of reason
Vice President of Operations
 
Ms. Chuning Ho brings over 17 years experience in application development, project deployment, executive management and business operations to the Fix8 team. As a founding member of the management team from initial start-up to present, Chuning knows where all the bodies are buried. Her main responsibilities include (but are not limited to) resources management, process standardization and communication strategy establishment and implementation. Chuning also manages to keep the entire team in check almost effortlessly. She is Fix8’s own secret weapon.
 
Scott Freeman, he sees dead people
Vice President of Finance
 
Mr. Scott Freeman brings extensive financial management experience to the Fix8 team. Scott did hard time with Deloitte & Touche, working in their entrepreneurial division, before he made his move to California Suncare, Inc. where he was instrumental in growing the company from $3M in revenue to $45M and assisted in its sale to a private equity firm for approximately $88M. Long story short, Scott knows how to make money and can see a deal well over a mile away. With a wife that is a successful interior designer, a daughter who is an artistic savant and a son who is a terror on the soccer field, Scott doesn’t have to work but he believes in Fix8 and, honestly, someone needs to keep Jake and Dinesh in check.
 
Dinesh Bhatia, proving that there are nice guys in sales
Vice President of Sales
 
Mr. Dinesh Bhatia brings direct experience in the wireless, television, Internet and software industries to the Fix8 team. Dinesh is a pretty smart guy; he graduated from Washington University with double degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering from Imperial College, London. Dinesh loves the disruptive creation and generation process of the software development community and is responsible for building strong partnerships to enhance the Fix8 user experience through added competitions and connectivity. In his spare time, he loves fiddling around with computers, gadgets, his saxophone and keyboards, photography, astronomy and spending time with his family. Dinesh also loves long walks on the beach – but this is not a personals ad – so let’s stop here.
 
Raphael Ko, it is rumored that he has brothers named Donatello, Leonardo and Michelangelo
Vice President of Engineering
 
Mr. Raphael Ko brings extensive experience in software development and information technologies management to the Fix8 team. Directly responsible for Fix8’s engineering activities, Raphael has drawn upon his 10+ years in software development as well as managing key projects in wireless applications, ERP, and IT services. Raphael’s love of photography and digital imagery fit right in with the Fix8 mission. Not much is known about Raphael’s past, in fact we can’t exactly put our finger on his start date either. One day he just suddenly appeared, fully formed and working (in all honesty) harder than the rest of us, so we let him stay. We still don’t know how he has the time to do what he does and still read all those issues of “Conan the Future Boy;” but some questions are best left unanswered.
 
Hao Zhou, Kevin Bacon stole the idea of six degrees from this guy
Vice President for Sales – China
 
Hao Zhou is a senior executive with an outstanding background in digital television and the new media industry. Shortly after learning how to crawl, Hao began his career as a system engineer, and quickly his work history grew to include sales and promotions of CATV, digital TV, broadband business, indoor and lift media and wireless value-add business. You know that guy who can do anything and has somehow managed to have successfully had every job available in the time it took you to pour your morning coffee? Yeah, well, Hao’s that guy. Hao’s ambition is what has brought him to the Fix8 team with one simple mission: Make Fix8 the next star shining over greater China. If anyone can do it, it’s certainly Hao. He’s our very own Hercules.

About Vickers Venture Partners.

The Vickers Financial Group is the venture capital arm of the Vickers Capital Group, an Asian investment house investing in alternative assets. Vickers Venture Partners is a leading venture capital firm focusing on early stage, high growth companies focused on Asian markets. The firm’s competency stems from the fact that its decision-makers have been part of and hence well-acquainted with the pulse of diverse domains.
 
The market

From what we were able to dig up it seems the space is extremely crowded. The competition include weblin.com, Meez.com, SecondLife, mypictr, gizmoz.com, miieditor, simpsonsmovie.com, gickr.com, Gravatar.com, imvu.com, Zwinky, digibody.com, Faketown, doppelme, SitePal, gaiaonline, imbee, myrl.com, Kaneva, blogoscoped.com, mojikan, frenzoo.com, clickbeurs.nl, Mr. Picassohead, whyrobbierocks.com, weeworld, and voki.com, among others.

More

http://fix8.com/
http://www.vickersfinancial.com/
http://mashable.com/2007/10/15/fix8-funded/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/15/fix8-raises-3-million/
http://mashable.com/2007/09/12/avatars/
http://mashable.com/2007/06/26/fix8-stickam/
http://webmaster.stickam.com/2007/06/fix8_partners_with_stickam_to.html
http://www.camfess.com/contents.php?cid=16
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/05/31/fix8-brings-computer-generated-animation-to-the-webcam/

Qunar, a Chinese travel search engine, raised $10 million

Chinese web 2.0 market is hot up to the point where large-scale financial institution like Lehman Brothers has jumped on a travel start-up. Qunar.com is an online travel search engine that we’ve just found out it has raised $10M in its 2nd round a couple of months ago. The investment in the company was led by Lehman Brothers Private Equity and was joined by return backers GSR Ventures and Mayfield Fund.

The company is based in Beijing, China and was launched in 2005 and means “where are you going?” in Mandarin Chinese. The company was founded by Douglas Khoo, CC Zhuang, and Fritz Demopoulos who had founded and sold the CSEEK search engine to News Corporation and founded and sold the Shawei.com portal to The Tom Group.

Essentially Qunar provides a price comparison engine that leads users to transactions. Qunar makes most of its income from advertising fees. That concept and business model is not something new on Internet but is perhaps in its infancy in the huge Chinese market and Qunar is trying to tap into it.

Qunar is said that it expects to break even consistently in 2008 and it may seek an IPO listing in 2010 or 2011, either in Hong Kong or on the Nasdaq in US.

The market

As from what we were able to dig up Qunar competes with Ctrip and eLong, but analysts predict that it will grow 40%-50% year-over-year for the next couple of years. Qunar has been developing partnerships to get into the Japanese and Korean markets. Under no doubt the major global players on the online travel market are companies like Expedia.com, Hotwire.com, Orbitz.com, Priceline.com, Travelocity.com, TripAdvisor, Kayak, Mobissimo, among others.

Travel remains the single largest component of e-commerce according to Forrester Research, a consulting firm in Cambridge, Mass. But despite the dominance of online travel agency heavyweights as the companies cited above, most users consult multiple Web sites when shopping online for travel. The average consumer visits 3.6 sites when shopping for an airline ticket online, according to PhoCusWright, a Sherman, CT-based travel technology firm. Yahoo claims 76% of all online travel purchases are preceded by some sort of search function, according to Malcolmson, director of product development for Yahoo Travel. The 2004 Travel Consumer Survey published Jupiter Research released an interesting fact that “nearly two in five online travel consumers say they believe that no one site has the lowest rates or fares.”

More about Qunar

Qunar.com was founded in early 2005 by three entrepreneurs with a number of years experience operating exclusively in the Asian region – Fritz Demopoulos, Douglas Khoo, and CC Zhuang.

With a technology and product development team based in Beijing and directly located next to Beijing University and Tsinghua University, Qunar.com has developed its own proprietary multi-language price comparison search engine in conjunction with these leading institutions.

Qunar.com represents a significant step in the development of the constantly changing, albeit rapidly growing online travel industry within the region. For the first time, through Qunar.com consumers can quickly, easily and in real-time compare virtually all available prices for air tickets, hotels, car rentals and tour packages. In other words, Qunar.com allows consumers to get the best choices and value.

