Category Archives: Charles River Ventures

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; former COO of Ofoto; Jeff Clavier – Manager Director SoftTech VC; Marc Andreessen – Co-founder of Netscape and; Mark Goldstein – CEO of; 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. 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, 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.


Taylor Nelson Sofres buys

Compete, which started out in 2000 as an Idealab company, raised over $40M in funding to date, incurred $4.5M losses for the last year off $15M revenues and had hard time lately to compete with Quantcast has its exit day today. Compete has been acquired by the market research leader Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) for $75M plus another earn-out $75M through out 2008-2010 if certain conditions are met. Total acquisition price could possibly reach $150M. calls that brilliant in their blog, which might be true taking into consideration that they have clearly lost the battle with Quantcast in the free traffic measurement space online. According to Compete’s own stats, it attracts about the same number of U.S. visitors a month as Alexa (727,000 for Compete versus 758,000 for Alexa), but Quantcast is the leader with more than double that (1.9M uniques). The deal and its price tag could also be called brilliant for Compete when compared to the comScore’s current market capitalization – $570M.

Since 2006 Compete tried almost everything on the PR front to gain popularity, create buzz, and increase its service awareness, but it had little to no success at all. In many aspects Compete’s traffic measurement, just like Alexa btw, is way inaccurate and incomplete when compared to quantified sites at Quantcast and perhaps TNS decided to buy the third or forth in the market due to a possible higher price Quantcast is currently looking for (or being not for sale) and the current market value comScore has. Both of them have been M&A targets for a while although no public facts are available as to whether TNS has been one of the suitors for either of the companies mentioned. By comparison, in 2007 Experian Group Ltd. paid $240 million to acquire another leading Web intelligence company, Hitwise Pty Ltd., which made money and had annual revenues of roughly $40 million. In other words, at a price tag of $75 million TNS is offering roughly 5 times Compete’s revenue, and it will pay 10 times sales if the target reaches the financial milestones stipulated under the earn-out clause. Experian paid a multiple of only 6 times sales for Hitwise.

One of the company’s latest developments was the partnership they made with to provide compete data for sites on’s binoculars.

TNS is acquiring Compete primarily from a consortium of private venture capital companies. Compete is said it will continue to operate as a stand-alone company, but it has already identified stellar new product opportunities to develop with the TNS media intelligence and custom research teams.   

In additional to Idealab, Compete’s other investors include Charles River Ventures, Commonwealth Capital Partners, North Hill Ventures, Split Rock Partners, and William Blair Capital Partners. Total funding to date is $43M. Their investors were undoubtedly probably hoping for a much better outcome, but a solid double is better than nothing.

This acquisition brings together the global market information strength of TNS with Compete’s digital intelligence products and capabilities.  Digital intelligence combines data on user behavior and interactions on the internet with demographic and competitive information, to help businesses and marketers make critical, strategic and tactical business decisions. 

Through this acquisition, TNS will provide clients with new and valuable insights into how online consumer behavior affects purchasing decisions, enabling clients to improve their marketing effectiveness, both online and offline. Together, TNS and Compete will provide consumer, brand and media research and measurement services that will help businesses succeed in the digital marketing environment.

Compete conducts continuous analysis of internet clickstream data from close to 2 million people, weighted to match the US online population.  This information is used to measure how consumers consider, engage with and buy a client’s products or services online, relative to those of its competition.  This ability to analyze online behavior before a purchase is made enables Compete to advise clients on how to target online communications to individual consumers, to influence both their online and offline purchasing behavior.

As internet usage and e-retailing increases, clickstream data is expected to become a significant information source around which market research and analysis is based.  Recent estimates suggest that the US market in which Compete operates will grow from $325 million in 2007 to $500 million in 2009.  (Morgan Stanley research and Jupiter Research estimates of on-demand US web analytics market)

TNS will apply Compete’s ability to profile, measure and segment the online behavior of consumers to its own 6th dimension access panels.  This will start in the US, where TNS has a fully managed access panel of more than one million people and will then be extended across its network.  This will give TNS an unmatched ability to provide insight based on online and offline behavior and on consumer attitudes. 

David Lowden, Chief Executive of TNS, said: “This acquisition is an important move for TNS that builds on our ability to help clients understand consumer behavior in the new and highly complex digital world.  Compete has built a world-class digital intelligence capability that delivers multiple perspectives on how consumers engage with brands online. Its strength lies in its ability to provide competitive analysis of individuals’ online behavior, a rapidly growing section of the market that has enormous potential. 

