Category Archives: angel investors

Bootstrapping: Weapon of Mass Reconstruction

“Sramana Mitra’s Bootstrapping: Weapon of Mass Reconstruction is a book for our time because it’s something real out of Silicon Valley. No more stories about legendary VC fundings of startup-to-IPO in six months. …This book has some fascinating histories of the different paths people take to entrepreneurship, and the difficulties they face. I would only have wished each of the interviews to be longer and deeper, because every story is worth telling.” – Fast Company

In a world battered by economic crisis, Sramana Mitra believes entrepreneurship is the only sustainable path forward to a healthy economic world order. And core to the success of entrepreneurial ventures today is the invigorating art of bootstrapping. Sramana Mitra–a serial entrepreneur, strategy consultant and Forbes columnist–takes aim at this essential route along the roadmap to startup success with Bootstrapping: Weapon of Mass Reconstruction (Entrepreneur Journeys Vol. 2; BookSurge; June 1, 2009; $16.95 paperback).

Along with the incisive analysis and commentary that have popularized popularized her blog “Sramana Mitra on Strategy” and Forbes columns, Mitra showcases a dozen successful entrepreneurs and their lessons from the bootstrapping trenches. Overflowing with lively entrepreneurial tangents, theories and behind-closed-doors-experience, the book rises to the level of economic policy discussion while simultaneously offering practical advice from experienced bootstrappers. Important issues like doing more with less, getting started with little or no capital, and validating the market on the cheap are discussed with the likes of Om Malik of GigaOm and Greg Gianforte of RightNow.

In her characteristic narrative style, Mitra shepherds established and aspiring entrepreneurs through another inspiring and page-turning expedition into venture land, a territory she hopes will be claimed by many more in the years to come.

“From my perspective it is clear that small business must be a top policy priority,” explains Mitra. “Let us hope that in the coming decade the number of small businesses will double, then triple and quadruple. For here is the most powerful engine of economic growth and sustenance. Here is our way back.”

More Praise for Bootstrapping:

“Mitra clearly has a passion for small businesses. This useful volume is largely comprised of interviews with the founders of such companies. Her skilled questioning prompts a discussion of the many issues involved in starting and growing a business. The entrepreneurs share wisdom and insight useful to any budding or existing business owner. The reader will be struck by the vision, inventiveness and sheer determination of these entrepreneurial heroes, who operate businesses that are successful but far below the radar. A highly relevant and timely work on entrepreneurship’s role in economic reconstruction.” – Kirkus Discoveries

“Sramana’s work on bootstrapped entrepreneurs is an inspiration in these tough economic times. The solutions to our economic problems ultimately lie with the entrepreneur who brings imagination, resourcefulness and good old-fashioned elbow grease to tackle old problems in new ways, create new solutions and new industries. It is all too easy to forget this, particularly when we feed on the depressing daily diet of endless bailouts and hear trillions of dollars being thrown around. A great entrepreneur can do a lot with ten thousand dollars. This book is a good antidote to the depressing mood of these times.” – Sridhar Vembu, CEO of AdventNet and Zoho, Bootstrapped to over $50 million in annual revenue

“In the end, a true entrepreneur will not be denied. What Sramana captures with simple grace are the riveting personal stories of modern day business alchemists, who mix vision, pragmatism and relentless effort to forge creative new and successful ventures. Her collection of interviews will make for an engaging, educational read, for those in the entrepreneurial space, those considering joining the game and those just plain curious about the formative innovators whose efforts provide outsize social returns of the most concrete and enduring nature.” – Don Hutchison, Silicon Valley Angel Investor

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sramana Mitra is a technology entrepreneur and strategy consultant in Silicon Valley. She has founded three companies, is a columnist for Forbes, and writes a business blog, Sramana Mitra on Strategy (www.sramanamitra.com). She has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT.

Via EPR Network

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

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

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/

Federated Media raises huge round of funding – $50M

 In a period full with launch of new ad networks and deals about such Federated Media has raised a huge amount of money – $50 million in a C round led by Oak Investment Partners and Omidyar Network as a returning investor from their first round. The rumor has it the company has turned down a $100M buy out offer some time ago and apparently they have chosen to go through the investors’ road. The pre-money valuation for this road is rumored to be in the $200M range, which off $22M in revenues the company is brining in per year is not that overvalued at all. The company claims to be reaching a collective audience of over 50M people in US per month, which is an impressive number, yet those eye bolls are under the control of the web publishers and they may leave, together with their visitors, any time they do not like what are being paid for bringing them in. The company’s current investment comes on top of $7.5M previously taken. Federated Media claims profitability reached in September 2007.

Oak Investment Partners is actually buying out a minority stake for their $50M and this is not really a typical funding deal as it turns out.

“Federated Media has a proven, profitable business model with some of the industry’s most knowledgeable people at the helm,” said Fred Harman, general partner at Oak, who will be joining the FM board of directors. “The company has shown clear leadership in the emerging conversational media ecosystem. FM represents some of the best publisher and advertiser content on the Web, and with productive industry relationships, the company is poised to do amazing things going forward.”

With expertise in custom, integrated conversational marketing campaigns, FM has developed deep and long-term relationships with leading brand marketers and advertising agencies. Over the last three years, the company has expanded beyond its technology roots into verticals including parenting, business & marketing, media & entertainment, video gaming, graphics arts, automotive and more.

“We’ve been an early and avid supporter of Federated’s model,” said Casey Jones, vice president of marketing at Dell. “We look forward to continuing our work with the company as it expands its business.”

FM’s full portfolio of digital media brands includes web favorites such as Boing Boing, Ars Technica, Ask A Ninja, Digg, Dooce, Confessions of a Pioneer Woman and NOTCOT, as well as social networking applications including Graffiti Wall (in Facebook, Hi5, MySpace and other social networks), Watercooler (in Facebook, Bebo and others) and many more. FM is expanding its portfolio and has just this year brought on diverse sites such as Silicon Alley Insider, Destructoid and Buzzine. FM also manages sponsorship programs for a roster of events such as the twice-annual Conversational Marketing Summit and Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival.

“FM and Oak are a great match,” said Chris Albinson, co-founder and managing director of Panorama Capital, an early investor and board member at FM. “Oak will add great value to FM’s board, and we look forward to working with Fred and his team.”

FM generates revenue for its partner sites and event organizers through integrated sponsorships, advertising and other marketing services for global brands and their advertising agencies. Recent examples of premium brand-building programs include BMW’s 1-Series drawing contest, which invited Facebook members to custom paint BMW models using Graffiti’s digital illustrating tools, and the co-publishing and promotion partnership with American Express around their OPEN Forum blog for small business owners.

“We’re proud to bring Oak on board as major investor,” said John Battelle, founder and CEO of Federated Media. “The Oak team understands the media business and has relationships within the media and Internet industries that will benefit FM with insights from Silicon Valley as well.

More about Federated Media (FM)

Founded in 2005, FM represents more than 125 conversational media entrepreneurs who run more than 150 of the world’s most respected websites, blogs, and social networking applications. The company became profitable in the third quarter of 2007.

Federated Media (FM) is an advertisement serving company that works with many of the top blogs on the web. It acts as a middle man that connects medium sized websites/companies with large and small advertisers. FM is essentially an ad aggregator for companies that are too small to have direct relationships with big advertisers yet big enough to demand higher rates than available on services such as Google’s Adsense. It can distribute ads to numerous blogs helping advertisers and ad publishers avoid an overwhelming amount of business relationships.

FM does banner as well as text advertising on a CPM (cost per impression) basis. Pricing varies per blog property and can reach upwards of $30 per thousand impressions.

Founder is John Battelle

John Battelle is an entrepreneur, journalist, professor, and author who has founded or co-founded businesses, magazines and websites. Formerly a professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, Battelle, 42, is also a founder and Executive Producer of the Web 2.0 conferences and “band manager” with BoingBoing.net. Previously, Battelle was founder, Chairman, and CEO of Standard Media International (SMI), publisher of The Industry Standard and TheStandard.com. Prior to founding The Standard, Battelle was a co-founding editor of Wired magazine and Wired Ventures. Before Wired, Battelle worked at the Los Angeles Times and MacWeek, a unit of Ziff Davis. John is currently CEO and Chairman of Federated Media.

In 2005-6, Battelle wrote The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture (Penguin/Portfolio), an international bestseller published in 26 languages. He maintains Searchblog, a daily site covering the intersection of media, technology and the internet at www.battellemedia.com.

Battelle was a founding Board member of the Online Publishers Association and sits on the board of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, as well as the Board of his children’s school.

Battelle has been named a “Global Leader for Tomorrow” and “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He was a finalist in the “Entrepreneur of the Year” competition by Ernst & Young and has recently been named an “Innovator,” one of ten best marketers in the business, by Advertising Age and one the the “Most Important People on The Web” by PCWorld. He holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Investors include Omidyar Network, New York Times, Mitchell Kapor, Andrew Anker, Mike Homer, Tim O’Reilly, JP Morgan and Oak Investment Partners, which has given the money for their last and biggest round to date.