Qunar.com is the market leader in Asia, and we look forward to meeting the needs of the fast growing travel industry.

Currently, Qunar.com searches almost 400 Chinese-language travel web sites. These search results provide our consumers with real-time pricing information and other descriptive details from more than 100 airlines and 10,000 hotels servicing mainland China.

As the recognized “new star” in the online travel industry, Qunar.com will continue to provide outstanding service and dramatically change the way consumers search and purchase travel services.

The Company’s founders

Frederick “Fritz” Demopoulos has been involved in the Chinese media, internet and wireless industries for over seven years. He is currently a co-founder of Qunar.com. In addition to these current entrepreneurial business activities, Fritz has been an advisor to an array of well-known Chinese and international media companies including Titan Sports, Hai Run Media Group and InterActive Corp. Previously, Fritz was also interim head of business development at Netease.com. He joined Netease in 2001, and was part of the management team that oversaw a period of significant growth for the company, which eventually became the NASDAQ’s best performing equity in 2002. In 1999 Fritz co-founded and became CEO of Shawei.com. Financially backed by Intel Capital, Softbank and IDG, Shawei grew to become China’s largest sports internet portal. Shawei was subsequently acquired by Hutchison Whampoa affiliate The TOM Group in 2000. Fritz began his career in China in 1997 as Business Development Manager for The News Corporation Limited. He was actively involved in a range of initiatives with various News Corp-affiliated companies including ChinaByte.com, STAR TV, NDS and Twentieth Century Fox. A native of Los Angeles, Fritz was educated at UCLA, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Karls-Ruprecht University and Cal State Fullerton. He is an avid golfer, tennis player and supporter of the Arsenal Gunners of the English Premier League.

Zhuang Chenchao “CC” is a recognized expert in internet technologies. He is currently a co-founder of Qunar.com and leads the company’s technology and product development. Prior to Qunar, CC was a member of the Systems Architecture team at the World Bank and was based in Washington DC. At the World Bank he was instrumental in developing a 130-country, 25-language intranet that was awarded “Best Intranet” by Nielsen Norman in 2003. Prior to relocating to Washington, CC was a founding employee and CTO of Shawei, China’s leading sports portal which was acquired by The Tom Group in 2000. In 1998 while still at university, he also co-founded Shanghai Wei Bo Technologies, a first generation text search engine. Shanghai Wei Bo secured early stage investment from IDG, and the company was eventually acquired by ChinaByte, an affiliate of The News Corporation. A native of Shanghai, CC was educated at Beijing University where he received a degree in Electrical Engineering. Among other pursuits, CC enjoys developing mathematical trading models and investing in the stock market.

Douglas Khoo has been involved in both the interactive and traditional advertising and marketing communications business for almost 20 years. He is currently a co-founder of Qunar.com and leads the company’s sales, marketing and business development activities. In addition to Qunar, Douglas is also a co-founder and investor in a range of online marketing service firms, including online advertising agency OneXeno and search engine optimization (SEO) firm Pixel Direct. Douglas is also Asia Director of Unicast, an internet advertising company specializing in rich media that was recently acquired by Viewpoint. Prior to these activities Douglas was a co-founder and Director of Shawei.com. Before pursuing these entrepreneurial opportunities, Douglas had a number of senior management positions during a 15-year career with the WPP group of companies, including Ogilvy & Mather, J. Walter Thompson, M-Digital and Mindshare. Notably he was responsible for Asia for building M-Digital, the online media buying and planning arm of WPP. Additionally, Douglas was GM of China for Mindshare. At WPP he was assigned to work in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. A native of Malaysia, Douglas earned a diploma in architecture from Jaya Institute of Technology. In his spare time Douglas is an enthusiastic golfer and traveler, and an avid reader of Booker Prize winners.
More

http://www.qunar.com
http://venturebeat.com/2007/11/21/china-roundup-youku-facebook-and-qunar/
http://www.thealarmclock.com/mt/archives/2007/11/chinese_online.html
http://www.mobissimo.com/
http://www.kayak.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travel_search
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/10/yahoo-travel-chases-kayak-with-farechase/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/20/breaking-kayak-raises-196-million-buys-rival-sidestep/
http://www.tomgroup.com/eng/

 

Revver, the video-revenue sharing site finally sells out, but the price is not hefty

The site best known as the first video site that started to split the ad revenue with publishers and video creators and producers on a 50/50 basis is being reported sold. The troubled video site Revver was bought by Brad Greenspan’s LiveUniverse for what is rumored on several tech blogs to be under $5 million. No more public information at this hour is available but the price seems quite low taking into consideration the huge amount of money the company has taken so far. Revver is known to have raised $12.7 million from Comcast, Turner, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Bessemer Venture Partners, Draper Richards and William Randolph Hearst III. Checking on Revver’s blog gave us no further details on the deal.

Earlier this month Revver was put up for sale where the price tag was set to be $1.5 million or less in cash and debt assumption. CNET was among the first media to report on the potential deal between LiveUniverse and Revver, though they did say the deal had fallen apart.

A person from inside the company has commented on the deal that way: “I wouldn’t say anyone got rich, but everybody was happy.”

Many independent creators still prefer the service, though web video stars Ze Frank, Ask a Ninja, Lonelygirl15, and Invisible Engine have discontinued using it as their main platform.

Perhaps everything boils down to the simple fact it is pretty hard to monetize video site. Even though the traffic is perhaps playing little to no role for Revver’s business model it is interesting to note their visitors are not that much – below 1M unique visitors per month as reported on Quantcast.

The Revver team has indicated they plan to work under the new ownership, and no lay off plan has been announced for the video sharing company at present.

The buying company LiveUniverse is probably most popular with the fact it has been founded by one of the founders of MySpace – Brad Greenspan. With over 55M monthly unique visitors, LiveUniverse is one of the world’s largest online entertainment networks. They operate several successful and popular websites across three core verticals: Video, Social Networking & Music. LiveVideo is one of their sites, which about a year ago instigated a scandal on YouTube when it reportedly paid top YouTube users to come to its platform. LiveUniverse founder Brad Greenspan, who was involved with MySpace early on, is perhaps best known for his lawsuits protesting the company’s sale to News Corp.

Additionally in 2006, Greenspan also initiated a lawsuit and activism site against his former company, MySpace, calling attention to the fact they were censoring widget makers and software service providers using MySpace as a development platform.

More about Revver

Revver is a video-sharing platform built the way the internet really works. We support the free and unlimited sharing of media. Our unique technology tracks and monetizes videos as they spread virally across the web, so no matter where your creativity travels, you benefit.

Revver is also the viral video network that pays. We connect video makers and sharers with sponsors in a free and open marketplace that rewards them for doing what they do best.

Revver is committed to the artist. You have something to say and we built our network to empower you to say it.

How does it work?

  1. Upload your video.
  2. We pair your video with a targeted advertisement.
  3. Share your video across the web. The more people see it, the more money you can make.
  4. We split the ad revenue with you 50/50.
  5. Sharers earn money too! Help spread Revver videos and earn 20% of the ad revenue. The remaining money is split 50/50 between the creator of the video and Revver.

We’ve built all sorts of cool and easy sharing tools to help you make your work go viral and earn more money. Share and shared alike. Can you feel the love?

Revver API
Attention developers! Want to build your own video-sharing site like Revver.com? You can use our API to do it. The Revver API includes all the tools you need to create your own video portal complete with user accounts, uploading, sharing tools and access to the full Revver library of videos. Revver covers the bandwidth and shares all ad revenue with you and the video makers.

