Category Archives: Money

Nice exit for Sphere.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about AOL

A Global Ad-Supported Web Services Company

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

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

Core Statistics

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

 A sophisticated advertising network

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

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

Industry-leading products and programs

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

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

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

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

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

Expanding worldwide

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

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

More

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

Pageflakes is acquired by Brad Greenspan’s Live Universe

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

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

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

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

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

More about Pageflakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about Meebo

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

More about Montgomery & Co.

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

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

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

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

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

More

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

MeeVee put itself up for sale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about MeeVee

Discovering what’s online and on TV.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about Imeem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More

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

fix8 takes more money to fiddle around animated avatars

It was just a few months ago when fix8 took their first round of funding from Vickers Venture Group. The amount taken was then $3M. Vickers Venture Group is a Singapore-based private equity firm. This time the company says it has landed SK Telecom, which is a leading South Korean telecom, taking some $3M more to make it $5M in total funding. Fix8’s first part of the funding took place last year in October. 

SK Telecom has also awarded Fix8 a contract “to lead the development of SKT’s 3D avatar animation technology to enhance mobile and online communications.”

Fix8 is a web cam avatar community that lets you create animated avatars with your web cam by reading your expressions and gestures. When we took a look into their web site we have discovered tons of tools that you can play around with, including fix8’s wide selection of pre-made avatars and other accessories like voice manipulation, graphics and editing tools. Those clips can easily be embedded in your website or social networking profile, or use it for your instant messaging client like AOL, MSN, Skype or Yahoo Messenger.

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

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

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

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

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

More about fix8

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

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

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

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

The team

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

About Vickers Venture Partners.

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

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

More

http://www.sktelecom.com/
http://fix8.com/
http://www.vickersfinancial.com/
http://www.pehub.com/article/articledetail.php?articlepostid=11271
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/04/03/fix8-takes-2-million-series-a/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/17/fix8-has-taken-3m-for-animated-avatars-for-your-cam/
http://mashable.com/2007/10/15/fix8-funded/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/15/fix8-raises-3-million/
http://mashable.com/2007/09/12/avatars/
http://mashable.com/2007/06/26/fix8-stickam/
http://webmaster.stickam.com/2007/06/fix8_partners_with_stickam_to.html
http://www.camfess.com/contents.php?cid=16
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/05/31/fix8-brings-computer-generated-animation-to-the-webcam/

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really more from MS/Yahoo’s saga

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120701820580579519.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/26/yahoo-shares-up-44-on-rumors-microsoft-will-increase-the-bid-to-34/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/25/citigroup-raises-yahoo-target-to-34-based-on-revised-microsoft-bid/
http://www.infoworld.com/article/08/03/25/Citigroup-says-Microsoft-likely-to-raise-bid-for-Yahoo_1.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=MSFT
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=yhoo
http://uk.reuters.com/article/technology-media-telco-SP/idUKN1819990520080219
http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6231021.html
http://mashable.com/2008/02/18/bill-gates-were-not-raising-the-yahoo-bid/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/01/yes-we-were-right-yahoo-was-seriously-undervalued-microsoft-offers-446b-for-the-company-a-62-premium-over-their-value-from-yesterday/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/02/is-google-going-to-be-the-winner-from-the-microsoft-yahoo-deal/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/04/google%e2%80%99s-chief-legal-officer-vs-microsoft%e2%80%99s-general-counsel/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/08/one-after-another-the-potential-competitive-bidders-for-yahoo-drop-off-is-yahoo-going-to-surrender-to-microsoft/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/11/yahoo%e2%80%99s-official-response-to-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer-no/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/12/and-here-is-what-microsoft-has-to-tell-yahoo/
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/080211/aqm241.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?d=t&s=msft
http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/09/magazines/fortune/yahoo_rejects_bid_report.fortune/?postversion=2008020914
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fffc1006-d5e8-11dc-bbb2-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1
http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2008/02/05/yahoo-the-five-scenario-analysis/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/08/yahoo-board-to-determine-fate-of-company-today/
http://www.techmeme.com/080201/p78#a080201p78
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_8149194
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2008/tc2008021_885192.htm?chan=rss_topStories_ssi_5
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/02/AR2008020200568.html
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/02/MN8OUQGNB.DTL&type=tech
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080201/microsoft-to-yahoo-two-days-to-respond-or-else/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/hold-everything-we-may-get-another-yhoo-bidder.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/what-would-a-combined-microsoft-yahoo-look-like/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/ballmers-internal-e-mail-to-the-troops-explaining-the-yahoo-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/02/news-corp-scrambles-to-bid-for-yahoo/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/microsoft-yahoo-combined-financials.html
http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=206107168
http://mashable.com/2008/02/10/yahoo-aol-merger/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/10/wait-yahoo-and-aol-i-was-looking-forward-to-something-moreintelligent/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/09/microsofts-80-billion-and-growing-yahoo-headache/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer
 