More about Oak Investment Partners

Oak Investment Partners is a multi-stage venture capital firm with a total of $8.4 billion in committed capital. The primary investment focus is on high growth opportunities in Internet/new media, communications, information technology, financial services information technology, healthcare services and consumer retail. Over a 28-year history, Oak has achieved a strong track record as a stage-independent investor funding more than 450 companies at key points in their lifecycle. Oak has been involved in the formation of companies, funded spinouts of operating divisions and technology assets, and provided growth equity to mid- and late-stage private businesses and to public companies through PIPE investments.

The space is very crowded and among other competitors Technorati is one of the companies holding greater chance for turning its fairly popular online brand into an ad network for blogs

More

http://federatedmedia.net/
http://www.federatedmedia.net/press/2008/04/federated_media_receives_inves.php
http://www.oakvc.com/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/federatedmedia
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/15/federated-medias-50-million-c-round-confirmed%e2%80%94no-plans-to-buy-up-blog-partners/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/21/federated-medias-battelle-slams-rival-hints-at-investing-in-publishers/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/21/federated-medias-battelle-slams-rival-hints-at-investing-in-publishers/
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/john-battelle
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/02/technorati-is-rumored-to-be-in-preparation-of-blogger-ad-network/

Looks like SpinVox is about to get a real run for the money, Nuance enters their niche

Everything leads us to the simple conclusion that Nuance is taking on SpinVox’s voice-to-text technology. It has always been interestingly enough to see how pouring big VC money into an idea, market niche, product or solution is always attracting some bigger player to try and exploit it. It seems the case with SpinVox today is pretty much the same. Nuance Communications, Inc., (the bigger player) announced today at CTIA Wireless 2008  the “Nuance Voicemail to Text” . Offered via wireless carriers, transcribed messages are sent to users as SMS or email messages. This news is hard not to connect to SpinVox’s massive round of funding that took place just a few weeks ago.

“Converting voicemail to text is a powerful and simple concept. But implementing a highly scalable semi-automated service is far more complex and requires highly accurate speech recognition – technology that takes decades to develop,” said Steve Chambers, president, mobile and consumer services division, Nuance. “The Nuance Voicemail to Text Service integrates speech technology with over 3,000 Nuance transcriptionists, hosted in a Nuance-owned facility, with proven security, scalability, and reliability.” 

Nuance’s telco-grade Voicemail to Text service delivers high-quality readable messages in minutes, giving you quick access to accurate transcriptions of your voicemail messages. Your entire voicemail message is transcribed and delivered directly to your mobile device. Users don’t have to worry about writing down or losing information while on-the-go. Messages can be saved, indexed in an archive and retrieved anytime, anywhere.

Nuance has revolutionized voicemail to text through high levels of automation. Nuance can deliver the world’s most accurate solution for turning speech into text with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, the world’s leading proprietary speech recognition engine, backed by 400 patents worldwide and proven by millions of users over 10 years. Nuance’s own state-of-the-art speech technology is supported by 3,000 in-house transcriptionists, hosted in a Nuance-owned facility with “five nines” (99.999%) uptime and reliability.

While the early, direct to consumer model of voicemail to text services was needed for a proof-of-concept, Nuance is changing the model to bring speech-enabled services to the mobile consumer through carriers. Nuance hosts the Voicemail to Text for service providers, integrating it with any standard voicemail system. Callers simply leave a message on a voicemail system that’s Nuance-enabled, and the message is transcribed to text and sent back to the voicemail platform, which delivers it to users through different messaging mediums such as email or SMS.

Nuance Communications, Inc. (NUAN) is a $3.8B market capitalization company that generates over $600M (2007) in revenues per year.

As just like some other technology blogs have already noticed and commented on, we also think all this looks like SpinVox is about to get a real run for the money to justify its huge valuation of $500M pre-money!

SpinVox, a London based voice-to-text technology has just recently raised $100M round of funding from a bunch of high-profile investors among which are Goldman Sachs, GLG Partners, Blue Mountain Capital Management and Toscafund Asset Management. Some of those venture capitalists have surely been seriously upset today.

The service can basically be described as a solution that transcribes voicemails to text so that they can be more easily digitized, searched, and manipulated. SpinVox’s software works simply by converting a voicemail message into text, which it then e-mails to a computer or sends via SMS to a phone. It removes the need to dial one’s voicemail, punch in a password and listen to messages.

More about Nuance

Nuance Communications, Inc. (Nuance) is a provider of speech-based solutions for businesses and consumers worldwide. The Company’s speech solutions are designed to transform the way people interact with information systems, mobile devices and services. Nuance offers businesses and consumers value-added speech, dictation and imaging solutions that facilitate the way people access, share, manage and use information in business and daily life. The Company provides speech solutions to enterprise speech, mobility, and healthcare dictation and transcription markets. Nuance markets and distributes its products indirectly through a global network of resellers, including system integrators, independent software vendors, value-added resellers, hardware vendors, telecommunications carriers and distributors, and directly through its sales force and through the Company’s e-commerce Website.

More about SpinVox

We launched in 2005 through The Carphone Warehouse, The Link and other retail channels. Pretty soon we had over 130,000 regular users, with an unprecedented customer retention rate of 80%. People who started speaking through SpinVox soon found they couldn’t live without it.

SpinVox has since won major industry awards from people like the GSM Association, Red Herring and Ernst & Young. No, we’re not boasting, we’re just pleased. In fact we’re amazed at how SpinVox is changing people’s lives.

At the heart of SpinVox is our patented Voice Message Conversion System™ (or VMCS to keep it simple). It underpins everything we do – our retail, enterprise, service provider and global carrier services. It’s maintained on an enterprise-class hardware infrastructure by an expert management team, to meet the rigorous demands of global carriers and their customers. Which means it just works, brilliantly.

From retail brands and direct customers, to global carriers and Web 2.0 brands, we are leading the way in converging voice and screens. SpinVox products are used on five continents, in five languages, with new carrier and technology partners joining us every month. SpinVox has 300 employees and offices in nine countries.

Some other competitors include Jott, Pinger, SimulScribe, among others.

More

http://www.nuance.com/
http://www.nuance.com/vm2text/
http://www.nuance.com/naturallyspeaking/
http://finance.google.com/finance?&q=NUAN
http://wirelessspeech.blogspot.com/2008/04/nuance-challenges-spinvox-in-voicemail.html
http://mashable.com/2008/04/01/nuance/
http://www.ctia.org/conventions_events/wireless/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/21/spinvox-raises-100m-at-a-whopping-500m-valuation/
http://www.spinvox.com/
http://blog.spinvox.com/
http://www.spinvox.com/spinvox-secures-over-100-million-in-new-funding-round..html
http://www.moconews.net/entry/419-voicemail-to-text-firm-spinvox-raises-100-million-500-million-valuation/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/20/spinvox-translates-voice-to-text-service-into-a-100-million-round/
http://mashable.com/2008/03/20/spinvox-funded/
http://uk.techcrunch.com/2008/03/19/it-looks-like-spinvox-has-raised-50m/
http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUKN1932303420080319?rpc=44
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/13/your-phone-is-your-mic-spinvox-lets-users-talk-to-twitter-facebook-and-jaiku-europe-only/
http://www.spinvox.com/spinvox-targets-cambridge-for-speech-recognition-skills..html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied_Domecq
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedro_Domecq
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/spinvox

An online career community that connects people through personal relationships and affiliations

Doostang is an interesting concept built upon the belief that over 50% up to 70% of recruiting today is done through the personal network of contacts and a large portion of which is done by email communication. Using your personal network is the most effective way to find the right candidate for a position and to find the perfect job. It eliminates the need to either post a job to an irrelevant audience or to search through the multitude of jobs available on the Internet or newspapers that would be of no interest to you. Doostang provides the infrastructure to connect personal networks together and to create a natural quality filter for recruiting and job searching.

Essentially Doostang is an online career community that connects people through personal relationships and affiliations. Members use Doostang to share relevant career opportunities and to interact with one another.

Below is how Doostang is different.

Using traditional online job websites, we got frustrated. If you’re searching for a new position and looking through hundreds of jobs, you’re lucky to find one that interests you but probably won’t hear back. On the other hand, as a recruiter, you may often find yourself inundated with irrelevant resumes when posting a position online.

Doostang recognizes the power of good information, especially when it comes to your career. Over 70% of jobs are, after all, filled through referrals. Doostang’s network offers immediate access to relevant people and opportunities through shared friends.

We’ve seen students, those who are happily employed, those looking for an exciting new job, recruiters, and fans of the community invite their friends to join the Doostang Network. In fact, tens of thousands of people are on Doostang just to help. By being a member and connecting people who are looking for a job or candidate, you are also building your own network on Doostang. In doing so, you are making more opportunities available for yourself and your friends down the line should you ever need to change your job or look for a great candidate.

Shared jobs
Doostang’s motto is “reclaim your career”. It encourages its users to doo the same; share opportunities with your friends by posting any interesting jobs you receive on Doostang. Collaborating will create more job opportunities than those that currently exist for all of us today.

Groups and Forums
Create groups to interact with members from your school, company, or with similar interests. Post questions, suggestions, and answers to our forums, and engage the community in meaningful discussion.

The company’s founders are Mareza Larizadeh and Pavel Krapivin. Doostang, once used to be in San Francisco, is today based in Palo Alto, CA. The latest publicly available number of registered users with Doostang is 300,000.

