Category Archives: Acquisitions

2008’s Most Popular Web 2.0 Sites

Today we are living in web 2.0 times more than ever before. PR, press coverage, buzz, evangelism, lobbying, who knows who, who blogs who, who talks about who, mainstream media and beyond – all of those words found in the dictionary of almost every new web site that coins itself as web 2.0, but as the global economy crisis is raising upon us promising to leave us working in a very depressed business environment with little to no liquidation events at all for the next years the real question is: who the real winners in today’s web 2.0 space are based on real people using their web properties since 2005 the web 2.0 term was coined for first time. Since then we have witnessed hundreds of millions of US dollars poured into different web 2.0 sites, applications and technologies and perhaps now is the time to find out which of those web sites have worked things out. We took the time necessary to discover today’s most popular web 2.0 sites based on real traffic and site usage and Not on buzz or size of funding. Sites are ranked based on the estimated traffic figures. After spending years in assessing web 2.0 sites applying tens of different from economical and technological to media criteria in an effort to evaluate them we came up to the conclusion that there is only one criterion worth our attention and it is the real people that use a given site, the traffic, the site usage, etc., based on which the web site can successfully be monetized. Of course, there are a few exceptions from the general rule like sites with extremely valuable technologies and no traffic at all, but as we said, they are exceptions. Ad networks, web networks, hosted networks and group of sites that use consolidated traffic numbers as their own or such ones that rely on the traffic of other sites to boost their own figures (ex.: various ad networks, Quantcast, WordPress etc.) are not taken into consideration and the sites from within those respective networks and groups have been ranked separately. International traffic is of course taken into consideration. Add ons, social network apps and widgets usage is not taken into consideration. Sub-domains as well as international TLDs part of the principal business of the main domain/web site are included. Media sites including such covering the web 2.0 space have also been included. Old buys from the dot com era are not considered and ranked accordingly.

Disclaimer: some data based on which the sites below are ranked may not be complete or correct due to lack of public data available for the traffic of respective sites. Please also note that the data taken into consideration for the ranking may have meanwhile changed and might possibly be no longer the same at the time you are reading the list. Data has been gathered during the months of July, August, September and December 2008.

Today’s most popular Web 2.0 sites based on the traffic they get as measured during the months of July, August and September 2008.

Priority is given to direct traffic measurement methods wherever applicable. Panel data as well as toolbar traffic figures are not taken into cosndieration. Traffic details as taken from Quantcast, Google Analytics*, Nielsen Site Audit, Nielsen NetRatings, comScore Media Metrix, internal server log files*, Compete and Alexa. Press release, public relation and buzz traffic and usage figures as they have appeared in the mainstream and specialized media are given with lower priority unless supported by direct traffic measurement methods.

*wherever applicable

Web Property / Unique visitors per month

  1. WordPress.com ~ 100M
  2. YouTube.com ~ 73M
  3. MySpace.com ~ 72M
  4. Wikipedia.org ~ 69M
  5. Hi5.com ~ 54M
  6. Facebook.com ~ 43M
  7. BlogSpot.com ~ 43M
  8. PhotoBucket.com ~ 34M
  9. MetaCafe.com ~ 30M
  10. Blogger.com ~ 27M
  11. Flickr.com ~ 23M
  12. Scribd.com ~ 23M
  13. Digg.com ~ 21M
  14. Typepad.com ~ 17M
  15. Imeem.com ~ 17M
  16. Snap.com ~ 15.7M
  17. Fotolog.com ~ 15.6M
  18. RockYou.com ~ 15M
  19. Veoh.com ~ 12M
  20. Wikihow.com ~ 12M
  21. Topix.com ~ 11.5M
  22. Blinkx.com ~ 11M
  23. HuffingtonPost.com ~ 11M
  24. Technorati.com ~ 10.6M
  25. Wikia.com ~ 10.8M
  26. Zimbio.com ~ 10.3M
  27. SpyFu.com ~ 10.1M
  28. Heavy.com ~ 9.3M
  29. Yelp.com ~ 8.9M
  30. Slide.com ~ 8.5M
  31. SimplyHired.com ~ 8.5M
  32. Squidoo.com ~ 8.1M
  33. LinkedIn.com ~ 7.5M
  34. HubPages.com ~ 7.2M
  35. Hulu.com ~ 7.1M
  36. AssociatedContent.com ~ 7M
  37. Indeed.com ~ 5.4M
  38. LiveJournal.com ~ 5.2M
  39. Bebo.com ~ 5.1M
  40. Habbo.com ~ 4.9M
  41. Fixya.com ~ 4.5M
  42. RapidShare.com ~ 4.5M
  43. AnswerBag.com ~ 4.4M
  44. Metafilter.com ~ 4.3M
  45. Crackle (Grouper) ~ 4M
  46. Ning.com ~ 3.8M
  47. Breitbart.com ~ 3.8M
  48. BookingBuddy.com ~ 3.7M
  49. Kayak.com ~ 3.6M
  50. Blurtit.com ~ 3.2M
  51. Kaboodle.com ~ 3M
  52. Meebo.com ~ 2.9M
  53. Friendster.com ~ 2.7M
  54. WowWiki.com ~ 2.8M
  55. Truveo.com ~ 2.7M
  56. Trulia.com ~ 2.7M
  57. Twitter.com ~ 2.5M
  58. BoingBoing.net ~ 2.4M
  59. Techcrunch.com ~ 2.2M
  60. Zillow.com ~ 2.2M
  61. MyNewPlace.com ~ 2.2M
  62. Mahalo.com ~ 2.1M
  63. Vox.com ~ 2M
  64. Last.fm ~ 2M
  65. Glam.com ~ 1.9M
  66. Multiply.com ~ 1.9M
  67. Popsugar.com ~ 1.6M
  68. Addthis.com ~ 1.5M
  69. Pandora.com ~ 1.4M
  70. Brightcove.com ~ 1.4M
  71. LinkedWords.com ~ 1.3M
  72. Devshed.com ~ 1.3M
  73. AppleInsider.com ~ 1.3M
  74. Newsvine.com ~ 1.3M
  75. Fark.com ~ 1.2M
  76. BleacherReport.com ~ 1.2M
  77. Mashable.com ~ 1.2M
  78. Zwinky.com ~ 1.2M
  79. Quantcast.com ~ 1.2M
  80. StumbleUpon.com ~ 1.1M
  81. SecondLife.com ~ 1.1M
  82. Magnify.net ~ 1.1M
  83. Uncyclopedia.org ~ 1M
  84. Weblo.com ~ 1M
  85. Del.icio.us ~ 1M
  86. Reddit.com < 1M
  87. Pbwiki.com < 1M
  88. AggregateKnowledge.com < 1M
  89. Eventful.com < 1M
  90. Dizzler.com < 1M
  91. Synthasite.com < 1M
  92. Vimeo.com < 1M
  93. Zibb.com <1M

Web 2.0 sites having less than 1M unique visitors per month even though popular in one way or another are not subject of this list and are not taken into consideration. We know for at least 100 other considered really good web 2.0 sites, apps and technologies of today, but since they are getting less than 1M uniuqes per month they were not able to make our list. However, sites being almost there (850K-950K/mo) and believed to be in position to reach the 1M monthly mark in the next months are also included at the bottom of the list. Those sites are marked with “<“, which means close to 1M, but not yet there. No hard feelings :).

If we’ve omitted one site or another that you know is getting at least 1M uniques per month and you are not seeing it above, drop us a note at info[at]web2innovations.com and we’ll have it included. Please note that the site proposed should be having steady traffic for at least 3 months prior submission to the list above. Sites like, for example: Powerset and Cuil, may not qualify for inclusion due to their temporary traffic leaps caused by buzz they have gotten, a criterion we try to offset. For other corrections and omissions please write at same email address. Requests for corrections of the traffic figures the sites are ranked on can only be justified by providing us with the accurate traffic numbers from reliable direct measurement sources (Quantified at Quantcast, Google Analytics, Nielsen Site Audit, Nielsen NetRatings, comScore Media Metrix, internal server log files, other third party traffic measurement services that use the direct method. No panel data, no Alexa, no Compete etc. will be taken into consideration).

* Note that ranks given to sites at w2i reflect only our own vision for and understanding of the site usage, traffic and unique visitors of the sites being ranked and does not necessarily involve other industry experts’, professionals’, journalists’ and bloggers’ opinions. You acknowledge that any ranking available on web2innovations.com (The Site) is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice or a recommendation that you, or anyone you advise, should buy, acquire or invest in any of the companies being analyzed and ranked on the Site, or undertake any investment strategy, based on rankings seen on the Site. Moreover, if a company is described or mentioned in our Site, you acknowledge that such description or mention does not constitute a recommendation by web2innovations.com that you engage or otherwise use such web site.

The full list

Live Universe acquires yet another deadpooled start-up on the cheap

A couple of weeks ago we realized the shopping pattern of Live Universe is to buy failed, but over funded, start ups on the cheap and the deal we read about a few days ago makes no exception. Just over a few week ago the founders of and five engineers from VoIP services provider Jangl left for Jajah after the company failed to find a proper buyer. Following their departure, it was unclear what would happen to Jangl’s assets and remaining staff. Wonder no longer – Live Universe is here to help. As you may guess they bought the failed company, perhaps on the cheap too. We tried to find out what the acquisition price is, but since we found nothing neither reliable enough nor even rumors around the blogosphere about the exact price, we do assume the price tag is not much different from what the other failed start-up enjoyed in their deals with Live Universe. Call it $1M and you might be closer to the truth than you may expect.

Well not bad, except the fact that Jangl has raised $9M to date from a number of perhaps unhappy investors today. Among others Jangl’s investors include Storm Ventures, Labrador Ventures, Cardinal Venture Capital, Alex Mendez, Stuart Davidson and Chris Hadsell.

Based on a number of posts across the blogosphere we learn that problems of the company have likely started the late last fall. By that time Jangl’s board began telling the founders to pursue an acquisition strategy or raise more money despite the company had closed deals with several partners, including Plentyoffish and Tagged.

Despite the rumors that many companies have taken a look into the Jangl, it is clear that no deal has emerged from those interests.

Jangl allows consumers to exchange text messages, phone calls and voicemail without sharing their real numbers. Jangl customers can send/receive SMS messages from their mobile device or their Jangl account online, have voice messages sent directly to their email or profile inbox as MP3 files, and block contact from someone at any time, among other capabilities. Jangl provides its services to users of Facebook (JanglMe application), Bebo, Plentyoffish.com, Match.com, Friendster, Tagged, FriendFinder, Fubar, and more, and also offers its services at Jangl.com.

In late 2007, Jangl began testing a variety of ad placements in phone calls and SMS messages. One of its most recently partners – dating site Plentyoffish.com – will be a free service supported entirely by advertising. This advertising revenue stream will be Jangl’s second, as the company has already been generating partner revenue since January 2007.

Other companies bought on the cheap by Live Universe include Pageflakes (funding $4.1- sold out for what is known to be in the $1M range). Revver ‘s total funding is known to be in the $12.7M range coming from Comcast, Turner, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Bessemer Venture Partners, Draper Richards and William Randolph Hearst III – sold also out for anything between $1M and $2M. MeeVee itself has also taken a whopping amount of money from the venture capitalists — $25M over the past years, we bet on it has also been sold out for anything in the $1M / $2M range. From the 3 companies above, MeeVee seemed by that time to have traffic, at least. Today’s deal is for yet another company that has taken $9M and has perhaps gone for nothing more than $1M.

A simple math that we started out a couple of weeks ago revealed that Live Universe has bought $42M worth in distressed assets for $3M in total and if we include the deal from today it turns out that the buyer has acquired web properties that have taken over $51M to develop for $4M in all.

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.

Competitors/similar companies include: SayNow, Jajah, Jaxtr, Dial Plus, GrandCentral and TringMe.