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/
https://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

Yet another Digg clone

Reading the blogs today we came across a new Digg like service (clone) called Publish2. Essentially the service is Digg meets del.icio.us aimed at journalists where anyone is said to be able to seed links in the system but only journalists are given with the chance to vote for them. However, one person testing the service has said about Publis2 “It’s like Delicious, I would never use the public part of the service, I’m too competitive to share my research with other journalists.” There are way too many Digg followers lately trying to catch up on the huge popularity (traffic) Digg generates, – well over 22M unique visitors per month. While every new start up in the same space holds its chances and brings some new interesting features on the table it is hard for us to believe anyone will ever get closer to what Digg’s today popularity is. The ideas are many, the executions are good but even Digg has yet to prove its business model, let alone those smaller players.

Publish2 has today announced $2.75M in series A round of funding coming from Velocity Interactive Group. The company’s founders are Robert Young and Scott Karp who are former GigaOm contributors. 

Other companies in the space include Digg, Reddit, Netscape’s Propeller.com, MSNBC’s Newsvine, Mixx, Pligg, among others.

More about Publish2

Publish2 is an online news aggregation platform, designed to empower journalists to discover, organize, and rank the most important news — to benefit their own reporting, their newsrooms, and all news consumers on the web.

If you are a journalist, you can register for the Publish2 Beta.

1. Easy Online Bookmarks

Bookmarking Tool

You can save interesting articles and story research with one click, tag your bookmarks to keep them organized, and access your bookmarks from any computer.

Private or Public

If you like, you can save your bookmarks privately for your own personal use. No one else will see your bookmarks. Or you can choose to save your bookmarks publicly to influence what others read.

For Reporters

Publish2 makes your research and reporting proccess a lot more efficient.

For Editors

Publish2 bookmarks can also be published on a blog or web site as “recommended reading” or article references (using an RSS feed of your bookmarks).

2. A Powerful News Aggregator

Power of the Link

Links determine what gets read online. Google’s search engine gets its power by interpreting links to content as “votes” for importance.

Front Page

Because Publish2 is exclusively for journalists, combining all of the bookmark “links” creates a powerful aggregator of the best articles. The more journalists bookmark a story, the higher it ranks in Publish2’s news aggregation — just as content rises higher in Google’s search results as more people link to it.

Take Back Control

It’s like Digg for professional journalists, who understand the news and are experts on their beats. By using Publish2, you’ll help promote high quality journalism and take back control from amateurs and algorithms.

For Reporters

You can influence what others read by choosing to save your bookmarks publicly.

For Editors You can use Publish2 as an editorial platform for creating compelling topical news aggregations, powered by the collective intelligence of journalists.