More

http://revver.com/
http://liveuniverse.com/
http://mashable.com/2008/02/14/liveuniverse-buys-revver/
http://newteevee.com/2008/02/14/liveuniverse-buys-revver-for-more-than-a-song/
http://blog.revver.com/
http://mashable.com/2008/02/06/revver-for-sale/
http://www.contentinople.com/author.asp?section_id=429&doc_id=142633
http://nalts.wordpress.com/2007/02/07/livevideo-vs-youtube-2/
http://mashable.com/2006/11/02/myspace-founder-sues-news-corp-over-censorship/
http://livevideo.com/
http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9865731-7.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-20
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Randolph_Hearst_III
http://www.dfj.com/
http://www.bvp.com/
http://www.draperrichards.com/
http://www.quantcast.com/revver.com

InfoSpace has sold its mobile unit for $135M to Motricity, the second prepares to go public

One of the Internet’s oldest companies InfoSpace is probably not performing well since they are largely selling out their businesses. With its switchboard and local directory business having already been sold to Idearc for reportedly $225M, what’s left of InfoSpace was the mobile services division, which serves up managed services infrastructure for mobile carriers. This involves the technology needed for mobile search, storefronts, messaging services and portals. This sale appears to leave InfoSpace with only its Dogpile and other desktop search properties, which have a very small market share. One can’t help but think that CEO Jim Volker and his team are selling off the company piece by piece — because that’s literally what seems to be happening.

InfoSpace Inc. is publicly traded company on NASDAQ with $346M market capitalization where the 52 week high / low is $27.76 and $8.14 respectively. The revenues have dropped to $140.54M for 2007 from $153.80M in 2006. During the first weeks of the current year the InfoSpace’s shares have slightly grown up on 4Q results rise from year ago on the assets sale.

A couple of months ago Motricity, a mobile content solutions service, has acquired the mobile services business unit of InfoSpace for what is said to be $135M in an all cash transaction. From what we have found out it seems the acquisition is being funded largely by Carl Icahn and Advanced Equities since the company has then announced the completion of its $185M a round of funding, which was led by Advanced Equities, Inc., Carl Icahn and New Enterprise Associates, Inc.

Ryan Wuerch is said will stay on as Chairman and CEO of Motricity and Steve Selman, the current executive vice president of InfoSpace’s mobile services business unit, will be appointed as President, Chief Operating Officer of Motricity. With the deal, Motricity will gain access to InfoSpace’s clients, which already includes AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, Alltel, and more.

“Two of the best companies in the industry are now being integrated to create the premier provider of mobile platform infrastructure,” said Ryan Wuerch, chairman and CEO of Motricity. “We have unparalleled experience in mobile platform development, systems integration, innovation and building world class technology with a proven ability to scale – powering the mobile marketplace including the largest operators and media companies in North America and Europe.”

The acquisition expands Motricity’s customer base to include 11 of the top 13 carriers in North America including AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, Bell Mobility, Tracfone and Alltel. Motricity’s managed service infrastructure powers storefronts and communities for 9 of the top 13 carriers in North America and has generated over $1 billion of gross content sales to date. Motricity now powers 5 of the top 6 carrier “start screens” with its mobile portal product which will support billions of page views this year alone. The transaction enhances Motricity’s FuelTM platform, which is a unified suite of solutions that includes content storefront, portal, search, community and messaging services. In addition, it expands Motricity’s international presence by adding offices in the U.K., Paris, and the Netherlands and leading customers throughout Europe including Virgin UK, KPN and Vodafone.

Experts are saying the company is in preparation to go public at near future and such consolidation of their core business in terms of more mobile content, more carriers signed up, more revenues and the reach is perhaps the key towards that direction.

More about InfoSpace Inc.

InfoSpace, Inc. [NASDAQ:INSP] s a developer of tools and technologies that assist consumers with finding content and information on the Internet or mobile phone. The Company uses its technology, including metasearch, to power its own branded Websites and provide private-label online search and directory services to distribution partners. In addition, its mobile applications provide programming and sales opportunities to the Company’s mobile carrier partners, while providing consumers with relevant mobile functionality and mobile media content, including ringtones, graphics and games. The Company operates through two units: Online, which comprises the Company’s search and directory properties, as well as its private label distribution service, and Mobile services, including portal, storefront, messaging and mobile search. InfoSpace maintains facilities in the Los Angeles, California; Westborough, Massachusetts; Woking and Eastleigh, United Kingdom, and Papendrecht, The Netherlands.

Our mission is to make the discovery of information faster, easier, and more relevant. We’ve been doing it for over 10 years. Now, with more than 100 distribution partners and proven relationships with Google, Yahoo!, Ask, and Windows Live Search, InfoSpace is uniquely equipped to be a leader in the rapidly growing Internet search market. In fact, the recent sale of our Mobile and Directory divisions has solidified our focus and leadership solely in the online space.

Better Results with Metasearch Technology
By delivering best-of-the-best results from the Internet’s top search engines, our metasearch technology separates us from competitors and provides an experience that users prefer. Research backs it up.

For the second consecutive year, our leading metasearch site, Dogpile, has been awarded “Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Internet Users with Primary Search Engines/Functions.” And when users are presented with more meaningful information, they’re more likely to click a result—which leads to increased revenue for advertisers and listings partners.

We have established offerings in two different areas:

Consumer Products
Our four branded search sites include our flagship metasearch engine, Dogpile, as well as MetaCrawler, WebCrawler, and WebFetch.

Our metasearch technology delivers end users the most relevant results on the Web by searching more than 12 of the top search engines, including Google, Yahoo!, Ask, Windows Live Search, and more.

Business Solutions
We provide customized metasearch solutions, downloadable toolbars, and portal services for destination sites, Internet service providers, and international news organizations.

Our private-label solutions help partners quickly and cost-effectively tap into the profit potential of search and online local advertising by providing search capabilities and services under their own brand.

More about Motricity

Motricity is a leading provider of mobile content services and solutions that enable consumers to receive the right content at the right time, every time. The company’s offerings span the content delivery chain, enabling compelling end user experiences and delivering profitable and reliable mobile content offerings for mobile operators, media and entertainment companies, mobile specialists and more. Motricity’s customers include 11 of the top 13 carriers in North America and 20 of the top television networks with marquee partners such as MTV, BET, Turner, AT&T, Alltel, Bell Mobility and others. Products and services range from mobile portals and storefronts to messaging aggregation with access to more than 200 million mobile subscribers.

Motricity now emerges as the only company with proven and scalable offerings across multiple key mobile content solution categories, including: storefronts, search, managed-web, portals, messaging, content aggregation, marketing campaign management and community solutions. By offering these world-class services, Motricity is able to create compelling user experiences and deliver profitable mobile content services to companies seeking to leverage the emerging mobile channel, interact with consumers and build brand loyalty.

In addition, Motricity operates a network of consumer Web sites that offer applications for mobile devices, including: eReader.com, PalmGear.com, Pocketgear.com, Smartphone.net, SymbianGear.com and Mobile2day.de, and powers similar web sites for customers such as the Sony Ericsson application shop, the Palm Software Connection and the PalmSource shop.

The company is headquartered in Durham, N.C., with offices in Bellevue, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Munich and the Netherlands.

Motricity was formed in 2001 by Ryan Wuerch and has since become a leading provider of mobile content services and solutions.