The company has recently closed its $3.5M series A round of funding from Shasta Ventures. It comes on top of $1M angel round previously invested in the company.  Total funding is already $4.5M.

The space is extremely overcrowded with major players like Monster, LinkedIn and believed Facebook too, VisiblePath, among others.

More

http://www.doostang.com/
http://blog.doostang.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2005/07/17/profile-doostang/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/17/dollars-for-doostang/
http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/aug2007/id20070830_886412.htm?campaign_id=rss_tech
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/17/dollars-for-doostang/
http://doostang.com/forum.asp
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/mareza-larizadeh
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/pavel-krapivin
http://www.shastaventures.com/

Wisdom of the crowds principle effectively applied to predict markets, events

While doing our daily research on the web 2.0 deals we came across a very interesting start up that deserves to make our web 2.0 innovations list – Predictify.

Essentially it is a very interesting and pretty innovative idea of using the wisdom of the crowds and the collective intelligence principles to predict in behalf of advertisers and market researchers. It is community-driven prediction market that pays and rewards users for their accuracy, which guarantees user engagement at higher level.

We’ve found out the site has launched just this last October and since then it launched its platform where other companies can create co-branded prediction centers. Freakanomics was Predictify’s launch partner for the platform, where readers can predict outcomes discussed on the Freakonomics blog.

The company has announced today it has closed $4.3 million round of funding, from Sierra Ventures and Sherpalo Ventures. Mark Fernandes, a managing director at Sierra Ventures, will be joining the Predictify board. Predictify has taken so far only an angel round of funding a year ago, but the amount is not publicly disclosed.

More about Predictify

Predictify is a prediction platform where users can predict the future and build a reputation based on their accuracy, and marketers can post questions to collect actionable, forward-looking data “from the crowd”.

Predictors
Predictify provides a simple, fun way to predict the future. You can research, discuss and predict what will happen, build a reputation based on your accuracy, and even get paid real money when you’re right (tell me more). Best of all, it’s free – no points or bets required.

Advertisers
Predictify is an effective way to create interactive advertisements by posting a question related to your product or service. Users’ incentive to be accurate leads to a high level of engagement in your marketing message. The resulting data set, which includes demographic information, provides insight into the preferences of existing and potential customer segments.

Market Researchers
Predictify uses advanced statistical methods to identify experts among their users based on past predictive accuracy, and combines this with demographic information to provide unique, crowd-based insight. You can tap into this user base to collect a large sample of predictions about future events, trends, and market data. Predictify’s unique system captures the full distribution of beliefs, not just the average, and provides easy-to-use graphical tools to analyze the results.

Here is quickly how it works

Predictify is a prediction platform where users can predict the future and build a reputation based on their accuracy, and marketers can post questions to collect actionable, forward-looking data “from the crowd”.

Submit a Prediction

  • Browse or search for questions that interest you
  • Predict the outcome – it’s free, no points or bets required
  • Build a reputation based on the accuracy of your predictions
  • Earn real money – payouts increase as you achieve higher levels of expertise

Click here to predict!

Ask a Question

  • Compose a question about the future that will have an objective, verifiable outcome
  • Submit your question for approval – it’s free (or select Premium to get demographics for $1 per response)
  • View the interactive, graphical results as users submit predictions (example)

Click here to post a question!

More

http://www.predictify.com/
http://blog.predictify.com/
http://mashable.com/2008/03/25/predictify-funding/
http://mashable.com/2008/03/02/predictify-freakanomics/
http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/02/05/predictify/
http://www.infoworld.com/article/07/12/10/50FE-crowdsourcing_1.html
http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/25/a-new-prediction-market-for-the-masses/
http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/2007/10/hiring-republic.html
http://www.webware.com/8301-1_109-9794602-2.html
http://mashable.com/2007/10/08/predictify-live/

SocialMedia totals $4M in funding and is one of the top ad platforms for Facebook

Creating Facebook applications is already big business online. Facebook created a special fund to invest in popular applications for their social platform and there are also several venture capital firms who are keeping an eye on the sector for the next hot or modern Facebook application to invest in. Monetizing the traffic generated from those applications is another story. SocialMedia is one of the top so called ad platforms for Facebook applications.

SocialMedia offers a suite of tools and services for developers building applications that run on social networking platforms including Facebook and MySpace.

SocialMedia Network’s flagship product Appsaholic sells click-throughs to other Facebook applications across a network of affiliated sites in a similar way to FBExchange’s link exchange model, but has more features and seems easier to use and has PayPal integrated. Below is some more information on how Appsaholic works.

Developers become a member of the network by tracking their application on Appsaholic and adding some embed code to their application. The embed code adds an iFrame that serves paid links on their affiliates’ applications. The links go to the highest “AdRanked” advertising developer on their live bidding market. AdRank is determined by multiplying two factors, the offered price per click, and the advertising application’s quality score. The quality score is based on a function of the application’s clickthrough rate and viral growth within the network. The idea is that higher quality applications should be rewarded with cheaper advertising. This dissuades disliked apps from spamming the service.

So, for example, a developer whose application has a quality score of 60 and is willing to bid $.10 per click, has an AdRank of 6. Since ads are served in AdRanked order, the developer could boost his AdRank and position in the queue by bidding a bit higher. Currently PPC rates are 10 to 20 cents. Appsaholic takes 12-30% of that revenue.

The company has recently taken $3.5 million Series A in a round led by Charles River Ventures that also included Marc Andreessen (Netscape) and Jeff Clavier. Charles River Ventures had previously seed funded the company with $500,000. That took the company’s total funding to $4M. 

George Zachary of Charles River Ventures said that the investment “underscores the significant opportunity for SocialMedia Networks to become the new standard for how social networks are monetized.”

Other investors include Jim Bankoff – Former EVP Programming AOL; Ted Barnett – CEO of JamJam; co-founder and CEO of When.com; former COO of Ofoto; Jeff Clavier – Manager Director SoftTech VC; Marc Andreessen – Co-founder of Netscape and Ning.com; Mark Goldstein – CEO of LoyaltyLab.com; Naval Ravikant – Managing Director HitForge; author of VentureHacks; co-founder of Epinions; Tina Sharkey – Former SVP Social Media and Instant Messsaging, AOL, Former Group President Sesame Workshop Internet, co-founder iVillage and Jeremy Wenokur – Former VP Corp Dev, Google. 

There are several other startups claiming to be the top Facebook ad platform: Lookery, fbExchange, RockYou, and Cubics but SocialMedia is one of the early players when they launched their Appsaholic advertising network soon after F8.

Some people are a bit skeptical about companies like SocialMedia arguing that some of the popular social networks themselves can’t even really figure out a profitable way to monetize themselves, let alone third party small companies going to become the standard way to monetize social networks by putting ads and stuff in a widget.

Will they ever manage to make money? Maybe, maybe not. But the potential is huge, and if someone ever succeeds in that field, the Social Media seems in a pretty good position to be among the winners.

More about SocialMedia

SocialMedia Networks is the leading provider of social platform services. It fuses together three core features – management, marketing, and monetization – into a comprehensive package that advertisers and developers can use to grow awareness, and grow their applications on social platforms.

Socialmedia.com was registered in November of 1999. It has since sat idle, waiting patiently for the right time to emerge. Nearly eight years later, that time has come.

Moreso than ever before, people all over the world are being entertained by interacting with others online. What was once simple communication has truly evolved into social media. Until recently, however, the environments in which these increasingly rich interactions took place were controlled by a few, closed entities. This changed on May 24th when facebook welcomed thousands of developers to immerse themselves within their platform.

And so, on this day, socialmedia.com was unleashed.

SocialMedia was one of the first developers on the facebook platform, launching Food Fight and Happy Hour shortly after f8. To date, more than 10 million users have installed one of these applications.

The services we provide to others were born primarily of our own needs in developing and deploying our applications. Through our personal learnings and experiences, we are now determined to offer a similar set of services to all developers and advertisers who care to delve into the world of the facebook platform, and all other platforms that are destined to follow.

Tap into the social revolution with SocialMedia – the app network!

Public information available on SocialMedia claims 1,475,837 apps installed, thus far.

SocialMedia Networks is based in Palo Alto and Mill Valley, CA.

More

http://www.socialmedia.com
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/socialmedia
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/18/socialmedia-networks-takes-35-million-series-a/
http://apps.facebook.com/appsaholic
http://fbexchange.com/
http://www.lookery.com/
http://cubics.com/

SpinVox raises $100M at a whopping $500M valuation

SpinVox, a London based voice-to-text technology is raising $100M round of funding from a bunch of high-profile investors among which are Goldman Sachs, GLG Partners, Blue Mountain Capital Management and Toscafund Asset Management. The service can basically be described as a solution that transcribes voicemails to text so that they can be more easily digitized, searched, and manipulated. SpinVox’s software works simply by converting a voicemail message into text, which it then e-mails to a computer or sends via SMS to a phone. It removes the need to dial one’s voicemail, punch in a password and listen to messages.

