Category Archives: Venture Capital

Revver, the video-revenue sharing site finally sells out, but the price is not hefty

The site best known as the first video site that started to split the ad revenue with publishers and video creators and producers on a 50/50 basis is being reported sold. The troubled video site Revver was bought by Brad Greenspan’s LiveUniverse for what is rumored on several tech blogs to be under $5 million. No more public information at this hour is available but the price seems quite low taking into consideration the huge amount of money the company has taken so far. Revver is known to have raised $12.7 million from Comcast, Turner, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Bessemer Venture Partners, Draper Richards and William Randolph Hearst III. Checking on Revver’s blog gave us no further details on the deal.

Earlier this month Revver was put up for sale where the price tag was set to be $1.5 million or less in cash and debt assumption. CNET was among the first media to report on the potential deal between LiveUniverse and Revver, though they did say the deal had fallen apart.

A person from inside the company has commented on the deal that way: “I wouldn’t say anyone got rich, but everybody was happy.”

Many independent creators still prefer the service, though web video stars Ze Frank, Ask a Ninja, Lonelygirl15, and Invisible Engine have discontinued using it as their main platform.

Perhaps everything boils down to the simple fact it is pretty hard to monetize video site. Even though the traffic is perhaps playing little to no role for Revver’s business model it is interesting to note their visitors are not that much – below 1M unique visitors per month as reported on Quantcast.

The Revver team has indicated they plan to work under the new ownership, and no lay off plan has been announced for the video sharing company at present.

The buying company LiveUniverse is probably most popular with the fact it has been founded by one of the founders of MySpace – Brad Greenspan. With over 55M monthly unique visitors, LiveUniverse is one of the world’s largest online entertainment networks. They operate several successful and popular websites across three core verticals: Video, Social Networking & Music. LiveVideo is one of their sites, which about a year ago instigated a scandal on YouTube when it reportedly paid top YouTube users to come to its platform. LiveUniverse founder Brad Greenspan, who was involved with MySpace early on, is perhaps best known for his lawsuits protesting the company’s sale to News Corp.

Additionally in 2006, Greenspan also initiated a lawsuit and activism site against his former company, MySpace, calling attention to the fact they were censoring widget makers and software service providers using MySpace as a development platform.

More about Revver

Revver is a video-sharing platform built the way the internet really works. We support the free and unlimited sharing of media. Our unique technology tracks and monetizes videos as they spread virally across the web, so no matter where your creativity travels, you benefit.

Revver is also the viral video network that pays. We connect video makers and sharers with sponsors in a free and open marketplace that rewards them for doing what they do best.

Revver is committed to the artist. You have something to say and we built our network to empower you to say it.

How does it work?

  1. Upload your video.
  2. We pair your video with a targeted advertisement.
  3. Share your video across the web. The more people see it, the more money you can make.
  4. We split the ad revenue with you 50/50.
  5. Sharers earn money too! Help spread Revver videos and earn 20% of the ad revenue. The remaining money is split 50/50 between the creator of the video and Revver.

We’ve built all sorts of cool and easy sharing tools to help you make your work go viral and earn more money. Share and shared alike. Can you feel the love?

Revver API
Attention developers! Want to build your own video-sharing site like Revver.com? You can use our API to do it. The Revver API includes all the tools you need to create your own video portal complete with user accounts, uploading, sharing tools and access to the full Revver library of videos. Revver covers the bandwidth and shares all ad revenue with you and the video makers.

More

http://revver.com/
http://liveuniverse.com/
http://mashable.com/2008/02/14/liveuniverse-buys-revver/
http://newteevee.com/2008/02/14/liveuniverse-buys-revver-for-more-than-a-song/
http://blog.revver.com/
http://mashable.com/2008/02/06/revver-for-sale/
http://www.contentinople.com/author.asp?section_id=429&doc_id=142633
http://nalts.wordpress.com/2007/02/07/livevideo-vs-youtube-2/
http://mashable.com/2006/11/02/myspace-founder-sues-news-corp-over-censorship/
http://livevideo.com/
http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9865731-7.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-20
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Randolph_Hearst_III
http://www.dfj.com/
http://www.bvp.com/
http://www.draperrichards.com/
http://www.quantcast.com/revver.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about InfoSpace Inc.

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

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

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

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

We have established offerings in two different areas:

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

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

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

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

More about Motricity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More

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

Yahoo makes an acquisition of its own – the online video platform Maven Networks

Undeterred by the threat of a hostile takeover Microsoft imposed over them a couple of weeks ago Yahoo seems to have completed an acquisition of its own Tuesday by buying online video service Maven Networks Inc. for $160 million.

The deal marks Yahoo’s latest attempt to expand its online advertising network and more concrete its online video advertising in particular. Yahoo plans to use Maven’s technology to host video for media partners and incorporate Maven’s video-ad insertion technology into its overall advertising platform.

The talks to buy Cambridge, Mass.-based Maven began before Microsoft announced its bid Feb. 1, said Tim Cadogan, Yahoo’s senior vice president of marketing products. Maven helps television and movie studios find Web sites to show their videos and manage the accompanying advertisements. The six-year-old startup works with a wide range of media outlets, including CBS Sports, Gannett Co., News Corp., Hearst Corp. and Sony Pictures.

“We think video is going to become the third leg of the advertising stool,” said Cadogan. Ads tied to search requests is currently the Internet’s biggest moneymaker, followed by so-called display ads featuring photos, illustrations and other images.

As of December, Yahoo held a 3.4 percent share of the U.S. online video market, lagging far behind Google, whose ownership of industry leader YouTube.com gave it nearly one-third of the market, according to comScore Inc.

Yahoo plans to retain Maven’s roughly 70 employees even as it completes plans to lay off 1,000 workers in other divisions as part of a plan announced two days before Microsoft’s bid.

More about Maven Networks

Maven Networks is an online video platform provider with end-to-end video syndication, content management and advertising solution. Maven helps media companies create, distribute and profit from direct-to-consumer Internet TV channels and networks. The Maven Internet TV Platform(TM) is used by organizations such as CanWest, CBS Sports, CBC, CNET, Gannett, The Financial Times, Fox Business Network, Fox News, Hearst, MediaNews Group, Ogilvy, Scripps Networks, Sony BMG, Sony Pictures Television, and TV Guide.

The company is based in Cambridge, MA. Maven had some high-profile investors, including Accel Partners‘ Jim Breyer, who also is a board member and large investor in Facebook, Walmart Stores, Inc.  and Marvel Entertainment. Accel is known to have been investing heavly in video for almost 20 years now. The firm’s more popular participations include Macromedia, Real Networks, among others. Current investments include user-generated video-sharing site MetaCafe, peer-to-peer file-sharing service BitTorrent and Brightcove.

The Market

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

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

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

eMarketer predicts online video advertising to nearly double in 2008 to $1.3 billion and $4.3B by 2011, but no one’s really nailed a scalable ad platform for video. However, Google’s been quietly testing their own system and there are a bunch of other startups tackling it as well.

Meanwhile the Microsoft / Yahoo saga is continuing.

The common expectations of the most likely outcome from the situation are that Microsoft is going to increase its bid to as much as $35 thus effectively raising their bid to $50B.

“We think (Microsoft) will have to enhance its offer if it wants to complete a deal,” wrote Bill Miller, a respected fund manager for Legg Mason Inc., which owns more than 80 million Yahoo shares.

Like many other industry analysts, Miller predicted Yahoo ultimately will end up in Microsoft’s clutches.

“We think it will be hard for (Yahoo) to come up with alternatives that deliver more value than (Microsoft) will ultimately be willing to pay,” he wrote.

Miller also wrote that he has already met with Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, and spoken to Jerry Yang, Yahoo’s CEO and co-founder, to share his views.

Microsoft, on the other side, so far has indicated it’s not budging from its original offer, calling the proposal “full and fair.” Analysts believe the tense mating dance will last at least a few more weeks.

Yahoo has been discussing a search advertising partnership with the market leader, Google Inc., as a way to boost its profits and thwart Microsoft’s bid. But a deal between Google and Yahoo would face significant antitrust hurdles because it would meld the two largest search advertising networks, causing more analysts to conclude an alliance is unlikely.

On the other side it seems that News Corp. is going to enter the bidding war for Yahoo! despite some analyses from earlier this week predicting News Corp. is facing hard time to find enough money to accomplish this major deal. The current debt markets in US were to be blamed.

Today we have found on multiple news sources online that Yahoo and News Corp. are in the middle of series of discussions. The potential deal structure would spin off Fox Interactive Media (MySpace, IGN, Scout Media, Photobucket, Fox Sports, AmericanIdol.com, Flektor, Ksolo; investments in Hulu, Simply Hired and Snocap) into Yahoo, along with a big cash injection from News Corp. and an unnamed private equity fund. The total investment would be valued in the $15B range.

Yahoo would be valued at somewhere around $50 billion before the transaction, north of Microsoft’s $44.6 billion bid. That would leave News Corp., plus the private equity group, with more than 20% of the combined entity. They’d be the largest single stockholder and effectively in control of the combined Yahoo/FIM entity and their nearly 150 billion monthly page views. That amount of traffic/reach would put the combined entity on the globe’s second sport after Google and before Microsoft’s web properties.

In related news Bradley Horowitz, head of Yahoo’s Advanced Technology Division has accepted a position with Google, and have left Yahoo for good. He will be working with Joe Kraus, director of product management and head of Google’s OpenSocial initiative. Bradley joined Yahoo in May 2004 as Director of Multimedia Search, and later worked on Yahoo Desktop Search and the Yahoo Toolbar. He has also played a key role in getting the Flickr acquisition done.

More

http://www.maven.net/
http://www.maven.net/blog/
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080213/ap_on_hi_te/yahoo_acquisition_8;_ylt=AkolBf3dTEHaJIbfAWroBXbZa7gF
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/31/rumor-yahoo-to-announce-large-video-acquisition-today/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/12/yahoo-confirms-maven-networks-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/12/yahoo-exec-bails-bradley-horowitz-leaves-for-google/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/12/yahoo-and-news-corp-continue-marathon-discussions-possible-bid-to-counter-microsoft/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2008/2/yahoo__news_corp__deal_still_in_the_works_
http://yhoo.client.shareholder.com/press/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=293433
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/maven-networks
http://venturebeat.com/2008/02/12/qa-with-jim-breyer-maven-networks-online-video-opportunities-and-facebook/
http://venturebeat.com/2008/01/31/yahoo-buying-maven-networks-to-serve-online-video-ads-for-big-media/
http://www.elatable.com/blog/about/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The market

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

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

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

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

More about YuMe Networks

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

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

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

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

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

Publisher Benefits?