More

http://www.liveuniverse.com/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/liveuniverse
http://jangl.com/
http://cerdafied.typepad.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/05/16/live-universe-picking-up-jangls-pieces/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/jangl
http://www.techmeme.com/070524/p7#a070524p7
http://venturebeat.com/2008/05/07/internet-phone-company-jangl-to-sell-assets-core-team-goes-to-competitor-jajah/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/05/09/live-universe-acquires-yet-another-over-funded-start-up-on-the-cheap/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/15/revver-the-video-revenue-sharing-site-finally-sells-out-but-the-price-is-not-hefty/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/04/15/pageflakes-is-acquired-by-brad-greenspan%e2%80%99s-live-universe/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/15/revver-the-video-revenue-sharing-site-finally-sells-out-but-the-price-is-not-hefty/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/04/08/meevee-put-itself-up-for-sale/

Live Universe acquires yet another over funded start-up on the cheap

It appears that the buyer’s profile of Live Universe is to buy web 2.0 companies in trouble on the cheap, yet preferably over funded, with some traffic and good technology, if possible. After they have bought video site Revver (also relatively cheap, price perhaps was in the $1M range) in February 2008, they have also fetched up Pageflakes just the last month for what is believed to be yet another 1M dollar deal. Yesterday we have read over Web that Live Universe has this time bought yet another start-up falling into the same profile (over funded, failed and looking for a fire sale) MeeVee. They have put themselves up for sale via press release the last month.

MeeVee is all about personalized TV guides and the company was said is having over 1.1 million organic unique users in March up from 480,000 in August 2007. The Company uses its editorial voice and proprietary technology to scour a curated list of thousands of sources to connect consumers with customized video, blog and TV programming content that matches their interests. The Company has significant issued IP, community, media relationships, a TV listings personalization engine, streaming TV directory and a compelling product roadmap. The Company has 7 full time employees, all in product and engineering.

Let’s look into the Live Universe’s shopping pattern.

Total funding for Pageflakes was $4.1M – sold out for what is known to be in the $1M range. Total funding for Revver is known to be in the $12.7M range coming from Comcast, Turner, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Bessemer Venture Partners, Draper Richards and William Randolph Hearst III – sold also out for anything between $1M and $2M. MeeVee itself has also taken a whopping amount of money from the venture capitalists — $25M over the past years, we bet on it has also been sold out for anything in the $1M / $2M range. From the 3 companies above, MeeVee seems to have traffic, at least.

It is an interesting strategy to buy companies and spur growth, but we guess it is better you buy growing start-ups rather than falling stars that have spent enormous amount of capital yet did not work things out. It is yet to be seen if this strategy is going to be successful on the long term run for Live Universe. Let’s put it that way – a company that has raised $25M and did not manage to work things out is less likely to make it with less money. On the other hand buying distressed assets is something proven by the time. From Live Universe’s perspective it seems clever move that they have bought web assets that needed more than $42M to develop for $3M or something. As web 2.0 moves towards its peak and then its end (the same as what happened with the dot com boom) there would be lots of over funded and over hyped, but failed start-ups for sale on the table for Live Universe to choose from and buy cheaply.

So to conclude if your company has taken enormous amount of money, but has definitely failed to work things out and is looking for some liquidation of its assets Live Universe might be your choice to consider.

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

http://www.liveuniverse.com/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/liveuniverse
http://meevee.com/
http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/080407/20080407006076.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/07/25-million-later-meevee-in-trouble/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/meevee
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/07/16/meevee-cuts-20-of-staff/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/09/20/meevee-takes-35-million-series-d/
http://www.econtentmag.com/Articles/ArticleReader.aspx?ArticleID=17395
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_2006_Feb_27/ai_n16085490
http://www.techmeme.com/080407/p95#a080407p95
http://www.deftapartners.com/
http://www.labrador.com/
http://www.waldenvc.com/
http://www.jpmorgan.com/pages/jpmorgan/investbk/global/na/baef
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/15/revver-the-video-revenue-sharing-site-finally-sells-out-but-the-price-is-not-hefty/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/04/15/pageflakes-is-acquired-by-brad-greenspan%e2%80%99s-live-universe/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/15/revver-the-video-revenue-sharing-site-finally-sells-out-but-the-price-is-not-hefty/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/04/08/meevee-put-itself-up-for-sale/
 

LinkedIn is out pitching for a major round at the staggering $1B pre-money

The rumors across the valley are that LinkedIn is out trying to raise a new round at $1B pre-money valuation. They are using the service of the New York based secretive investment bank Allen & Co. where the Managing Director Dave Wehner seems to be engaged with the effort to help LinkedIn secure its next round of funding.

There were clearly rumors over the past months that LinkedIn was looking for potential sell out as one of the rumored suitors was News Corp., but as it often happens nowadays after you fail to sell out you are raising a new round instead at preferably huge pre-money valuation to keep your company alive until IPO and M&A markets improve. Similar deals were done by many web 2.0 start-ups from the valley and among others are Slide, Ning, Federated Media and most recently Meebo.

If those rumors turn out to be accurate it will be one of the most expensive private venture deals in recent history. So far LinkedIn is said to have taken $27.5M in total over three rounds. They have also claimed publicly they will reach anything between $70M and $100 million in revenue in 2008. Yet if this is true that they need new round before their exit it means they are barely profitable.

The latest numbers from LinkedIn are as follows: over 20M registered users worldwide, more than 1M new users get registered on their social networking site each month and the average user is said to be 41 years old making around $110,000, which the company says allows it to charge advertisers $75 per thousand impressions.

However, both Quantcast and Compete do report for no more than 4 up to 5M uniques per month to their site. 

This past January, cofounder and board chairman Reid Hoffman told the Sydney Morning Herald that the company will most likely file for an IPO before 2010 if “he isn’t first tempted to sell to one of the suitors that have inquired about buying LinkedIn. Hoffman wouldn’t identify the suitors.” This simply sounds like invitation for the suitors to sweeten their offers.

More about LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an online network of more than 20 million experienced professionals from around the world, representing 150 industries. When you join, you create a profile that summarizes your professional accomplishments. Your profile helps you find and be found by former colleagues, clients, and partners. You can add more connections by inviting trusted contacts to join LinkedIn and connect to you. Your network consists of your connections, your connections’ connections, and the people they know, linking you to thousands of qualified professionals.

Through your network you can:

  • Find potential clients, service providers, subject experts, and partners who come recommended
  • Be found for business opportunities
  • Search for great jobs
  • Discover inside connections that can help you land jobs and close deals
  • Post and distribute job listings
  • Find high-quality passive candidates
  • Get introduced to other professionals through the people you know

LinkedIn is free to join. We also offer paid accounts that give you more tools for finding and reaching the right people, whether or not they are in your network.

LinkedIn participates in the EU Safe Harbor Privacy Framework and is certified to meet the strict privacy guidelines of the European Union. All relationships on LinkedIn are mutually confirmed, and no one appears in the LinkedIn Network without knowledge and explicit consent.

LinkedIn is located in Mountain View, California and is funded by world-class investors including Sequoia Capital, Greylock, the European Founders Fund, and Bessemer Venture Partners.

More about Allen & Co

Investment bank Allen & Company has been involved in a number of high profile mergers and acquisitions in the past. Interesting for the Allen & Company is the privacy the investment firm seems to be working in as argument for which is the absence of even a basic site for the company on Web. Perhaps they don’t like publicity. Yet, we have found the firm’s contact details, which can be found among the other links on the end of the story’s page.

For Allen & Company, there’s no business like financing show business. The investment bank serves variously as investor, underwriter, and broker to some of the biggest names in entertainment, technology, and information. Viewed as something of a secret society, the firm has had a quiet hand in such hookups as Seagram (now part of Vivendi) and Universal Studios, Hasbro and Galoob Toys, and Disney and Capital Cities/ABC. The firm’s famous annual retreat in Sun Valley, Idaho, attracts more moguls than a double-black ski run (Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and eBay CEO Meg Whitman have attended). Brothers Herbert and Charles Allen founded the company in 1922.

Key people and executives for Allen & Company LLC are as follows:

  • Non-Executive Chairman Donald R. (Don) Keough
  • President, CEO, and Director Herbert A. (Herb) Allen
  • Managing Director and CFO Kim M. Wieland

More

http://www.linkedin.com/
http://blog.linkedin.com/
http://www.linkedin.com/in/reidhoffman
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/webguide/internetlife/2008-01-20-linkedin_N.htm
http://venturebeat.com/2008/05/05/whats-happening-at-linkedin-is-it-getting-bought/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/05/05/allen-co-pitching-linkedin-at-1-billion/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/linkedin
http://www.crunchbase.com/financial-organization/allen-and-company
http://uk.techcrunch.com/2007/11/28/more-linkedinnews-corp-reports-coming-in/
http://venturebeat.com/2007/11/27/source-yes-linkedin-and-news-corp-are-working-on-a-deal
http://www.thestandard.com/news/2008/04/29/linkedin-prepares-lucrative-push-europe
http://venturebeat.com/2007/12/09/linkedin-launches-platform-redesign-a-better-business-social-network
http://www.smh.com.au/news/biztech/serial-entrepreneur-with-the-golden-touch/2008/01/22/1200764231508.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap2
http://500hats.com/
http://venturebeat.com/2008/02/20/trends-secretive-new-york-bank-allen-co-gets-into-silicon-valley-media-tech/
http://www.hoovers.com/allen-&-company/–ID__51026–/free-co-factsheet.xhtml
http://quantcast.com/linkedin.com
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/linkedin.com?metric=uv

Meebo raised $25M on reportedly $200M pre-money

The rumors were lately that Meebo failed to sell and that’s why it went into this new round of funding instead and not at the initial $250M pre-money valuation they were hoping for but at $175 – $200M (as it seems $200M). Some sources claim that companies like Fox/MySpace and AOL have taken a long look at the company, but ultimately passed based on the price.

A couple of days ago it went official that Meebo has taken a $25 million third round of financing from Jafco Ventures, Time Warner Investments and KTB Ventures. Previous investors Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Sequoia Capital are said to have also participated.

With this round Meebo’s only exit might be the IPO road, which for a company with little to no revenues is not that easy to accomplish. If the new investors are looking for 2x or 3x their money at the exit it would be hard for Meebo to sell itself out for anything less than $500M or go for an IPO, which for a company with little to no revenues is kind of unbelievable for us to happen.

Meebo is a popular and rapidly growing web based instant messaging start up that was backed up by Sequoia Capital and is said to have roughly 4.6M unique visitors per month according to comScore’s publicly available stats. That’s valuing each of their visitors at the $54 mark, which is significantly more than what AOL has just recently paid for each of Bebo’s 22M visitors – $39 according our simple math. Many industry experts, commentators and bloggers have expressed their negative feelings about the potential deal and more concrete about its pre-money valuation. Anyone remember Slide and their pre-money valuation of $500M? Yet it was said then they had over 150M or so users worldwide, which, if true, valued their users at the $3 range.  

There is however something most of the technology blogs seem to have overlooked. Joshua Beil from Level 3 Communications has commented on one of the tech blogs that Meebo’s per user valuation could change quite substantially if one takes into account their unique visitors of the MeeboMe rooms widget. I’ve seen, he says, numbers in the 10-14M range and counting for just this application. Factor this in to the 4.6M uniques to Meebo.com and it’s at a discount to Bebo. We have no idea where he does take his numbers and what his affiliation with the company is, but if we take those numbers for real the $250M valuation does not sound ridicules anymore. In addition to that Venturebeat reports that Meebo has attracted 29 million monthly unique users worldwide, but they also say that some investors remain quite skeptical about Meebo and their business model. We have no clear idea where Venturebeat has come to that number of visitors.