This brings the total money invested in the company so far to $200M and today’s round is said to have been done on $500M pre-money valuation. What is also interesting with the company is that the CEO, the 31-year-old Christina Domecq is from the famous liquor family Domecq from UK that was part of the international company Allied Domecq PLC that operated spirits, wine, and quick service restaurant businesses. Allied Domecq was the result of a 1994 merger between Allied Lyons and Pedro Domecq. Rumors go up to the point that SpinVox was planning on an IPO before, but today the company has said it has no immediate plans to go public or sell itself but is exploring all options.

SpinVox is said to have partnerships with 12 mobile carriers, mostly in Europe, including O2, Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile, 3, and Virgin Mobile, but is barely presented on the US market.

The funds will be devoted to further building the global business of the UK-headquartered company that already operates on four continents.

“Closing this funding round is an exceptional achievement given the current state of the global financial markets,” says Christina Domecq, CEO and Co Founder of SpinVox. “We are delighted to have this group of institutional investors join the company. It clearly underlines the confidence these high-calibre investors have in SpinVox and the management team.”

The new round builds on previous investments made in the company by private equity investors such as Martin Hughes, Charles Dunstone of Carphone Warehouse and Peter Wood, the founder of Direct Line, eSure and Sheila’s Wheels and institutional investors such as ABN Amro, Gartmore and Allen & Co.

“We built SpinVox to answer a real need in the marketplace and have now established a vast new market for voice-to-screen messaging which we continue to lead,” continues Christina. “One of the many reasons why people are getting so excited about SpinVox is that it is one of the few genuinely innovative companies to have emerged in the telecommunications arena in recent years. SpinVox is transforming core messaging for carriers world-wide and delivering new, recurring revenues from existing user behaviour.”

Goldman Sachs International acted as exclusive financial adviser to SpinVox on the transaction.

Most of the technology bloggers simply followed up on the PR materials being sent to them and have positively reviewed the service, but we think there is plenty of room for improvements and the reportedly $500M valuation for the company is hard to understand and justify.

However, the guys from Mashable have more critical look into the technology and have written that while the company is trying to make all the right moves, by opening up MySpace and Facebook applications, the core technology, “continues to fail hard.” We tend to agree with them.

Below are some transcripts from Mashable’s author when he attempted to get the service to accurately translate his voice to text:

What I said: “Ok, well, let’s see… What am I talking about? Oh! Actually I put a new article up on Mashable.com today. ”
What I said, SpinVoxed: “Ok well, see what I’m talking about oh actually put a new article of nashville.com(?) today.”

What I said: “It’s that YouTube or whatever may have helped them get there quicker, citing the new Apple UGC ad that came out as an example.”
What I Said, SpinVoxed: “It’s that a youtube or whatever may have helped them get their quick or setting the new apple UGC ad,…”

What I said: “It’s staying on and letting me talk and so I’m just gonna talk until this thing kicks me off.”
What I said, SpinVoxed: “It’s sticking on let me talk and so I’m just gonna talk into this thing puts me off.”

Mark Hopkins, an author at Mashable, has further said that he has spoken to folks far more familiar with the limitations of VTT (voice-to-text technology) technology that it just isn’t feasible with current standards of computing.

A guy that claims to work for the company has saidthe following. I work for SpinVox and have a window on the process. SpinVox employs a series of speech engines and the majority of our English conversions are automated. The Voice Message Conversion System is actually a “live learning” system that “knows what it doesn’t know”. When it encounters new language or ambient noise that confuses the automated process, it then asks a human to review that portion of the message in dispute. That person then converts the portion of the message in dispute and the complete conversion is then delivered. To date we’ve had about 4 million unique voices pass through the system which improves our ability to understand any voice.

Others, like Rob Abbott, are more favorable explaining that the value of indexable, searchable voice transcriptions is significant. Once integrated into an application like a mail client (Gmail, Mail, Outlook…etc.), the value is clear. The time spent transcribing important voice messages, interviews and conversations is cut by these services. While some services, like SimulScribe and SpinVox do send the audio to markets with cheap labor, the service isn’t always optimal or exact.

I am a current user, he says, of both services and it’s of enough value for me to become dependent on once my habits change. I get previews of my voice messages sent to my iPhone in SMS form, so I know who called and most importantly, why, without having to play the message (in a meeting).

Goldman Sachs is investing in the distributed service and in the technology, so SpinVox is widely integrated into applications which increase productivity, and so the quality of the transcription technology involves to an accurate service, whether it be by human or machine (or both).

Some competitors include Jott, Pinger, SimulScribe, among others.

More about SpinVox

We launched in 2005 through The Carphone Warehouse, The Link and other retail channels. Pretty soon we had over 130,000 regular users, with an unprecedented customer retention rate of 80%. People who started speaking through SpinVox soon found they couldn’t live without it.

SpinVox has since won major industry awards from people like the GSM Association, Red Herring and Ernst & Young. No, we’re not boasting, we’re just pleased. In fact we’re amazed at how SpinVox is changing people’s lives.

At the heart of SpinVox is our patented Voice Message Conversion System™ (or VMCS to keep it simple). It underpins everything we do – our retail, enterprise, service provider and global carrier services. It’s maintained on an enterprise-class hardware infrastructure by an expert management team, to meet the rigorous demands of global carriers and their customers. Which means it just works, brilliantly.

From retail brands and direct customers, to global carriers and Web 2.0 brands, we are leading the way in converging voice and screens. SpinVox products are used on five continents, in five languages, with new carrier and technology partners joining us every month.

SpinVox has 300 employees and offices in nine countries.

The management

  • Christina Domecq
    CEO and Co-founder
  • Daniel Doulton
    Chief Strategy Officer and Co-founder
  • Andrew Cherry
    Chief Financial Officer
  • Tom Clear
    Chief Commercial Officer
  • Philip Marnick
    Chief Technology Officer
  • Rob Wheatley
    Chief Information Officer
  • James Scroggs
    VP Consumer Business

More

http://www.spinvox.com/
http://blog.spinvox.com/
http://www.spinvox.com/spinvox-secures-over-100-million-in-new-funding-round..html
http://www.moconews.net/entry/419-voicemail-to-text-firm-spinvox-raises-100-million-500-million-valuation/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/20/spinvox-translates-voice-to-text-service-into-a-100-million-round/
http://mashable.com/2008/03/20/spinvox-funded/
http://uk.techcrunch.com/2008/03/19/it-looks-like-spinvox-has-raised-50m/
http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUKN1932303420080319?rpc=44
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/13/your-phone-is-your-mic-spinvox-lets-users-talk-to-twitter-facebook-and-jaiku-europe-only/
http://www.spinvox.com/spinvox-targets-cambridge-for-speech-recognition-skills..html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied_Domecq 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedro_Domecq
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/spinvox

The modern Boo.com and pets.com

Just like their ancestors Boo.com and pets.com during the dot com boom times companies like Geosign and Capazoo have also spent huge amounts of money in no time and reached nothing but grand failures. But unlike those dot com stars from the past, which at least had serious business models, their modern equivalents from the web 2.0 times can barely be called real businesses.

Under no doubt the most prominent case from the past days is the $160M funding GeoSign took last year and spent in less than a year going belly up. The major lesson learned here is that the click/search arbitrage is dead. If you don’t believe us take a look at GeoSign today. Let’s put it that way Google killed them, and for reason. Given the amount of money flowing to Google, most in Geosign thought the search engine would turn a blind eye, but as it turned out Google is more concerned for its legitimate advertisers and that users would lose interest and faith in the online ad system, if more practices like the one GeoSign kept on exploiting spread across the web than earning several millions of companies like GeoSign.

The media and the bloggers called it that way: “A record $160-million VC investment. A rich Web strategy. A quirky founder. For a few weeks last spring, Guelph, Ont.’s Geosign had it all. Then mighty Google stirred. And it was over.” Now one understands why this company was so quiet over the past year despite the fact it took what is called the biggest ever venture capital funding for a technology company based in Canada.

What is anyway click/search arbitrage?

Essentially, search arbitrage involves an individual or company buying Internet traffic through the acquisition of keywords from Google, then sending viewers who click on the ad links to a site (“landing page” in Google terminology) that appears to have content, but is actually just full of online advertising linked to the original search term. Anyone clicking an ad link there makes money for the keyword holder. For example, a company might bid for the Google rights to the phrase “small town car sales” and send traffic to a website it controls, filled with more car advertisements, called “Alltheautomotive.com.” The keyword cost only 20¢, while a click on the advertising on the website might yield $1.50 return. According to Niki Scevak, an analyst at Jupiter Research in New York, the majority of those initially involved in search arbitrage were small players. “These were guys running search arbitrage out of their basements, making maybe $20,000 a month,” he says.

One of them, it seems, was Geosign. Former Geosign insiders who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirm that the possibility of a big payoff in search arbitrage caught Nye’s attention after he created Geosign. What’s more, he envisioned a network of thousands of websites all automated by software linking keywords to pages filled with ads, returning millions in cash in the process.

By 2005 that was exactly what was happening. Nye crafted a maze of Internet sites that included tens of thousands of Web pages and bought up even more keywords from Google. By connecting the keywords and the websites, Geosign was indeed generating more than $100 million in annual revenue and was extremely profitable. To put a value on the company at this time, analyst Scevak points to Marchex Inc., a publicly traded company in Seattle, Wash., with a comparable business model. At its peak in 2006, Marchex had a market capitalization of US$500 million.