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

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

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

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

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

Management Team

Jayant Kadambi, Co–founder and CEO

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

Ayyappan Sankaran, Co–founder and CTO

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

Grant Ries, Vice President of Business Development

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

Steven Comfort, Vice President of Sales

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

Bob Bahramipour, Vice President of Ad Operations

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

Molly Glover Gallatin, Director of Marketing

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

Investors

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

More

http://yumenetworks.com/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/16/yume-closes-9-million-series-b/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/yume
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/07/06/video-ads-somebody-needs-to-solve-this-problem/
http://www.undertheradarblog.com/wp_blog.html?fb_2042860_anch=2648520
http://newteevee.com/2007/03/05/yume-launches-video-ad-network/
http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?id=1004258
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/05/11/youtube-video-advertising-no-pre-roll-no-context/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/blackarrow-took-12-million-to-tackle-the-video-advertising-relies-on-cable-companies/
http://venturebeat.com/2007/10/14/blackarrow-ad-management-for-modern-tv-unstealths-with-12m-financing/
http://adsense.blogspot.com/2006/05/introducing-video-ads.html
http://adwords.blogspot.com/2006/05/click-to-play-video-ads-for-adwords.html
http://adsense.blogspot.com/2007/05/adsense-coming-to-video-near-you.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/22/technology/22google.html
http://mashable.com/2007/08/21/youtube-reinvents-video-ads/
http://mashable.com/2007/05/11/youtube-ads-2/
http://www.forbes.com/2007/02/22/video-ads-youtube-tech-media-cx_lh_0223video.html
http://venturebeat.com/2006/11/08/skipping-the-ads-black-arrow-raises-1475m-to-defy-you/
http://www.khoslaventures.com/
http://www.accel.com/
http://www.bvcapital.com/

BlackArrow took $12 Million to tackle the video advertising, relies on cable companies

A couple of months ago BlackArrow has taken a big round of money – $12 million in Series B funding.

The company offers an advertising management platform for video, allowing web sites to monitor their inventory while enabling advertisers to insert ads on-the-fly. BlackArrow’s money for its Series B funding came from Comcast Interactive Capital, Cisco Systems, Intel Capital, Mayfield Fund, and Polaris Venture Partners.

The company wants to insert targeted ads into on-demand viewing by placing a piece of hardware between cable operators and consumers. Prior to the user watching an on-demand show, BlackArrow helps deliver a brief ad, tailored to the theme of the show and the user’s apparent preferences. For example, a teenage boy might be delivered an ad for an upcoming game like Halo 3.

While DVRs like the TiVo will still allow users to fast forward past advertising, BlackArrow will open up the field for cable companies to profit from acting as remote ad servers. BlackArrow will count on the cable companies to offer their own DVR technology. The advantage for the consumer is that one does not have to worry about buying or installing a DVR. A majority of viewers still haven’t anyway.

The company is known to have spent more than a year in stealth mode developing its product, and online sources originally suggested that the original aim of the company was to destroy the ad-skipping capabilities of the TiVo. It later turned out it is no longer the case, if it ever was.

The previous round is known to be $5 million, which has been taken back in 2006 and was led by Mayfield Fund. The company’s total funding should already be $17M. The company has offices in both locations San Mateo, CA and New York.

More about BlackArrow

We are independent advertising-technology company that provides multiplatform ad-management for viewer-controlled video.

We’ve seen the future, and the future is now for on-demand video programming with dynamic, personalized advertising. In the world of viewer-controlled video, where the consumer controls the play, pause, fast-forward and rewind buttons, BlackArrow provides the answer for a dynamic video ad-management that supports broadband, video-on-demand (VOD) and DVR playout.

One with the ability to reach the right audience with a laser-focused message — across any on-demand platform. And rapid-fire reporting to provide powerful “apples-to-apples” analytics across playout environments, helping you evaluate and optimize brand campaigns in entirely new ways.

BlackArrow is your partner on the path to multiplatform monetization. With the new world order of on-demand video comes a corresponding set of new advertising and revenue opportunities.

Management team

Dean Denhart: president and chief executive officer

Dean Denhart has extensive technology leadership expertise in telecom, media and technology-related industries across large, medium and start-up companies. Denhart has been directly involved in the acquisition and operation integration of over 18 technology companies with expertise in off-shore, joint ventures and partnerships. As president and CEO of BlackArrow, Denhart is responsible for all business operations, technology development, financial management, business development and governance of BlackArrow. Previously, Denhart oversaw the strategic development of product and technology at Knight Ridder Digital. Denhart was also CIO and executive vice president of product and technology for HomeStore, an online real estate marketing company. Prior, he served as vice president of AirTouch Communications’ software systems group, held a vice president of network systems role during a 17-year tenure with SBC Communications/Pacific Bell, was CIO of Telecel (a wireless company) in Portugal and was an integral research and development executive at Bell Communications Research.

Other management team members are as follows.

  • Sharon Mandell: senior vice president and chief technology officer
  • Tracy Martin: chief financial officer
  • Chris Hock: senior vice president, product management
  • Patrick Carter: vice president, operations
  • Courtenay Harry: vice president, advertising business development
  • Bill Niemeyer: chief of analysis and research
  • Kelly Ryan: vice president, content business development
  • David Stengle: vice president, distribution
  • Thérèse Bruno: senior director, marketing

The Investors

Cisco Systems, Inc.
Cisco Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet. Today, networks are an essential part of business, education, government and home communications, and Cisco Internet Protocol-based (IP) networking solutions are the foundation of these networks. Cisco hardware, software, and service offerings are used to create Internet solutions that allow individuals, companies, and countries to increase productivity, improve customer satisfaction and strengthen competitive advantage. The Cisco name has become synonymous with the Internet, as well as with the productivity improvements that Internet business solutions provide.

Comcast Interactive Capital
Comcast Interactive Capital (CIC) is a venture capital fund focused on broadband, enterprise and interactive technologies. CIC is affiliated with Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA), a diversified global leader in cable, broadband services, telecommunications and entertainment. CIC’s primary goal is to generate superior financial returns from private equity investments in early-stage technology companies. To achieve this goal, CIC works to foster the success of its portfolio companies by bringing to bear the unique resources, experience, and insight of both CIC and the Comcast family of companies.

Intel Capital
Intel Capital (Nasdaq: INTC), Intel’s global investment organization, makes equity investments in innovative technology start-ups and companies worldwide. Intel Capital invests in a broad range of companies offering hardware, software and services targeting enterprise, home, mobility, health, consumer Internet and semiconductor manufacturing. Since 1991, Intel Capital has invested more than US$6 billion in approximately 1,000 companies in more than 40 countries. In that timeframe, about 157 portfolio companies have gone public on various exchanges around the world and another 187 have been acquired by other companies. In 2006, Intel Capital invested about US$1.07 billion in 163 deals with approximately 60 percent of funds (excluding Clearwire) invested outside the United States.

About Mayfield Fund
Mayfield Fund provides “venture capital with impact” by partnering with exceptional individuals to create industry-leading companies. Mayfield has domain expertise in communications/wireless, consumer/media, enterprise software and semiconductors. The firm has over $2.7 billion under management and a team of eleven investing professionals. Since Mayfield’s founding in 1969, the firm has invested in more than 470 high-growth companies, taken more than 100 public and more than 150 have merged or were acquired.

Polaris Venture Partners
A national venture capital firm with over $3 billion under management, Polaris invests in seed, early stage and growth equity businesses in the technology, life science, digital media, enertech and consumer sectors. Through a philosophy of lead investing and active, long-term partnering with entrepreneurs and management teams, Polaris has helped a number of companies achieve outstanding success. Among them are: Accordant Health Services, Acusphere, Advanced Inhalation Research (AIR), Akamai Technologies, Allaire Corporation, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, American Superconductor, Archivas, Aspect Medical Systems, Avici Systems, Centra Software, Classifieds2000, Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Cushcraft Corporation, deCODE genetics, Exchange.com, GlycoFi, Matrics, Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Paradigm Genetics, Powersoft, Solidworks, and TransForm Pharmaceuticals.

The Competition

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

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

Some companies, as we know them, include BrightRoll, XillianTV, YuMe, Podaddies, VMIX and MeeVee. BrightRoll video ad network itself has raises $5 Million while YuMe raised $9 Million for yet another video ad network. VMIX, yet another video network company has also raised a whopping amount of money $16.5M to expand its business.

More

http://www.blackarrow.tv/
http://mashable.com/2007/10/15/blackarrow-funding/
http://venturebeat.com/2007/10/14/blackarrow-ad-management-for-modern-tv-unstealths-with-12m-financing/
http://adsense.blogspot.com/2006/05/introducing-video-ads.html
http://adwords.blogspot.com/2006/05/click-to-play-video-ads-for-adwords.html
http://adsense.blogspot.com/2007/05/adsense-coming-to-video-near-you.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/22/technology/22google.html
http://mashable.com/2007/08/21/youtube-reinvents-video-ads/
http://mashable.com/2007/05/11/youtube-ads-2/
http://www.forbes.com/2007/02/22/video-ads-youtube-tech-media-cx_lh_0223video.html
http://venturebeat.com/2006/11/08/skipping-the-ads-black-arrow-raises-1475m-to-defy-you/
http://www.cisco.com
http://www.civentures.com
http://www.intelcapital.com
http://www.polarisventures.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More

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

An online collaboration tool built around Microsoft Excel took $2M, plans for $2M more

eXpresso, an online collaboration tool around Excel spreadsheets, has raised $2M round of financing from Novus and Rocket Ventures. This is on top of another couple of millions they’ve made off the sale of their original product, Smart DB, to Rocket Software (no relation to the VC firm). The money will be put towards expanding their current Excel product and building an online Powerpoint application due out next summer as well. The company has also announced they have plans to raise $2M more at the near future.