Meebo launched in September 2005 and received funding from Sequoia Capital in December 2005 and Draper Fisher Jurvetson in January 2007. Today, Meebo’s users exchange over 100 million instant messages daily.In early 2007, Meebo gets another $9 million from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Sequoia Capital. Skype’s lead investor and YouTube’s lead investor are teaming up. Tim Draper, one of the early investors in Skype, did the deal for DFJ. Meebo’s total funding is now $37.5 million.

More

http://www.meebo.com/
http://blog.meebo.com/about
http://www.monty.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/30/its-official-meebo-raises-25-million-from-jafco-time-warner-and-ktb/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/30/meebo-closes-big-funding-round/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/09/meebo-cant-get-their-price-go-for-a-fundraising-instead-of-sale/
http://www.conceptualist.com/2008/04/09/1-million-in-revenues-200-million-valuation/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/18/meebo-tries-to-raise-25m-in-return-of-only-10-equity-valuing-the-company-at-the-whopping-250m/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/31/meebo-turns-chat-rooms-into-a-web-service/
http://venturebeat.com/2008/03/17/meebo-raising-round-valued-up-to-250-million-bear-stearns-sold-for-236-million/
http://www.webware.com/8301-1_109-9896718-2.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Webware
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/18/is-meebo-worth-half-a-slide/
http://venturebeat.com/2007/01/18/im-service-meebo-growing-quickly-raises-more-cash/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2005/12/16/meebo-confirms-sequoia-funding/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/11/22/meebo-received-funding-from-sequoia-capital/
http://blog.meebo.com/?p=78
http://venturebeat.com/2006/08/02/meebome-lets-you-chat-directly-from-any-homepage/
http://venturebeat.com/2007/01/10/web-20-shakeout-continued-whats-up-at-insider-pages-meebo-others/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/meebo
http://www.techmeme.com/080318/p7#a080318p7
http://quantcast.com/meebo.com
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/meebo.com?metric=uv
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/14/22m-uniques-mo-site-bebo-goes-to-aol-for-850m-in-all-cash-deal/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/18/slide-gets-their-huge-valuation-and-raises-50-million/
http://www.crunchbase.com/financial-organization/montgomery-co
http://venturebeat.com/2007/12/06/meebo-partners-with-videoegg-to-help-app-developers-make-more-money/

Microsoft – Yahoo saga seems to be over!

Well, after 3 months of negotiations, speculations and rumors the saga between Microsoft and Yahoo seems to be over, for now. Microsoft has formally withdrawn their offer to buy Yahoo while the second publicly declared a victory for the Web at all. While there are clearly no winners in this virtual war here is what the people at Microsoft have told Yahoo today.

“We continue to believe that our proposed acquisition made sense for Microsoft, Yahoo! and the market as a whole. Our goal in pursuing a combination with Yahoo! was to provide greater choice and innovation in the marketplace and create real value for our respective stockholders and employees,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft.

“Despite our best efforts, including raising our bid by roughly $5 billion, Yahoo! has not moved toward accepting our offer. After careful consideration, we believe the economics demanded by Yahoo! do not make sense for us, and it is in the best interests of Microsoft stockholders, employees and other stakeholders to withdraw our proposal,” said Ballmer.

“We have a talented team in place and a compelling plan to grow our business through innovative new services and strategic transactions with other business partners. While Yahoo! would have accelerated our strategy, I am confident that we can continue to move forward toward our goals,” Ballmer said.

“We are investing heavily in new tools and Web experiences, we have dramatically improved our search performance and advertiser satisfaction, and we will continue to build our scale through organic growth and partnerships,” said Kevin Johnson, Microsoft president for platforms and services.

On the other side here is Yahoo’s response to Microsoft

“We remain focused on maximizing shareholder value and pursuing strategic opportunities that position Yahoo! for success and leadership in its markets. From the beginning of this process, our independent board and our management have been steadfast in our belief that Microsoft’s offer undervalued the company and we are pleased that so many of our shareholders joined us in expressing that view. Yahoo! is profitable, growing, and executing well on its strategic plan to capture the large opportunities in the relatively young online advertising market. Our solid results for the first quarter of 2008 and increased full year 2008 operating cash flow outlook reflect the progress the company is making. Today, Yahoo! has:

– a refined strategic focus to drive enhanced volume and yield;

– reorganized to focus its efforts on its most promising products and services;

– invested in innovations designed to revolutionize display advertising and facilitate closing the competitive gap in search; and

– enhanced expense and resource management to support improved profitability.”

Jerry Yang, co-founder and chief executive officer, Yahoo! Inc. added, “I am incredibly proud of the way our team has come together over the last three months. This process has underscored our unique and valuable strategic position. With the distraction of Microsoft’s unsolicited proposal now behind us, we will be able to focus all of our energies on executing the most important transition in our history so that we can maximize our potential to the benefit of our shareholders, employees, partners and users.”

The simple truth is that Microsoft has definitely been hurt on its image and is walking out from this with serious dose of frustration. As to Yahoo they will surely take a serious hit by the stock market, their market capitalization will be big time hurt and they are probably going to become an easy pray to private equity players. There are all signs to believe that Microsoft will eventually return for Yahoo when time comes and the valuations are less. Rumors have it that Yahoo might eventually pursue a merger with AOL. Teaming up with Google is not an option. Aside having anti-trust implications it might also hurt their Panama advertising strategy on the long term run. 

Really more from MS/Yahoo’s saga

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2008/may08/05-03letter.mspx
http://yhoo.client.shareholder.com/press/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=308131
http://webinsider.blogspot.com/2008/05/microsoft-cancelled-bid-for-yahoo-why.html
http://blog.pmarca.com/2008/05/examining-micro.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/05/03/yahoos-tough-week-ahead/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/05/03/yahoo-responds/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/29/yahoos-new-rock-star-retention-program/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/05/03/breaking-microsoft-walks/
http://mashable.com/2008/05/03/breaking-microsoft-corporation-rescinds-offer-for-yahoo-inc/
http://venturebeat.com/2008/05/03/yahoo-breaks-the-wrist-microsoft-walks-away/
http://www.centernetworks.com/microsoft-yahoo-aol
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/04/03/despite-rumors-microsoft-is-highly-unlikely-to-increase-its-bid-for-yahoo/
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120701820580579519.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/26/yahoo-shares-up-44-on-rumors-microsoft-will-increase-the-bid-to-34/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/25/citigroup-raises-yahoo-target-to-34-based-on-revised-microsoft-bid/
http://www.infoworld.com/article/08/03/25/Citigroup-says-Microsoft-likely-to-raise-bid-for-Yahoo_1.html
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

Since bought StumbleUpon’s traffic has dropped seriously down; now climbing back

Since the time StumbleUpon was bought by eBay for $75M in cash there was little to no news on the company until today. Apparently in a quest for media attention StumbleUpon (or eBay) has contacted TechCrunch with some new numbers to show off with. We are not sure what StumbleUpon is up to and why they need media coverage, but there must be something. It could be either some new plans or products in the pipelines for which they are seeking coverage or it could also be the fact that the site has just started to recover from a deep dive in the traffic late last year for which the company now wants to let the world know.

Obviously ignoring their drop in the traffic, according some traffic measurement companies, (including comScore), they seem to drag the attention of influential technology bloggers to the number of their registered users and the number of their stumbles.

After del.icio.us StumbleUpon seems to be the second popular web site from the web 2.0 generation that tries to undermine the factor unique visitors. Interestingly only companies that see decline in their traffic (the same is the case with del.icio.us) try to do that while other sites that keep on growing seem to love the unique visitor measurement standard.

They boast about already having close to 5 million registered users, but they do not clarify what is the number of the active users among them. During the first quarter of 2008 their users, they claim, have already stumbled more than one billion times and the site is on its way to reach its five billionth stumble in total somewhere during the next months. However, the truth about their unique visitors does not look that good.

At the time eBay acquired the company for $75M in cash the site had reportedly less than 2M uniques per month, which puts the value of each of their users at close to $38 or something. comScore’s number for the May 2007 was close to 4M uniques, while Compete reports for less than 1M for the same period. We don’t believe either of those numbers to be very accurate and since the company has no word on their actual traffic we are taking the average number of what is publicly available as information. Few months after the acquisition StumbleUpon’s traffic has significantly dropped down to just 1.8 million in December 2007, which in any way represents a serious and worrying decline for the eBay’s web property, which might explain their PR activity today. Since then the site’s traffic is slowly recovering and is now close to 3.2 million per month, which might still be below the traffic at the time the acquisition took place if we take the comScore’s numbers for real.

In matter of honesty one must pay attention to the fact that some users at StumbleUpon are using their site through browser add-ons and are not often visiting the site, just like what del.icio.us’s founder Joshua Schachter has explained a few weeks ago in a answer to a question why their site is declining in traffic.

Whatever the case with StumbleUpon might today be it still remains one of the few great examples for hefty exits that many of the newer web 2.0 sites try to repeat with little to no luck so far. Having raised only $1.5M in angel money StumbleUpon has managed to sell itself to eBay for $75M all in cash.

More

http://stumbleupon.com
http://www.quantcast.com/stumbleupon.com
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/stumbleupon.com/?metric=uv
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/23/five-million-users-and-nearly-five-billion-stumbles-later/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/stumbleupon
http://2008.thenextweb.org/agenda/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/11/14/stumbleupon-may-be-for-sale-50m/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/10/delicious-not-shrinking-but-another-problem-looms/ 
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/31/some-of-the-web%e2%80%99s-biggest-acquisition-deals-during-2007/ 

Sony acquired digital media identification company Gracenote for about $260M

Sony has today announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Gracenote for about $260M plus other contingent consideration. Gracenote provides a range of music-related solutions including MusicID, which detects which song is currently being played by an application and loads track information for the user. MusicID leverages a database of over 6M CDs and 80M tracks and the technology has been in works since 1995 known previously with the name CDDB.

“Gracenote is a global leader in technology and services for digital media identification, enrichment, and recommendation, and these capabilities will be essential to the next wave of innovation in content, services, and consumer electronics,” said Tim Schaaff, SCA Senior Vice President, Software. “Sony sees tremendous growth potential in developing Gracenote as a separately run business unit, and by broadly embracing Gracenote’s platforms, Sony expects to significantly enhance and accelerate its own digital content, service, and device initiatives.”

“We are very pleased to join Sony as its strategic vision is very much in line with our own,” said Craig Palmer, Gracenote CEO. “Having a closer connection with the content and digital services community will accelerate adoption of Gracenote technologies, and the relationship will also give us the resources necessary to rapidly expand development of next generation products for the industry.”

Gracenote’s existing business will continue to operate separately. As a wholly owned Sony subsidiary, Gracenote will continue to develop new technologies in existing as well as new areas of operation. The senior management team will remain with the company. Sony and Gracenote anticipate that the transaction will close in late May, subject to certain regulatory and other approvals.

Many consumer music app services Apple iTunes, Yahoo! Music Jukebox, and Winamp use Gracenote for their music detection capabilities. Other consumer electronic brands are also associated with the company such as SonyEricsson, Philips Wireless Music Systems, Cadillac, Apple iPod, among others. 

More about Gracenote

Gracenote is a global leader in embedded technology, enriched content, and data services for digital entertainment solutions within the Internet, consumer electronics, mobile, and automotive markets. Formerly known as CDDB®, Gracenote delivers a substantially improved consumer experience in digital media devices and applications, plus media monitoring and other data services to the recording industry, making it an integral part of the digital media economy. Gracenote powers leading services including Apple iTunes, Yahoo! Music Jukebox, Winamp; home and automotive products from Alpine, Panasonic, Philips and Sony; and mobile music applications from Samsung, Sony Ericsson, KDDI (Japan), KTF (Korea), Musiwave (Europe), and others. Gracenote is headquartered in Emeryville, California.