3. Professional Profile

Resume

Manage your online identity as a journalist

My Clips

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http://www.publish2.com/
http://publish2.com/register
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/31/heres-a-screenshot-of-publish2/
http://gigaom.com/2008/03/31/publish2-velocity/
http://gigaom.com/2007/08/14/publish2-joins-the-social-news-party/
http://gigaom.com/author/gigarobertyoung/
http://venturebeat.com/2008/03/31/publish2-raises-a-round-aims-to-bring-more-journalists-to-the-web/
http://www.velocityig.com/

Glam seems to be cutting off revenues for publishers

Something really interesting is going on with Glam Media. To make a long story short Glam is basically a controversial site that runs both a network of its own web sites as well as runs ads on a network of third party sites geared towards women online and has just recently raised a massive amount of funding – $85M.  The total funding for the company is already $114M. You may say yet another ad network site on Web and you might be right in part. However there was something really interesting with Glam – they were perhaps the only ad network out there that was guaranteeing ad revenues for their publishers, mainly lifestyle web sites oriented towards women. Let’s put it that way Glam’s business model was to guarantee some minimum flat pay outs to its publishers. Today, we have read on web, this practice seems to be changing – Glam is no longer going to pay for the entire ad inventory available at its participating web publishers that way effectively cutting off their revenues by 60% up to 80%.

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

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

So one starts to wonder here is this a well thought strategy for Glam to attract lots of publishers by initially paying big bucks and once it achieved its goals (to raise massive amount of funding) to cut those publishers off its network by simply no longer paying them what it has initially been promised. It is no secret that Glam Media succeeded in raising those over $100M in funding money due to its huge reach of over 40M uniques per month across various women web sites and blogs. Once the task was accomplished Glam is no longer in need from those small blogs that perhaps represent a large portion of those 44M uniques per month or is simply changing the policy in order to survive. We have put their business model under some doubts the last time we covered their massive round of funding and then we have written that in today’s hugely competitive environment ad networks are working in everything boils down to who pays more the web publishers. Glam claims it pays most to its web publishers, but it is hard to believe how Glam can out pay Google when they had just $21M in revenues last year while Google’s payout was almost $4B to its web publishers for 2007. Let’s put it that way who earns more from the ad networks is who is going to be capable enough to pay more to the web publishers. So it seems we were basically right. Glam is discontinuing their practice of guaranteed ad revenues for its publishers. 

However, the big question here is for how long those web publishers are going to stay with Glam Media and what will happen to Glam if they leave?

Here is what Glam has replied on Techrunch.

As GM of the Glam Publisher Network, my team’s #1 priority is to ensure the success of our publishers and to help them secure high-CPM brand advertising. Unlike most other networks we do not compromise on our rate card and as a result, our partners benefit from high CPM brand advertising. When we’re unable to deliver a paid ad, we have traditionally run a Glam house ad (i.e. a current house ad announces our upcoming Glam Network blogger awards). Publishers have requested more choice for the impressions that our house ads would normally fill. This default ad technology simply replaces the Glam house ads with a host of options. This is similar to standard network ‘default’ technology that’s been in general use for years.

I want to acknowledge that Glam is successful because of our publisher partners. As a company, our focus is on convincing the brands to engage in new ways with a media landscape made up of independent premium publishers with passionate audiences. We welcome the ongoing dialogue.

More about Glam Media

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

About the founder

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

Other team members include:

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

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

More

https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/25/glam-media-raises-a-massive-round-of-funding-85m/
http://www.glam.com/
http://www.glammedia.com
http://www.glammedia.com/about_glam/news/2008/02/25/glam-media-raises-85-million-in-private-strategic-financing/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/29/glam-makes-big-cuts-in-publisher-payments-up-to-80-drop-in-revenue
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/24/glam-closes-massive-d-round/
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120390178731489459.html
http://www.docstoc.com/docs/412152/Glam-Media-Teaser-August-2007
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/08/12/is-glam-a-sham/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/13/more-misplaced-glam-exhuberance/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/glammedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glam_Media,_Inc.
http://venturebeat.com/2008/02/24/womans-network-glam-raises-846-million-at-half-a-billion-valuation-adconian-raises-80m/
http://www.glammedia.com/about_glam/our_story/competitive_landscape.php
http://news.speeple.com/business2.com/2007/08/13/bubble-watch-glam-media-shops-around-a-200-million-private-placement.htm
http://valleywag.com/360436/glam-media-raises-84-million-far-short-of-its-200-million-goal
http://valleywag.com/tech/online-advertising/glam-media-not-looking-so-beautiful-288964.php
http://venturebeat.com/2008/02/20/trends-secretive-new-york-bank-allen-co-gets-into-silicon-valley-media-tech/
http://www.foliomag.com/2008/glam-media-gets-85m-private-equity-financing
http://samirarora.com/html/bio.html