Expresso Corp is bringing new capabilities to Microsoft Excel. Using their software users can manage, compare and collaborate on Excel documents – features that Microsoft surprisingly hasn’t added on their own.

eXpresso is built upon AJAX functionality and combines a series of collaboration tools and back-end database wrapped around Microsoft’s own online spreadsheet editor, Microsoft Excel Web Component. The company seems oddly positioned by leaning heavily on Microsoft’s technology, but CEO George Langan points out that they can continue to develop the component without Microsoft’s support, or disturbance, and have a great deal of patented intellectual properties in the database system they run on. On the other side Microsoft has abandoned the technology themselves, announcing an end to development of the Office Web Components. Instead, they are focusing on developing new technologies around Microsoft Sharepoint. So, will Microsoft consider buying them or will just copy/cat their features and functionalities or is Microsoft heading towards different direction and will leave eXpresso behind? Let’s put it that way it has never been good to have your business model built upon and relying on third party company’s technology, service or solution.

However, the spreadsheet editor works smoothly, provides a familiar interface, and brings most of the Excel’s desktop functionality online. You can edit cells, add formulas, sort, filter, and format. Google and Zoho have been aggressively adding a lot of these features themselves, but support auto-fill and charts as well. eXpresso also offers more applications. You can create a new file from within the program or sync one directly from Excel using their plug-in. eXpresso also offers file permissions (down to cell ranges), enables real time chat, and file management (version control, spreadsheet comparison). It’s currently free in beta, but will cost $10 or less per user when it’s finally released.

More about eXpresso

eXpresso is led by an experienced team with decades of collective experience in data management, and enterprise software applications. eXpresso’s team comprises Founders and Corporate Executives who have successfully developed and delivered award-winning business solutions for Fortune 500 companies.

About eXpresso Spreadsheet Communities
Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet application is one of the most popular on the planet. Millions of people use Excel on a weekly – or even daily – basis for simple personal tasks as well as for enterprise-critical functions such as managing supply chains, reporting corporate finance, or complying with regulatory requirements. eXpresso is a hosted workspace for real-time Excel collaboration in secure, structured communities. eXpresso brings sophisticated spreadsheet version management, comparison and collaboration capabilities to the world’s standard data interchange solution.

What can you do with eXpresso Spreadsheet Communities?

  • Upload, securely store and organize your Excel spreadsheets online
  • Authorize colleagues to view or edit your spreadsheets anytime from anywhere
  • Have a virtual meeting where invitees simultaneously view or edit Excel
  • Take advantage of powerful eXpresso features like group chat, email, alerts, and audit trails
  • Visually compare two or more spreadsheets for cell or formula changes.

eXpresso does compete with other services such as Google Spreadsheets, Zoho Sheet and XCellery. Investors include Individuals Venture Fund, Novus Ventures and Rocket Ventures. As we learned Xcellery has joined eXpresso and here is what the press releases said: “As a startup, Xcellery was committed to finding a better way for people to share and use Excel spreadsheets online. eXpresso has taken that idea to a new level of power and convenience, which is why we can wholeheartedly recommend that Xcellery users adopt eXpresso.”

eXpresso has won a number of industry awards and recognitions. 

eXpresso was honored with InfoWorld’s 2008 Technology of the Year Award: “These Technology of the Year award winners represent the best business process management system, best enterprise service bus, best database middleware, and the best SaaS collaboration and community platforms we tested in 2007.” eXpresso was also among The 2008 PC World 25 Most Innovative Products.
More

http://www.expressocorp.com/
http://blog.expressocorp.com/
http://www.expressocorp.com/download/eXpresso_Second_Round_Funding.pdf
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/expresso_web_office.php
http://www.infoworld.com/slideshow/2008/01/144-2008_technology-5.html
http://blogs.msdn.com/excel/archive/2006/07/17/668544.aspx
http://blog.expressocorp.com/2008/01/28/expresso-and-microsoft-office-web-components/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/12/expresso-gets-2-million-to-grow-an-online-office-suite/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/expresso
http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,140663-c,technology/article.html
http://www.paloaltodailynews.com/article/2008-1-7-expresso
http://www.sltrib.com/technology/ci_7907885
http://blogs.computerworld.com/share_excel_files_saas_style
http://www.expressocorp.com/download/XcelleryPressRelease.pdf

The Founders Fund creates Founders Fund II

Founders Fund, a non-traditional investment group, has raised an institutional fund in the amount of $220 million. The new fund, Founders Fund II, will allow this team of four managing partners, who themselves are founders and entrepreneurs, to leverage their individual expertise and deliver their unique business model, which puts the entrepreneurs first. Founders Fund has developed a comprehensive package designed to create near perfect alignment of interests between founders and their investors.

Founders Fund II will be invested in approximately 15-20 innovative early-stage start-up companies. This is the first institutional money raised for the Founders Fund, representing a significant increase over the original fund of $50 million, which was raised from personal investments by the managing partners and select outside investors.

San Francisco based Founders Fund launched in 2005 with a $50 million venture fund. They’ve had two liquidity events since then, and a number of other very high profile participations like Facebook, Powerset, Ooma, Quantcast, Slide, Geni and Causes.

“We believe entrepreneurs are looking for people like themselves, people who also have taken ideas and made them a reality. This second fund allows us to invest in areas for which we have deep insight, personal experience and passion for seeing the companies succeed,” said Luke Nosek, a Founders Fund managing partner. “Our collective experience starting companies and funding innovative start-ups positions the Founders Fund as a unique, valuable resource at the early investment stage.”

The Founders Fund will continue to offer Series FF stock, which is being adopted across the industry adding to the unique approach to funding entrepreneurs. The stock is offered to start-up founders who can convert Series FF stock to preferred stock during subsequent rounds of funding. This allows Series FF stock holders to sell a portion of their stock and aligns their interests with their investors.

“The traditional venture capital model is broken,” said Sean Parker, a Founders Fund managing partner. “By offering tools like the Series FF stock, we are helping create a new model of investment and alignment of interests, confirming our commitment to the founders of our companies. This fund is truly for founders by founders.”

A couple of investments have been made out of the new fund, they say, but have not yet been disclosed.

The four managing partners have all started their own companies and between them have seen the process from inception to start up to IPO.

“Founders Fund was started to make a difference for companies looking for funding to execute on their big ideas. We believe the alignment of interests with our portfolio companies is the next step in the evolution of collaborative investments,” said Ken Howery, a Founders Fund managing partner. “Founders Fund II will give us the opportunity to continue to invest in the people and ideas that are truly bringing innovation to the Internet industry.”

Peter Thiel, one of four managing partners for The Founders Fund and an early backer and board member of the social network Facebook said, “This is one of the most innovative venture teams ever assembled. Our unique skill set, expertise and perspective support our shared desire to build and invest in great companies from the ground up.”

Parker says he learned a powerful lesson about the importance of taking time to build a business from observing the trajectories of some of the valley’s most successful businesses. What would have happened if the founders had sold those companies before fine-tuning them? PayPal started out as an encryption product that beamed money between mobile devices before hitting on the online payment business that it ultimately sold to eBay for $1.5 billion. Google didn’t strike Internet ore until the paid search market had time to fully develop.

“Largely because we were all founders ourselves, we’re inherently more interested in helping new entrepreneurs develop into successful leaders than we are in getting rich,” Parker said. “As someone who has started and run a few companies myself, my primary interest is in helping creative people build companies and run those companies over the long-term. I also happen to believe that this is the best way to create value for my limited partners, and by extension, for myself.”

However, some institutional investors were skeptical of the partners and passed on the opportunity to put in money. Parker confirmed that the fund-raising process turned out to be more time consuming than the firm had expected. But he also said limited partners had invested because their model — namely, a venture firm run by founders with experience — was needed in the industry. The firm originally sought to raise $150 million, but ended up raising $220 million.

More about The Founders Fund

Based in San Francisco, Calif. and founded in 2005, Founders Fund is a group of four proven entrepreneurs with a shared vision: to change the way venture investments are made. Founders Fund seeks to provide the capital, insights and support required to build a company from the ground up and sustain successful enterprises with a non-traditional, founder-focused approach. Their current portfolio includes Facebook, Geni, Powerset, Ooma, Quantcast, Slide and others.

The Managing Partners

Peter Thiel
Peter’s experience with venture finance began in the 1990s, when he ran Thiel Capital Management, a Menlo Park-based hedge fund that also made private equity investments. In 1998, Peter co-founded PayPal and served as its Chairman and CEO until the company’s sale to eBay in October 2002 for $1.5 billion. Peter’s experience in finance includes managing a successful hedge fund, trading derivatives at CS Financial Products, and practicing securities law at Sullivan & Cromwell. Peter sits on the Board of Directors of the Pacific Research Institute and on the Board of Visitors of Stanford Law School. Peter received his BA in Philosophy and his JD from Stanford.

Peter Thiel is a 39-year-old maverick money manager who in the past four years has turned his $60 million payout from the sale of the PayPal online payment service he co-founded into a growing financial fiefdom. He runs Clarium Capital Management LLC, one of the nation’s most successful and daring hedge funds with $3 billion in assets, and The Founders Fund, a tiny but increasingly influential venture capital firm with a laser-beam focus on consumer Internet startups.

In late 2004, Peter Thiel made a $500,000 angel investment in Facebook. Microsoft recently purchased 1.6 percent of the company for $240 million, which values Facebook at roughly $15 billion and Thiel’s stake at roughly $1 billion.

Ken Howery
Ken is a co-founder of PayPal and served as the company’s first CFO. While at PayPal, Ken helped raise over $200 million in private financing, worked on the company’s public offerings, and assisted in the company’s $1.5 billion sale to eBay. Ken has also been a member of the research and trading teams at Clarium Capital Management, a global macro hedge fund based in San Francisco with over $3 billion under management, and at Thiel Capital Management, a multistrategy investment fund, where Ken made venture investments beginning in 1998. Ken received a BA in Economics from Stanford.