Founders

Steve Scherf, Co-Founder & Chief Architect/Vice President of Service Development
Steve Scherf and business partner Ti Kan created the CDDB compact disc recognition service as a hobby in 1995 in order to get personal computers to display information about the CDs they were playing. To their surprise, the service became overwhelmingly popular, prompting them to found CDDB LLC in 1998. Later that year the company was acquired by Escient LLC, and the name was changed to Gracenote. After the acquisition, Scherf took on the role of Chief Architect for all Gracenote services. Scherf has since been the driving force behind nearly every fundamental Gracenote technology, cementing his position as one of the main pioneers of media recognition. Scherf personally designed and built the lion’s share of the current incarnation of the Gracenote service, a modular system that is extremely flexible, scalable and massively redundant, and is capable of easily incorporating new services as the need arises. He architected, designed, and developed the technology behind other Gracenote online products, such as Link, Discover, Music Enrichment, the MusicID® search engine, and others. In addition, Scherf has assimilated a number of third-party recognition technologies into the Gracenote suite, such as Mobile MusicID, re-implementing and improving them from the ground up. His pioneering work in media recognition also forms the basis of Gracenote’s embedded offerings. Prior to co-founding Gracenote, Scherf worked as Unix kernel developer for such companies as Altos Computer Systems, Acer America and Stratus Computer, delving into file systems, I/O performance, SCSI subsystems, networking and fault tolerance. Scherf graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1988 with a B.A. in Math and Biology.

Dale (Ty) Roberts, Co-Founder
Ty Roberts is widely recognized as one of the inventors of enhanced CD technology and is accredited with producing the industry’s first enhanced CDs. He joined Gracenote in November of 1998 after the company acquired ION, a multimedia and music technology company that he founded in 1993. Roberts serves as Gracenote’s chief technology strategist, providing technology direction and overseeing the creation of products and services that leverage the power of the Gracenote database to deliver information services. While at ION, Roberts produced the recording industry’s first enhanced audio CD titles, including David Bowie’s “Jump” and “Headcandy” from Brian Eno. He was the company’s lead technologist and innovator in adding multimedia content to traditional audio CDs. ION was also widely recognized as a leading provider of enhanced CD production tools utilized by recording and multimedia development companies. In September 1993, Bertelsmann Music Group created the first interactive record label after acquiring a 50 percent interest in ION. Prior to founding ION, Roberts was a founder and senior manager of LightSource, a software development company that produced multimedia and graphics editing software. Previously, he was a senior engineer at Pixar, where he created several award winning, Apple-based music applications including “Studio Session” and “Jam Session.” Roberts is Gracenote’s representative to the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), organization that is chartered with establishing standards for di gital music and music playing devices.

Ann Greenberg, Co-Founder
A pioneer in the online world, Ms. Greenberg is an inventor on seven U.S. patents, related to the delivery of content synchronized to audio recordings. She joined Gracenote in November of 1998 after the company acquired ION, a multimedia and music technology company that she founded in 1993. Greenberg served as Sr. Vice President of Marketing, Business and Strategic Development during her tenure at Gracenote until October 2001. No longer affiliated with Gracenote, Ms. Greenberg currently works as an independent consultant in the Bay Area. While at ION, Ms. Greenberg produced the recording industry’s first enhanced audio CD titles, including David Bowie’s “Jump” and “Headcandy” from Brian Eno. Greenberg designed the Jump’s groundbreaking interactive video, and produced the world’s first musician-hosted chat with David Bowie in 1994 – a format that has become standard practice in launching albums. Greenberg transitioned ION’s enhanced CD technology and business models into implementations that use the Web and are being utilized at Gracenote today. Prior to founding ION, Greenberg was the head of marketing for the Academy Award winning Edward R. Pressman Film Corporation, whose over 60 films include: Wall Street, True Stories, Talk Radio, Reversal of Fortune, Hoffa, Bad Lieutenant, The Crow and Judge Dredd. Ms. Greenberg studied Architecture and Cinema and earned a degree in Creative Arts & Cinema from California State University at San Francisco.

Scott A. Jones – Chairman of the Board and co-Founder
Scott Jones carefully sculpted the Gracenote company into existence by acquiring pivotal enabling technologies from CDDB, ION, Escient, Quintessential Player, and Cantametrix. He served as the company’s Chairman/CEO from 1998 to 2001 and is now Chairman of the Board. Jones raised significant capital, recruited a talented management team, contributed technology and intellectual property, and strategically guided Gracenote to pursue market segments that are the foundation of the Company’s success.

More about Sony Corporation of America

Sony Corporation of America, based in New York, NY, is a U.S. subsidiary of Sony Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo. Sony is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, communications, and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. Its motion picture, television, computer entertainment, music and online businesses make Sony one of the most comprehensive entertainment companies in the world. Sony’s principal U.S. businesses include Sony Electronics Inc., Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc., and a 50% interest in Sony BMG Music Entertainment, one of the largest recorded music companies in the world. Sony recorded consolidated annual sales of approximately $70.3 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2007, and it employs 163,000 people worldwide. Sony’s consolidated sales in the U.S. for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2007 were $18.9 billion. 

More

http://www.gracenote.com/
http://www.gracenote.com/company_info/press/042208/
https://doors.gracenote.com/developer/
http://www.sony.com
http://www.sony.com/SCA/index.shtml
http://www.streetinsider.com/Press%2BReleases/Sony%2BCorporation%2Bof%2BAmerica%2Bto%2BAcquire%2BGracenote/3566949.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/22/sony-buys-gracenote-for-260m/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/gracenote
http://www.techmeme.com/080422/p141#a080422p141
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_Digital_Music_Initiative

VC deals show a decline in the first quarter of 2008

While angel investors are taking on venture capitalists and have last year invested as much as VCs did the VC deals show a decline in the first quarter of 2008. According to a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, venture capital investment in the United States headed south in the first quarter of 2008.

The report found that venture capital has dropped 8.5 percent to $7.1 billion in the three months ending March 31 from the $7.8 billion invested in the previous quarter, resulting in the lowest quarter since Q4 2006. Funding for early and late stage companies declined in the first quarter, though funding rose for expansion-stage companies. Some sources claim that new startups are being hit the hardest.

In more specific the VC money going into the software sector (including Internet, Web, IT) declined 9 percent quarter-over-quarter and flat year-over-year to $1.264B and is said to be equal with the amount invested in biotech companies ($1.267B). In perspective to the only Internet deals those declined 7 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007 to $1.310 billion, but were slightly up year-over-year. Clean tech investments have gone crazy and hit the peak in third quarter of 2007 during which period more than $851M was invested.

In the context of web 2.0 it could simply be the fact that it is dirty cheap lately to start a new web-2.0 company online and the VC money offered to those is always a bit more than what this company in particular needs from to get off the ground and stabilize. This could be seen as a reason why the VC deals for Internet only start-ups have slightly declined in the last 2 quarters. Another potential reason of this slight meltdown could be the fact that the first quarter of the calendar year is usually the quietest so part of the decline may be seasonal.

Yet, the most logical reason could be the overall economy meltdown in US, which might now have its impact over the VC market too.

More

http://www.pwc.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/18/is-the-venture-capital-party-over/
http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2008/04/19/venture_capital_funding_diminishes/
http://venturebeat.com/2008/04/18/its-official-venture-investment-declined-in-q1/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/20/vc-deals-in-charts-q1-2008%e2%80%94welcome-to-the-slowdown/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/04/18/angel-investors-have-invested-as-much-as-26-billion-in-start-ups-last-year-almost-as-much-as-vcs-did/
http://dondodge.typepad.com/the_next_big_thing/2008/04/angel-investors.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/15/where-have-all-the-bold-vcs-gone/
http://www.nvca.org/ffax.html
http://www.paulgraham.com/googles.html
http://money.cnn.com/2006/02/28/magazines/business2/angelinvestor/

Angel investors have invested as much as $26 billion in start ups last year, almost as much as VCs did

Today we have read over a few technology and business blogs that angel investors have poured $26B in start-up companies for the last year alone. Aside the fact this is an impressive amount of money it is also very close to what VCs did themselves – $29B. Furthermore the number of deals backed up by angels is way bigger than the number of deals venture capitalists closed – 57,120 vs. 3813 deals in behalf of the private investors. The sources also claim there are 258,200 active angel investors in the USA alone. The vast majority of the angel deals go for Software and Internet start-ups. Angel investors continue to be the largest source of seed stage and early stage start-up capital, with 39% of 2007 angel investments going there. Based on those reports it seems the angels most rely on mergers and acquisitions for their exits, while VCs are more inclined for IPOs.

Basically angels tend to invest just like VCs do except they do smaller investments $200K to $2M and they do about 15 times as many deals as VCs. In most cases angels have the same investment criteria and expectations of significant returns as the VCs look for. The average deal size (seed stage) is about $250K.

The larger angel groups in Silicon Valley and Boston do significantly more deals and invest between $350K and $600K per round, and maybe $1.5M to $2M per company.

The conclusion here is that launching a start-up company and then getting it off the ground is a whole lot cheaper today then it used to be some years ago. This somehow leaves most of the traditional VCs out of the game since either angel investors are beating them or the large Internet players are buying those start ups far before the VCs get their hands over them.

As Paul Graham from Y Combinator points out there is is growing gap between the $20K to $100k most angels will put in and the $2 million to $3 million that a venture firm will commit. He argues that what startups need are more investments somewhere in the middle to fill that gap. Most Web startups don’t need $2 million. They need $300,000 or $500,000. But most venture capitalists don’t think those types of investments are worth their while.

Some very active angel pools are as follows Keiretsu Forum, Band of Angels, Beacon Angels, Boston Harbor Angels, Common Angels, eCoast Angels, Hub Angels, Launchpad among others.

Here is an interesting list of tips for you on how to land an angel for your start up business.

(Picture by CNN)

More

http://dondodge.typepad.com/the_next_big_thing/2008/04/angel-investors.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/15/where-have-all-the-bold-vcs-gone/
http://www.nvca.org/ffax.html
http://www.paulgraham.com/googles.html
http://money.cnn.com/2006/02/28/magazines/business2/angelinvestor/
http://wsbe.unh.edu/cvr
http://www.keiretsuforum.com/
http://www.bandangels.com/
http://www.angelcapitalassociation.org/
http://www.beaconangels.com/
http://www.bostonharborangels.com/
http://www.commonangels.com/
http://www.ecoastangels.com/
http://www.launchpadventuregroup.com/
http://www.hubangels.com/

Nice exit for Sphere.com

While AOL is trying to shop itself around they seem are not stopping the shopping spree themselves and keep on buying second tier web companies. After snatching Bebo last month, they have bought yesterday the related content engine Sphere, which is mainly used across blogs on Web.  So it seems to be official already: AOL has acquired sphere.com. Despite financial terms of the deal were not disclosed the price was rumored to be in the $25M range that comes on top of Sphere’s $3.5M total funding to date. That is supposed to be a nice exit for Sphere’s existing investors. There are bunch of angels and a couple of institutional investors in Sphere’s two rounds of funding. The first one was in the $500K range and the participating private investors then were Radar Partners, True Ventures, Winton Partners, David Mahoney, Scott Kurnit, Vince Vannelli, William Randolph Hearst III, Kevin Compton and Doug Mackenzie while their institutional round was closed by Hearst Corporation and Trident Capital and was in the $3M range. Well, other sources claim the company has taken over $4M in funding so we are not really sure which number is the correct one.

Sphere is basically providing contextually relevant content tools that make connections between text, video, photos and ads and according to the company is currently integrated into over 70,000 leading sites and is live on over 2 Billion monthly article pages across the web. If true that is pretty impressive number and should have been able to command a price way higher than the $25M rumored to have been paid for the company.

According to their blog “we are very excited about becoming part of AOL and wanted to share with you what it will mean for Sphere and our publisher partners, including “mainstream” media, micro-publishers and blog sites.”