The change in atmosphere had everything to do with measures that Google was taking to rein in those doing search arbitrage. This action was a response to two main concerns. First, that the practice was becoming so widespread, it was hurting legitimate advertisers by artificially inflating keyword prices. And second, that if too many keyword-targeted ad links only took users to pages filled with other ads, that users would lose interest and faith in the online ad system. Obviously, with advertising revenue being the key to Google’s finances, it had to respond. It did so by expanding the terms of service for its AdSense program (published on its website) to place greater restrictions on the way links could be used and by spelling out detailed landing page and site quality guidelines. A top priority there: relevant and original content. By these standards, a landing page full of ads is inadequate – as this text in its current guideline explains: “Provide substantial information. If your ad does link to a page consisting mostly of ads or general search results (such as a directory or catalog page), provide additional, unique content.” Since most companies doing search arbitrage bought both their keywords and landing page ads through Google, it was easy for the company to isolate and monitor them. Non-compliant parties risked being banned from the AdSense program. A simpler tactic, however, saw Google target those abusing the process, raising their fees and making it too costly to continue.

The end came suddenly, well before GeoSign to change the direction of its business. Google had started to look more closely at companies like Geosign, which were buying keywords from Google and ad links from Yahoo! or another provider. And soon Geosign got word that Google would now begin penalizing its Web pages that had “a low landing page quality score” – that is, lots of ads and little or no original content. While Google won’t comment specifically about Geosign, sources say it raised the prices it charged Geosign for keywords overnight. “When Google ‘shuts you down,’ that isn’t exactly what they do,” explains Jupiter’s Scevak. “Instead, what they do is start charging you $50 for what they were charging 10¢ for previously. They make the model financially unfeasible.”

GeoSign’s website is already taken down and is no longer publicly accessible.

The second popular crash down case from the last week is the one of Capazoo.

Capazoo is also based in Canada and is labeled a social networking site. The site has taken $25M in several rounds to date, which as it seems, have also been spent over the past 12 months before the company’s failure. But this is not the only interesting thing  in the story. After firing most of its staff leaving only one sysadmin to keep the site alive and put its offices up for rent some more horrible stories from ex-employees appeared publicly.

It seems that the brothers Michel Verville and Luc Verville (the company’s founders) have had fighting in court for control over the company. Another rumor goes that that the brothers embezzled money from the company. Simply put the guys were taking commissions in the 10% range from all money invested in their company. Capazoo’s $25 million was initially listed as only being “private funding” but more recently National Lampoon became an investor.

Techcrunch has some insider information as listed below:

They did the first round ($8 million) at $72 million pre-money from a bunch of athletes and non-sophisticated angels at $100k-$200k chunks. Most of them didn’t know that management was taking 10% commission themselves (despite owning all the common shares) for all funds raised.

They then raised another $5-10 million (conflicting rumors) at a $132 million pre-money, while still taking commissions. The two brothers took almost $2 million out of the company before reaching more then 10K users and ballooned the staff to 130 staff before starting to do layoffs.

Capazoo’s site is still alive as we last checked it out but for how long one sysadmin can keep it that way?

Well, compared to the 2 cases from above the next one seems relatively small, yet it worth mentioning due to the fact that it seems the founder of that company Lee Wilkins did not pay his employees from Bulgarian, Romania and Russia.

The company name is MyKinda and was a blog network focused on the Eastern European market covering various topics like politics, entertainment, business, among other topics. 

The network is said to have launched just last September and today they are already out of business. Lee Wilkins said the shutdown is temporary to ensure that money due to writers doesn’t continue to add up. The sites will remain down until, he says, “we redefine a more profitable sustainable business model.” The company had total expenses of about €319,000, with no advertising revenue to offset it. Lee Wilkins capitalized the company with €175,000, leaving €144,000 or so in unpaid debts.

Today was the first day in several years where the failure stories were more than the funding deals. In fact we bookmarked 3 funding deals for today so it appears the number is equal.

More

http://www.geosign.com/
http://www.capazoo.com/
http://www.mykinda.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/18/how-geosign-blew-160-million/
http://www.financialpost.com/magazine/story.html?id=324817
http://seoblackhat.com/2008/03/18/they-were-flyin-high-then-google-stirred/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/19/capazoo-blows-25-million-heading-to-the-deadpool/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/29/blog-network-mykinda-to-shut-down-today/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/18/national-lampoon-takes-stake-in-capazoo/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/10/capazoo-wants-to-pay-you-for-your-social-networking-time/
http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/business/story.html?id=474dae19-551c-4460-9359-328c570fc36c
http://montrealtechwatch.com/2008/03/19/capazoo-lays-off-60-shops-itself/
http://communities.canada.com/MONTREALGAZETTE/blogs/tech/archive/2008/03/18/r-i-p-capazoo.aspx
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/05/mykinda-blog-network-for-eastern-europe-launches-amid-serious-drama/

If your business is impacted by the weather WeatherBill might be a good solution for you

An interesting start-up that we have on our long list with funding deals here is under no doubt WeatherBill.

The San Francisco based WeatherBill started their service, which lets you cover your business from potential losses that might occur due to bad weather conditions, in early 2007 with a bunch of famous private and institutional investors among which are New Enterprise Associates and Index Ventures, as well as a number of well known individuals: del.icio.us founder Joshua Schachter, Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom (through his Atomico venture firm) and Howard Morgan (idealab and First Round Capital), Krishna Kolluri, Neil Rimer and Barney Schauble. The secretive investment firm Allen & Co., which has just helped Bebo sells for $850M to AOL, is among the investors in WeatherBill.

WeatherBill was founded by former Googlers David Friedberg and Siraj Khaliq.

In late 2007 WeatherBill took its series B round of funding in the $12.5M range, which brought the company’s total funding to date at $16.5M. By that time CEO David Friedberg said that Weatherbill has hundreds of customers and faces such high demand that it needs to bring more people aboard to increase capacity.

Essentially WeatherBill is a hybrid between ecommerce site and a complex weather forecasting algorithm to sell weather insurance policies to individuals and businesses. WeatherBill offers custom weather contracts to protect businesses from financial loss caused by bad weather and provides tools to increase revenues through weather-related marketing promotions.

Users select a weather station via a Google Maps mash-up and choose the weather conditions they want to protect against. These options include temperature and precipitation level, and the specific parameters can be selected by the user.

WeatherBill hedges its own risk via its weather algorithm and partnership with a large hedge fund.

Aside US, WeatherBill offers its services to in the following countries too Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Norway.

WeatherBill contracts are legal financial instruments with eligibility requirements. It is meant for businesses and to be eligible you basically need to have 1) commodity pool – total assets exceeding $5,000,000; 2) corporation, partnership, proprietorship, organization, trust, or other entity that has total assets exceeding $10,000,000; or if it is an individual  – has a net worth exceeding $1,000,000.

Their financial risk partner, Nephila Capital Ltd., is one of the world’s largest and most respected weather risk and catastrophe reinsurance fund managers, with over $2 billion in capital.

More about WeatherBill

WeatherBill is the first service to provide affordable and easy-to-use weather coverage to protect revenue and control costs for the millions of businesses impacted by the weather.

WeatherBill coverage is safe and reliable. There is no unnecessary paperwork, no claims process, no proof-of-loss and no waiting for payment. WeatherBill is the only service that enables customers to customize, price and buy weather coverage online in just minutes, and pays automatically when bad weather occurs.

In addition to weather coverage, WeatherBill provides free services for businesses affected by the weather. Our free weather correlation tools help individual businesses understand how weather impacts their financial performance. Our research reports provide insight into the ways weather affects all industries. We believe every business should understand how the weather affects demand, yields, costs, schedules and the bottom line. WeatherBill can provide the earnings protection critical to every weather sensitive business.

Their Investors

WeatherBill’s investor group is a forward-thinking base of recongized and respected institutions and individuals from Silicon Valley and Wall Street.
 
New Enterprise Associates (NEA) is a leading venture capital firm. Practicing classic venture capital for 28 years, NEA focuses on investments at all stages of a company’s development, from seed-stage through IPO. With approximately $8.5 billion in committed capital, NEA’s experienced management team has invested in over 500 companies.

Index Ventures is a leading European venture capital firm active in technology venture investing since 1996. The firm is dedicated to helping top entrepreneurial teams both in the Life Science and Information Technology sectors build their companies into market defining global leaders.
 
Atomico was started by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, co-founders of Skype, Joost, and Kazaa. The firm is a risk capital group comprised of entrepreneurs with a global perspective who invest their own capital in passionate entrepreneurs with powerful ideas.

Nephila Capital Ltd. is a leading fund manager specializing in the reinsurance industry with multiple investment vehicles dedicated to investing in instruments such as insurance-linked securities, catastrophe bonds, insurance swaps, and weather derivatives. The company has been managing institutional assets in this space since it was founded in 1998, with over $2 billion under management at the start of 2007.

First Round Capital is an early stage venture capital firm managed by Joshua Kopelman, Chris Fralic, Rob Hayes and Howard Morgan. The firm looks to partner with entrepreneurs to build innovative technology companies.

Allen & Company
Allen & Company is a boutique investment bank based in New York. The firm has become a premier investment house in the media, entertainment, and technology industries.