More instructional videos on the horizon

Creating educational and instructional videos, clips and episodes is something hot lately. The space is crowded and has just emerged from the popularization of the online video sector. MindBites is yet another player jumping the bandwagon. MindBites is a self-publishing platform and social marketplace for instructional content, which enables people to share their unique knowledge, skills and passions through audio and video lessons, earning money for themselves or for charity.

Creating a marketplace where user-generated content becomes a commerce-driven supply for those out there in need of instructional videos is something said to set MindBites apart from its competitors.

MindBites has just raised $1M in series A round of funding from True Ventures.

Jason Reneau is the company’s CEO and founder.

Competitors include Expert Village, VideoJug, Sclipo, Graspr, Instructables, SuTree, Howcast, among others.

More about MindBites

Who we are
Introducing MindBites, your place on the web to learn directly from other real people and share what you know with the world. A self-publishing platform and social marketplace for instructional content, MindBites enables people to share their unique knowledge, skills and passions through audio and video lessons, earning money for themselves or for charity. The result is a unique community of discovery with content that simply can’t be found anywhere else – from Teaching your Baby Sign Language, to Cooking Tandori Chicken, to Surviving a Knife Attack. By enabling people to learn, connect and share as never before, MindBites promises to revolutionize the way the world shares knowledge. MindBites – What do you know?

What We Believe
Our belief is that the world is at the dawn of a new era in the sharing of knowledge. Led by the ubiquity of the Internet and drastic improvements in the accessibility of digital media technology, we are experiencing the largest increase in the global sharing of knowledge since Gutenberg invented moveable type. The bottom line is that today we can be connected, from one mind to another, like never before in the history of the world (please speak in your best James Earl Jones voice). We are inspired to be living in such an exciting time and playing a part in these historic trends.

Our Team
Our team is an ever expanding group of unique, talented and fun (if not a little goofy) individuals. As a group, we have experience from such varied institutions as Whole Foods, Harvard Business School, Burnt Orange Productions, McKinsey and Company, FreeMarkets, and Kiva Systems, to name a few. We have worked in such areas as web development, e-commerce, professional education, TV and film production, design, sales, marketing and entrepreneurial ventures. Most importantly though, we’re a group that includes bad but aspiring chefs, gardeners, artists, bartenders, golfers and foosball players. We own old houses and have no idea how to fix them. We’d like to learn foreign languages, have dreamed of knowing martial arts, and are always trying to figure out how to use our latest technical gadget. Simply put, we love learning, and that’s why we’re here.

There are too many people who have already touched MindBites to mention, but to list a few: our development team is from Squeejee.com led by Wynn Netherland, Jeff Kramer designed and manages our infrastructure, and Matt Warchola built our smack player. Matt “MattDaddyC” Chapman is responsible for our funky web design, and John Rubio deserves credit for the original MindBites logo. Ellen Ambrose has been our author recruiter extraordinaire, and our production team has been a group effort from Brittanie Flegle, Keith Fraase, Matt James and Sarah Moore, among others. The bozo in the back of the boat manning the rudder (and sitting on top of the ice chest) is Jason Reneau. Happily swimming along behind the boat is Chelsea, our unofficial mascot. Shout out also to our ex-lead-developer-turned-doctor, Matt Sanders.

Our Technology
MindBites is built with Ruby on Rails and oodles of CSS goodness, with light sprinkles of Flash and AJAX thrown in for good measure. We serve our media in Flash and Quicktime (for the most part). MindBites simply wouldn’t have been possible without a bevy of fantastic open source software that makes our lives so much happier – thanks guys! We’ve built additional super-secret technology to keep the ship sailing smoothly even through troubled waters. We could tell you about it, but of course then we’d have to kill you…

On the production side, we have made a concerted effort to use consumer-level technology and tools. We film everything that we do or help out on with sub-$500 mini-DV camcorders, and we typically edit with Final Cut (although we dabble with a range of Windows and Mac software). Our most critical piece of technology though is our Braun coffeemaker, without which all MindBites productivity would screech to a halt.