Sphere has always been a publisher/ blogger -centric company, even in our early days as a fledgling blog search engine. We founded Sphere with a mission to make contextually relevant connections between all forms of content (mainstream media articles, archived articles, videos, blogs, photos, ads) that enable the reader to go deep on topics of interest. We also, by virtue of our starting point, set out to be a vehicle to enable the individual voice to join the conversation as well as expose their voice to a broader audience of readers. The benefit of joining the ‘sphere is straightforward: publishers/ bloggers who successfully promote distribution of their content and that of others will be in a position to derive more value (aka….make more money, gain more influence, etc.) from media distribution.”

We humbly thank everyone involved: our awesome team; advisors (Josh Macht; Toni Schneider; Matt Mullenweg; Mike Monteiro; Ron McCoy; Mary Hodder; and Scott Kurnit); investors, many of which wear halo’s (True Ventures; Trident Capital; Radar Partners; Hearst Interactive; Blacksmith; Phil Black; Will Hearst; David Mahoney; Mike Winton; Scott Kurnit; Vince Vannelli; Adaptive Path); our board (Venetia Kontogouris; Phil Black; Darcy Bentley; Scott Kurnit); publisher/ blog partners; the gang at Oddpost who showed us the way to build frugally/ intelligently; OM Malik, Mike Arrington, Kara Swisher, Dan Farber, Matt Marshall and the many other bloggers who’ve partnered, written, and given us advice; our attorney (Stefan Clulow); Howard Zeprun and Ira Parker who insured the dialog kept moving forward; Jen Consalvo who understood our potential and introduced to a number of AOL groups, Lewis Dvorkin and Bill Wilson who paid us the nicest compliment of all in offering to acquire our company and then doing so, family and friends. We’re thrilled to be part of this new genesis!

Sphere was founded by Tony Conrad, Martin Remy, Steve Nieker and Toni Schneider in 2005 and is based in San Francisco. Sphere uses its contextual-search platform technology to make connections between content from blogs, video, media, photos and advertisements. These contextual results are then displayed in a pop-over window or an integrated widget that lets publishers enhance articles by incorporating related articles and blog posts from archived content and across the Web.

Prior to the acquisition, AOL partnered with Sphere to offer its widget technology on AOL News and the myAOL service, Mgnet. Sphere’s third-party network includes more than 70,000 content publishers and blogs and is live on an average of more than 2 billion article pages across the web every month.

“Our focus at AOL is providing consumers relevant content wherever they are on the Web, and Sphere’s capabilities fit in perfectly with this effort. Not only will it let us enhance content on our own sites, it will let us distribute our content across Sphere’s growing third-party publisher network,” said Ron Grant, President and COO of AOL. “In addition, this acquisition provides AOL with access to advertising inventory across Sphere’s network, while growing its reach to content publishers via the widget.”

Sphere will be integrated in Bill Wilson’s organization, the EVP of Programming at AOL. His division controls AOL’s content properties (Entertainment, Finance, Weblogs, etc.).

Competition include Proximic, Lijit, Adaptiveblue, LinkedWords, somehow NosyJoe, Jiglu, among others. Other, although remote, players in this space include Attendi, Diigo, Twine and Freebase.

More about AOL

A Global Ad-Supported Web Services Company

AOL is a leading global advertising-supported Web company, with the most comprehensive display advertising network in the U.S., a substantial worldwide audience, and a suite of popular Web brands and products.

The company’s strategy focuses on increasing the scale and sophistication of its advertising platform and growing the size and engagement of its global online audience through leading products and programming.

Core Statistics

  • 109 million – Average domestic monthly unique visitors to the AOL network of Web properties during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix.
  • 49.2 billion – Domestic page views for the AOL network of Web properties during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix.
  • 150 – Average monthly page views per unique visitor to the AOL network of Web properties, during the quarter ending December 31, 2007.

 A sophisticated advertising network

AOL offers advertisers access to the broadest display advertising network in the U.S. and some of the most sophisticated tools available to target and measure online advertising campaigns through AOL’s Platform-A business group. Platform-A consists of Advertising.com, which operates the largest third-party display networks; behavioral targeting leader TACODA; Third Screen Media, which operates one of the largest mobile media networks; market leading video ad serving platform Lightningcast; Quigo, which offers advertisers the ability to target ads based on the content of Web pages; and ADTECH‘s global ad serving platform.

In addition, Platform-A Marketing Solutions provides large brand customers with coordinated access to the full Platform-A product suite, enabling advertisers and agencies to more easily harness the full power of digital media.

Industry-leading products and programs

AOL’s network of Web properties is one of the top three in the United States, attracting an average of 109 million unique visitors each month during the quarter ending December 31, 2007, according to comScore Media Metrix, and many are leaders in their categories.

MapQuest, for example, is the leading U.S. provider of online maps and directions; AIM is the No. 1 messaging service in the U.S.; and TMZ, developed in partnership with Warner Bros.’ Telepictures Productions, is the No. 1 domestic entertainment news site on the Web. Other popular destinations include Black Voices, a premiere site for the African-American community, and AOL Latino, a leading bilingual portal for U.S. Hispanics.

In the past year, AOL has relaunched all its major programming channels, including News, Sports, Money & Finance, Living, and launched several new sites, including Switched.com, PopEater, Stylelist, DIYLife and Green Daily.

AOL also has been upgrading its product suite, including the new AOL.com home page, improved AOL Mail, the new AOL Desktop, Safety and Security and Parental Control tools, and the new Winamp player. In addition, AOL has launched breakthrough products such as BlueString, which lets users easily store and share their pictures and movies, and myAOL, which lets users easily customize their homepage.

AOL’s Truveo video search tool, the leading video search engine, continues to expand its reach. During 2007, Truveo’s index of searchable videos grew 20-fold to more than 100 million. Truveo tracks more than 500,000 new videos uploaded to the Web each day. Queries across the Truveo video search network increased 20 fold during 2007. Unique monthly visitors across the sites powered by Truveo exceeded 50 million. Truveo has also launched localized versions of its video search product in 16 countries.

Expanding worldwide

As part of its aggressive international growth plans, AOL launched portals in Austria, The Netherlands, India, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland and Belgium. In addition, AOL teamed up with HP – a leading PC maker in the U.S. – to include localized versions of the AOL.com portal and other AOL services as the default setting on HP computers shipped in the United States and more than two-dozen countries worldwide.

AOL continues to operate one of the largest Internet subscription businesses in the United States, with 10 million domestic subscribers at the end of the third quarter of 2007.

More

http://www.sphere.com
http://www.sphere.com/blog/
http://aol.com/
http://corp.aol.com/press_releases/2008/04/aol-acquires-sphere
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/14/aol-buys-sphere-content-engine/
http://gigaom.com/2008/04/14/aol-buys-sphere/
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/tony-conrad
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/sphere
http://www.sphere.com/blog/2008/04/15/aol-buys-sphere/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/14/22m-uniques-mo-site-bebo-goes-to-aol-for-850m-in-all-cash-deal/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/12/aol-is-offered-up-for-sale/
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/tony-conrad
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/05/22/timecom-adds-sphere-it-links/
http://www.tridentcap.com/
http://kara.allthingsd.com/category/radar-partners/

Pageflakes is acquired by Brad Greenspan’s Live Universe

Pageflakes, an Ajax home page that once was a real competition to Netvibes, is being rumored to have been acquired by Live Universe for an undisclosed amount. Both companies refrain themselves from publicly announcing the deal nor made any comments on the technology blogs that mentioned about it, which tells us the deal is most likely in the very low-range not worth mentioning. What makes us think so? Pageflakes has surely lost the battle with Netvibes and is having just a fraction of the traffic Netvibes reaches. The rumor has it the company was seriously running out of money while maintaining a burn rate of over $300,000. It also became publicly known fact that the company failed to raise additional money and they were sort of forced to undergo the fire sale road, which is never a good one and leads to little to no premium on the price. 

Based on both Quantcast and Compete the Pageflakes’ traffic is relatively low (below 100K) when compared to some of the company’s competitors, which is by far not enough to go for your Series B round of funding.

Of course, Pageflakes CEO Dan Cohen, formerly of Yahoo, denied that the company was running out of cash by replying to rumors that way: “All startups are up for sale! We frequently receive inbound M&A inquiries”. 

According to our own research across the web it seems the price is perhaps above $500K and may be not much over $1M. A couple of facts lead us to the thinking that the deal is not high-profile one 1) The Colorado-based NewsGator was also said to have been bidding for Pageflakes, but the rumored price was in the $500K range; 2) Brad Greenspan’s vehicle is known to be buying web companies on the cheap and 3) both companies did not announce the deal, yet.

The buyer Live Universe, which was founded by MySpace founder Brad Greenspan, has made a number of acquisitions to spur growth. Most recently, they acquired video site Revver (also relatively cheap, price perhaps was in the $1M range), in February 2008.

More about Pageflakes

The company was founded in Germany and is headquartered in San Francisco. The company was co-founded in October 2005 by Christoph Janz, Omar AL Zabir, Ole Braundenburg and Shahedul Huq Khandkar. Benchmark Capital Europe (now Balderton Capital) invested $1.3 million in Pageflakes in May 2006, and followed up with a $2.8 million bridge taking the company’s total funding to the $4.1M mark.

Pageflakes is the easiest way to read, see, discover and share your favorite things on the web. Start by easily creating a web start page that keeps you up to date on the many blogs and news sources that you read daily. Add photos, videos, a calendar, email, a to-do list and more to make your page even more personal. You can even make special pages that you can share with friends, family, or post on the web for everyone.

Pageflakes has thousands of Flakes (widgets or modules) including Facebook, a universal News Search, YouTube, Twitter, message board, blog, and hundreds of RSS feeds to choose from. Design and create a page that you can have for yourself or share with anyone you choose.

Pageflakes was founded in Germany in 2006 and headquartered in San Francisco, California. Pageflakes draws on the rich experience of its executive team, comprised of seasoned professionals who have helped shape the Web today. Backed by Balderton Capital, Pageflakes is led by Dan Cohen, an innovator who fashioned the way that both Google and Yahoo sought to personalize the Web.

From what we read below the company’s CEO is obviously a very experienced guy in the personalized content space so we have no idea what’s gone wrong, where and when.

Dan Cohen oversees all aspects of Pageflakes’ rapidly growing worldwide business and has an integral role in driving the company’s product vision. Dan is a seasoned entrepreneur and startup CEO, and is an expert in personalized homepages. Prior to Pageflakes he was the head of My Yahoo!, Yahoo’s personalized homepage, and before that led product management for personalized products at Google, including the Google Personalized Homepage. Previously, Dan was the founder and CEO of two technology companies, Personity and USConnect, and led their acquisitions by Openwave and IKON, respectively. He also held key senior management positions at IKON Technology Services, including Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Director of Applications Development. Dan holds a dual Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon, and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Dan is staying on his CEO position and is said will be reporting to Greenspan, and the company will remain at their current offices in Germany and San Francisco.

Competitors include Netvibes, My AOL, Microsoft, My Yahoo! and of course iGoogle.

More

http://pageflakes.com/
http://www.pageflakes.com/insider/
http://www.liveuniverse.com/
http://www.balderton.com/
http://www.pageflakes.com/company/exec_team
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/dan-cohen
http://www.crunchbase.com/financial-organization/balderton-capital
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/13/pageflakes-acquired-by-live-universe/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/pageflakes
http://gigaom.com/2008/04/13/pageflakes-out-of-cash/
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,2265800,00.asp
http://webworkerdaily.com/2007/01/02/top-ajax-start-pages-reviewed/
http://www.benchmark.com/news/sv/2007/06_07_2007a.php
http://gigaom.com/2007/01/25/ex-yahoo-exec-now-pageflakes-ceo/
http://www.quantcast.com/pageflakes.com
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/pageflakes.com/?metric=uv
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/15/revver-the-video-revenue-sharing-site-finally-sells-out-but-the-price-is-not-hefty/
http://mashable.com/2008/02/14/liveuniverse-buys-revver/

The $250M pre-money seems did not work for Meebo and they go now for $175M

The rumor has it that Meebo fails to sell to date and is may be trying to raise new round of funding instead and not at the initial $250M pre-money valuation they were hoping for but at $175 – $200M. Some sources claim that companies like Fox/MySpace and AOL have taken a long look at the company, but ultimately passed based on the price. Perhaps it has something to do with the simple fact Meebo has only generated $1M in revenues since it launched.