Sean Park
Sean was most recently Head of Digital Markets and Credit Flow products at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein (DrKW). He is also Director of Markit Group and International Index Company. Sean is a renowned thought-leader and speaker on the future of digital markets. He actively maintains his blog, Park Paradigm.

Salman Ullah
Salman is the Vice President of Corporate Development at Google. He joined Google in the fall of 2004 and manages the team that is responsible for all of Google’s acquisitions and minority investments. Prior to Google he spent over seven years at Microsoft in several roles including General Manager of Corporate Strategy and Managing Director of Corporate Development. Earlier in his career, Salman was an Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Co. in Chicago where he spent four years. He was also a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in physics at the University of Virginia and the University of Chicago. Salman has an undergraduate degree in Physics from the University of Oxford, and a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Stanford University.

Joshua Schachter
Joshua Schachter is the creator of del.icio.us, creator of geoURL and co-creator of Memepool. Joshua’s popular del.icio.us website helped to popularize the use of tags on the web. In 2005, del.icio.us was acquired by Yahoo!, where Joshua currently remains. Prior to working full-time on del.icio.us, Joshua was a programmer in Morgan Stanley’s Equity Trading Lab.

Our other individual investors are notable leaders at major Silicon Valley and Wall Street firms.

More

http://www.weatherbill.com/
http://www.weatherbill.com/about/blog
https://www.weatherbill.com/tools
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/17/an-interesting-bet-weatherbill-takes-125-million-series-b/
http://atomicoinvestments.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/01/02/use-weatherbill-to-bet-on-the-weather/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/01/15/weatherbill-launches-announces-all-star-investors/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/weatherbill
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/david-friedberg
http://www.nephilacapital.com/
http://www.parkparadigm.com/
http://www.nea.com/
http://www.indexventures.com/

Jivox, yet another video ad network, has raised $2.7M

The funding was led by Opus Capital and also includes investments from individual investors including Jivox founder Diaz Nesamoney. The funds will be used to continue development of the Jivox online video advertising platform, as well as to expand the company’s sales and marketing efforts. No other names of private investors are publicly disclosed.

Jivox is a web-based video advertising service enabling businesses to better communicate their products and services to a micro-targeted audience in a more customized, relevant way than most traditional mass advertising methods, and internet banners and search engines. Jivox is headquartered in San Mateo, California with offices in Bangalore and Delhi in India.

Jivox in a way looks similar to SpotRunner with their pre-made ads for the TV and cable networks, but is being said to be way cheaper than them.

There’s absolutely no cost associated with creating your ads with Jivox AdSlate. Once you create the ad you like to air, then you set your daily, weekly or monthly ad budget. There are no minimums on the budget you set. Just purchase the amount of highly targeted ad inventory as your budget allows rather than the large block purchases required for most video advertising today. You can change your budget at any time.

Jivox AdSlate will optimize your advertising spend by negotiating the lowest cost possible to air your ads with Jivox Video Network Partner sites and maximize your exposure. Jivox will automatically match your ads with the audience that is most likely to respond favorably to your campaign. The cost of airing your ads is typically between $10-$40 range for each 1000 views (CPM).

“To date, video advertising has only been accessible to the large brand advertisers due to the high costs of production and placement on TV. The explosive growth in online video content is creating an opportunity for mid-sized and local businesses to harness the power of the internet to reach consumers. Jivox is enabling mass adoption of an advertising medium that is much more engaging and effective than search and display advertising due to its visual impact,” said Diaz Nesamoney, founder and CEO of Jivox. “We’re very pleased that Opus Capital and our other investors also see the enormous potential of opening up this market to smaller advertisers.”

“By making online video advertising a possibility for more advertisers, Jivox will accelerate broader adoption of the medium,” said Gill Cogan, general partner, Opus Capital. “As an early investor in Informatica and Celequest, we have had a strong long-term relationship with Diaz, and I’ve seen first-hand how he has been able to turn an idea into a product, and then evolve the product to stay one step ahead of the changing needs of the market. We are looking forward to supporting Diaz and the Jivox team as they build Jivox into a successful business.”

The market

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

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

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

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

More about Jivox

Jivox is an exciting new online video advertising service that gives businesses that want to advertise on the Internet a better, personalized way to communicate their products and services to a micro-targeted audience. If your Internet advertising is not as effective as it used to be, or you are looking for a new way to get your message to your customers via rich visuals and video, Jivox can help.

Jivox helps you create, target and deliver professional video advertising on the Internet – going way beyond the search engine or banner ads – without spending a lot of time and money on producing your ad. Our proprietary technology helps you pinpoint your ads to the exact geographic, behavioral or demographic audiences you need to reach on the web. Here’s how: 

1. Create your own video ad
The Jivox AdSlate self-service video ad maker enables you to use our vast library of stock images, video clips and music to create your own ad or you can take your existing materials (such as a digital picture of your storefront, product shots, head shots, logos, etc.) and insert important information like your contact information, website, special discounts and promotions. See sample ads created with Jivox AdSlate Minutes later, you can be delivering your new ad on our extensive video network. See how it works.

Or, if you have an existing commercial you are using on Cable T.V., you can easily upload and use that to advertise on the Jivox Video Network. Or, let us build your ad for you.

2. Identify your target audience
Jivox delivers tailored, branded advertising to viewers based on their interests, enabling you to maximize your direct response opportunities. The Jivox Video Network delivers your video advertisement to your audience using geographic, demographic, behavioral and contextual intelligence.

Jivox has developed sophisticated algorithms that determine the best web sites and video content in which to serve your ad.

3. Define your budget and timing for your advertising campaign
Even if you have a limited budget, you can start your video ad campaign now with the Jivox Video Network. You can identify specific times of day, days of the week and other important choices or even run Time-of-Day/Day-of-Week ads on an introductory budget. Unlike most other forms of TV and web advertising, with Jivox, you only pay for ads that were actually viewed on a web site. More on Pricing.

The exclusive Jivox Ad Campaign Reports gives you advanced intelligence to optimize your advertising. You can then review the results to make intelligent decisions about how to improve or expand your media choices.

Jivox was founded in 2007 by Diaz Nesamoney, the visionary entrepreneur behind
Informatica (Nasdaq: INFA) and Celequest (acquired in 2007 by Cognos). Jivox aims to
bring the power of online video advertising to the mass market.

Management team

Diaz Nesamoney, Founder & CEO
Diaz Nesamoney founder of Jivox has had two prior successful ventures.  Before founding Jivox, he founded Celequest, raised over $20M in venture capital, and served as its CEO until early 2007, when the company was acquired by Cognos Corporation.  Celequest introduced the market’s first BI appliance, a disruptive innovation that led to its acquisition by Cognos. He was previously co-founder, President and Chief Operating Officer at Informatica (NASDAQ:INFA), which he took from a startup to a publicly traded company in 1999 with a market capitalization of over a billion dollars.  Informatica pioneered data integration software as a category and is now the market leader with over $400M in revenue. Diaz is a trustee of the American India Foundation, a leading international development organization charged with the mission of accelerating social and economic change in India. Diaz holds a Masters degree in Computer Science from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science in India.

Naren Nachiappan, Managing Director, Jivox India
Naren Nachiappan comes to Jivox from Wind River (NASDAQ:WIND), where as Vice President and General Manager, he was a part of the executive team responsible for reigniting growth and adding over $100 million to the top line in three years. Naren was directly responsible for taking the Device Management business from a concept to a multimillion-dollar revenue rate in under 9 quarters. At Wind River, Naren established the company’s first product development team in Bangalore, India, with a zero percent attrition rate through his three-year tenure. Earlier in his career, as CEO of Proceler and as Senior VP at VenturCom (acquired by Citrix), he was responsible for pioneering several industry innovations such as “the first support for automated application acceleration using hybrid SoCs” which resulted in Proceler’s nomination for the 2001 MPR Analysts choice award, and the first flight-essential certified UNIX for avionics applications on the Boeing 777. Naren graduated cum laude from Harvard University and holds an MBA from the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business.

Parth Chandra, Chief Architect
Parth has over 14 years of experience in the software industry in the field of Data Integration and Business Intelligence. Parth has worked most recently at Insights On-Demand, where he was the Chief Architect. Before Insights, he worked at Informatica (NASDAQ:INFA) as a Sr. Software Architect where he was part of the founding team that was responsible for software design and development of their market leading Data Integration products. Prior to Informatica he held software engineering positions at Citicorp Software and Neuron Data where he designed and implemented large scale financial transaction systems and cross platform development environments. Parth holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Kanpur and an MBA degree from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore.

More about Opus Capital

Opus Capital Group is an alternative assets firm with more than $1 billion in committed capital under management. Since 1971, Opus Capital’s predecessor funds have invested in more than 350 companies spanning multiple industries.