Luke Nosek
Luke Nosek is a co-founder of PayPal and served as the company’s Vice President of Marketing and Strategy. While at PayPal, Luke oversaw the company’s marketing efforts at launch, growing the user base to 1 million customers in the first six months. Luke also created “Instant Transfer,” PayPal’s most profitable product. Prior to PayPal, Luke was an evangelist at Netscape. Luke has also co-founded two other consumer Internet companies, including the web’s first advertising network, and has made a number of venture investments since 2000. Luke received a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Sean Parker
Sean Parker is the co-founder and Chairman of “Project Agape,” a new network that aims to enable large-scale political and social activism on the Internet. Previously, Sean was the co-founder of the category defining Web ventures Napster, Plaxo, and Facebook. At Napster, Sean helped to design the Napster client software and led the company’s initial financing and strategy. Under Sean’s leadership, Napster became the fastest adopted client software application in history. Following Napster, Sean co-founded and served as President of Plaxo, where he pioneered the viral engineering techniques used to deploy Plaxo’s flagship smart address book product, ultimately acquiring more than 15 million users. In 2004, Sean left Plaxo to become the founding President of Facebook, one of the most rapidly growing sites on the Internet today. Sean sits on the boards of several private companies.

More

http://www.foundersfund.com/
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/12/13/MNGECMUMRE1.DTL
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/17/founders-fund-closes-220-million-second-fund/
http://www.businesswire.com/news/google/20071217006220/en
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Thiel
http://www.latimes.com/business/investing/la-fi-founders18dec18,1,6840237.story?coll=la-headlines-business-invest&ctrack=2&cset=true
http://venturebeat.com/2007/12/18/founders-fund-raises-new-fund-aims-for-more-vc-disruption/

Mobivox takes $11M series A round from IDG Ventures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Management

Stéphane Marceau | President and CEO

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

Eric Reiher | Founder and CTO

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

Mark MacLeod | Chief Financial Officer

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

Nitzan Shaer | Chief Operating Officer

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

Maxime Julien | Senior Vice President, Research & Development

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

The investors

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

IDG Ventures Boston

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

BrightSpark 

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

Skypoint 

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

IDG Venture China

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

IDG Ventures Vietnam

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

The market

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

http://www.mobivox.com/
http://www.mobivox.com/rates/
http://techcfo.blogspot.com
http://news.moneycentral.msn.com/provider/providerarticle.aspx?Feed=ACBJ&Date=20071011&ID=7614418
http://gigaom.com/2007/03/19/mobivox-more-skype-on-mobile/
http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/techbeat/archives/2007/05/new_voip_player.html
http://www.webware.com/8301-1_109-9718526-2.html
http://labs.google.com/goog411/
http://www.tellme.com/products/TellmeByVoice
http://www.bspark.com/pages/default.asp?Section=1
http://www.skypointcorp.com/
http://blogs.msdn.com/maamktg/archive/2007/03/19/revolutionary.aspx
http://markevanstech.com/2007/05/10/mobile-skypefinally/
http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r19165054-Skype-Video-leak-Whos-taking-up-a-battle-with-skype
http://www.myvoipprovider.com/VoIP_Provider_Graveyard/
http://www.idgvc.com
http://www.brightspark.com
http://www.idgvb.com
http://www.skypointcorp.com

Secretive video site has raised $800,000 seed round

A couple of months ago a secretive video site has raised $800,000 seed round from Concept Ventures and its founder and managing director, Julien Nguyen, according to multiple sources on Web. The company was rumored they were in quest for its series A round of funding for some time across the Silicon Valley.

The company name is XillianTV and is based in Santa Clara, Calif. The site is said to be focused on video delivery to consumers. An interesting fact worth mentioning here is XillianTV’s chief executive and co-founder, Mitchell Berman, is a former executive from Home Box Office Inc., E! Entertainment Television Inc. and other television companies, which definitely brings in some practical hand-on experience to the start-up.

We have tried to dig something up for the company but there is basically nothing publicly available on Internet. So we leave the time to tell all us what the company is up to and does it worth the money spent on anyway.
 
The video sector is well overcrowded and was the hottest one for the entire 2007. If we need to guess work what the company is dealing with we would bet on anything but either technology or concept that helps publishers monetize their video inventory. Another possible area the company might be working on could be some vertical online video channel.

About Concept Ventures

Concept Ventures invests in early stage companies in digital media, communications, semiconductors, software and services, and healthtech.

Their Investment Focus is in early stage entrepreneurs, who sometimes only have a rough idea of what to do, and help them formulate a crisp business strategy that addresses an important problem, with a business model that will fuel the growth of the company. The explosion of consumer electronics has created large opportunities in digital media, communications, and semiconductors. Applications for consumer electronics devices are crucial to the success of these devices, and entrepreneurs are coming with new ideas of software and services.

With U.S. healthcare industry consuming $2 Trillion per year of the nation’s resources, we believe that new efficiencies can and must be applied to the healthcare sector. That is why we are investing in companies that deploy scalable technologies to increase the efficiency of healthcare, a sector we call HealthTech.

Call To Action

We work closely with entrepreneurs from as early as the seed level. Startups can benefit from our operational experience to help them define markets and business strategies. We can also help build a top tier investment syndicate for all rounds of financing.

Reading through the profile of their investors could it be that XillianTV is trying to get something worked out within the so-called by Concept Ventures HealthTech sector?

More

http://www.xilliantv.com/
http://www.bandangels.com/members/downloads/Volume13Issue6.pdf
http://venturebeat.com/2007/10/10/xilliantv-secretive-video-firm-searching-for-first-round/
http://mashable.com/2007/10/10/xilliantv-funded/
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/5/411/670
http://www.conceptvc.com/

Inform receives $15 Million investment from Spark Capital

Inform Technologies, a technology solution for established media brands, has received a $15 million investment from Spark Capital, a Boston-based venture fund focused on the intersection of the media, entertainment and technology industries.

The company said in their PR they are going to use the funds to accelerate growth. The company also claims nearly 100 media brands use Inform’s journalistic technology to enhance their sites.  

Founded in 2004, Inform currently works with nearly 100 major media brands to help them ensure that their sites are content destinations and offers editorial-quality features that keep readers engaged on their sites longer – and that increase page views and revenue potential.

Inform’s key offering is a technology solution that acts as an extra editor. It starts with a page of text, and then, with editorial precision, it automatically creates and organizes links to relevant content from the media property’s site, its archives, from affiliate sites and/or anywhere else on the Web. As a result, each page on a site becomes a richer multimedia experience.

Said James Satloff, CEO of Inform, “Media companies face significant challenges online. They need to attract new unique visitors, create an experience that compels those readers to spend more time consuming more pages, and then turn those page views and time on site into revenue. We believe that the Inform solution enables them to do exactly that.”

Longstanding Inform clients include Conde Nast, Crain Communications, IDG, The New York Sun and Washington.Post.Newsweek Interactive. In recent months, 30 additional media properties have engaged Inform – many already running Inform’s technology on their sites.

Inform uses artificial intelligence and proprietary rules and algorithms to scan millions of pages of text and read the way a journalist does – identifying key “entities,” such as people, places, companies and products, and recognizing how they connect, even in subtle and context-specific ways. The software continually teaches itself – in real time – how information is related and automatically updates links and topics as the context changes.

Santo Politi, Founder and Partner at Spark Capital, commented on the following “Established media brands need cost-effective ways to compete with each other and, importantly, with other online presences, such as search. They need depth and richness in their content so they’re true destinations and so readers spend more time on the sites and click through more pages. Inform provides a truly elegant – and so far very successful – solution for that. While allowing the publication to remain in full control of its content and editorial integrity, Inform automatically enriches a site by enabling it to leverage its own content, its archives, archives of affiliates and the web overall. In effect, it enables a publication to expand its editorial capabilities without expanding its staff. We believe the potential for Inform’s growth is substantial.”

 “We’re delighted that our new investor understands how effectively we partner with media companies and how our technology serves their business and editorial objectives. We will use the capital to expand our operations and implement our approach to accelerating our growth.” Said Joseph Einhorn, Co-Founder and CTO of Inform.

We went over Web and researched a bit over the company. It turns out the company has shifted the focus quite often over the past several years. In 2005 the company once said to be around to provide a useful news interface – both blog and non-blog – and to show the interconnectedness of all of the content. Later the same year a major re-launch and re-design struck the company and they have given up on the Ajax based pop-up and have also added vide and audio, which hardly fits into the concept of contextual connection between two content areas/texts based on their semantic textual analysis, unless they have come up to an idea how to read inside and understand image and video files. Google, by contrast, seems to have come up to technology that claims to recognize text in images. In late 2006 the company brought to the market their so called Inform Publisher Services, which was aimed at big web publishers, and was designed to help them increase page views by adding relevant links to other, hopefully related, content in their archives.

The new service was meant to automatically create links in existing articles, which link to a results page containing relevant content from the site as well as from the web, including blogs and audio/video content. Sounds like Sphere and LinkedWords. Basically their latest offering comes closer to what the Inform.com is today.

Some critics on the service have published the following doubts online over a few blogs we have checked out in regard to Inform.

Isn’t this the opposite of semantic web, since they’re sucking in unstructured data? How does their relatedness stuff compare to Sphere and how do their topic pages compare to Topix?

Marshall Kirkpatrick from RWW has put it that way when the question about standards and openness was raised.

“Inform crunches straight text and outputs HTML. I asked whether they publish content with any standards based semantic markup and they said that actual publishing is up to publishers. That’s a shame, I don’t see any reason why Inform wouldn’t participate in the larger semantic web to make its publishers’ content more discoverable. Perhaps when you’ve got 100 live clients and now $15m in the bank, it feels like there’s no reason to open up and play nice with a movement of dreamers having trouble getting other apps out of academia.”

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

More about Inform

Inform Technologies is a new technology solution for established media brands that automatically searches, organizes and links content to provide a rich, compelling experience that attracts and retains readers.

With editorial-quality precision, the technology understands textual content and recognizes subtle differences in meaning. Further, the technology automatically creates links – in articles and on instantly generated topic pages – to relevant content. This deepens a site and engages readers.

Inform’s Essential Technology platform is an artificial intelligence and natural language-based solution that serves almost as an “extra editor” using rules and algorithms to “read” millions of pages of content, identify entities, such as people, places, companies, organizations and products, and topics, to create intelligent links to other closely related information. The technology is also able to recognize subtle differences in meaning and distinguish people, places and things based on local geographies or unique identities.