Meebo is now said to be looking for private equity funds and major internet companies to possibly raise their next round at the whopping pre-money they have set for themselves. The same rumor is now saying that the same potential buyers that have passed on a possible acquisition deal are probably going to participate in Meebo’s new round. 

Meebo is a popular and rapidly growing web based instant messaging start up that was backed up by Sequoia Capital and is said to have roughly 4.6M unique visitors per month according to comScore’s publicly available stats. That’s valuing each of their visitors at the $54 mark, which is significantly more than what AOL has just recently paid for each of Bebo’s 22M visitors – $39 according our simple math. Many industry experts, commentators and bloggers have expressed their negative feelings about the potential deal and more concrete about its pre-money valuation. Anyone remember Slide and their pre-money valuation of $500M? Yet it was said then they had over 150M or so users worldwide, which, if true, valued their users at the $3 range.  

There is however something most of the technology blogs seem to have overlooked. Joshua Beil from Level 3 Communications has commented on one of the tech blogs that Meebo’s per user valuation could change quite substantially if one takes into account their unique visitors of the MeeboMe rooms widget. I’ve seen, he says, numbers in the 10-14M range and counting for just this application. Factor this in to the 4.6M uniques to Meebo.com and it’s at a discount to Bebo. We have no idea where he does take his numbers and what his affiliation with the company is, but if we take those numbers for real the $250M valuation does not sound ridicules anymore. In addition to that Venturebeat reports that Meebo has attracted 29 million monthly unique users worldwide, but they also say that some investors remain quite skeptical about Meebo and their business model. We have no clear idea where Venturebeat has come to that number of visitors.

The rumor is that Meebo has hired Montgomery & Co. to represent them in a new fundraising round that may value the company at a $250M. An interesting competition is forming on the scene there between Montgomery & Co. and Allen & Co., which is lately the investment bank behind pretty much all hot start ups that sold (got funded) or about to for hefty amounts (hefty valuations) in the valley such as Digg, Bebo, Slide, Technorati, among others.

What is also being said is that the company is looking to raise $25-30M in venture funding and if the valuation numbers are taken for real it means the VCs will take no more than 10% from Meebo. This is a whole lot more than the $60-70M that it was reportedly worth after a funding round last year.

More about Meebo

Meebo launched in September 2005 and received funding from Sequoia Capital in December 2005 and Draper Fisher Jurvetson in January 2007. Today, Meebo’s users exchange over 100 million instant messages daily.In early 2007, Meebo gets another $9 million from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Sequoia Capital. Skype’s lead investor and YouTube’s lead investor are teaming up. Tim Draper, one of the early investors in Skype, did the deal for DFJ. Meebo’s total funding is now $12.5 million.

More about Montgomery & Co.

Montgomery and Co. was founded in 1986 with a vision of providing strategic capital-formation advisory services to leading aerospace, defense and related technology companies.

Montgomery & Co. took advantage of the technology downturn and consolidation in the banking industry in 2000 to establish its reputation as the “go to” bank for growth companies that wished to evaluate their strategic options and raise capital. In doing so, Montgomery & Co. fulfilled its initial vision of providing a range of advisory services that encompassed M&A, private placements, comprehensive business-development analyses, and other value-added services.

In 2002 the firm was strengthened by investments from the world’s biggest bank, Mitsubishi UFJ, and West River Capital, of Seattle, WA. In 2003 the firm opened offices in Seattle, San Francisco and San Diego. At that time, the firm also significantly expanded its banking expertise within the healthcare and media industries, especially in the M&A practice.

In 2005, the firm was further strengthened by an investment from Tudor Investments which is the venture capital and private equity arm of Tudor Investment Corporation, an internationally recognized diversified investment management firm with $11.7 billion in assets.

We think a deal is on the go and might not be a funding one, but the price would definitely be much lower than the $200/250M they were hoping for.

More

http://www.meebo.com/
http://blog.meebo.com/about
http://www.monty.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/09/meebo-cant-get-their-price-go-for-a-fundraising-instead-of-sale/
http://www.conceptualist.com/2008/04/09/1-million-in-revenues-200-million-valuation/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/18/meebo-tries-to-raise-25m-in-return-of-only-10-equity-valuing-the-company-at-the-whopping-250m/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/31/meebo-turns-chat-rooms-into-a-web-service/
http://venturebeat.com/2008/03/17/meebo-raising-round-valued-up-to-250-million-bear-stearns-sold-for-236-million/
http://www.webware.com/8301-1_109-9896718-2.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Webware
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/18/is-meebo-worth-half-a-slide/
http://venturebeat.com/2007/01/18/im-service-meebo-growing-quickly-raises-more-cash/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2005/12/16/meebo-confirms-sequoia-funding/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/11/22/meebo-received-funding-from-sequoia-capital/
http://blog.meebo.com/?p=78
http://venturebeat.com/2006/08/02/meebome-lets-you-chat-directly-from-any-homepage/
http://venturebeat.com/2007/01/10/web-20-shakeout-continued-whats-up-at-insider-pages-meebo-others/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/meebo
http://www.techmeme.com/080318/p7#a080318p7
http://quantcast.com/meebo.com
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/meebo.com?metric=uv
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/14/22m-uniques-mo-site-bebo-goes-to-aol-for-850m-in-all-cash-deal/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/18/slide-gets-their-huge-valuation-and-raises-50-million/
http://www.crunchbase.com/financial-organization/montgomery-co
http://venturebeat.com/2007/12/06/meebo-partners-with-videoegg-to-help-app-developers-make-more-money/

MeeVee put itself up for sale

An interesting approach is taken at MeeVee. They are trying to sell themselves through a press release. This morning we have seen a short press announcement put up on Yahoo through BusinessWire giving relatively short details about the company and soliciting interested parties to contact a person at his email as indicated in the pr.

MeeVee is all about personalized TV guides and the company was said is having over 1.1 million organic unique users in March up from 480,000 in August 2007. The Company uses its editorial voice and proprietary technology to scour a curated list of thousands of sources to connect consumers with customized video, blog and TV programming content that matches their interests. The Company has significant issued IP, community, media relationships, a TV listings personalization engine, streaming TV directory and a compelling product roadmap. The Company has 7 full time employees, all in product and engineering.

So, what’s so interesting in here one may ask. First off in the press release the company claims is engaged in multiple discussions with potential acquirers that provide the greatest long term upside and synergy, but are giving a public announcement where they solicit more such interested parties to discuss with them. It is either nobody is interested in the company to date and they are trying to attract such interest or the interested parties are setting their offers too low and MeeVee is trying to establish sort of bidding war in order to drive valuations up.  You don’t normally ask for interested parties to contact a company re a sale unless the current talks (if any) aren’t going well.

So far so good, but when you go into some more details about the company you realize there is something wrong with the whole situation around MeeVee.

The company is known to have taken $25M in total funding to date and having just 1.1M ungues per month off $25M in venture capital appears no longer that attractive as in it was in first reading. That sort of information is skipped in their original press release. Their last round of funding (Series D) was taken just late last year and was in the $3.5M range, which means they have spent most, if not all, of the money they have previously taken. As to what is only left in the company from their last round remains unclear. To top it off the company has gone through some significant layoffs.

Some of MeeVee’s unhappy investors include DEFTA Partners, Edmond de Rothschild Venture Capital, WaldenVC, Labrador Ventures, The Bay Area Equity Fund (Effective January 24, 2008 the private equity investment professionals of the Bay Area Equity Fund have left JPMorgan to form DBL Investors LLC) and FCPR Israel Discovery Fund.

Over the past years we have been witnessing not only one deal where a web site with over 1M unique visitor per month has commanded acquisition prices in the $20M range, but in the MeeVee’s case we do not think that is the case. Why? Well, MeeVeee has spent $25M so far, has laid off its employees and is on its way down. If you have spent $25M the expectations for your company are for much larger reach and audience than just 1.1M visitors per month, so in the case their 1M users per month can be considered quite a failure in the context of the resources being allocated to the company.  The picture is already quite different if you take for an example a web site that has reached the 1M uniques per month mark off say less than $1M of money invested in so far, did not lay off its employees and is not on its way down as a trend on the traffic graphs of sites like Quantcast and Compete.

Whatever the case is it is hard for us to believe that 1.1M uniques per month can command a price anything above the amount of money they have taken from an army of venture capitalists. So what is then the case here? It is perhaps that the VCs are looking for a way to effectively liquidate the company and recoup whatever is possible leaving the founders with literally empty hands.

More about MeeVee

Discovering what’s online and on TV.

MeeVee is the leader in helping people navigate the growing world of online and television entertainment. Each month, over a million tech savvy, affluent and educated online users visit MeeVee to help make their entertainment choices.  These people are passionate about entertainment, and visit MeeVee again and again to track their favorites and to discover and share new entertainment choices.

Why? Today’s consumers are overwhelmed by the millions of online videos and hundreds of digital TV channels now available. MeeVee is the first destination to bring together traditional TV listings and online video from hundreds of sources in one place. Using our patented technology, consumers can personalize MeeVee to search for new TV and online video based on their interests. At MeeVee, our mission is to help them discover more of what they want to see.

Located in Burlingame, CA, MeeVee initially launched in 2005 as a television listings provider.  Using innovative new technologies, MeeVee changed the way consumers find TV programming by enabling them to personalize their guides to surface new programming choices based on people, shows, hobbies and keywords of interest. Now MeeVee is applying that same technology to the growing world of online video, helping individuals to cut through the clutter and discover interesting videos.  Today, MeeVee employs more than thirty enthusiasts who are passionate about our mission of helping consumers discover and enjoy the media they want to see. 

Supported by leading advertisers, including CBS, Netflix, Radio Shack and more, MeeVee also syndicates and licenses our television search and personalization services to leading newspapers, major online content providers and cable operators around the country. Our partners include some of the largest integrated media companies, including Gannett, Hearst and Media News Group. Our list of syndication partners is growing daily and includes USA Today, The Chicago Sun Times, San Francisco Chronicle and the Seattle Times.  Our investors, who have supported some of Silicon Valley’s most successful ventures, include JP Morgan, Labrador Ventures, Walden Venture Capital, Defta Partners, and Rothschild Ventures.

TechCrunch has called MeeVee, “an easy-to-use application and…a nice model for building a personalized web experience.”  MeeVee is a 2007 “Always On” Media 100 winner.

Well, in some of the latest posts about MeeVee on Techcrunch are surely not as positive as the sentence above and MeeVee is as of today put in the dead pool watch list.
More

http://meevee.com/
http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/080407/20080407006076.html 
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/07/25-million-later-meevee-in-trouble/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/meevee
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/07/16/meevee-cuts-20-of-staff/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/09/20/meevee-takes-35-million-series-d/
http://www.econtentmag.com/Articles/ArticleReader.aspx?ArticleID=17395
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_2006_Feb_27/ai_n16085490
http://www.techmeme.com/080407/p95#a080407p95
http://www.deftapartners.com/
http://www.labrador.com/
http://www.waldenvc.com/
http://www.jpmorgan.com/pages/jpmorgan/investbk/global/na/baef

Imeem confirms the acquisition of Snocap for reportedly less than $5M off more than $10M in venture capital taken by the company!