“TNS will enhance this offering by putting it together with the understanding of consumer attitudes and behavior that we gain from our access panels.  We will use our network to offer this powerful combination to clients across the globe.  In the longer term, we will look at the opportunities to add further value by using our Worldpanel, Retail & Shopper and audience measurement capabilities to integrate data on purchasing and viewing behavior with internet search and shopping behavior.  We believe this will allow TNS to develop new syndicated and custom products, unique in our industry.”

Donald McLagan, Chairman and CEO of Compete, said: “We welcome this exciting opportunity to join one of the world’s most respected market information and insight groups.  Whether consumers buy online, or simply research online as they reach a purchasing decision, the marketing platforms they encounter bring major opportunities for brands.  Companies need to understand how the internet affects consumer preferences, attitudes, knowledge, understanding and motivation.  They also need help in maximizing the new online sales and marketing opportunities to target their prospective customers more effectively.  For the first time, we have given clients the opportunity to measure their effectiveness across all their marketing programmes.  This ability will be greatly enhanced when we are part of TNS.”

More about Compete

Compete, Inc. is a provider of analytics, research, and business intelligence. Compete gathers web behavior information from users who sign up at their site, then analyzes these data to create customized reports for client companies. Compete also offers a free web analytics tool for the general public at

Compete was founded in 2000 and is based in Boston, Massachusetts.  It analyses internet clickstream information received from its own panel and from internet service providers.  Compete uses proprietary data methodologies to normalize this data, making it representative of the entire US online market place. It specializes in the telecoms, media, automotive, financial services and travel industries, with a sector-based organization mirroring that of TNS.  It also has expertise in the field of online search evaluation.  Current management will remain with the company.  Clients, who include some of the world’s best-known brands, are engaged on a subscription basis, with analysis provided weekly or monthly.  The company has won a range of awards, including the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 two years in a row, the US Advertising Research Foundation David Ogilvy Award and the AdAge Power 150. Bill Gross is the company’s founder who had previously helped create the search engine that became Overture and later was acquired by Yahoo!.  

Compete has several competitors in enterprise-level web analytics and market research, including Nielsen/NetRatings, Hitwise, comScore, Amazon’s Alexa and Quantcast.

More about TNS

TNS is the third-largest market research firm across the globe (Honomichl)
TNS is the biggest provider of online market information in the world
TNS does more custom market research than any other firm worldwide
TNS Media Intelligence is the top-ranked ad spend measurement company
The TNS 6th Dimension access panels reach over two million consumers globally

The 1960s saw the creation of five of the market research companies that are at the heart of the Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) group today:

  • Intersearch in the USA in1960
  • AGB in UK in 1962
  • Sofres in France in 1963
  • Frank Small Associates in Australia in 1964
  • Taylor Nelson in UK in 1965
  • But the very first seeds had been sown in the USA in 1946, when NFO (National Family Opinion) opened for business.

In the 60s, 70s and 80s, all these companies grew significantly, introducing a wide and increasingly sophisticated range of research solutions and using the latest technological developments. And as they and their clients grew, they started to create their international networks:

Sofres opened offices in six European countries, the US and 12 countries in Asia Pacific
Taylor Nelson and AGB each developed a UK network of offices and began to acquire businesses in Europe

NFO grew to become the by-word for managed access panels in the USA
It soon became clear that brands were becoming global, and brand owners would need global market information partners.

In the 1990s, the market research industry started to consolidate, as major clients demanded an increasingly international service.

NFO made a series of acquisitions around the world and the companies that now form TNS responded to the changing market by joining forces, enabling them to deliver consistently high quality services to customers around the world.

  • Sofres acquired Secodip (1992)
  • Taylor Nelson joined with AGB  (1992)
  • Sofres combined with FSA (1995)
  • Sofres acquired Intersearch (1997)
  • Taylor Nelson AGB and Sofres merged (1997)
  • TNS acquired NFO (2003)


Mobivox takes $11M series A round from IDG Ventures

A couple of months ago IDG Ventures Boston led an $11 million series A round of funding for a Canadian company called Mobivox, which lets registered members make cheap or free phone calls around the world. The Montreal-based company is essentially letting members call to a number of countrieres free of charge and to other countries at around 2 cents.

IDG was joined by IDG Ventures China and IDG Ventures Vietnam. Previous investors include Brightspark Ventures of Toronto and Skypoint Capital Corp. of Ottawa. More information about all investors involved can be found below.

Earlier last year Mobivox launched the beta of its new mobile-to-Skype service. Registered Mobivox users with Skype accounts can call local access numbers to be connected via a virtual operator to their Skype contacts, for free. The service works with landlines and mobile phones, and it requires no download to your phone or PC. To use the service, just give Mobivox your telephone numbers and Skype account info.