Inform’s Connected Content Solution and Essential Technology Platform are used by major media brands including CNN.com, WashingtonPost, Newsweek Interactive, Conde Nast, Meredith, IDG and Crain Communications.

Founded in 2004, the company is privately held and has approximately 60 employees, including mathematicians, linguists, programmers, taxonomists, library scientists and other professionals based in New York and India.

About Spark Capital

Spark Capital is a venture capital fund focused on building businesses that transform the distribution, management and monetization of media and content, with experience in identifying and actively building market-leading companies in sectors including infrastructure (Qtera, RiverDelta, Aether Systems, Broadbus and BigBand), networks (College Sports Television, TVONE and XCOM) and services (Akamai and the Platform). Spark Capital has over $600 million under management, and is based in Boston, Massachusetts. Spark has committed to investing $20 million in CNET equity.

More

http://www.inform.com/ 
http://www.inform.com/pr.012308.html
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/inform_funding.php
http://www.micropersuasion.com/2005/10/a_new_rss_reade.html
http://www.paidcontent.org/pc/arch/2005_10_16.shtml#051884
http://www.techcrunch.com/tag/inform.com/
http://blog.express-press-release.com/2007/10/19/a-bunch-of-intelligent-and-smart-content-tagging-engines/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/19/twine-launches-a-smarter-way-to-organize-your-online-life/
http://blog.nosyjoe.com/2007/09/06/nosyjoecom-is-now-searching-for-tags/
http://nextnetnews.blogspot.com/2007/09/is-nosyjoecom-next-clustycom.html
http://kalsey.com/2007/10/jiglu_tags_that_think/
http://mashable.com/2007/10/15/jiglu/
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/17/technology/17ecom.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2005/10/16/informcom-doesnt/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2005/10/24/a-second-look-at-informcom/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2005/12/05/informcom-re-launches-with-major-feature-changes/
http://business2.blogs.com/business2blog/2006/07/scoop_inform_re.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/07/30/informcoms-latest-offering/
http://www.quantcast.com/inform.com
http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/07/04/when-search-results-include-more-search-results/

More deals in the enterprise search sector

A couple of weeks after Microsoft announced its $1.2 billion acquisition of FAST Search & Transfer, enterprise search competitor Endeca is getting a $15 million cash infusion from both Intel Capital and SAP Ventures. This is on top of the $50 million Endeca has already raised in the past few years from Lehman Brothers, Granite Global Ventures, Ampersand Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Venrock Associates and DN Capital.

“In just more than seven years, Endeca went from one customer and modest revenue to 500 customers and $100M-plus in sales. The next target is the elusive $500M milestone,” said Bruce Richardson, chief research officer at AMR Research, in his January 11, 2008 report entitled Endeca Set to Lead the Information Visibility Revolution. “What makes Endeca unique is its ability to provide visibility for everyone that needs it, whether for finding a part or selling to a customer or prospect… It could be years before Endeca faces products comparable to its own.”

“Visibility into enterprise-wide information assets is a key area of interest for customers,” said Jennifer Scholze, Investment Partner at SAP Ventures. “By taking a fundamentally new approach to accessing and analyzing enterprise-wide data, Endeca is poised to disrupt multi-billion dollar markets and is uniquely suited to address the core opportunity of the information economy.”

“No company better understands the importance of enterprise data to today’s information-centric businesses than SAP. Our collaboration will open new doors and accelerate the realization of our vision to arm all knowledge workers with the critical enterprise data they need to inform daily decision making, regardless of source or format,” said Steve Papa, chief executive officer of Endeca. “As an SAP customer and now a key part of their investment portfolio, Endeca is on a favorable path to learn from — and work closely with — the most influential information applications company of our time.”

“Information access platforms play a crucial role in linking vast collections of data,” said Arvind Sodhani, president of Intel Capital. “Our investment in Endeca will further their capabilities by capitalizing on Intel’s next generation multi-core platforms in this market segment.”

“Endeca’s success to date would not have been possible without the innovations Intel has brought to market. Multi-core computing will play one of the greatest enabling roles for adoption of next generation information access technology,” said Steve Papa, CEO of Endeca. “This investment from Intel Capital has the potential to accelerate Endeca’s success in gaining adoption for information access.”

More about Endeca

The Endeca Information Access Platform is a new platform built specifically to address an emerging market that is poised to fundamentally change the way people access and interact with information. The platform is designed to help people explore, analyze, and understand information in ways not possible with search engine, database, and business intelligence solutions. Powered by Endeca’s MDEX Engine™ technology, it unites the ease of search with the analytical power of business intelligence, bringing Endeca’s trademark Guided Navigation® user experience to new classes of applications. As a result, organizations can increase revenue, decrease costs, and streamline operations by helping their customers, employees, and partners answer high-value questions with unprecedented ease and confidence.

The Endeca Information Access Platform aids information-based problem solving across a wide variety of business processes, including eCommerce, marketing-campaign analysis, product design and parts reuse, knowledge management, customer service, and more. To meet highly specific industry and application requirements, Endeca offers a range of market solutions, each designed to accelerate time-to-market and maximize return.

Discovering our name

The company name “Endeca” is derived from the German word “entdecken” meaning “to discover.” Viewed in the context of information integration and navigation, Endeca technology not only allows users to find what they are looking for, but also to discover the possibilities they never knew existed along the way.

Over 500 leading global organizations including ABN AMRO, Boeing, Cox Newspapers, The (US) Defense Intelligence Agency, Dell, Ford Motor Company, Hyatt, IBM, John Deere, The Library of Congress, Texas Instruments, and Walmart.com rely on Endeca to power business-critical applications that increase revenue, reduce costs and streamline operations.

Headquartered in Cambridge, MA, Endeca has operations in North America, Europe and Asia. It has 500 employees and over $100 in sales for the last year. The company was founded in 1999.

About SAP Ventures

Since 1996, SAP Ventures has been investing in companies that offer exciting new technologies and applications. Leveraging years of experience and drawing on a network of powerful business relationships, SAP Ventures helps entrepreneurs and management teams recruit the best people, make the right technology decisions, win new business, and build their own partner networks. The goal of SAP Ventures is to grow businesses that create shareholder value for everyone involved.

About Intel Capital

Intel Capital, Intel’s global investment organization, makes equity investments in innovative technology start-ups and companies worldwide. Intel Capital invests in a broad range of companies offering hardware, software and services targeting enterprise, home, mobility, health, consumer Internet, semiconductor manufacturing, and cleantech. Since 1991, Intel Capital has invested more than US$6 billion in approximately 1,000 companies in more than 40 countries. In that timeframe, about 157 portfolio companies have gone public on various exchanges around the world and another 187 have been acquired by other companies. In 2007, Intel Capital invested about US$639 million in 166 deals with approximately 37 percent of funds invested outside the United States.

Interesting information has popped up online while we were researching on the deal for more details. It seems that their product empowers IBM while IBM appears to be developing their own in joined forces with Yahoo!: http://omnifind.ibm.yahoo.net/  & http://omnifind.ibm.yahoo.net/productinfo.php

Other commentaries we have dug up from Web reveal some rumors that Endeca was pretty close to do an IPO last year. The same sources claimed something must be going not very well with the company since they have chosen to go in bed with bigger names in the business and raise VC money rather than going the IPO road. 

More

http://endeca.com/
http://endeca.com/corporate-info/press-room/pr/pr_2008-1-23.html
http://endeca.com/corporate-info/press-room/pr/pr_2008-1-23-SAP.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/23/intel-and-sap-put-15-million-into-enterprise-search-company-endeca/
http://endeca.com/_assets/pdf/AMR_Endeca_Revolution.pdf
http://www.sapventures.com
http://www.intelcapital.com
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/01/08/microsoft-bets-on-enterprise-search-offers-to-buy-fastno-for-12b/

Wall Street plunged but does it affect the Web 2.0

Wall Street plunged at the opening of trading Tuesday, propelling the Dow Jones industrials down about 300 points after an interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve failed to assuage investors fearing a recession in the United States.

U.S. markets joined stock exchanges around the world that have fallen precipitously in recent days amid concerns that a downturn might spread around the world. U.S. bonds were mixed, with investors seeking safer investments as stocks plummeted. The oil price, by contrast, fell amid expectations that a downturn would depress demand for energy.

The Fed’s decision to cut its federal funds rate to 3.50% and the discount rate, the interest it charges to lend directly to banks, came a week before the central bank’s regularly scheduled meeting, a sign that the Fed recognized the seriousness of the world financial situation. But there were already fears in the markets before the Fed move that an interest rate wouldn’t be enough to prevent a recession. The cut was the biggest one-day rate move by the Fed since it lowered rates by a full percentage point in December 1991, when the country was trying to emerge from recession.

In the first hour of trading, the Dow was down 293.70, or 2.43 percent, at 11,805.60. The Dow was last below 12,000 in March 2007. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index was off 32.49, or 2.45 percent, at 1,292.70, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 66.82, or 2.86 percent, to 2,273.20.

It was the first time the Fed altered the target federal funds rate between scheduled meetings since the markets reopened after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

It’s been a black year so far for stocks. The SP 500 index, the broadest measure of the stock market, has suffered its worst annual start ever, giving up about 13 percent in just three weeks. The Dow is down about 12 percent since the beginning of the year, and the Nasdaq is down approximately 15 percent.

On the other side the government bond prices surged as stocks fell and investors fled to safer securities. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, sank to 3.53 percent from 3.63 percent late Friday.

Both Asian and European markets have also fallen seriously where the Asian market was hit harder. Japan’s Nikkei stock average closed down 5.65 percent — its biggest percentage drop in nearly a decade. The German’s DAX for instance fell to the level of mid 2007, yet higher than the levels of January 2007.

Did the crisis affect the major Internet players anyway?

Below is a quick outlook of some of the more important Internet players and how their stocks performed for today. Clearly everything was colored in red.