More

http://www.mindbites.com/
http://blog.mindbites.com/
http://mashable.com/2008/03/20/mindbites/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/mindbites
http://www.trueventures.com/
http://Squeejee.com

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/

Li Ka-shing invests $40M more in Facebook; total funding is now $378M from $338M before

The Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing has reveled in a recent conference call that he raised his stake in the social networking site Facebook with some $40M more. That amount comes on top of his previous commitment of $60M, which brings his total investment in the popular site to $100M. What is his actually equity position in the Facebook, however, remains mystery to date, but considering what Microsoft has bought for their $240M (1.6%) it might turn out that Li Ka-shing’s ownership is perhaps below 1%. For Microsoft it might be quite clear what is the driving force behind such pity deal (locking down some advertising inventory and keeping Facebook away from the rival Google), but what the benefits for the Honk Kong billionaire are is very unclear for us. May be everything comes down to a potential IPO, which as we understand is not going to happen any sooner than 2010, despite some recent rumors for a possible IPO in as early as 2009. We think there is no other viable exit for your investors than going public if you have already taken more than $300M funding money off little to no steady revenues. There was no word on today’s Facebook pre-money valuation.

Here is what Li, who is chairman of telecom company Hutchinson Whampoa, told reporters on his company’s conference call:

“Facebook is doing very well and we could have some synergy between the 3G services of Hutchison and Facebook, so the customers could use Facebook on mobile phones.”

The combination of the social network and 3G networks is seen by Stacey Higginbotham from GigaOm as the most logical reason why Li Ka-shing was so eager to increase his stake in Facebook. Facebook users can already access the site on their mobile phones through the Facebook mobile page

Well, this might be the answer of our question from above what are the benefits for the Li Ka-shing in the context of Microsoft’s deal with Facebook.
A little more Facebook history and facts.

Facebook is hugely popular social networking site, second only to MySpace in terms of users. Other popular social networking sites are Bebo and Friendster, the second one tried to acquire Facebook in 2004 for just $10M.

The latest comScore metrics, we have seen, revealed that Facebook is actually havingover 100M unique visitors per month.

Peter Thiel, cofounder of PayPal and managing partner of the Founders Fund was the first angel investor in the company. He invested $500,000 into Facebook in early 2004. Later Accel Partners poured $12.7 million more in funding, at a valuation in the $100 million range.

The next year [2006], Facebook received $25 million in funding from Greylock Partners and Meritech Capital, as well as returning investors Accel Partners and Peter Thiel. The pre-money valuation for this deal was in the $525 million range.

Facebook is reported to have turned deals down from Friendster, Yahoo, Viacom  and the mighty Google a few months ago when Zuckerberg has chosen Microsoft to partner with. Microsoft de-facto has invested $240 million into Facebook for just 1.6 percent of the company in October 2007. This put the company’s valuation at over $15 billion on just $150 million in annual revenues.

Mr. Li Ka-shing is the Chairman of Cheung Kong (Holdings) Limited and Hutchison Whampoa Limited. Cheung Kong (Holdings) Limited is the flagship of the Cheung Kong Group which has business operations in 55 countries around the world and employs about 250,000 staff. In Hong Kong alone, the Group includes eight listed companies with a combined market capitalization of approximately HKD981 billion (31 October 2007). Hutchison Whampoa Limited is a Fortune Global 500 company.

It would be interesting to find out what’s the equity position Mr. Li Ka-shing has secured for his $60M considering what Microsoft has bought for their $240M. 