More
 
http://www.jivox.com/
http://www.jivox.com/Jivox_funding_release_final.pdf
http://www.opuscapital.com/
http://mashable.com/2008/03/10/jivox/
http://www.thealarmclock.com/mt/archives/2007/05/jivox_stealth_m.html
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-self-service-video-ad-provider-jivox-closes-27-million-seed-round/
http://venturebeat.com/2008/03/09/jivox-offers-simple-online-video-ads-for-small-businesses-raises-round/
http://www.redherring.com/Home/23889
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/09/video-advertising-networks-are-hot-brightroll-gets-its-second-round-claims-it-already-served-over-1-billion-video-ads/

Mint keeps on taking money, closes its third round of funding

Mint.com, the site that helps you find better interest rates on bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial products. But here is the interesting part. The site officially launched in September 18, 2007, after nearly two years of development and significant private beta testing, and in just a few weeks, after being announced winner on TechCrunch40, the site took seriously off. In just 18 days, the company said, they had reached more than $2 billion worth of people’s personal financial accounts, and identified more than $40 million in potential savings for those members. In a moment Mint ended up having a new member every five seconds. It turned out that people really will do anything to save a buck. There were more than 50,000 accounts opened up. And logically the investors jumped in. Total funding in no time reached $5.5M for Mint Software.

Today we have read over Internet that Mint is about to announce its third round of funding today – $12.1 million from new investor Benchmark Capital and all previous investors, including Shasta Ventures, Sherpalo Ventures, Felicis Ventures, Hite Capital and First Round Capital. The company has now raised a total of $17 million, most of it since October of 2007. Benchmark’s Bob Kagle is joining the Mint board.

CEO Aaron Patzer says the company is adding 10,000 new users per week, has organized over $10 billion in purchasing activity and has identified around $100 million in savings opportunities for users.

The company makes money via lead generations, and Patzer says users are clicking on presented opportunities 12-15% of the time. That all sound very good and promising but it also raises some concerns and the Mint’s independence different online users are already asking about. Mint is being accused already that they may be selling out trying to get deals with banks to connect to their system.

When’s the last time you went to an ATM that let you take out $1.50, $2.00 or any amount under $20. Then it seems odd that Mint can’t distinguish and break out your ATM fees so you can see how much I spend. I don’t spend $101.50 on ATM fees, I spent $1.50. There are several very obvious things Mint could help with, but don’t.

From the banks perspective they make a lot of money from ATM fees which costs them next nothing providing huge margins. So are they interested in cooperating with a service that makes points out that you are getting fleeced in ATM fees? It is being said there are more examples like this, one gets lousy interest on his/her savings – however somehow the only bank switch recommendations one gets are from CITI bank to … CITI Bank. Never a recommendation to switch to WAMU for example which would save the user $9.50/month in checking, and $20-30/month in ATM fees.

Some users raise the point that Mint might be too much in bed with the banks to be anything other than an overview.

Techcrunch has reported it has a source that told them venture capitalists were clamoring to get a piece of this deal, but the question here is does Mint really need that much money or it is all about the fact that VCs want to be in regardless what Mint’s real needs might be. 

More about Mint

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it’s Free!

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

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

Security

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Management team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More

http://www.mint.com
http://www.mint.com/blog
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/05/mint-gets-a-mint/
http://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/21/mintcom-the-financial-planning-startup-with-an-army-of-high-profile-investors/
http://www.mint.com/press/downloads/release_20080108.pdf
http://www.mint.com/press/downloads/release_20071228.pdf
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/16/mints-47-million-a-round/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/mint
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/09/18/mint-wins-techcrunch40-50000-award/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/14/billeo-secures-7-million-in-financing/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/07/mint-rakes-it-in/
http://www.netbanker.com/2007/10/mint_mortgagebot_and_prosper_w.html
http://www.informationweek.com/windows/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=178600217
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/aaron-patzer
http://www.linkedin.com/in/apatzer
http://twitter.com/apatzer
http://digg.com/users/apatzer
http://consumerist.com/commenter/apatzer/
http://www.spock.com/Aaron-Patzer-NBd4i1sF
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/09/18/techcrunch40-session-5-productivity-web-apps/
http://blog.mint.com/blog/personal-finance-interview/personal-finance-interview-with-aaron-patzer-of-mymintcom/
http://blog.mint.com/blog/personal-finance-interview/mint-team-spotlight-sid-bhatt/
http://www.finovate.com/
http://r3fresh.com/2007/10/09/how-secure-is-mintcom/
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/22/fashion/22CYBER.html?ex=1353819600&en=6199204353c38df5&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink
http://venturebeat.com/2007/09/18/mint-the-easiest-way-to-manage-your-personal-finances/
http://lifehacker.com/software/screenshot-tour/is-mint-ready-for-your-money-312083.php
http://consumerist.com/consumer/budgets/mintcom-+-a-new-free-personal-finance-management-site-301172.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ram_Shriram
http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,140663-c,technology/article.html
 

Some of the Silicon Valley’s top non-Web innovations VCs spent money on

Forbes has assembled a very interesting list of some of the Silicon Valley’s most interesting and coolest innovations beyond the web start-ups. What is being said as a fact is that venture capitalists have poured over $30B into more than 2500 new ventures in 2007 alone. Some of them have to be non-traditional the media says and outlines some of those non-web start ups. The criteria to make the list were companies with unusual technologies or in surprising niches, which recently received additional rounds of venture financing and ranging from gadgets that only the military could love to ones that could wind up in your neighbor’s car.

Insitu

Insitu is a leading high-tech autonomous systems company. They currently produce and sell an ever growing fleet of Unmanned Aircraft Systems that are low-cost, long-endurance, and have low personnel requirements. These UASs provide a no-runway launch, unprecedented stabilized day and night video for ISR, robotic flight control, and a no-nets capture. Insitu began by creating long endurance Unmanned Aircraft to measure atmospheric conditions and do reconnaissance in remote areas for meteorology, daily weather prediction, and climate modeling. Aerosonde was the first aircraft developed by Insitu, noted for completing the first autonomous crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in 1998. From the Aerosonde, Insitu began to develop its Insight UAS platform, that is still being regularly upgraded and deployed today. In 2001, Insitu began working with Boeing to develop ScanEagle, an ISR-focused Unmanned Aircraft System that is currently used by the US Navy, the US Marines, and the Australian Army.

Insitu closed its Series D round of financing led by Battery Ventures’ Roger Lee in December 2007. The company has plans to release a new autonomous aircraft in 2008.

Incesoft

Founded in 2001, Incesoft Technology Co., Ltd. is the world’s leading provider of web robot technology and intelligent interactive information platform. Incesoft is committed long term to the web robot development and research, providing various information and services for users at the same time giving them better interactive experience. At present Incesoft has made great achievements in the field of Chinese artificial intelligent analysis and information management service. Currently Incesoft has the largest Chinese-language web robot platform (www.xiaoi.com). The robots can be used on IM, WEB and Mobile platform, providing services as information, entertainment and E-commerce etc. about working and living. Meanwhile Incesoft also provides customer service robots for companies and governmental departments.

Until now Incesoft has more than 20 million users.

With many-years robot development experience and strong technological power, Incesoft became Microsoft’s global strategic partner in February 2006 and Incesoft Bot Platform became the official robot access platform for Windows Live Messenger. In addition, Incesoft is Tencent QQ (a popular IM tool in China) and Yahoo Messenger’s strategic partner as well.

Draper Fisher Jurvetson and ePlanet Ventures were among the backers who pledged financing in March 2007.

A4Vision

California-based A4Vision has developed a 3D facial imaging and recognition system that works in conjunction with its established fingerprint identification and verification technology. Clients include high-security outfits such as the U.S. Department of Defense and a Swiss bank. Bioscrypt, a company specializing in access control, acquired A4Vision in March 2007. Investors, including In-Q-Tel, the venture wing of the Central Intelligence Agency and Menlo Ventures, must feel secure.

 Ophthonix

Ophthonix, Inc., a San Diego based vision correction company, is changing forever the way we see the world. Customized iZon® High Resolution Lenses allow wearers to see the world in High-Definition—clearer, sharper and more vividly than ever before. The proprietary and patented process is the first ever vision correction technology that addresses the problems associated with the unique variations in each person’s eyes, allowing for customized eyeglass lenses.

The result is a detailed picture, much like your eye’s fingerprint. The iZon lens, custom-built to help reduce glare in nighttime driving, is the result. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers was among investors who put $35.1 million into Ophthonix’s December 2006 Series D round.

Dash Navigation

Dash Navigation has developed the Dash Express, which is an Internet-connected GPS device that offers route choices based on traffic information generated from other Dash Express devices and the Internet.

Superior traffic with the Dash Driver Network™:Select your route based on up-to-the-minute traffic data that is automatically and anonymously exchanged via the most reliable source–other Dash devices. The Dash Express gathers traffic information from the Dash Driver Network and combines it with other sources of traffic data to provide you with the most accurate picture of what’s happening on the routes you’re travelling. And, only Dash provides traffic information for freeways and local roads and side streets. Dash Express provides up to three routing options to your destination that are based on flow rather than incident data, and even has the ability to automatically alert you when traffic conditions change and a faster route is available.

Find virtually anything with Yahoo!® Local search:Connect to Yahoo! Local search to find unlimited points of interest—people, places, products and services—based on your specific needs.

Two-way connectivity gives Dash Express the ability to use Yahoo! Local search and other internet search sources to find almost anything anywhere. Unlike other GPS devices that come loaded with a static database of points of interest, Dash gives you access to unlimited points of interest based on your specific needs.