In 2001, Wuerch founded Nashville, Tennessee-based PowerByHand, which would soon become the leading global provider of information, entertainment and education content for handheld and mobile devices. PowerByHand acquired a number of leading commercial Internet sites, including PalmGear.com in October 2002, eReader.com in September 2003 and PocketGear.com and Smartphone.net in March 2004.

In April, 2004, PowerByHand merged with Pinpoint Networks, a provider of software and services for the management and delivery of mobile data services, based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The new company combined PowerByHand’s consumer reach and strong content and developer partnerships with Pinpoint’s carrier-grade technology and international wireless carrier experience, creating the market leader for integrated mobile content solutions.

In October, 2004, the company changed its name to Motricity and announced the acquisition of European mobile content portal Mobile2Day.de. The Mobile2Day.de acquisition complemented Motricity’s content base of more than 60,000 applications by adding an additional 6,000 Symbian applications and localized cross-platform content for the European market while expanding our network of online mobile content storefronts. Throughout 2005, Motricity generated tremendous momentum and excitement, announcing a number of major customer and financial wins while also expanding globally and successfully entering new markets. In October 2004, Motricity closed $27 million in venture funding led by Silicon Valley-based Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV).

In July, 2005, Motricity closed its second major private funding round by collecting $30 million from Chicago-based Advanced Equities Inc., as well as such existing investors as Technology Crossover Ventures, New Enterprise Associates and Intel Capital.

In August, 2005, Motricity announced the acquisition of M7 Networks, the leading provider of advanced wireless services that connect wireless operators, content providers and end users around mobile content based communities, such as games and music. This acquisition strengthened Motricity’s mission to accelerate the adoption of mobile content worldwide.

In April, 2006, Motricity secured its third major round of funding of $40 million to fuel the company’s aggressive expansion in the mobile content industry. This third round was led by Advanced Equities Inc. with participation from other existing investors including New Enterprise Associates and Technology Crossover Ventures.

In July, 2006, Motricity announced the acquisition of GoldPocket Wireless, the leading provider of mobile technology solutions for media and entertainment companies. GoldPocket extended Motricity’s content distribution capabilities and enhances Motricity’s award-winning Fuel™ platform with a distribution gateway that connects more than 200 million subscribers and a mobile marketing campaign manager that has been chosen by over 20 television networks and 45 media companies to power large scale interactive campaigns with real-time requirements. The deal gave Motricity an unmatched customer footprint and positions the company as the leading provider of on-deck and off-deck solutions for mobile operators and media & entertainment companies.

In August, 2006, Motricity received an additional $32 million in funding, led by Advanced Equities Inc. with participation from other existing investors. In February 2007, Motricity received $50 million in equity funding from Carl Icahn. This brings the company’s total funding to over $200 million.

In December, 2007, the company acquired the Seattle-based mobile services business unit of InfoSpace, Inc. (NASDAQ: INSP), a leading developer of mobile technologies and infrastructure services and raised more than $180 million to complete the all cash transaction.

The acquisition expands Motricity’s customer base to include 11 of the top 13 carriers in North America including AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, Bell Mobility, Tracfone and Alltel. Motricity’s managed service infrastructure powers storefronts and communities for 9 of the top 13 carriers in North America and has generated over $1 billion of gross content sales to date. Motricity powers 5 of the top 6 carrier “start screens” with its mobile portal product which will support billions of page views this year alone. The transaction enhances Motricity’s FuelTM platform, which is a unified suite of solutions that includes content storefront, portal, search, community and messaging services. In addition, it expands Motricity’s international presence by adding leading customers throughout Europe including Virgin UK, KPN and Vodafone.

Motricity has received numerous awards and constant recognition honoring the commitment and leadership that the company continues to exhibit, including:

  • 2007 North Carolina Technology Association (NCTA) Private Company of the Year
  • 2006 GSM Association Award for Best Service Delivery Platform
  • 2006 Mobile Entertainment’s Award for Best Content Service Delivery Platform
  • 2005 Frost & Sullivan Award for Premium Mobile Content Platform of the Year
  • 2005 Red Herring 100 Private Companies of North America

Today, Motricity has the support of strong institutional and strategic investors and the industry’s leading customers, including CBS, Turner, CNN, Fox, the NBA, AT&T, Sprint, Alltel, Virgin Mobile, Leap, Mobilcom, BET, Palm and Sony Ericsson.

More

http://motricity.com/
http://www.motricity.com/press/releases.php?rID=07_1228_motricity
http://www.infospaceinc.com/
http://mashable.com/2007/10/15/motricity-infospace/
http://searchengineland.com/071015-132510.php
http://www.idearc.com/
http://searchengineland.com/070917-073055.php
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=NASDAQ:INSP
http://www.forbes.com/markets/feeds/afx/2008/02/06/afx4622765.html
http://moneycentral.msn.com/inc/news/providerredir.asp?feed=AP&date=20080206&id=8148999
http://stocks.us.reuters.com/stocks/fullDescription.asp?rpc=66&symbol=INSP.O
http://www.advancedequities.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Icahn

Yahoo makes an acquisition of its own – the online video platform Maven Networks

Undeterred by the threat of a hostile takeover Microsoft imposed over them a couple of weeks ago Yahoo seems to have completed an acquisition of its own Tuesday by buying online video service Maven Networks Inc. for $160 million.

The deal marks Yahoo’s latest attempt to expand its online advertising network and more concrete its online video advertising in particular. Yahoo plans to use Maven’s technology to host video for media partners and incorporate Maven’s video-ad insertion technology into its overall advertising platform.

The talks to buy Cambridge, Mass.-based Maven began before Microsoft announced its bid Feb. 1, said Tim Cadogan, Yahoo’s senior vice president of marketing products. Maven helps television and movie studios find Web sites to show their videos and manage the accompanying advertisements. The six-year-old startup works with a wide range of media outlets, including CBS Sports, Gannett Co., News Corp., Hearst Corp. and Sony Pictures.

“We think video is going to become the third leg of the advertising stool,” said Cadogan. Ads tied to search requests is currently the Internet’s biggest moneymaker, followed by so-called display ads featuring photos, illustrations and other images.

As of December, Yahoo held a 3.4 percent share of the U.S. online video market, lagging far behind Google, whose ownership of industry leader YouTube.com gave it nearly one-third of the market, according to comScore Inc.

Yahoo plans to retain Maven’s roughly 70 employees even as it completes plans to lay off 1,000 workers in other divisions as part of a plan announced two days before Microsoft’s bid.

More about Maven Networks

Maven Networks is an online video platform provider with end-to-end video syndication, content management and advertising solution. Maven helps media companies create, distribute and profit from direct-to-consumer Internet TV channels and networks. The Maven Internet TV Platform(TM) is used by organizations such as CanWest, CBS Sports, CBC, CNET, Gannett, The Financial Times, Fox Business Network, Fox News, Hearst, MediaNews Group, Ogilvy, Scripps Networks, Sony BMG, Sony Pictures Television, and TV Guide.

The company is based in Cambridge, MA. Maven had some high-profile investors, including Accel Partners‘ Jim Breyer, who also is a board member and large investor in Facebook, Walmart Stores, Inc.  and Marvel Entertainment. Accel is known to have been investing heavly in video for almost 20 years now. The firm’s more popular participations include Macromedia, Real Networks, among others. Current investments include user-generated video-sharing site MetaCafe, peer-to-peer file-sharing service BitTorrent and Brightcove.