More

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/hong-kong-tycoon-li-raises/story.aspx?guid=%7BE4097AA2-9EA3-4773-9100-456E68EE1C9A%7D
http://www.allfacebook.com/2008/03/facebook-gets-another-40-million/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/27/hong-kong-billionaire-puts-another-40-million-into-facebook/
http://mashable.com/2008/03/27/facebook-hutchinson-investment/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2007/11/30/hong-kong-billionaire-li-ka-shing-invests-60m-in-facebook-funding-totals-33820m-to-date/
http://gigaom.com/2008/03/27/facebook-soon-to-appear-in-3g/
http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=2915120374&b
http://gigaom.com/2008/03/13/lets-justify-facebooks-300-per-user-valuation/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/facebook
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/30/another-60-million-for-facebook/
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20071130/facebook-nabs-60-million-investment-from-li-ka-shing/
http://www.hutchison-whampoa.com/eng/about/chairman/chairman.htm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about BeInSync

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

More about Phoenix Technologies

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

More

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really more

http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/25/citigroup-raises-yahoo-target-to-34-based-on-revised-microsoft-bid/
http://www.infoworld.com/article/08/03/25/Citigroup-says-Microsoft-likely-to-raise-bid-for-Yahoo_1.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=MSFT
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=yhoo
http://uk.reuters.com/article/technology-media-telco-SP/idUKN1819990520080219
http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6231021.html
http://mashable.com/2008/02/18/bill-gates-were-not-raising-the-yahoo-bid/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/01/yes-we-were-right-yahoo-was-seriously-undervalued-microsoft-offers-446b-for-the-company-a-62-premium-over-their-value-from-yesterday/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/02/is-google-going-to-be-the-winner-from-the-microsoft-yahoo-deal/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/04/google%e2%80%99s-chief-legal-officer-vs-microsoft%e2%80%99s-general-counsel/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/08/one-after-another-the-potential-competitive-bidders-for-yahoo-drop-off-is-yahoo-going-to-surrender-to-microsoft/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/11/yahoo%e2%80%99s-official-response-to-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer-no/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/12/and-here-is-what-microsoft-has-to-tell-yahoo/
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/080211/aqm241.html
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?d=t&s=msft
http://money.cnn.com/2008/02/09/magazines/fortune/yahoo_rejects_bid_report.fortune/?postversion=2008020914
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fffc1006-d5e8-11dc-bbb2-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1
http://blogs.barrons.com/techtraderdaily/2008/02/05/yahoo-the-five-scenario-analysis/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/08/yahoo-board-to-determine-fate-of-company-today/
http://www.techmeme.com/080201/p78#a080201p78
http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_8149194
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2008/tc2008021_885192.htm?chan=rss_topStories_ssi_5
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/02/AR2008020200568.html
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/02/MN8OUQGNB.DTL&type=tech
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080201/microsoft-to-yahoo-two-days-to-respond-or-else/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/hold-everything-we-may-get-another-yhoo-bidder.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/what-would-a-combined-microsoft-yahoo-look-like/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/01/ballmers-internal-e-mail-to-the-troops-explaining-the-yahoo-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/02/news-corp-scrambles-to-bid-for-yahoo/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/02/microsoft-yahoo-combined-financials.html
http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=206107168
http://mashable.com/2008/02/10/yahoo-aol-merger/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/10/wait-yahoo-and-aol-i-was-looking-forward-to-something-moreintelligent/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/09/microsofts-80-billion-and-growing-yahoo-headache/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/end-of-speculations-yahoo-rejected-microsoft%e2%80%99s-offer

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/

Modu, an innovative approach to cell phones, is on its way to raise $100M

In a week full with $100M funding deals (9You & SpinVox) here is the next one – Modu is an Israel based start up founded just in 2007 and has already raised $20M in its Series A round of funding. In that first round the backers are Gemini Israel Funds and Genesis Partners. Today there are rumors spreading around web that Modu is about to take a second round in the $100M range at $150M pre-money valuation, which means the company is ready to give up to 40% from its equity.

The funding is expected to close the funding round within the next few weeks but no investor names, neither institutional nor individual, are being quoted.

A funding round on this scale is considered extremely large and exceptionally rare in the Israeli venture capital industry. The large-scale of the round can be tied to the proven track record of its founder – Dov Moran. Rumors tell the hoping pre-money for Modu was $200M.