An acquisition that was announced in late February has today been confirmed. Imeem confirms the acquisition of Snocap. As we have then written Snocap has been in a long quest for a buyer (at least since Sept last year) and has gone through some massive layoffs, so it was clear the company had little to no options left but to sell off. Rumors have it that no other competitive buyers have ever shown up on the horizon and Imeem was the most logical buyer for Snocap.  Just like in February official terms were not disclosed, but some insiders have speculated the price tag has been less than $5M. What we do not understand is how a company with over $10M in venture capital money and quite solid technology has ended up selling itself under fire. Imeem is known to have been licensing the company’s digital fingerprinting technology to track how many times any particular song is streamed on its site so that it can allocate a portion of its advertising dollars to the major music labels.

Other rumors have it the total investment in Snocap is way over $10M with CSV II that is known to have made its first investment, leading a $15 million Series C round in Snocap, which happened in early 2006. Other technology bloggers have meanwhile speculated it has been a payday for Fanning (also the founder of Napster), but it is hard for us to believe in this knowing it’s pretty rare to see VC terms these days without some liquidation preferences that protect them against fire sales like this.

Imeem is being said it depends on Snocap’s digital fingerprinting technology for its entire business model, which has surely forced Imeem to buy the company. The Snocap technology matches the music to its database of 7 million songs, which then allows Imeem to allocate a portion of its advertising revenues to the music companies who own the copyrights to the songs.

After all being said for the two companies it still remains quite unclear for us why Snocap needed to sell. Pressured from investors or what? The lesson learned here for Imeem is that startups should not rely on other startups for the key technology that their business is built upon.

Snocap was founded in 2002 by Napster creator Shawn Fanning and Jordan MendelsonRon Conway is perhaps their angel investor. The company is known to have taken $10M million from Conway, Morgenthaler Ventures and WaldenVC. Just like Imeem’s deal with Universal Snocap has also signed a distribution deal with MySpace. In fact Imeem and Snocap have also partnered in the past where Imeem used Snocap’s digital fingerprinting technology to track how many times any particular song is streamed on its site so that it can allocate a portion of its advertising dollars to the major music labels.

More about Imeem

Imeem is an online community where artists, fans & friends can promote their content, share their tastes, and discover new blogs, photos, music and video. Here are some of the things you can do on imeem:

Discover
-Enjoy the latest videos, music, photos, or blogs posted on imeem.
-Stay up-to-date with your personal network of fans and friends with “What’s New” notifications.
-Get in-depth stats for all your content and track their popularity.

Interact
-Tag, comment, rate, and share any of your friends’ cool (or embarrassing) content.
-Create or join groups for your favorite band, event, topic, and more!
-Start discussions with other imeem users and make new friends.
 
Share
-Embed your media on other pages (such as your blog, Bebo, etc.).
-Recommend stuff to your friends or add it to your “Favorites” list.
-Easily add media to your Del.icio.us, WordPress, Blogger, or Typepad.

Imeem is hoping to make money from advertisers, a portion of which will be shared with its music partners. It has signed up Puma, Nike and Microsoft among others, though it does not disclose revenues.

This is Imeem’s second acquisition after they acquired Anywhere.FM in January. Imeem has raised two rounds of capital, although the size of the second round was not disclosed.

Imeem is based in San Francisco and takes its name from “meme” – a term coined to describe the ideas that communities, adopt, and express. Dalton Caldwell is the CEO of the company and the co-founded together with Jan Jannink. The company used to be in Palo Alto and is known to have launched in 2004. Known investors in the company are Morgenthaler (Series A founding) and Sequoia Capital, the venture capital fund that supported Google and YouTube.

It is interesting to know what Imeem’s total funding is considering the fact Snocap has raised $10M. Imeem’s first round was only for $750K. Imeem does not disclose revenues.

Some competitors and similar companies include Skreemr, Seeqpod, Deezer, Pandora, Lala, MOG, we7 and Wixi.

More

http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/01/snocap-has-been-acquired-by-imeem/
http://www.stanwichadvisors.com/docs/CSV%20Press%20Release.pdf
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/17/who-bought-rupture/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/07/imeem-confirms-snocap-acquisition/
http://snocap.com/
http://Imeem.com
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/imeem
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/13/imeem-acquires-snocap/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/10/exclusive-imeem-inks-a-deal-with-the-worlds-largest-record-company/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/09/02/myspace-gets-into-music-biz/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/06/20/imeem-now-officially-legitimate/

Despite rumors Microsoft is highly unlikely to increase its bid for Yahoo

When last week we wrote about Yahoo’s shares going up on rumors that Microsoft is going to increase their bid for the Internet giant it seems those rumors were not very accurate. This week Microsoft gave Yahoo a very strong signal it won’t happen.

Sources “close to the company” tell the Wall Street Journal that Microsoft is standing firm on its initial offer of $31 a share (which has now declined in value, in step with Microsoft’s stock price, from $44.6B to about $42B).

“There’s no reason to bid against ourselves,” one of these people said.

Microsoft’s strategists believe that time is on their side, the people close to the company say. The strategists argue that Yahoo’s recent roadshow failed to dazzle investors and nothing in its presentations will justify a higher price, the people say. In addition, the strategists argue that the worsening economic downturn and stock-market weakness make the original bid look even more generous.

The WSJ is also saying that Microsoft won’t reveal its alternate slate of directors until it has to—and that won’t be until ten days after Yahoo announces the date of its 2008 shareholders meeting, which it has yet to do.

Despite the fact those rumors were the reason behind Yahoo’s recent increase in their share price with 4.4% to $28.73 the company’s stock price did not fall much on today’s trade and remained close to $28 compared to the moment the rumors were broadcasted publicly.

Really more from MS/Yahoo’s saga

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120701820580579519.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/26/yahoo-shares-up-44-on-rumors-microsoft-will-increase-the-bid-to-34/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/25/citigroup-raises-yahoo-target-to-34-based-on-revised-microsoft-bid/
http://www.infoworld.com/article/08/03/25/Citigroup-says-Microsoft-likely-to-raise-bid-for-Yahoo_1.html
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
 

An Israeli sync start-up acquired for reportedly $25M

BeInSync Ltd., an Israeli-based provider of an all-in-one solution that allows users to backup, synchronize, share and access data online has been acquired by Phoenix Technologies for an undisclosed amount. However, Techcrunch has reported the company went for $25M.

Phoenix Technologies, based in Milpitas Calif., is a public company (PTEC) established in 1979 and designs, develops and supports core system software for personal computers and other computing devices. The Company’s product supports and enables the compatibility, connectivity, security, and manageability of the various components and technologies used in such devices. It sells these products primarily to computer and component device manufacturers. Phoenix Technologies has more than 300 employees and company’s today market capitalization was $426M on $47M revenues for the fiscal 2007.

BeInSync, on the other side, is just four and a half year old startup that is known to have raised $8M to date from several institutional investors like Alta Berkeley Venture Partners, Aviv Venture Capital Fund, and Eurofund. Looking at the numbers this seems not the dream exit for the investors – only $25M off $8M invested, but is perhaps better than nothing on the long term run considering the huge competition in the space of file sharing and synchronization among any type of devices from computers to mobile phones. The company’s founders are Tal Barnoach, Sharon Carmel, and Adi Ruppin.

The acquisition, which is anticipated to close within the next several weeks, represents yet another step by Phoenix in delivering on its PC 3.0 promise of Embedded Simplicity.

BeInSync’s technology redefines the way consumers and SMBs backup, access, share and protect documents, rich media files, and other important data. The company’s patent-pending, peer-to-peer technology allows users to seamlessly and securely access their latest files anytime and anywhere, automatically keeping files and folders ‘in sync’ and backed up across multiple computers, including home PCs, office PCs and laptops.

“This acquisition is a leap forward in our effort to redefine and significantly improve the PC experience by embedding simplicity for end users,” said Woody Hobbs, President and CEO of Phoenix Technologies. “PC 3.0 eliminates complexity and provides users with the kind of convenience they expect from their digital devices. We are bringing new benefits to the hundreds of millions of PC users globally who require built-in functionality on PCs by enabling secure and easy online access and collaboration and automated data protection to help them manage their digital lives.

“The integration of breakthrough synchronization technology from BeInSync will allow Phoenix and its customers to help end-users alleviate concerns about the loss of important files and to give them complete mobile freedom to access their data from any Internet-connected computer.”

Phoenix Technologies’ management team itself has extensive experience in synchronization technologies. Before joining Phoenix, Woody Hobbs served as President and CEO of Intellisync, a leader in wireless email and synchronization solutions, which was acquired in 2006 by Nokia.

“Given our past experience in synchronization solutions, it was fairly easy for us to identify the best possible technology existing out there that would fit in with our corporate vision and product strategy,” continued Hobbs. “We were very impressed with BeInSync’s people and their technology and we’re excited to work with them to transform data access and continuity for PC users in consumer and small business markets as well as in enterprise departments.

“End-users want to stay connected and always ‘be in sync’ with colleagues, friends, remote files and computer systems. We look forward to working with our OEM customers to make online synchronization and continuity a core part of the PC end user experience. Together, the two companies will meet a wider set of customer needs and have a significantly greater opportunity to enable PC OEMs to grow their markets.”

“We are very excited to be a part of Phoenix Technologies, the global leader in core systems firmware for PCs,” said Tal Barnoach, Founder and Chairman of BeInSync. “With this acquisition, Phoenix is extending its leadership in the PC industry to include products in its portfolio that will set the standard yet again for providing the best-in-class solutions to PC OEMs and their customers.”

Upon the closing of the acquisition, Sharon Carmel, Founder & Vice President of R&D at BeInSync, will join Phoenix as Vice President & Chief Scientist of Synchronization and Continuity Solutions and Phoenix will continue to maintain operations out of Tel Aviv, Israel. The two companies are developing integration plans that build on corporate similarities and the best business and product development practices from each company.

“Both Phoenix and BeInSync are passionate about creating and enabling great user experiences across the entire range of mobile PCs,” said Carmel. “Our combined teams will be a powerful force for innovation around emerging mobile computing platforms for delivering web-based data management and data protection solutions. PC 3.0 users will no longer be dependent on a single, stand-alone PC for access to their files and digital life. At the same time, Phoenix’s OEM customers will have new opportunities to differentiate their offerings, and provide additional value-added services as part of the PC sale.”

More about BeInSync

BeInSync redefines the way consumers and businesses access, share and protect their documents, photos, videos and music. With over 4 million downloads, BeInSync offers users complete freedom when dealing with their digital content, by allowing them to seamlessly sync, share, access and backup their data. Based on patent-pending secure peer-to-peer technology, BeInSync creates your own private data network that makes it easy to stay connected and always in sync with colleagues, friends, remote files and computers.

More about Phoenix Technologies

Phoenix Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: PTEC) is the global market leader in system firmware that provides the most secure foundation for today’s computing environments. The PC industry’s top builders and specifiers trust Phoenix to pioneer open standards and deliver innovative solutions that will help them differentiate their systems, reduce time-to-market and increase their revenues. The Company’s flagship products, AwardCore, SecureCore, FailSafe and HyperSpace, are revolutionizing the PC user experience by delivering unprecedented security, reliability and ease-of-use. The Company established industry leadership with its original BIOS product in 1983, has 155 technology patents and 139 pending applications, and has shipped in over one billion systems. Phoenix is headquartered in Milpitas, California with offices worldwide.

More

http://www.beinsync.com
http://www.beinsync.com/company/press-releases/press_release_phoenix_anouncement.php
http://www.phoenix.com
http://investor.phoenix.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=301730
http://www.thecoils.com/2008/03/27/beinsync_exit/ (in Hebrew)
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/26/beinsync-acquired-by-phoenix-technologies-for-25m/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/beinsync
http://www.beinsync.com/
http://investor.phoenix.com/common/download/download.cfm?companyid=PTEC&fileid=183485&filekey=d858c202-a278-42bf-b2b4-23ce4ce3a404&filename=301730.pdf
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=PTEC
http://www.altaberkeley.com/
http://www.avivvc.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extensible_Firmware_Interface
http://www.eurofund.co.il/

Yahoo shares up 4.4% on rumors Microsoft will increase the bid to $34

To make a long story short a Citigroup Investment Research analyst believes that rather than let the deal fall apart, Microsoft will increase its buyout offer for Yahoo. Citigroup has raised its Yahoo price target to $34 per share based on their belief that Microsoft will revise its takeover offer. The guy is named Mark Mahaney and he said “We believe that a Yahoo sale to Microsoft — at a price higher than the initial $31 bid is the most likely outcome”.