The Market

Video advertising is promising to be huge opportunity online and the sector is extremely competitive with new players entering every couple of weeks. Venture capitals also do think the online video advertising holds the chances to be the next big thing on Internet to bring billions of revenues in and are pouring big money into start-ups with the hope they come up to the groundbreaking technology that might shake the sector and make them the huge ROI.   

No matter what standard for video ads the sector might adopt – pre-roll ads, mid-roll adspost-roll ads, watermark ads, viral ads or overlay ads, the undisputed leader remains Google’s YouTube with its huge number of eyeballs. That’s why the smaller players are focusing not on the reach but on different approaches and technologies to more effectively serve, track and measure these video ads. The video ads are in their infancy on Web and there is plenty of room for innovation and growth and all those small start-up companies hold their good chances for success.

Some companies, as we know them, include BlackArrow, BrightRoll, XillianTVPodaddies, VMIX and MeeVee. BrightRoll video ad network itself has raises $5 Million while VMIX, yet another video network company has also raised a whopping amount of money $16.5M to expand its business. Other video advertising players include Revver, VideoEgg’s TheEggNetwork, ScanScout, Adap.tv, AdBrite’s InVideo platform, BroadRamp and Blinkx.

eMarketer predicts online video advertising to nearly double in 2008 to $1.3 billion and $4.3B by 2011, but no one’s really nailed a scalable ad platform for video. However, Google’s been quietly testing their own system and there are a bunch of other startups tackling it as well.

Meanwhile the Microsoft / Yahoo saga is continuing.

The common expectations of the most likely outcome from the situation are that Microsoft is going to increase its bid to as much as $35 thus effectively raising their bid to $50B.

“We think (Microsoft) will have to enhance its offer if it wants to complete a deal,” wrote Bill Miller, a respected fund manager for Legg Mason Inc., which owns more than 80 million Yahoo shares.

Like many other industry analysts, Miller predicted Yahoo ultimately will end up in Microsoft’s clutches.

“We think it will be hard for (Yahoo) to come up with alternatives that deliver more value than (Microsoft) will ultimately be willing to pay,” he wrote.

Miller also wrote that he has already met with Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, and spoken to Jerry Yang, Yahoo’s CEO and co-founder, to share his views.

Microsoft, on the other side, so far has indicated it’s not budging from its original offer, calling the proposal “full and fair.” Analysts believe the tense mating dance will last at least a few more weeks.

Yahoo has been discussing a search advertising partnership with the market leader, Google Inc., as a way to boost its profits and thwart Microsoft’s bid. But a deal between Google and Yahoo would face significant antitrust hurdles because it would meld the two largest search advertising networks, causing more analysts to conclude an alliance is unlikely.

On the other side it seems that News Corp. is going to enter the bidding war for Yahoo! despite some analyses from earlier this week predicting News Corp. is facing hard time to find enough money to accomplish this major deal. The current debt markets in US were to be blamed.

Today we have found on multiple news sources online that Yahoo and News Corp. are in the middle of series of discussions. The potential deal structure would spin off Fox Interactive Media (MySpace, IGN, Scout Media, Photobucket, Fox Sports, AmericanIdol.com, Flektor, Ksolo; investments in Hulu, Simply Hired and Snocap) into Yahoo, along with a big cash injection from News Corp. and an unnamed private equity fund. The total investment would be valued in the $15B range.

Yahoo would be valued at somewhere around $50 billion before the transaction, north of Microsoft’s $44.6 billion bid. That would leave News Corp., plus the private equity group, with more than 20% of the combined entity. They’d be the largest single stockholder and effectively in control of the combined Yahoo/FIM entity and their nearly 150 billion monthly page views. That amount of traffic/reach would put the combined entity on the globe’s second sport after Google and before Microsoft’s web properties.

In related news Bradley Horowitz, head of Yahoo’s Advanced Technology Division has accepted a position with Google, and have left Yahoo for good. He will be working with Joe Kraus, director of product management and head of Google’s OpenSocial initiative. Bradley joined Yahoo in May 2004 as Director of Multimedia Search, and later worked on Yahoo Desktop Search and the Yahoo Toolbar. He has also played a key role in getting the Flickr acquisition done.

More

http://www.maven.net/
http://www.maven.net/blog/
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080213/ap_on_hi_te/yahoo_acquisition_8;_ylt=AkolBf3dTEHaJIbfAWroBXbZa7gF
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/31/rumor-yahoo-to-announce-large-video-acquisition-today/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/12/yahoo-confirms-maven-networks-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/12/yahoo-exec-bails-bradley-horowitz-leaves-for-google/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/12/yahoo-and-news-corp-continue-marathon-discussions-possible-bid-to-counter-microsoft/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/2/yahoo__news_corp__deal_still_in_the_works_
http://yhoo.client.shareholder.com/press/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=293433
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/maven-networks
http://venturebeat.com/2008/02/12/qa-with-jim-breyer-maven-networks-online-video-opportunities-and-facebook/
http://venturebeat.com/2008/01/31/yahoo-buying-maven-networks-to-serve-online-video-ads-for-big-media/
http://www.elatable.com/blog/about/

And here is what Microsoft has to tell Yahoo!

The saga continues. Following the firm “NO” of Yahoo as of yesterday, Microsoft has put up today an official press release responding to the Yahoo!’s NO with “Reiterates Full and Fair Proposal for Microsoft-Yahoo! Combination”

REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 11 — Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) today issued the following statement in response to the announcement by Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) that its Board of Directors has rejected Microsoft’s previously announced proposal to acquire Yahoo!:

It is unfortunate that Yahoo! has not embraced our full and fair proposal to combine our companies. Based on conversations with stakeholders of both companies, we are confident that moving forward promptly to consummate a transaction is in the best interests of all parties. We are offering shareholders superior value and the opportunity to participate in the upside of the combined company. The combination also offers an increasingly exciting set of solutions for consumers, publishers and advertisers while becoming better positioned to compete in the online services market. A Microsoft-Yahoo! combination will create a more effective company that would provide greater value and service to our customers. Furthermore, the combination will create a more competitive marketplace by establishing a    compelling number two competitor for Internet search and online advertising. The Yahoo! response does not change our belief in the strategic and financial merits of our proposal. As we have said previously, Microsoft reserves the right to pursue all necessary steps to ensure that Yahoo!’s shareholders are provided with the opportunity to realize the value inherent in our proposal.

On February 1, 2008, Microsoft announced a proposal to acquire all the outstanding shares of Yahoo! common stock for per share consideration of $31 representing a total equity value of approximately $44.6 billion and a 62 percent premium above the closing price of Yahoo! common stock based on the closing prices of the stocks of both companies on Jan. 31, 2008, the last day of trading prior to Microsoft’s announcement. Microsoft’s proposal would allow the Yahoo! shareholders to elect to receive cash or a fixed number of shares of Microsoft common stock, with the total consideration payable to Yahoo! shareholders consisting of one-half cash and one-half Microsoft common stock.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

This communication does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities or a solicitation of any vote or approval. This material is not a substitute for the prospectus/proxy statement Microsoft Corporation would file with the SEC if an agreement between Microsoft Corporation and Yahoo! Inc. is reached or any other documents which Microsoft Corporation may file with the SEC and send to Yahoo! shareholders in connection with the proposed transaction. INVESTORS AND SECURITY HOLDERS OF YAHOO! INC. ARE URGED TO READ ANY SUCH DOCUMENTS FILED WITH THE SEC CAREFULLY IN THEIR ENTIRETY WHEN THEY BECOME AVAILABLE BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROPOSED TRANSACTION.

