Category Archives: DAG Ventures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about Yelp

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

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

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

The Yelp Management Team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The market

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

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

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

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

More about YuMe Networks

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

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

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

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

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

Publisher Benefits?

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

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

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

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

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

Management Team

Jayant Kadambi, Co–founder and CEO

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

Ayyappan Sankaran, Co–founder and CTO

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

Grant Ries, Vice President of Business Development

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

Steven Comfort, Vice President of Sales

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

Bob Bahramipour, Vice President of Ad Operations

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

Molly Glover Gallatin, Director of Marketing

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

Investors

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

More

http://yumenetworks.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/16/yume-closes-9-million-series-b/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/yume
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/07/06/video-ads-somebody-needs-to-solve-this-problem/
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http://www.khoslaventures.com/
http://www.accel.com/
http://www.bvcapital.com/