The capital will be used to bring Modu’s product onto the market as early at the end of 2008.

The device Modu has developed is a cellular handset that can be connected to a USB port on any computing device. It is based, among other things, on flash memory technology, and a unique memory technology that interfaces with any device it is connected to, enabling the uploading all forms of data, from telephone numbers to multimedia files.

Modu was established in early 2007 by Dov Moran, founder and CEO of msystems (NSDQ:FLSH), inventors and leaders of the USB flash drive market (DiskOnKey™), FlashDisk (DiskOnChip™) and other ground-breaking products. A seasoned team comprised of executives and managers from msystems, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, Motorola, Qualcomm, Intel, SanDisk, Symbian, Marvell, Orange and other leading companies allows modu to offer a unique blend of experience and unrivaled expertise in the mobile and consumer electronics arenas. modu has already developed key relationships with leading partners and manufacturers and has raised significant initial funding from a distinguished group of financial institutions.

Imagine the freedom to choose a new phone as often as you like, constantly taking different forms, functions and designs.

Imagine a world of connected consumer electronics devices, where you can share information with the world in ways you never thought possible.

modu enables you to create an entirely new communication experience to meet your changing needs, preferences and style.

meet modu

At the heart of the modu ecosystem is modu – a tiny, sleek & sophisticated mobile phone.

Slip modu into a variety of stylishly designed modu jackets to create a new look and provide added functionality that will instantly shape and reshape the way you communicate.

modu also has many mates – modu-enabled consumer electronic devices such as Personal Music Players, Digital Cameras or DECT Phones. Slip modu into modu mates to enhance your ability to quickly and easily communicate and share information with others.

modu jackets – what’s your modu?

You can switch modu jackets as often as you like according to your changing lifestyle and personal expression needs – transforming modu from a stylish phone or business tool to a workout companion or a powerful entertainment system. It’s as easy as slipping modu in and out.

modu allows you to have impact and make a dynamic fashion statement. modu jackets come custom branded with your favorite fashion brands, movies or music artists – all pre-loaded with exclusive content and a unique UI. Simply walk into your favorite store and pick up a new modu jacket to express your passions and interests. With modu, there are no boundaries to the number of unique and affordable phones available for you to enjoy.

All modu jackets are universally interchangeable, allowing you to swap modu jackets with friends. Or buy one as a gift for the favorite people in your life – allowing them to enjoy a brand new communication experience and to think of you every time they pick up the phone.

modu mates

modu mates let the revolution of a connected world to enter your everyday life. modu strives to become the standard communications and personalization enabler to any consumer electronics device. You can slip modu into your digital camera to enable instant sharing of photos with your modu contact list, into a DECT phone to enable land-mobile call consolidation, or into a digital picture frame to view pictures stored on your modu. The connections are boundless. Your ability to share, interact and communicate with the world is now possible with modu.

It’s time for a new stylish world of boundless possibilities, endless choices, and unlimited connectivity. It’s time to be unique. It’s time to modu your life.

The company has recently changed its name from InFone Tech to Modu.

Dov Moran is Founder, CEO and Chairman of modu. Before that, Mr. Moran was the founder, Chairman and CEO of msystems (NSDQ: FLSH). In 18 years, msystems, which invented the USB Flash Drive (DiskOnKey™), FlashDisk (DiskOnChip™) and other innovative flash data storage devices, grew to a $1B company. The company was acquired by SanDisk Corp (NSDQ: SNDK) for $1.6B at the end of 2006.

Mr. Moran is also the Chairman of Tower Semiconductor (NSDQ: TSEM) and Biomas, a bio-tech company. Mr. Moran holds a B.Sc. in Computers and Electronic Engineering (with honors) from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology.