Investors and security holders will be able to obtain free copies of any documents filed with the SEC by Microsoft Corporation through the web site maintained by the SEC. Free copies of any such documents can also be obtained by directing a request to Investor Relations Department, Microsoft Corporation, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, Washington 98052-6399.

Microsoft Corporation and its directors and executive officers and other persons may be deemed to be participants in the solicitation of proxies in respect of the proposed transaction. Information regarding Microsoft Corporation’s directors and executive officers is available in its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended June 30, 2007, which was filed with the SEC on August 8, 2007, and its proxy statement for its 2007 annual meeting of shareholders, which was filed with the SEC on September 29, 2007. Other information regarding the participants in a proxy solicitation and a description of their direct and indirect interests, by security holdings or otherwise, will be contained in any proxy statement filed in connection with the proposed transaction.

Statements in this release that are “forward-looking statements” are based on current expectations and assumptions that are subject to risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially because of factors such as Microsoft Corporation’s ability to achieve the synergies and value creation contemplated by the proposed transaction, Microsoft Corporation’s ability to promptly and effectively integrate the businesses of Yahoo! Inc. and Microsoft Corporation, the timing to consummate the proposed transaction and any necessary actions to obtain required regulatory approvals, and the diversion of management time on transaction-related issues. For further information regarding risks and uncertainties associated with Microsoft Corporation’s business, please refer to the “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Risk Factors” sections of Microsoft Corporation’s SEC filings, including, but not limited to, its annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, copies of which may be obtained by contacting Microsoft Corporation’s Investor Relations department at (800) 285-7772 or at Microsoft Corporation’s website at http://www.microsoft.com/msft.

All information in this communication is as of the date hereof. Microsoft Corporation undertakes no duty to update any forward-looking statement to conform the statement to actual results or changes in the company’s expectations.

While reading over different blogs and news stories we came across an interesting view.

Some experts do not accept the fact that people think Yahoo has little to no options left but to accept Microsoft’s offer. The first group says it is not true – Yahoo is having plenty of options to pursue.

It seems like the most obvious “option” would be for Yahoo to ship great products and radically improve the experience of its customers — this is essentially the process the executive team was busy with before this unsolicited bid came on the scene.

While it may be hard for some to imagine that Yahoo would suddenly get its groove back, Apple fought back from a much worse position (remember $6/share?). For all the posturing on both sides, the real underlying question is which ownership configuration would create the most value for customers and communities on a long term run. It would be tragic for a myopic push for short-term shareholder value (and/or acquisition price) to eclipse that more fundamental discussion.
If Yahoo is “massively undervalued,” it’s because its board believes that an independent company has much more long term potential than a combined company would. Microsoft clearly disagrees, and on a financial basis, their “premium” looks impressive, but imagine the world if Microsoft had swooped in and purchased Apple when they were hurting at $6/share… Would that be a better world?

That’s the question we should all be asking — not what sale price is fair.

On the other hand other people claim that Yahoo’s execs had enough time to prove themselves. That said the similarity with Apple ends at comparison of share price. Apple grew their customer base as a result of their actions and that ultimately led to their resurgence. Even though it wasn’t long ago, it was a different time, different place, different environment, and ultimately different people.

If there is a clear monetization plan for products that bring value over what MS is offering, then the Yahoo team should bring that front and center. It sounds as though the Yahoo exec team is saying “just give us more time, and we’ll get it figured out”.

Given how long they’ve been in play, I think the confidence from shareholders in this team to execute on a plan that brings more value than a MS merger is a tough sell right now.

If one takes a look from different perspective if Yahoo! thinks for itself of being “massively undervalued” then it turns out that Yahoo thinks the market was wrong. Some are even going further by asking is Yahoo! arrogant? ‘Massively undervalued’ – Compared to what? Are they that arrogant that they claim that the ‘actual value’ of the company is ANYTHING else than the value assigned by the stock market? It is pretty ballsy to claim that a bid 30% over market value is an under valuation and could basically mean ‘Our company is worth more but we are so bad at making the value visible that no one understands it’

Some of these thoughts were shared with the public on one of the popular tech blogs and credits were to be given if the commentators were not anonymous.

More

http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/11/yahoo%e2%80%99s-official-response-to-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer-no/
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/080211/aqm241.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=yhoo
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?d=t&s=msft
http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/09/magazines/fortune/yahoo_rejects_bid_report.fortune/?postversion=2008020914
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fffc1006-d5e8-11dc-bbb2-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1
http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2008/02/05/yahoo-the-five-scenario-analysis/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/08/yahoo-board-to-determine-fate-of-company-today/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/02/is-google-going-to-be-the-winner-from-the-microsoft-yahoo-deal/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/04/google%e2%80%99s-chief-legal-officer-vs-microsoft%e2%80%99s-general-counsel/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/01/yes-we-were-right-yahoo-was-seriously-undervalued-microsoft-offers-446b-for-the-company-a-62-premium-over-their-value-from-yesterday/
http://www.techmeme.com/080201/p78#a080201p78
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_8149194
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2008/tc2008021_885192.htm?chan=rss_topStories_ssi_5
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/02/AR2008020200568.html
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/02/MN8OUQGNB.DTL&type=tech
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080201/microsoft-to-yahoo-two-days-to-respond-or-else/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/hold-everything-we-may-get-another-yhoo-bidder.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/what-would-a-combined-microsoft-yahoo-look-like/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/ballmers-internal-e-mail-to-the-troops-explaining-the-yahoo-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/02/news-corp-scrambles-to-bid-for-yahoo/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/microsoft-yahoo-combined-financials.html
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/08/one-after-another-the-potential-competitive-bidders-for-yahoo-drop-off-is-yahoo-going-to-surrender-to-microsoft/
http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=206107168
http://mashable.com/2008/02/10/yahoo-aol-merger/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/10/wait-yahoo-and-aol-i-was-looking-forward-to-something-moreintelligent/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/09/microsofts-80-billion-and-growing-yahoo-headache/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer

Yahoo’s official response to Microsoft’s offer: NO!

After we reported the strong NO of Yahoo! to Microsoft over the weekend (Saturday) here is the official response of the Yahoo!’s board of directors.

Yahoo! Board of Directors Says Microsoft’s Proposal Substantially Undervalues Yahoo!

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Feb 11, 2008 — Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO), a leading global Internet company, today said the Yahoo! Board of Directors has carefully reviewed Microsoft’s unsolicited proposal with Yahoo!’s management team and financial and legal advisors and has unanimously concluded that the proposal is not in the best interests of Yahoo! and our stockholders.

After careful evaluation, the Board believes that Microsoft’s proposal substantially undervalues Yahoo! including our global brand, large worldwide audience, significant recent investments in advertising platforms and future growth prospects, free cash flow and earnings potential, as well as our substantial unconsolidated investments. The Board of Directors is continually evaluating all of its strategic options in the context of the rapidly evolving industry environment and we remain committed to pursuing initiatives that maximize value for all stockholders.

Goldman, Sachs & Co., Lehman Brothers and Moelis & Company are acting as financial advisors to Yahoo!. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is acting as legal advisor to Yahoo!, and Munger Tolles & Olson LLP is acting as counsel to the outside directors of Yahoo!.

About Yahoo! Inc.

Yahoo! Inc. is a leading global Internet brand and one of the most trafficked Internet destinations worldwide. Yahoo! is focused on powering its communities of users, advertisers, publishers, and developers by creating indispensable experiences built on trust. Yahoo! is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. For more information, visit pressroom.yahoo.com.