Mobivox’s business model makes revenue from international calls. Users buy into a credit system that lets them purchase chunks of up to $100 international mobile-to-landline credit at a time, without having to buy it from Skype directly. There are no charges for using the service beyond any minutes you use up on your mobile or domestic-calling plan, and since Mobivox gives you a local number, you’re likely to avoid any long-distance charges on landlines.

Mobivox, reviewed by different testers and bloggers, was said to be a little kludgy to set up originally, probably cause its still in Alpha, but the easy part about it is it can use voice commands over a regular local phone call, so one just dials and says “my contact” and “Skype” and the service will connect you to an available Skype user — or one’s other contacts’ mobile and landline numbers. It automatically syncs with your Skype contacts after the sync is triggered by calling in to see if your Skype contacts were online or not.

The most frustrating part of trying to access Skype mobile solutions over some of the other services is downloading the client on the often select number of handsets available. It’s getting better as the startups add more handsets, but it’s still limited. Well, Mobivox also says they will have a mobile client available starting in April (2007), so we guess they’ll be jumping on that bandwagon too, for users that want a mobile interface.

Other users have checked out a number of VoIP mobile SPs and claimed they have finally found one that really knows what the users want. For example, one doesn’t want to open another account and purchase credits to use a facilitator for your existing Skype account and contacts. You don’t want to go through another operator no matter how intelligent it may be, you just want to go to your mobile and call your Skype contacts as you would a normal contact in your phone book and if you are WiFi connected, great, because that’s the way we want to go and stop being exploited by high mobile cost carriers.

The same user, we have read online about, advocated by that time that the only company he was aware of does this and that is

Another one is asking: am I missing something about why I need a 3rd party? So I just installed Skype for Windows Smart Phones on my T-mobile Dash and it works flawlessly! Some other sources, however, explained the smart phones are in usage of no more than 1% of the mobile users worldwide.

The Management

Stéphane Marceau | President and CEO

Stéphane Marceau brings over 12 years of global experience to Mobivox in building and marketing IP communications to consumer markets. As Vice-President with Bell Canada, he built several new business lines, including the residential VoIP operating unit. Stéphane served as VP and head of many different Bell groups – consumer strategy, e-commerce, online SME markets and corporate development – and led several acquisitions and partnerships. Prior to his time at Bell Canada, he advised many of the largest wireless and telecom companies in Western Europe, the U.S. and Canada on Internet strategy and technology opportunities. Stéphane is also on the board of several web 2.0 start-ups in Montreal. He holds a Master’s degree in Management of Technology from the University of Waterloo, which he obtained in 1994 after earning a BA in Finance from the Université du Québec à Montréal in 1992.

Eric Reiher | Founder and CTO

Eric Reiher has spent the last 15 years contributing his vision to several leading-edge Research and Development projects. Since 2002, he has devoted himself to the development of MOBIVOX core technology. Prior to that, Eric acquired in-depth telecom and automatic speech recognition experience at Locus Dialogue, a fast-growing high-tech company that was ultimately acquired by Scansoft. Eric started his career at the Centre de Recherche Informatique de Montréal (CRIM), where he rapidly became a project leader and led various projects to completion, including an advanced image analysis mandate. He holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the Université de Montréal, which he obtained in 1990 after earning a BA in Computer Science, with a minor in mathematics, from the Université de Sherbrooke in 1988.

Mark MacLeod | Chief Financial Officer

Mark MacLeod brings 16 years of management and corporate finance experience to MOBIVOX, including over 8 years with technology start-ups. Most recently, Mark was Vice President, Finance for networked storage vendor Terrascale Technologies Inc. which was acquired by Rackable Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: RACK) in September 2006. Mark was previously Chief Financial Officer at IP networking vendor Hexago Inc. Prior to Hexago, he led Finance and Corporate Development for electronic signature software vendor Silanis Technology Inc., the market leader in its space. Mark is a seasoned operator and transaction specialist with broad experience in cross border financings, acquisitions and strategic alliances. He is a Chartered Accountant and holds an MBA in Corporate Strategy & Organizational Behavior from McGill University.

Nitzan Shaer | Chief Operating Officer

Nitzan Shaer brings to MOBIVOX more than 14 years of global business experience in the mobile and consumer software space. As Head of the Mobile Product Group at Skype, Nitzan led the development and marketing efforts focused on making Skype available on mobile phones. Prior to his tenure at Skype, Nitzan served as Senior Product Manager at Microsoft, where he managed the development of three emerging businesses in the company’s Mobile and Embedded Division. Previously, Nitzan also managed Business Development and Marketing in Europe at Brightcom Technologies, a company focused on the development of Bluetooth applications. Nitzan served as a Captain in the Israel Air Force, and graduated first in his class from the Air Force Academy. Most recently, as Entrepreneur In Residence at IDG Ventures Boston, Nitzan focused on identifying new investment opportunities in the telecommunications and consumer Internet industries. Nitzan graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School. He lives in Boston with his wife and son and enjoys mountain climbing in his spare time.