Company / Stock Symbol / Last Trade / Change / Mkt Cap

  • Microsoft Corporation  MSFT  32.05   -0.96 ( -2.91% )  299.84B
  • Google Inc.  GOOG  590.14   -10.11 ( -1.68% )   184.62B
  • News Corporation  NWS.A  18.59   -0.10 ( -0.54% )  58.05B
  • Time Warner Inc.  TWX  15.07   -0.47 ( -3.02% )  54.62B
  • eBay Inc.  EBAY  27.13   -1.20 ( -4.24% )  36.68B
  • Amazon.com, Inc.  AMZN  77.62   -2.14 ( -2.68% )  32.31B
  • Yahoo! Inc.  YHOO  20.02   -0.76 ( -3.66% )  26.78B
  • Baidu.com, Inc. (ADR)  BIDU  270.40   -2.64 ( -0.97% )  9.12B
  • IAC/InterActiveCorp  IACI  24.14   +0.02 ( 0.08% )  6.85B
  • SINA Corporation (USA)  SINA  38.95   -0.26 ( -0.66% )  2.13B
  • Sohu.com Inc.  SOHU  39.99   -2.06 ( -4.90% )  1.49B
  • CNET Networks, Inc.  CNET  7.78   -0.38 ( -4.66% )  1.18B 

Alibaba.com Corp., yet another major Internet player, which is traded on the Honk Kong stock market, has today lost 8.91% from its market capitalization.

From all the companies we took a look at only IAC seems to be the winner for today (at the moment we checked them out) – having its stock price colored green.

The big loser could be Answers Corporation which got its stock smashed on Friday, dropping more than 23%. Answers’ plunge jeopardizes Lexico acquisition, which they were hoping to buy for $100M, a deal we have reported a few weeks ago. It is hard to believe that answers.com is attracting more than 34M unique visitors per month and the entire company is today worth less than $30M. The company once was over $140M worth when its stock was close to $18.

The venture capital market

Reporters went public today on the venture capital market released from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association. Total venture funding for the year were up 10.8 percent to $29.4 billion, and up 11.5 percent for the fourth quarter of 2007 to $7 billion. That makes it the fourth straight quarter where VC deals were above the $7 billion mark, and the highest yearly total since 2001. 2007 was a year of steady gains for VC investing, the highest since the $40.6 billion invested in 2001 (and still well-below the $105 billion in 2000).

What about the new entrants from the web 2.0 age?

Facebook the most buzzed web 2.0 company seems to be rethinking the perfect time for their IPO and rumors are they are going to postpone it to at least 2009 or even 2010 if markets recover. Digg, yet another popular web site from the web 2.0 age, is trying to shop itself for months now at the $300M range but we hear no any news for potential acquisition of the social news site.

Despite all talks for possible recession in US and despite all huge losses the major banks in US have incurred, the web 2.0 deals appear to be more than ever before. For example only today [January 22, 2008] we have read about 10 deals at least where the average funding figures where close to $15M. Over the past 30 days, no matter we were in holiday season we have written down to report later more than 100 VC deals for web 2.0 companies, most of them start-up, and at least 20 acquisition and buy out deals with in the sector. Almost half of the deals reported on that particular day were acquisitions. Also today a major VC player has raised $577M late stage growth fund for. The web 2.0 market is going crazier from day to day and the peak seems not reached yet. Based on what we are witnessing the major credit and financial crisis in the states is not affecting the relatively small web 2.0 sector. All the VC activity within the sector gives no signals about crisis or any major slow down in the web 2.0 market, at least for now.
More

http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/080122/wall_street.html
http://www.nyse.com 
http://www.nasdaq.com
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/21/venture-fundings-hit-294-billion-in-2007-the-year-in-charts/
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=GOOG
http://stocks.us.reuters.com/stocks/overview.asp?symbol=1688.HK
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=ANSW
http://www.bloggingstocks.com/2008/01/20/dilution-is-not-the-answers-com/
http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000299719&fid=942

Massive second round of funding for Freebase – $42 Million

Freebase, the open and shared database of the world’s knowledge, has raised a whopping amount of money in its Series B round of funding, $42 Million, in a round that included Benchmark Capital and Goldman Sachs. Total funding to date is $57 million.

The investment is considerable, and comes at a time when a number of experts are betting that a more powerful, “semantic” Web is about to emerge, where data about information is much more structured than it is today.

In March 2006, Freebase received $15 million in funding from investors including Benchmark Capital, Millennium Technology Ventures and Omidyar Network.

Freebase, created by Metaweb Technologies, is an open database of the world’s information. It’s built by the community and for the community – free for anyone to query, contribute to, build applications on top of, or integrate into their websites.

Already, Freebase covers millions of topics in hundreds of categories. Drawing from large open data sets like Wikipedia, MusicBrainz, and the SEC archives, it contains structured information on many popular topics, including movies, music, people and locations – all reconciled and freely available via an open API. This information is supplemented by the efforts of a passionate global community of users who are working together to add structured information on everything from philosophy to European railway stations to the chemical properties of common food ingredients.

By structuring the world’s data in this manner, the Freebase community is creating a global resource that will one day allow people and machines everywhere to access information far more easily and quickly than they can today.

Freebase  aims to “open up the silos of data and the connections between them”, according to founder Danny Hillis at the Web 2.0 Summit. Freebase is a database that has all kinds of data in it and an API. Because it’s an open database, anyone can enter new data in Freebase. An example page in the Freebase db looks pretty similar to a Wikipedia page. When you enter new data, the app can make suggestions about content. The topics in Freebase are organized by type, and you can connect pages with links, semantic tagging. So in summary, Freebase is all about shared data and what you can do with it.

Here’s a video tour of how does Freebase work. Freebase categorizes knowledge according to thousands of “types” of information, such as film, director or city. Those are the highest order of categorization. Then underneath those types you have “topics,” which are individual examples of the types — such as Annie Hall and Woody Allen. It boasts two million topics to date. This lets Freebase represent information in a structured way, to support queries from web developers wanting to build applications around them. It also solicits people to contribute their knowledge to the database, governed by a community of editors. It offers a Creative Commons license so that it can be used to power applications, on an open API.

This is one of the biggest Series B rounds for the past 12 months. And probably what Google tries to do with its Knol to Wikipedia is the same what Freebase tries to achieve too – replicate and commercialize the huge success of the non-profit Wikipedia.

Other semantic applications and projects include Powerset, Twine, AdaptiveBlue, Hakia, Talis, LinkedWords, NosyJoe, TrueKnowledge, among others.

Peter Rip, an investor in Twine has quickly reacted on the comparison between the two Freebase and Twine the VentureBeat’s Matt Marshall made.

As an investor in Twine, allow me correct you about Twine and Metaweb’s positioning. You correctly point out that Metaweb is building a database about concepts and things on the Web. Twine is not. Twine is really more of an application than a database. It is a way for persons to share information about their interests. So they are complementary, not competitive.

What’s most important is that Twine will be able to use all the structure in something like Metaweb (and other content sources) to enrich the user’s ability to track and manage information. Think of Metaweb as a content repository and Twine as as the app that uses content for specific purposes.

Twine is still in closed beta. So the confusion is understandable, especially with all the hype surrounding the category.

Nova Spivack, the founder of Twine has also commented on.

Freebase and Twine are not competitive. That should be corrected in the above article. In fact our products are very different and have different audiences. Twine is for helping people and groups share knowledge around their interests and activities. It is for managing personal and group knowledge, and ultimately for building smarter communities of interest and smarter teams.

Metaweb, by contrast, is a data source that Twine can use, but is not focused on individuals or on groups. Rather Metaweb is building a single public information database, that is similar to the Wikipedia in some respects. This is a major difference in focus and functionality. To use an analogy, Twine is more like a semantic Facebook, and Metaweb is more like a semantic Wikipedia.

Freebase is in alpha.

Freebase.com was the first Semantic App being featured by Web2Innovations in its series of planned publications where we will try to discover, highlight and feature the next generation of web-based semantic applications, engines, platforms, mash-ups, machines, products, services, mixtures, parsers, and approaches and far beyond.

The purpose of these publications is to discover and showcase today’s Semantic Web Apps and projects. We’re not going to rank them, because there is no way to rank these apps at this time – many are still in alpha and private beta.
More

http://www.metaweb.com/about/
http://freebase.com
http://roblog.freebase.com
http://venturebeat.com/2008/01/14/shared-database-metaweb-gets-42m-boost/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/16/freebase-takes-42-million/
http://www.dmwmedia.com/news/2008/01/15/freebase-developer-metaweb-technologies-gets-$42.4-million
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/freebase
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/10_semantic_apps_to_watch.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danny_Hillis
http://www.metaweb.com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaweb_Technologies
https://web2innovations.com/money/2007/11/30/freebase-open-shared-database-of-the-worlds-knowledge/
http://mashable.com/2007/07/17/freebase/
http://squio.nl/blog/2007/04/02/freebase-life-the-universe-and-everything/

Technorati’s total funding revealed – $21.6 to date in 3 rounds

Technorati, the blog search engine, has always been quite secretive about the funding it got over the years leaving people like us, always interested in the money behind the Web 2.0, speculate about the right numbers.  

Things changed the last month when we have read over multiple trusted sources on Web that the company has raised $21M so far in three rounds of financing. Those numbers are believed to be the right ones. Our attempt to dig some more information about what are the different numbers for the 3 rounds yielded some results. Who the Technorati’s investors are, anyway?

Technorati is now known to have raised $4.58M in its series A round of funding. However the particular date and who the investor both remain unknown. In September 2004 the company has already gotten its Series B round of funding, which today is known to be $6.50M from Draper Fisher Jurvetson as the only participant known to date. 2 years later, in June 2006, the company already needed to raise more capital and has closed its Series C round of funding this time raising $10.52M from August Capital, Mobius Venture Capital and the returning investor Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Total funding for Technorati to date seems to be already $21.6M.

The company is most popular with the fact that it was smart enough to be the first one to try and tap into the newly born and rapidly growing trend by 2002 — the blogging and its grown community of bloggers. It then became the first search engine for bloggers and blogs on Web. Today the company is facing huge completion by a number of companies like Google blog search, IceRocket, Feedster, Bloglines, Yahoo! Search Blog, Ask.com’s Blogs, Blogdigger and let’s put it that way – pretty much every other company out there that used to be once a search engine has now added a blog search too. You can here find a basic list of blog search engines.