Yahoo! and the Yahoo! logos are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Yahoo! Inc. All other names are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

Meanwhile speculations and rumors about potential major merger between Yahoo! and AOL emerged today. This appears to us to be more as incentive for Microsoft to increase its offer for Yahoo! rather than anything real behind. We see little to no synergies between Yahoo! and AOL, aside a few such as instant messaging or the combined eyeballs and the potential deal does not address the major problem of Yahoo!, which is Google.

More

http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/09/magazines/fortune/yahoo_rejects_bid_report.fortune/?postversion=2008020914
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fffc1006-d5e8-11dc-bbb2-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1
http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2008/02/05/yahoo-the-five-scenario-analysis/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/08/yahoo-board-to-determine-fate-of-company-today/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/02/is-google-going-to-be-the-winner-from-the-microsoft-yahoo-deal/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/04/google%e2%80%99s-chief-legal-officer-vs-microsoft%e2%80%99s-general-counsel/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/01/yes-we-were-right-yahoo-was-seriously-undervalued-microsoft-offers-446b-for-the-company-a-62-premium-over-their-value-from-yesterday/
http://www.techmeme.com/080201/p78#a080201p78
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_8149194
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2008/tc2008021_885192.htm?chan=rss_topStories_ssi_5
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/02/AR2008020200568.html
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/02/MN8OUQGNB.DTL&type=tech
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080201/microsoft-to-yahoo-two-days-to-respond-or-else/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/hold-everything-we-may-get-another-yhoo-bidder.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/what-would-a-combined-microsoft-yahoo-look-like/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/ballmers-internal-e-mail-to-the-troops-explaining-the-yahoo-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/02/news-corp-scrambles-to-bid-for-yahoo/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/microsoft-yahoo-combined-financials.html
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/08/one-after-another-the-potential-competitive-bidders-for-yahoo-drop-off-is-yahoo-going-to-surrender-to-microsoft/
http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=206107168
http://mashable.com/2008/02/10/yahoo-aol-merger/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/10/wait-yahoo-and-aol-i-was-looking-forward-to-something-moreintelligent/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/09/microsofts-80-billion-and-growing-yahoo-headache/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer

YuMe, a broadband video advertising network, has taken $16M so far to tackle the video advertising

Yesterday we have covered BlackArrow, which offers an advertising management platform for video, allowing web sites to monitor their inventory while enabling advertisers to insert ads on-the-fly. They have taken $12M and are somehow relying on the cable companies to do its business. The company wants to insert targeted ads into on-demand viewing by placing a piece of hardware between cable operators and consumers While we were researching on BlackArrow online we came across YuMe Networks and realized it is worth writing about.

The well-funded YuMe Networks is aiming to match video publishers with video advertising using a bit of contextual analysis. The company said video content is targeted based on tags and metadata, something that generally works much better for established content creators who label their work well. YuMe uses such information to slot videos into ad-friendly content buckets such as auto, finance, and entertainment.

It’s not quite a highly automated process though, as ad placements are based on broad categories and in fact YuMe employs actual humans to screen content and group it into such categories. That’s in contrast to companies such as TVEyes’ Podscope and Nexidia, which are applying speech recognition tools to decipher what’s going on in a video and place an ad next to it.

The company is based in Redwood City, Calif and has taken more than $7 million in its first round of funding from Khosla Ventures, Accel Partners, and BV Capital. With the current funding their total financing is already $16 million and makes them a well funded contender in the realm of video advertising. The new participant here is DAG Ventures. VideoEgg, by contrast, is one of the largest players in terms of funding having attracted over $34 million over four rounds.

The ads are also included with the video as it’s syndicated on other sites. All distribution is monitored through their analytics package, which also allows geographical targeting down to the zip code. YuMe currently supports video on the web, downloads, mobile and IPTV. Some of their clients include HouseValues.com, True.com, Southwest Media Group, MSN Video, BitTorrent, Azureus, and Pando.

YuMe is building out its own ad inventory, though much of it consists of repurposing 30-second television slots, pretty much like SpotRunner’s ads, into shorter bits appropriate for the web.

YuMe has won “Best In Show Judges Choice” at the Under The Radar Entertainment and Media Conference in 2007.

The market

Video advertising is promising to be huge opportunity online and the sector is extremely competitive with new players entering every couple of weeks. Venture capitals also do think the online video advertising holds the chances to be the next big thing on Internet to bring billions of revenues in and are pouring big money into start-ups with the hope they come up to the groundbreaking technology that might shake the sector and make them the huge ROI.   

No matter what standard for video ads the sector might adopt – pre-roll ads, mid-roll adspost-roll ads, watermark ads, viral ads or overlay ads, the undisputed leader remains Google’s YouTube with its huge number of eyeballs. That’s why the smaller players are focusing not on the reach but on different approaches and technologies to more effectively serve, track and measure these video ads. The video ads are in their infancy on Web and there is plenty of room for innovation and growth and all those small start-up companies hold their good chances for success.

Some companies, as we know them, include BlackArrow, BrightRoll, XillianTVPodaddies, VMIX and MeeVee. BrightRoll video ad network itself has raises $5 Million while VMIX, yet another video network company has also raised a whopping amount of money $16.5M to expand its business. Other video advertising players include Revver, VideoEgg’s TheEggNetwork, ScanScout, Adap.tv, AdBrite’s InVideo platform, BroadRamp and Blinkx.

eMarketer predicts online video advertising to nearly double in 2008 to $1.3 billion, but no one’s really nailed a scalable ad platform for video. However, Google’s been quietly testing their own system and there are a bunch of other startups tackling it as well.

More about YuMe Networks

YuMe is the first dedicated broadband video advertising network built from the ground up that offers a brand safe advertising experience that can be delivered to any device – PC, TV, mobile and more – whether streamed or downloaded.

YuMe co–founders Jayant Kadambi and Ayyappan Sankaran realized early on that a strong broadband and IP–based video ad monetization infrastructure did not exist. Whereas today’s video advertising solutions are incremental modifications of existing text and banner networks, Ayyappan and Jayant recognized that video is fundamentally different and in order to properly monetize, transport, traffic and reliably report against video, a new type of advertising network was necessary.

Web advertising has evolved from text, to display and now to video. YuMe is the only ad network built exclusively for the new web video world, providing advertisers and publishers the unprecedented ability to identify, classify and track content to ensure brand safety, contextual relevance, controlled syndication and consistent delivery across all digital media platforms – web, downloads, mobile and IPTV.

YuMe provides publishers the unique ability to identify, classify and track content to ensure brand safety, contextual brand relevance, controlled syndication and consistent delivery to any device – PC, TV, Mobile – whether streamed or downloaded.

YuMe brings order to what is currently chaos in online video. Our solution enables publishers to instantly organize all the video on their site into content channels – automotive, financial services, entertainment, family friendly and more – unlocking new inventory for monetization and allowing advertisers to more precisely target their message to content.

Publisher Benefits?

Enable advertisers to precision target their video ads within your content, increasing the value of your inventory and CPMs. You can now offer more than just run–of–site campaigns.

Syndicate video assets with confidence. YuMe’s proprietary tracking technology allows you to track, monitor and control the distribution and monetization of your video

Deliver richer experiences to customers and communities by tying brand messaging to positioning. No more brands associated with content that is inappropriate or not contextually relevant to the advertiser.