Maxime Julien | Senior Vice President, Research & Development

Maxime brings over 17 years of senior management and engineering excellence to Mobivox. Most recently, Maxime was COO for Electronic Arts’ Montreal Studios where he was responsible for all aspects of studio operations and grew the team from 75 to over 300 people within 12 months. In addition, he participated in development of the most advanced game development framework of the industry. Prior to EA, Maxime led operations for Ubisoft where he reorganized and revitalized 6 operating groups covering over 300 team members, introducing best practices for software development and product delivery. Maxime also held several executive and leadership roles in the management of high-tech enterprises and blue-chip companies such as Ericsson, Motorola, Teleglobe and CAE. Maxime holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering (B.Eng.) from Laval University.

The investors

The company was founded in 2005 and has raised funds before its series A, which is known to be $3 million from both Brightspark Ventures and Skypoint Capital. All investors with brief information about them are included below.

IDG Ventures Boston

IDG Ventures Boston is an independent partnership that enables entrepreneurs to grow innovative, global companies. With $280 million under management, the firm is focused on investing in early stage information technology and life sciences companies and is led by a team with more than half a century of combined experience in venture capital. IDG Ventures Boston is affiliated with the IDG Ventures network of funds, a global $2+ billion network of independently managed funds spanning Asia and North America.


Brightspark is a leading early-stage software venture capital fund. Brightspark works closely with entrepreneurs to develop and build market-leading software companies. Brightspark’s innovative investment approach focuses on working closely with early-stage companies through their development and growth phase. Brightspark’s team brings years of investment and technology expertise in creating and operating software companies in the areas of application and infrastructure software, enterprise software and communications software. Brightspark’s investments range from “concept”-stage companies, led by domain experts looking to commercialize an idea or technology, to working with experienced entrepreneurs looking to scale their existing businesses. With offices in Toronto and Montreal, Brightspark is backed by leading institutional investors who share its approach to early-stage software investing.


Skypoint Capital forms and manages venture capital funds that stimulate and leverage the ever-changing telecommunications and information technology sector. The investment team begins by investing time with the entrepreneur long before committing capital. After investing, the team brings its vast operating experience and passion for growing businesses to portfolio companies. The members of the Skypoint Capital investment team have participated in more than 80 technology start-ups in the Ottawa and Montreal regions.

IDG Venture China

IDG Venture Investment China is a premier venture capital firm in China focused on helping early to growth stage companies become significant players in the IT, consumer, media and life sciences industries. The firm has demonstrated success with over 30 IPO’s and successful M&A transactions and a portfolio that includes Baidu, CTrip, Sohu, Tencents, HomeInns, and KingDee. With a 14 year history of investing in China and $1.3B under management, IDG Venture Investment China is proud to have won the trust of entrepreneurs, investors, business communities and government organizations alike.

IDG Ventures Vietnam

Established in 2004, IDG Ventures Vietnam (IDGVV) is the first and leading technology venture capital fund in Vietnam. With $100M under management, the fund invests in market leading companies in the technology, media, and telecommunications sectors in Vietnam as well as select parts of Southeast Asia. As part of the network of IDG Ventures funds worldwide, IDGVV has been at the forefront in the development of the venture capital industry in the region as well as promoting technology entrepreneurship. In addition to Mobivox, some of its current investments include VinaGame, Punch Entertainment,, VinaPay, and

The market

The market is extremely overcrowded and Mobivox is facing staggering competition in the mobile VoIP space. The competition seems to guarantee cheaper phone calls for the rest of us as well as more used minutes for the cell phone companies. Companies include from Google and Tellme’s free 411 services to an army of small to mid level companies. Tellme, by the way, was recently bought by Microsoft. Other players include EQO that used to have a similar PC-style Skype version, IdeaSIP (which supports video), Gizmo Project (which has a very cool client),, Stanaphone, Sunrocket (2nd largest to Vonage),, which has taken an even easier route by simply letting people call internationally via the PSTN network and Barablu, which is yet another company dealing with Skype but is based in Europe. iSkoot seems like its becoming Skype’s chosen mobile solution and among other startups with Skype mobile solutions, like Mobivox itself, they are all trying to figure out the differentiators and spread the market shares among themselves. iSkoot, by contrast, is based in Massachusetts and has more than $13.2 million in financing and is backed by Charles River Ventures, Khosla Ventures, ZG Ventures, and Jesselson Capital Corp.