The rivals were some of the leading Internet companies and it was hard for Technorati not to lose market share. And in December 2006 it happened, for the first time, Google Blogsearch surpassed Technorati in total visits. It then was said that Google Blog Search had passed 0.0025% of total internet traffic, according to Hitwise, versus 0.0023% for Technorati. The reason for the surge seemed pretty straightforward: Google linked their Blog Search product to Google News in October, which had an immediate and significant impact on traffic. Google also added a Blog Search link in the “More” section on the Google main page. It was not enough to take the lead, but a recent Technorati decline in traffic put Google’s Blog Search on top.

Allen Stern from CenterNetworks, by contrast, said by the time that Google blog search is not what Technorati should be compared to anymore. Google integrates blog searches into their main search and so therefore, if anything, the comparison should be between Google search vs. Technorati. The majority of people searching for terms are looking for the summation of all types of results: “standard” web sites, blog, video, image, etc.

Whatever the case is one thing is today for sure, the blog search is already an integrated part of the general search that hundreds of millions of people perform on daily basis on a number of search engines from Google to Ask.com, most of them done on Google, and Technorati cannot anymore claim exclusivity on blog searches, even though it was the first one in the field. That’s why Technorati was forced to evolve too and is now searching for social media too like photos, video and music, posted on online sharing sites, and a tag cloud on the home page shows you the hot topics of the day.

In early 2007 Technorati was rumored to be trying to sell itself. By that time Technorati’s CEO (and founder) Dave Sifry responded “I’ll be very clear about it – Technorati isn’t for sale.” As the practice shows when one claims his company is not for sale it always this company is for sale, but for the right buyers and price. By that time Dave has revealed some more numbers on the site’s usage. Technorati, he said, has had 9 million unique visitors over the last thirty days, up from 3.5 million two months ago. And while he did not disclose the actual page views, he said they increased 53% in March, and 141% over the last three months. Those are quite impressive numbers and are perhaps meant for the eyes/ears of some potential buyers, despite their claims of not selling themselves.

In May 2007, Technorati completely re-designed their home page to respond to their more mainstream users. They now have a single search box instead of using search types like keyword search, tag search and blog directory search. Results are returned in categories like videos, blogs and music.

In few months, in October 2007, Technorati has announced its search for a new CEO was over, with Richard Jalichandra being appointed to the role, some 6 weeks since Technorati’s founding CEO David Sifry stepped down and 5 months since it was publicly confirmed that Technorati was seeking a new CEO.

Several months later, in December 2007, Technorati re-launched again as this time trying to focus, again, on core blogging audience. The recently changed home page, just three months old, is gone. In place of the streaming blog posts is a news aggregator that, like TechMeme and the New York Times’ Blogrunner, uses linking behavior on news sites to determine headline news. In addition to the Front Page news aggregator, Technorati has made two other big additions to the site. The first is a resource page for bloggers called, fittingly, Blogger Central. The second is a new product called Today In Photos.

On the other hand Time magazine has recently named Technorati one of the 25 sites for 2007 they weren’t able to live without.

More recently, Technorati started downsizing staff (9 people have been laid off in August 2007) as the approx. $21 million raised over three rounds started to dry up. We have also discovered some technical details about the current IT infrastructure that backs Technorati up. They have more than 20TB (Terabytes) of core data in their MySQL running on over 20 machines. With replication they add 200TB and 200 machines more. No matter how you look into this, it is for sure adding up a serious burden over the company’s budget.

Well, we have seen a lot of numbers for Technorati’s site usage, from Comscore’s and Hitwise’s to Quantcast’s and Compete’s but how the numbers look like today. This is what we have discovered. According to Quantcast Technorati is presently reaching over 8M unique global visitors per month and only 2.8M of which are Americans. We can take that number for real since Technorati is quantified publisher at Quantcast. We have seen in the past numbers in the 22M/mo range reported for Technorati and if it turns out to be true the present numbers represent a serious decline in Technorati’s site usage.

Nonetheless, we think Technorati worth anything but $100M, at least, as of today.  We know the guys at Technorati won’t like that number and just like Digg (looking for over $300M) they are also thinking their business worth much more and are probably looking for much higher valuation than $100M. Technorati was definitely and unarguable the first one to define the market but is also not anymore the leader in the space. The company has strong brand awareness but everyone knows it is relatively easy (compared to traditional businesses) to make and easy to ruin an online brand. On the other hand Technorati has no strong technology and is facing huge competition and a potential buyer would eventually consider them only because of their traffic and reach. What Technorati needs to convince their future suitors is whether they will preserve and grow their traffic or not. Buyers are interested in what the site would look like in future in terms of traffic and revenues and are not really looking in the past, aside perhaps overseeing trends.

We have no idea what the Technorati’s revenues are as of today but Sifry has said in August 2007 that Technorati is now a revenue stage business – we’ve been hiring up sales folks, as well as building much more detailed roadmaps and product pipelines. Customer-driven needs, pipeline management, operational management, and expense control are now a much bigger part of our life as a company than it was when we were running on a couple of servers in my basement. 

Or in the case with Technorati we talk for valuation without revenue? Great examples from the past of high-profile acquisitions of companies with little to no revenues are both Hotmail (1998) and Skype, the second one managed to drive multi-billion dollar valuation at little to no revenues in its deal with eBay in 2005. Could the Technorati’s case be the same? Don’t forget here the YouTube’s deal.

A proven monetization model over Internet is segmentation. Technorati, especially, needs to ask itself the question: What is my segmentation strategy, around which I can offer my advertisers a compelling marketing vehicle? Technorati has clearly lost its momentum and peak traffic times and is today more declining rather than expanding. Today, Yahoo is a portfolio of haphazardly organized content and services which don’t clearly align with segments desired by advertisers. Neither, for that matter, is Google, although it managed to drive huge sales off its AdWords/AdSense strategy. Technorati, for example, is also having a pretty much generic traffic, which makes the effective monetization a hard task for the company.

We can draw a basic conclusion here. Before everything, Technorati has been a symbolic web site for the blogging world ever since and based on its present traffic of more than 8M unique visitors per month could be a great add on to the Web portfolio on each company from the big 6 Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, eBay, AOL and Amazon. We would exclude Google from the list. Other potential acquirers would include media companies like New York Times, which once btw was reported to be interested in Digg, and since there are synergies between, it is not completely out of sense. Fox Interactive, IAC (potentially merging with their Bloglines), among others could also be interested in potentially having Technorati part of their web properties. We would take the chance to predict that a potential sale of Technorati this year would command a price in the $100 / $150M range. The given price tag is only valid if Technorati preserves its current traffic of 8/10M unique visitors per month.

More about Technorati

Technorati is currently tracking 112.8 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media.

Technorati is the recognized authority on what’s happening on the World Live Web, right now. The Live Web is the dynamic and always-updating portion of the Web. We search, surface, and organize blogs and the other forms of independent, user-generated content (photos, videos, voting, etc.) increasingly referred to as “citizen media.”

But it all started with blogs. A blog, or weblog, is a regularly updated journal published on the web. Some blogs are intended for a small audience; others vie for readership with national newspapers. Blogs are influential, personal, or both, and they reflect as many topics and opinions as there are people writing them.

Blogs are powerful because they allow millions of people to easily publish and share their ideas, and millions more to read and respond. They engage the writer and reader in an open conversation, and are shifting the Internet paradigm as we know it.

On the World Live Web, bloggers frequently link to and comment on other blogs, creating the type of immediate connection one would have in a conversation. Technorati tracks these links, and thus the relative relevance of blogs, photos, videos etc. We rapidly index tens of thousands of updates every hour, and so we monitor these live communities and the conversations they foster.

The World Live Web is incredibly active, and according to Technorati data, there are over 175,000 new blogs (that’s just blogs) every day. Bloggers update their blogs regularly to the tune of over 1.6 million posts per day, or over 18 updates a second.

Technorati. Who’s saying what. Right now

Technorati Management Team

Richard Jalichandra
President & Chief Executive Officer
Richard is a veteran Internet executive whose media experience includes leadership roles across the media spectrum: as a client, at an agency, as a publisher, and with an advertising network. Most recently, he worked as an M&A and strategy consultant for several Internet properties and investment firms, and also served as SVP of Corporate Development for Exponential Interactive, Tribal Fusion’s parent company. Previously, he was SVP of Business Development for Fox Interactive Media, and was the Vice President of Business & Corporate Development at IGN Entertainment (acquired by Fox Interactive), where he led the company’s M&A, business development and international activities. Before joining IGN, Richard led national accounts sales at Lycos, was Vice President of Business Development at Neopost Online, served as Senior Vice President/Managing Director of Answerthink, and founded K23 Creative Services in Singapore. His early career included management roles for Ford, IBM and Siemens, and he has a B.S. in business administration from the University of Southern California and an M.B.A. from the University of Washington.

Dorion Carroll
Vice President of Engineering
Dorion Carroll is a 20-year veteran engineer with deep experience developing product and services in areas including search, email processing, e-commerce, personalization, ad targeting, CRM, data warehousing, order management and financial services. Prior to joining Technorati, Dorion was director of engineering at Postini, Vice President of Engineering and General Manager of Neomeo (which was acquired by Postini), Technologist-in-Residence at Softbank Venture Capital, and Senior Director of Engineering at Excite@Home, among other roles. Dorion has a Bachelor of Arts from Pitzer College, with four years Mathematics / Computer Science at Harvey Mudd College, in Claremont, California.

Peter Hirshberg
Chairman of the Executive Committee & CMO, Technorati Inc.
Peter Hirshberg is an entrepreneur and marketing innovator who has led emerging media and technology companies at the center of disruptive change for more than 20 years. As Chairman & Chief Marketing Officer of Technorati, he oversees the company’s sales, marketing and business development activities as well as its partnerships with the media, entertainment and marketing industries. Previously Hirshberg served as president and CEO of Gloss.com, the online prestige beauty business co-owned by Estee Lauder Companies, Chanel and Clarins; he was Chairman of Interpacket Networks, the global leader in Internet-by-satellite (sold to American Tower in 2000), and was founder and CEO of Elemental Software (sold to Macromedia in 1999). Peter was at Apple Computer for nine years where he held a number of leadership positions, including Director of Enterprise Markets. He is a Trustee of The Computer History Museum and a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. Peter earned his bachelor’s degree at Dartmouth College and his MBA at Wharton.