Strike the right balance of advertising and content. YuMe separates the serving of content from the serving of ads, allowing you to determine the best mix of ad types across your channels of content.

YuMe delivers a brand safe, monitored and measured experience across all digital media platforms – Web, Downloads, Mobile and IPTV.

Management Team

Jayant Kadambi, Co–founder and CEO

Jayant Kadambi has over 18 years of experience in the areas of networking, hardware architecture and semiconductors. Prior to co-founding YuMe in 2004, Jayant was Vice President R&D and Officer of Netopia, Inc., a publicly held manufacturer of DSL equipment and service provider for ISP’s and carriers. Jayant joined Netopia upon its acquisition in 1999 of StarNet Technologies, a VoDSL company he had co-founded. Prior to co-founding StarNet, Jayant held various technical and marketing positions in AMD’s networks division, and AT&T Bell Labs, where he worked on high-speed LAN systems, hardware and DSL technologies. Jayant received his BSEE and Masters in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic. Jayant is the co-author of a book on Gigabit Ethernet and the holder of several patents in the networking arena.

Ayyappan Sankaran, Co–founder and CTO

Ayyappan Sankaran has over 18 years of experience in software architecture, design and development in the areas of real time embedded systems, voice and data networks and medical instrumentation. Prior to co-founding YuMe in 2004, Ayyappan was Director of software development at Netopia, Inc., a publicly held manufacturer of DSL equipment and service provider for ISP’s and carriers. Ayyappan was a co-founder of StarNet Technologies, a VoDSL company that was acquired by Netopia in 1999. Prior to co-founding StarNet, Mr. Sankaran held various technical positions in Octel communications (acquired by Lucent technologies), Abbott Labs, and Ready Systems. Ayyappan holds a BSEE from the College of Engineering, Madras, India and a Masters in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas.

Grant Ries, Vice President of Business Development

Grant Ries has over 10 years of experience in business development, sales and product marketing. Prior to joining YuMe, Grant was VP of Business Development at Revenue Science. Grant was a member of Revenue Science since its inception and served in a variety of strategic roles, from sales and marketing and account management to business development. Grant holds both a Bachelor of Arts and Masters Degree from The University of Washington.

Steven Comfort, Vice President of Sales

The last 13 of Steven’s 18 years in advertising have been spent in the interactive sector. He has run sales teams at a string of successful young companies: Wired Digital, 24/7 Real Media, eGroups, Tickle and hi5. Prior to 1994, Steven worked in the media planning departments of MediaVest and Euro RSCG in New York City. Steven holds a BA from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

Bob Bahramipour, Vice President of Ad Operations

Bob has 15 years of experience at major media & internet companies, as well as start-ups. Most recently, as a senior member of the Yahoo! Search team, Bob managed the toolbar business and was responsible for overseeing product, distribution, and partnerships. Prior to Yahoo!, Bob served as the Director of Business Development at 3721 Technology Co Ltd., a Chinese search engine which was acquired by Yahoo in 2003. Bob was also a co-founder & VP of Business Development for Switchouse Inc, an online marketplace for consumers. Prior to Switchouse, Bob held of variety of positions in Volpe Brown Whelan & Company’s M&A advisory group, within SBC’s (now AT&T) corporate development team, and at Braxton Associates, a boutique strategy consulting firm. Bob received his BS from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and attended Northwestern’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Business.

Molly Glover Gallatin, Director of Marketing

Molly brings over 15 years of media and marketing management experience to the YuMe team. Molly began her work in interactive media in 1997 when she launched Granite Broadcasting’s Internet Division, overseeing operations and sales for ten network-affiliated TV station websites. Molly joins YuMe from Knight Ridder Digital, where she managed marketing and communications for the Real Cities Network. Prior to joining Knight Ridder Digital Molly worked for start-ups in the digital media management and Internet TV space – eMotion and RespondTV. Molly began her career in advertising, working in account management at BBDO and D’Arcy Masius Benton Bowles in New York. Molly received her BS from the University of Colorado at Boulder and her MBA from Columbia University.

Investors

Khosla Ventures offers venture assistance, strategic advice and capital to entrepreneurs. The firm helps entrepreneurs extend the potential of their ideas in both traditional venture areas like the Internet, computing, mobile, and silicon technology arenas but also supports breakthrough scientific work in clean technology areas such as bio–refineries for energy and bioplastics, solar, battery and other environmentally friendly technologies. Vinod Khosla was formerly a General Partner at Kleiner Perkins and founder of Sun Microsystems. Vinod has been labeled the #1 VC by Forbes and Fortune recently labeled him as one the nation’s most influential ethanol advocates, noting “there are venture capitalists, and there’s Vinod Khosla.” Vinod Khosla founded the firm in 2004 and was joined by partners David Weiden and Samir Kaul, as well as chief scientific officer Doug Cameron in 2006.
 
Founded in 1983, Accel Partners is one of the world’s leading venture capital firms. The firm is dedicated to partnering with outstanding entrepreneurs to build world–class Internet, software and networking companies. Accel Partners has more than $4bn under management from its offices in Palo Alto, London, and China, and its portfolio companies have completed IPOs that have created well over $150 billion in market capitalization.
 
BV Capital, headquartered in San Francisco, CA and Hamburg, Germany, is an early–stage venture capital firm. Established in 1997, BV focuses exclusively on the intersection of the consumer Internet, digital media and communication software sectors worldwide. BV’s team adds significant expertise and service to entrepreneurs who strive to turn ideas into long–term, sustainable growth companies. Investments include many successes such as Angieslist, del.icio.us, eGroups, Expertcity (gotomypc), K2 Networks and shopping.com. The firm backed by several high profile US, Asian and European investors has been named “one of the most influential investors on either side of the Atlantic” by the Wall Street Journal. To learn more about BV Capital, please visit www.bvcapital.com.
 
DAG Ventures is a venture capital partnership investing in and helping outstanding entrepreneurs create leading, long-term companies across a range of markets. With roots from the 1980’s in cable TV, infrastructure, media, and wireless industries, the partnership today is privileged to work with world-class entrepreneurs as they build tomorrow’s leaders in the information technology, energy, and life science sectors.

More

http://yumenetworks.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/16/yume-closes-9-million-series-b/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/yume
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/07/06/video-ads-somebody-needs-to-solve-this-problem/
http://www.undertheradarblog.com/wp_blog.html?fb_2042860_anch=2648520
http://newteevee.com/2007/03/05/yume-launches-video-ad-network/
http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?id=1004258
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/05/11/youtube-video-advertising-no-pre-roll-no-context/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/blackarrow-took-12-million-to-tackle-the-video-advertising-relies-on-cable-companies/
http://venturebeat.com/2007/10/14/blackarrow-ad-management-for-modern-tv-unstealths-with-12m-financing/
http://adsense.blogspot.com/2006/05/introducing-video-ads.html
http://adwords.blogspot.com/2006/05/click-to-play-video-ads-for-adwords.html
http://adsense.blogspot.com/2007/05/adsense-coming-to-video-near-you.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/22/technology/22google.html
http://mashable.com/2007/08/21/youtube-reinvents-video-ads/
http://mashable.com/2007/05/11/youtube-ads-2/
http://www.forbes.com/2007/02/22/video-ads-youtube-tech-media-cx_lh_0223video.html
http://venturebeat.com/2006/11/08/skipping-the-ads-black-arrow-raises-1475m-to-defy-you/
http://www.khoslaventures.com/
http://www.accel.com/
http://www.bvcapital.com/