On those rumors and others Yahoo shares closed at $28.73 Tuesday, which is up 4.4%.

Mahaney also said Microsoft is yet to make significant inroads in the area of online advertising, especially against market leader Google, despite efforts to do so for the past three to four years. The only way Microsoft could compete with Google would be to acquire Yahoo, the analyst said.

It was also said Yahoo keeps on aggressively pursuing other alternatives to Microsoft’s unsolicited takeover bid, although there are no any other competing bidders for the company at this time. Rumored possibility is Time Warner, but analysts are saying it is more likely to force Microsoft increase its bid rather than ending up in a deal with Yahoo.

Really more

http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/25/citigroup-raises-yahoo-target-to-34-based-on-revised-microsoft-bid/
http://www.infoworld.com/article/08/03/25/Citigroup-says-Microsoft-likely-to-raise-bid-for-Yahoo_1.html
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

Meebo tries to raise $25M in return of only 10% equity valuing the company at the whopping $250M

Meebo is a popular and rapidly growing web based instant messaging start up that was backed up by Sequoia Capital and is said to have roughly 4.6M unique visitors per month according to comScore’s publicly available stats. That’s valuing each of their visitors at the $54 mark, which is significantly more than what AOL has just recently paid for each of Bebo’s 22M visitors – $39 according our simple math. Many industry experts, commentators and bloggers have expressed their negative feelings about the potential deal and more concrete about its pre-money valuation. Anyone remember Slide and their pre-money valuation of $500M? Yet it was said then they had over 150M or so users worldwide, which, if true, valued their users at the $3 range.  

Some analysts have even compared the deal’s value to the Bear Stearns one, which has just sold out for “only” $236M.

There is however something most of the technology blogs seem to have overlooked. Joshua Beil from Level 3 Communications has commented on one of the tech blogs that Meebo’s per user valuation could change quite substantially if one takes into account their unique visitors of the MeeboMe rooms widget. I’ve seen, he says, numbers in the 10-14M range and counting for just this application. Factor this in to the 4.6M uniques to Meebo.com and it’s at a discount to Bebo. We have no idea where he does take his numbers and what his affiliation with the company is, but if we take those numbers for real the $250M valuation does not sound ridicules anymore. In addition to that Venturebeat reports that Meebo has attracted 29 million monthly unique users worldwide, but they also say that some investors remain quite skeptical about Meebo and their business model. We have no clear idea where Venturebeat has come to that number of visitors.

The rumor is that Meebo has hired Montgomery & Co. to represent them in a new fundraising round that may value the company at a $250M. An interesting competition is forming on the scene there between Montgomery & Co. and Allen & Co., which is lately the investment bank behind pretty much all hot start ups that sold (got funded) or about to for hefty amounts (hefty valuations) in the valley such as Digg, Bebo, Slide, Technorati, among others.

What is also being said is that the company is looking to raise $25-30M in venture funding and if the valuation numbers are taken for real it means the VCs will take no more than 10% from Meebo. This is a whole lot more than the $60-70M that it was reportedly worth after a funding round last year.

Some big names in the social-networking space like Facebook and News Corp.’s MySpace.com are rumored to may possibly be interested in the deal. MySpace operates its own instant-messaging service, and Facebook is rumored to have one in the pipeline.

Montgomery and Co. has requested that all offers be in by Wednesday, and has told investors it has several parties interested at a valuation of $200M. The rumor goes here that at least one of the strategic investors isn’t interested in sharing the investment, preferring instead to buy Meebo entirely.

More about Meebo

Meebo launched in September 2005 and received funding from Sequoia Capital in December 2005 and Draper Fisher Jurvetson in January 2007. Today, Meebo’s users exchange over 100 million instant messages daily.In early 2007, Meebo gets another $9 million from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Sequoia Capital. Skype’s lead investor and YouTube’s lead investor are teaming up. Tim Draper, one of the early investors in Skype, did the deal for DFJ. Meebo’s total funding is now $12.5 million.

More about Montgomery & Co.

Montgomery and Co. was founded in 1986 with a vision of providing strategic capital-formation advisory services to leading aerospace, defense and related technology companies.

Montgomery & Co. took advantage of the technology downturn and consolidation in the banking industry in 2000 to establish its reputation as the “go to” bank for growth companies that wished to evaluate their strategic options and raise capital. In doing so, Montgomery & Co. fulfilled its initial vision of providing a range of advisory services that encompassed M&A, private placements, comprehensive business-development analyses, and other value-added services.

In 2002 the firm was strengthened by investments from the world’s biggest bank, Mitsubishi UFJ, and West River Capital, of Seattle, WA. In 2003 the firm opened offices in Seattle, San Francisco and San Diego. At that time, the firm also significantly expanded its banking expertise within the healthcare and media industries, especially in the M&A practice.

In 2005, the firm was further strengthened by an investment from Tudor Investments which is the venture capital and private equity arm of Tudor Investment Corporation, an internationally recognized diversified investment management firm with $11.7 billion in assets.

More

http://www.meebo.com/
http://blog.meebo.com/about
http://www.monty.com/
http://venturebeat.com/2008/03/17/meebo-raising-round-valued-up-to-250-million-bear-stearns-sold-for-236-million/
http://www.webware.com/8301-1_109-9896718-2.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Webware
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/18/is-meebo-worth-half-a-slide/
http://venturebeat.com/2007/01/18/im-service-meebo-growing-quickly-raises-more-cash/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2005/12/16/meebo-confirms-sequoia-funding/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2007/11/22/meebo-received-funding-from-sequoia-capital/
http://blog.meebo.com/?p=78
http://venturebeat.com/2006/08/02/meebome-lets-you-chat-directly-from-any-homepage/
http://venturebeat.com/2007/01/10/web-20-shakeout-continued-whats-up-at-insider-pages-meebo-others/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/meebo
http://www.techmeme.com/080318/p7#a080318p7
http://quantcast.com/meebo.com
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/meebo.com?metric=uv
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/14/22m-uniques-mo-site-bebo-goes-to-aol-for-850m-in-all-cash-deal/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/18/slide-gets-their-huge-valuation-and-raises-50-million/
http://www.crunchbase.com/financial-organization/montgomery-co
http://venturebeat.com/2007/12/06/meebo-partners-with-videoegg-to-help-app-developers-make-more-money/

Website Optimization company and CMS leader joined forces

An interesting deal happened a few months ago, announced in October 2007 and closed in November the same year. Interwoven, a public company traded on NASDAQ, has acquired the said website optimization pioneer Optimost.

The both companies then said that combination of Interwoven’s Content Management Solutions with Optimost’s Multivariable Testing and Optimization Solution will help organizations maximize online business performance.

Under the terms of the agreement between Optimost and Interwoven, Interwoven will pay approximately $52 million in cash for all outstanding shares of Optimost and assume certain existing employee stock options. From what we were able to dig up, Optimost is probably having less than $8M in revenues per year, which translates into multiple around 6X the revenues, which is not that impressive number after all. Interwoven is based in San Jose, Calif, and is making itself over $200M in revenues enjoying a market capitalization of 539.57M (March 17 2008).

As businesses continue to spend unprecedented amounts to drive traffic to their Websites through search engine marketing, pay-per-click ads, banner ads, e-mail, and other tactics, they face a significant challenge in converting traffic into revenue-generating customers. The combination of Interwoven’s content management solutions and Optimost’s optimization solution helps businesses address this challenge by providing marketers with the industry’s most complete set of capabilities for creating, deploying, testing, analyzing, and optimizing targeted content to Website visitors.

“This acquisition supports our strategy to power our customers’ online presence, and we believe it puts Interwoven at the top of the short list of a company’s must-have partners for online business,” said Joe Cowan, chief executive officer at Interwoven. “Companies today understand that maximizing their online business performance is the key to accelerating growth and profits, and that content is at the core of their online strategy. By acquiring Optimost, we are providing customers with a powerful solution for optimizing their content – which creates the connection point between the visitor and the Web – to provide the most compelling experience, faster, more efficiently, and more effectively than ever before.”

Founded in 2001, Optimost is a privately-held company headquartered in New York City, whose customers include Ask.com, Auto Trader, Delta Air Lines, FAO Schwarz, Lenovo, and MGM Mirage. Optimost has a proven track record in helping its clients achieve double-digit increases in conversion rates and online sales. For example, Delta Air Lines made changes to Delta.com based on the results of its multivariable optimization initiative, which has added up to approximately $15 million in additional revenue so far this year.

“Today’s announcement is wonderful news for Optimost’s customers,” said Mark Wachen, chief executive officer at Optimost. “When we founded Optimost, our vision was to deliver technology that allows marketers to increase the effectiveness of their online presence to drive measurable business results. Clearly, Interwoven shares the same vision and by combining forces we will be able to extend our innovative technology to a much larger market and provide Optimost customers with a more complete solution for maximizing their marketing investments. We look forward to joining the team at Interwoven.”
In just matter of couple of weeks the deal was closed on November 1st, 2007.

All Optimost employees, including the founders, Mark Wachen and Lance Lovette, have joined Interwoven and will focus on product innovation, customer support, and the continued acceleration of Interwoven’s business in the online marketing arena.

The Optimost solutions are now available through Interwoven as a standalone offering as well as in conjunction with the solutions in Interwoven’s portfolio.

Interwoven expects the Optimost acquisition to contribute in the range of $1.5 million to $2.0 million to total revenue during the fourth quarter of 2007, subsequent to the acquisition date and before considering purchase accounting adjustments to revenues of approximately $1.0 million.

More about Optimost

New York-based Optimost is a technology and services company specializing in comprehensive real-time testing and conversion rate marketing. Pioneers in the field of multivariable testing, the firm is able to create and test virtually limitless permutations of copy, offers and layouts in the time it takes to conduct a standard A/B page comparison test. By combining real-life response data with information about which variables were displayed in the test, Optimost clients are able to determine how much each individual website element contributes to the overall response rate. Client web pages can then be optimized further based on the combinations of most positive individual site elements. Optimost clients include: InterActiveCorp, Lillian Vernon, Delta Air Lines, Time Warner, QVC, and EarthLink.

More about Interwoven

Interwoven is a global leader in content management solutions. Interwoven’s software and services enable organizations to maximize online business performance and organize, find, and govern business content. Interwoven solutions unlock the value of content by delivering the right content to the right person in the right context at the right time. Over 4,200 of the world’s leading companies, professional services firms, and governments have chosen Interwoven, including adidas, Airbus, Avaya, BT, Cisco, Citi, Delta Air Lines, DLA Piper, the Federal Reserve Bank, FedEx, Grant Thornton, Hilton Hotels, Hong Kong Trade and Development Council, HSBC, LexisNexis, MasterCard, Microsoft, Samsung, Shell, Qantas Airways, Tesco, Virgin Mobile, and White & Case. Over 20,000 developers and over 300 partners enrich and extend Interwoven’s offerings.

More

http://www.interwoven.com/
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=NASDAQ:IWOV
http://www.optimost.com/
http://www.interwoven.com/components/page.jsp?topic=MAIN::NEWS&dcr=components/optimost.jsp
http://www.interwoven.com/components/page.jsp?topic=NEWS::RELEASES&dcr=templatedata/announcement/press-release/data/2007/dcr-2007-10-17-optimost.xml
http://www.centernetworks.com/interwoven-acquires-optimost-social-news http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/18/interwoven-acquires-optimost-for-52-million/
http://www.optimost.com/press/2007-11-interwoven-announces-close.php