Joi Ito
Vice President of International Business and Mobile Devices, Technorati Inc.
Joichi Ito is in charge of international and mobility development for Technorati. He is founder and CEO of Neoteny, a venture capital firm which is the lead investor in Six Apart, and is on the board of Creative Commons. He has created numerous Internet companies including PSINet Japan, Digital Garage, and Infoseek Japan. In 1997, Time Magazine ranked him as a member of the CyberElite. In 2000 he was ranked among the “50 Stars of Asia” by Business Week and commended by the Japanese Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications for supporting the advancement of IT. In 2001 the World Economic Forum chose him as one of the 100 “Global Leaders of Tomorrow” for 2002. He was appointed as a member of Howard Dean’s Net Advisory Net during the Dean campaign.

Teresa Malo
Chief Financial Officer
Teresa is a CPA with over 17 years experience in finance and operations, and she’s responsible for Technorati’s financial, legal, and HR organizations. She has worked with technology startup companies such as Calico Commerce and Zambeel, as well as with established companies, including Arbor Software and Silicon Graphics. Teresa started her career as an accountant with Pannell, Kerr, Forster, a national public accounting firm. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in Accounting and Computer Information systems from Arizona State University and the University of Washington.

Technorati Board of Directors

David L. Sifry
Founder & Chairman of the Board, Technorati, Inc.
David Sifry is a serial entrepreneur with over 20 years of software development and industry experience. Before founding Technorati, Dave was cofounder and CTO of Sputnik, a Wi-Fi gateway company, and previously, he was cofounder of Linuxcare, where he served as CTO and VP of Engineering. Dave also served as a founding member of the board of Linux International and on the technical advisory board of the National Cybercrime Training Partnership for law enforcement. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University. Dave can often be found speaking on panels and giving lectures on a variety of technology issues, ranging from wireless spectrum policy and Wi-Fi, to Weblogs and Open Source software.

Peter Hirshberg
Chairman of the Executive Committee & CMO, Technorati Inc.

Joi Ito
Vice President of International Business and Mobile Devices, Technorati, Inc.

Ryan McIntyre
Principal, Mobius Venture Capital
Ryan McIntyre joined Mobius Venture Capital in 2000 as an Associate Partner and was promoted to Principal in 2001. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. McIntyre co-founded Excite in 1993, which went public in 1996 and later became Excite@Home (Nasdaq:ATHM) following the merger of Excite and @Home in 1999. There he held the role of Principal Engineer and was a key technological contributor to the company’s search engine and content management systems, and also led the design and implementation of Excite’s community and commerce platforms. Mr. McIntyre holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Symbolic Systems with a concentration in Artificial Intelligence from Stanford University. While at Stanford, he published research on genetic algorithms in the The First IEEE Conference on Evolutionary Computation, and studied at Stanford’s overseas campus in Berlin, Germany.

Sanford R. Robertson
Principal, Francisco Partners
Sanford R. Robertson is a principal of Francisco Partners, one of the world’s largest technology buyout funds. With a focus on structured investments in technology and technology-related businesses, Francisco Partners is a pioneer in the private equity category of Technology Buyouts. Prior to founding Francisco Partners, Mr. Robertson was the founder and chairman of Robertson, Stephens & Co., a leading technology investment bank formed in 1978, and sold to BankBoston in 1998. Mr. Robertson was also the founder of Robertson, Colman, Siebel & Weisel, later renamed Montgomery Securities, another prominent technology investment bank. He has had significant financing involvement in more than 500 growth technology companies throughout his career, including 3Com Corporation (Nasdaq: COMS), America Online, Inc., Applied Materials, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMAT), Ascend Communications Inc., Dell Computer Corporation (Nasdaq: DELL), E*Trade Securities, Inc. (Nasdaq: ETFC), Siebel Systems, Inc. and Sun Microsystems, Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW). Mr. Robertson received both a B.A. and an M.B.A. with Distinction from the University of Michigan.

Andreas Stavropoulous
Managing Director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson
Mr. Stavropoulos focuses primarily on software investments (enterprise infrastructure and consumer/Internet), wireless networking, and technology-enabled services. Prior to joining DFJ, Mr. Stavropoulos was with McKinsey & Company’s San Francisco office, where he worked with senior management teams of corporate clients with an emphasis on information technology. Prior to McKinsey, he was a Senior Analyst at Cornerstone Research, a financial and economic consulting firm that helps resolve complex issues arising in high-profile business litigation. Mr. Stavropoulos holds Bachelor’s and Masters degrees in computer science from Harvard University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar and graduated first in his class.

More

http://technorati.com/
http://technorati.com/weblog/
http://www.sifry.com/alerts/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/04/exclusive-technorati-relaunches-to-focus-on-core-blogging-audience/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/technorati
http://www.niallkennedy.com/blog/2006/12/google-blog-search-technorati-market-share.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/05/technorati-drops-content-older-than-6-months-old/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/12/28/google-v-technorati-and-hitwise-v-comscore/
http://www.centernetworks.com/why-comparing-technorati-to-google-blog-search-is-not-valid
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Blog_search_engines
http://www.sifry.com/alerts/archives/000492.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/04/03/technoratis-mating-dance/
http://www.sifry.com/alerts/archives/000492.html
http://atomicbomb.typepad.com/
http://www.centernetworks.com/web-apps-customer-service-face-off#technorati
http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1638266_1638253_1638241,00.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/01/new-technorati-ceo-has-a-challenge-ahead/
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=prnw.20071001.AQM180&show_article=1&lsn=1
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/08/16/watching-technorati-and-podtech-fall-apart/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/09/30/techmeme-leaderboard-to-launch-attacking-technoratis-last-stronghold/
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/0/2/9a2 (Richard Jalichandra)
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-thu_tagsjun14,0,3843733.story?coll=chi-business-hed
http://valleywag.com/tech/rumormonger/technoratis-search-247549.php
http://markevanstech.com/2007/04/03/talking-up-technorati/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,,1937507,00.html
http://www.time.com/time/globalbusiness/article/0,9171,1565540,00.html
http://sramanamitra.com/2006/02/23/technorati-valuation-without-revenue/
http://www.iac.com/businesses.html
http://mysqluc.com/presentations/mysql06/carroll_dorion.ppt

From Half.com to FirstRound Capital

When Josh Kopelman has sold his company half.com to eBay for $350M back in 2000 he most probably did not know that in few years he would manage a small VC firm called FirstRound Capital and that his young venture capital firm would be at the center of nearly every hot trend in Silicon Valley. Fortune has recently named Josh and their VC firm as one of the top 6 innovation leaps for the 2007.

Some of the more popular start-ups they have invested in are LinkedIn, del.icio.us, 1-800-FREE411, Aggregate Knowledge, Powerset, Inc., Eventful, Like.com, Mint Software, Inc., RockYou, Wikia, VideoEgg, Yapta, among others.

His new company, FirstRound, makes relatively small commitments to entrepreneurs with big ideas – usually in the $250,000 to $750,000 range, which is generally too small and risky for Sand Hill Road – and sticks with them long enough to determine which business plans will work and which should be taken out back and shot. The company is not afraid of investing in pre-revenue companies.

In fact, FirstRound may prove to be a sign of things to come. Tech startups, especially in software, don’t need as much cash to get rolling these days. Since Kopelman’s firm is relatively small, investing smaller amounts can still generate meaningful returns — something the larger firms are struggling with. More important than all that, however, is Kopelman’s knack for picking winners. FirstRound has made great exits in companies like StumbleUpon (bought by eBay for $75 million), Voicestar (phone-to-web system; Marchex; $28 million), and Snapcentric (digital security; Verisign; $12 million).

More about First Round Capital

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

We are seed stage investors, often providing a company’s first outside capital, and are not afraid of investing in pre-revenue companies. We understand the challenges of launching a new product. We look to take an active role in most of the companies we invest in. We believe our experience, insight and expertise are far more valuable than our capital — and we look for entrepreneurs who feel the same.

We recognize that time is an extremely valuable resource for an entrepreneur — and seek not to waste it. We operate as an entrepreneurial shop and are able to make quick decisions. No investment committees. No months of negotiations. If we’re going to invest, we usually decide within days.

The firm is having offices in both West Conshohocken Philadelphia and San Francisco, California.     
   
More about Josh Kopelman

Josh has been an active entrepreneur and investor in the Internet industry since its commercialization. In 1992, while he was a student at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Josh co-founded Infonautics Corporation – an Internet information company. In 1996, Infonautics went public on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

Josh founded Half.com in July of 1999, and led it to become one of the largest sellers of used books, movies and music in the world. Half.com was acquired by eBay in July 2000 — and Josh remained with eBay for three years, running the Half.com business unit and growing eBay’s Media marketplace to almost half a billion dollars in annual gross merchandise sales.

In late 2003 Josh helped to found TurnTide, an anti-spam company that created the world’s first anti-spam router. TurnTide was acquired by Symantec just six months later.

In addition to being an active angel investor, Josh has served as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Comcast Interactive Capital – a $350 million venture capital fund affiliated with Comcast Corporation.

Josh is an inventor on five U.S. Patents for his work in Internet technology. In June 2000, he was awarded Ernst and Young’s prestigious “Entrepreneur of the Year” award  
for the Greater Philadelphia region. Josh has also been recognized as one of the “10 Most Influential People in Philadelphia Technology” by the Philadelphia Inquirer, one of the “76 Smartest Philadelphians” by Philadelphia Magazine and as one of forty individuals under the age of forty who have made the biggest impact on the Philadelphia region by the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Josh is often quoted in industry trade journals and national newspapers, has appeared on numerous national television shows, and is a frequent speaker at industry-wide conferences on entrepreneurship, Internet marketing and the future of Internet services.

In 2001 Josh and his wife created the Kopelman Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on angel philanthropy to provide “start-up” grants to social entrepreneurs. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Main Line Health, suburban Philadelphia’s most comprehensive healthcare resource, operating four of the region’s most-respected hospitals. He also serves on as a member of the advisory boards for Wharton Entrepreneurial Center and the Weiss Tech House at the University of Pennsylvania.

Josh earned a Bachelor of Science degree cum laude in Entrepreneurial Management and Marketing from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. 

More

http://www.firstround.com/
http://redeye.firstround.com/
http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/fortune/0712/gallery.sixleaps.fortune/5.html
http://www.linkedin.com/in/jkopelman
http://www.kopelman.org/