Other from the team includes:

  • Itay Sherman
    CTO
  • Zack Weisfeld
    VP Marketing
  • Ronit Maor
    VP Corporate Development
  • Liat Arad
    COO
  • Lior Storfer
    VP Research and Development
  • Jacob Shama
    VP Value Added Products
  • Sariel Engel
    VP Business Development
  • Udi Weinstein
    CIO
  • Karl Pfister
    General Manager Europe

More

http://www.modumobile.com/
http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000325006
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/24/100-million-coming-to-israeli-startup-modu/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/21/modu-wants-you-to-guess-what-it-is-all-about/
http://www.libraryhouse.net/blog/2007/06/25/roundup-the-pick-of-recent-venture-capital-deals-7/
http://www.libraryhouse.net/profile/tfba6prp87z9os2aappd/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/modu

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/

Gaming is hot in China; 9You raised $100M, talks IPO

After reporting on SpinVox’s massive $100M round of funding it seems there is more to come within the same money range – this time from mainland China.

9You, a Chinese online games operator, has received $100 million in equity investment from Temasek Holdings, among other investors. Well, any time someone talks $100M funding rounds the IPO plans are not that far away in the future. The company says is planning an IPO later this year. The investment was said is to the company to continue transforming its business into an entertainment virtual community. The investment came after 9You’s launch of GTown, a virtual world integrating 9You’s existing online games.

Founded in 2003, 9You is currently operating one of China’s most popular online casual games Audition. By February 2008, the company’s games combined have more than 1 million peak concurrent users. The company claims it has reached over 120M registered users in 2006.

It was hard for us to dig some more public information about the deal. Most of the information came from Redline China, which is operated by Pearl Research a San Francisco based business intelligence and consultancy firm.

More about 9You

Nineyou (www.9you.com) (Shanghai Everstar Online Entertainment Co .Ltd.) is the global’s biggest music online game operator, China’s biggest casual game operator, one of biggest interactive entertainment portal sites in China, which is the first to integrate online game services (MMORPG, massive and medium size casual games, mobile game, etc.), fashional digital entertainment contents, a variety of chatting and community services equipped with Avatar System, wireless value-added services and other premiere services to the Chinese language internet users all over the world. With its wide-coverage for all major types of user needs related with digital entertainment service, the 9you.com represents the latest service style and the newest trend for the digital entertainment provider business in China Market. A series of awards and ranking are obtained by 9you.com in 2005 which include Top 10 Online Game Operator in China, and Top 10 Online Game Developer in China, the Cool Company, Shanghai First-class Service Brand in Information Service Industry, etc.

The major investors in Nineyou are several leading international venture capital funds, including the Carlyle Group, which is the world’s largest private investment group, China Merchant Fortune Ventures, and Dragon Groove Inc. who has the background as international strategic investor.

As an integrated service platform for all types of interactive entertainment services, the major business objective of the 9you.com is to bring the best, fastest, all-covered and coolest digital entertainment services to its subscribers of a wide range of ages, including the hard-cored and the light users, male and female users. As of May 2006, the number of total registered users has reached 120 million and the number of the peak concurrent users has reached 800 thousand.

The 9you.com are providing more digital entertainment products in year 2006 and the number of products and types of services will be the No.1 in the whole China Online Game Service industry in the foreseeable future.

More about Temasek Holdings

Temasek Holdings is an Asia investment house headquartered in Singapore.

With a multinational staff of more than 300 people, we manage a portfolio of over S$160 billion, or more than US$100 billion, focused primarily in Asia. We are committed to fostering a sustainable future for our shareholder, staff, portfolio companies and
the community.

We are an active shareholder and investor in diverse industry sectors such as banking & financial services, real estate, transportation & logistics, infrastructure, telecommunications & media, bioscience & healthcare, education, consumer & lifestyle, engineering & technology, as well as energy & resources.

Our total shareholder return since our inception is more than 18% compounded annually. We have a corporate credit rating of AAA/Aaa by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s respectively.

In 2008, The Economist reported that Morgan Stanley had estimated the fund’s assets at US$159.2 billion

More

http://www.9you.com/
http://mashable.com/2008/03/21/9you-funding/
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-chinese-gaming-site-9you-receives-100-million-investment/
http://www.redlinechina.com/main/?q=node/740
http://www.temasekholdings.com.sg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temasek_Holdings

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