Send2Car™means no typing required: Its the fastest and easiest way to send an address straight to your device from any computer. Just highlight an address from your Internet browser or Microsoft Outlook and send it directly to the car. You can use Send2Car yourself, or when you’re on the road, have someone else do it for you

MyDash makes it even easier to personalize your Dash Express:MyDash, available at my.dash.net allows you to create and send customized search buttons straight to your device so you always have access to the places you want to go. And you can even take advantage of local knowledge from the Dash network by downloading location lists shared online by other users.

AutoUpdate™ means a GPS that’s always up to date:Dash Express is the only GPS that automatically and wirelessly updates software and traffic using two-way connectivity. You’ll always have the latest and greatest features as we release them. With Dash you are always up to date!

The company secured $25 million in February 2007 from investors, including Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

3DV Systems

3DV Systems is a pioneer and world leader in the three-dimensional video imaging industry. Established in 1997 and headquartered in Yokne’am, Israel, the company has developed a unique proprietary technology which enables video cameras to capture the depth dimension of objects in real time, high speed and very high resolution.

The company has developed a unique patented technology which enables cameras to capture the depth dimension of objects in real time, high speed and very high resolution, using low or no CPU resources. 3DV markets, in a fab-less OEM model, a chipset that can be integrated to create systems and solutions for multiple applications as well as the new ZCamTM (previously Z-Sense) family of 3D cameras.

3DV was founded by Dr. Giora Yahav and Dr. Gabi Iddan, two veteran scientists of Rafael, Israel’s leading defense industry. Leveraging their experience and know-how gained through leading development of electro-optics missile technology, they came up with a ground-breaking concept of measuring distance from objects using the Time-of-Flight principle.

Since the successful completion of the development of our first 3D camera directed at the broadcast studio market, the new ZCamTM (previously Z-Sense), in 2000, 3DV was able to dramatically reduce the size and decrease the cost of its technology thus widening the scope of markets and applications and currently reaching consumer markets. The company’s latest prototype camera, the new ZCamTM (previously Z-Sense), is at the size of a typical webcam, and provides home users revolutionary gesture recognition capabilities in addition to real-time background replacement, enabling them to control video games and personal space through intuitive body gestures and immerse themselves with virtual reality

Kids may be excited about a new way to play. Adults, by contrast, may appreciate how the technology can be applied to reality: video cameras in their cars. The cameras can detect signs of fatigue, alerting the driver, or help to safely deploy airbags based on the exact location of passengers’ head.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Pitango Venture Capital led the $15 million investment round in December 2006.

Hyperactive Technologies 

The company started in the mind of a founder with two simple questions:

“Why is this burger so bad?”
“What can we bring to the table to make this better?”

In answering those questions – and finding a solution for the problem – HyperActive Technologies looked closely at the processes of quick-service restaurants, and has brought a full array of vision, prediction, and task-management technologies to bear in an industry where competition is fierce and quality is the number one differentiator.

HyperActive Bob is the first and only fully-automated Kitchen Management System that’s improving food quality in QSRs across the country. Here are the driving forces behind our technologies:

Vision: advanced real-time vision technologies monitor customer arrivals constantly and without wavering.

Prediction: Powerful processing tools learn from historical and real-time sales, incorporating the results of this analysis into real-time task management.

Action: easy-to-read touch screen monitors tell cooks precisely what to cook, and when to cook it.

The result: HyperActive Technologies provides “sight and insight” for managers that they’ve never had before, and more: 

HyperActive Bob is the Predictive Kitchen Management System that tells cooks what to cook, and when to cook it, assuring that all of your operations perform as smoothly as your best!

Drive-thru Speed of Service Timer is the first of its kind tool to measure the amount of time drive-thru customers spend in line before they reach the order board!

Walk-in Demand Prediction provides Bob’s keen demand prediction for restaurants that may not have vehicle entries.

HyperActive Technolgies is based in Pittsburg and is a privately held company. Last May, the company purchased QTime solutions, a drive-thru timer to help speed up how Hyperactive develops its recommendations. Private angel investors organized by Spencer Trask Ventures presumably had a quick meeting to decide to put $8.5 million into the firm in 2006.

Basically it is becoming clear that not all VC money goes to sites a la Facebook, yet the US economy is not in its best state today to accommodate and absorb some of these great inventions and innovations.

More

http://www.forbes.com/2008/01/24/midas-tech-novel-tech-08midas-cz_ed_0124novel.html
http://www.insitu.com/
http://www.incesoft.com/English/
http://www.xiaoi.com/
http://www.in-q-tel.org/technology-portfolio/a4vision.html
http://www.bioscrypt.com/
http://www.dash.net/
http://www.izonlens.com/about/
http://www.3dvsystems.com/
http://www.3dvsystems.com/gallery/movies/VirtualGame.mpg
http://www.hyperactivetechnologies.com/ 

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

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

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

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

More about Mint

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it’s Free!

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

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

Security

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Management team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More

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

Sharing digital media start up has raised $2.5M

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about Treemo

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

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

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

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

Treemo is located in Seattle, WA.

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

More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about InfoSpace Inc.

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

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

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

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

We have established offerings in two different areas:

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

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

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

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

More about Motricity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More

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

Sequoia Capital invested in TokBox, hoping for Web’s next big communication tool

Sequoia Capital has recently provided $4 million in Series A round of funding to Tokbox – a new startup providing real-time video chat via a browser. Sequoia joins an already impressive collection of angel investors including founding members of YouTube, Bebo, and Netscape along with execs from Slide, PayPal and Cisco. This investor network alone will likely propel the startup to partnerships and acquisition discussions.

The same backers who helped catapult YouTube to glory wants to do for live video chats what YouTube did for video watching.

The company, TokBox, allows people with Webcams and broadband Internet connections to conduct face-to-face chats inside a Web browser. Users can visit its site, www.tokbox.com, or add a TokBox module to their pages on social Web sites like MySpace or Facebook.

Several other services, including AOL’s AIM, Yahoo Messenger and Skype, allow live video chats but require that each party download the software and be online at the same time. On TokBox, if one party is not present, users can send a video mail message of up to five minutes in length that the other party can later retrieve at the site.

“Video communication has never really taken off, despite the fact that people talk about it as a part of the future,” said Serge Faguet, TokBox chief executive, who is a 21-year-old native of Russia and co-founded the company after attending one semester of Stanford business school.

The six-month-old (by that time – Oct ’07) TokBox would probably be just another dot-com with ambitious dreams were it not for an impressive pedigree that includes many of the same names as YouTube. Jawed Karim, a YouTube co-founder who left the video sharing site early on, is backing the company financially and sits on its board.

Roelof Botha, the Sequoia partner who invested in YouTube, is also guiding TokBox and, not surprisingly, plays up the similarities. “Part of the beauty of YouTube is that we all have browsers and we are all on the Internet, so you can click on a link and video will start to play,” he said. “TokBox offers the same easy solution inside the browser.”

Under no doubt some of the people engaged with the company do know one or more things about the online video market, but it is also pretty clear that if TookBox takes off and gets to be popular it is going to face scale up challenges.

As YouTube’s popularity skyrocketed, it had to keep up with the bulging cost of storing and playing all those videos. TokBox will have to do that as well, and will also have to ensure that live video chats flow seamlessly.

However TokBox has attracted high-profile talented technical advisers to help it overcome those obstacles. Rajeev Motwani, a Stanford professor and an early adviser to Google, is an investor and is counseling the company. Tony Bates, a senior vice president at Cisco, is also an investor and is helping TokBox to develop the underlying technology to support a large number of users.

The company has also a Facebook application that was developed by Ryan Merket and allows you to video chat with your friends or leave video mail and voice mail for your friends directly from your own Facebook profile.

Investors include: Sequoia Capital, Rajeev Motwani, Roelof Botha, Tony Bates and Jawed Karim, presumingly some of the individuals are angel investors.

The company is based in Palo Alto and what is interesting as fact is the company is housed in the same offices that was used by YouTube to start off.

Competitors include Skype, WebEx, Zorap and Userplane, among others. 

Of course, the company did not yet figure out what to make money from but this is not uncommon for most of the start ups in the Silicon Valley. The founders say they are looking at advertising and selling advanced versions of the service to companies that can use it to communicate with their customers online.

More

http://www.tokbox.com/
http://blog.tokbox.com/
http://www.sequoiacap.com/
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/15/business/media/15video.html?ei=5088&en=59b45c9e60a88aee&ex=1350100800&adxnnl=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&adxnnlx=1192446339-6J23Kqqnew4p1VFrtrkAJg
http://gigaom.com/2007/10/15/tokbox/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/tokbox
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/08/14/use-tokbox-to-set-up-instant-video-chat/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/14/tokbox-gets-some-nytimes-love/
http://www.crunchgear.com/2007/10/15/tokbox-live-video-web-chat-is-the-latest-next-youtube/
http://mashable.com/2007/10/15/tokbox-funding/
http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2007/10/15/tokbox-receives-4-million-in-funding
http://ukwebfocus.wordpress.com/2007/09/19/tokbox-a-useful-video-conferencing-tool-or-something-sinister/
http://lifehacker.com/software/video-conferencing/in+browser-video-chat-with-tokbox-310734.php