Tag Archives: Money

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about Nuance

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

More about SpinVox

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

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

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

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

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

More

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

Yet another Digg clone

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

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

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

More about Publish2

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

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

1. Easy Online Bookmarks

Bookmarking Tool

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

Private or Public

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

For Reporters

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

For Editors

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

2. A Powerful News Aggregator

Power of the Link

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

Front Page

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

Take Back Control

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

For Reporters

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

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

3. Professional Profile

Resume

Manage your online identity as a journalist

My Clips

Showcase links to your best reporting

#1 Search Result

Have your profile appear first when someone searches for you online

More

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

Glam seems to be cutting off revenues for publishers

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

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

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

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

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

Here is what Glam has replied on Techrunch.

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

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

More about Glam Media

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

About the founder

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

Other team members include:

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

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

More

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

More instructional videos on the horizon

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

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

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

Jason Reneau is the company’s CEO and founder.

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

More about MindBites

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

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

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

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

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

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

More

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

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

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

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

Below is how Doostang is different.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about BeInSync

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

More about Phoenix Technologies

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

More

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really more

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about Predictify

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

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

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

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

Here is quickly how it works

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

Submit a Prediction

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

Click here to predict!

Ask a Question

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

Click here to post a question!

More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about SpinVox

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

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

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

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

SpinVox has 300 employees and offices in nine countries.

The management

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

More

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

Meebo tries to raise $25M in return of only 10% equity valuing the company at the whopping $250M

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

Some analysts have even compared the deal’s value to the Bear Stearns one, which has just sold out for “only” $236M.

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

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

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

Some big names in the social-networking space like Facebook and News Corp.’s MySpace.com are rumored to may possibly be interested in the deal. MySpace operates its own instant-messaging service, and Facebook is rumored to have one in the pipeline.

Montgomery and Co. has requested that all offers be in by Wednesday, and has told investors it has several parties interested at a valuation of $200M. The rumor goes here that at least one of the strategic investors isn’t interested in sharing the investment, preferring instead to buy Meebo entirely.

More about Meebo

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

More about Montgomery & Co.

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

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

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

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

More

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

Website Optimization company and CMS leader joined forces

An interesting deal happened a few months ago, announced in October 2007 and closed in November the same year. Interwoven, a public company traded on NASDAQ, has acquired the said website optimization pioneer Optimost.

The both companies then said that combination of Interwoven’s Content Management Solutions with Optimost’s Multivariable Testing and Optimization Solution will help organizations maximize online business performance.

Under the terms of the agreement between Optimost and Interwoven, Interwoven will pay approximately $52 million in cash for all outstanding shares of Optimost and assume certain existing employee stock options. From what we were able to dig up, Optimost is probably having less than $8M in revenues per year, which translates into multiple around 6X the revenues, which is not that impressive number after all. Interwoven is based in San Jose, Calif, and is making itself over $200M in revenues enjoying a market capitalization of 539.57M (March 17 2008).

As businesses continue to spend unprecedented amounts to drive traffic to their Websites through search engine marketing, pay-per-click ads, banner ads, e-mail, and other tactics, they face a significant challenge in converting traffic into revenue-generating customers. The combination of Interwoven’s content management solutions and Optimost’s optimization solution helps businesses address this challenge by providing marketers with the industry’s most complete set of capabilities for creating, deploying, testing, analyzing, and optimizing targeted content to Website visitors.

“This acquisition supports our strategy to power our customers’ online presence, and we believe it puts Interwoven at the top of the short list of a company’s must-have partners for online business,” said Joe Cowan, chief executive officer at Interwoven. “Companies today understand that maximizing their online business performance is the key to accelerating growth and profits, and that content is at the core of their online strategy. By acquiring Optimost, we are providing customers with a powerful solution for optimizing their content – which creates the connection point between the visitor and the Web – to provide the most compelling experience, faster, more efficiently, and more effectively than ever before.”

Founded in 2001, Optimost is a privately-held company headquartered in New York City, whose customers include Ask.com, Auto Trader, Delta Air Lines, FAO Schwarz, Lenovo, and MGM Mirage. Optimost has a proven track record in helping its clients achieve double-digit increases in conversion rates and online sales. For example, Delta Air Lines made changes to Delta.com based on the results of its multivariable optimization initiative, which has added up to approximately $15 million in additional revenue so far this year.

“Today’s announcement is wonderful news for Optimost’s customers,” said Mark Wachen, chief executive officer at Optimost. “When we founded Optimost, our vision was to deliver technology that allows marketers to increase the effectiveness of their online presence to drive measurable business results. Clearly, Interwoven shares the same vision and by combining forces we will be able to extend our innovative technology to a much larger market and provide Optimost customers with a more complete solution for maximizing their marketing investments. We look forward to joining the team at Interwoven.”
In just matter of couple of weeks the deal was closed on November 1st, 2007.

All Optimost employees, including the founders, Mark Wachen and Lance Lovette, have joined Interwoven and will focus on product innovation, customer support, and the continued acceleration of Interwoven’s business in the online marketing arena.

The Optimost solutions are now available through Interwoven as a standalone offering as well as in conjunction with the solutions in Interwoven’s portfolio.

Interwoven expects the Optimost acquisition to contribute in the range of $1.5 million to $2.0 million to total revenue during the fourth quarter of 2007, subsequent to the acquisition date and before considering purchase accounting adjustments to revenues of approximately $1.0 million.

More about Optimost

New York-based Optimost is a technology and services company specializing in comprehensive real-time testing and conversion rate marketing. Pioneers in the field of multivariable testing, the firm is able to create and test virtually limitless permutations of copy, offers and layouts in the time it takes to conduct a standard A/B page comparison test. By combining real-life response data with information about which variables were displayed in the test, Optimost clients are able to determine how much each individual website element contributes to the overall response rate. Client web pages can then be optimized further based on the combinations of most positive individual site elements. Optimost clients include: InterActiveCorp, Lillian Vernon, Delta Air Lines, Time Warner, QVC, and EarthLink.

More about Interwoven

Interwoven is a global leader in content management solutions. Interwoven’s software and services enable organizations to maximize online business performance and organize, find, and govern business content. Interwoven solutions unlock the value of content by delivering the right content to the right person in the right context at the right time. Over 4,200 of the world’s leading companies, professional services firms, and governments have chosen Interwoven, including adidas, Airbus, Avaya, BT, Cisco, Citi, Delta Air Lines, DLA Piper, the Federal Reserve Bank, FedEx, Grant Thornton, Hilton Hotels, Hong Kong Trade and Development Council, HSBC, LexisNexis, MasterCard, Microsoft, Samsung, Shell, Qantas Airways, Tesco, Virgin Mobile, and White & Case. Over 20,000 developers and over 300 partners enrich and extend Interwoven’s offerings.

More

http://www.interwoven.com/
http://finance.google.com/finance?q=NASDAQ:IWOV
http://www.optimost.com/
http://www.interwoven.com/components/page.jsp?topic=MAIN::NEWS&dcr=components/optimost.jsp
http://www.interwoven.com/components/page.jsp?topic=NEWS::RELEASES&dcr=templatedata/announcement/press-release/data/2007/dcr-2007-10-17-optimost.xml
http://www.centernetworks.com/interwoven-acquires-optimost-social-news http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/18/interwoven-acquires-optimost-for-52-million/
http://www.optimost.com/press/2007-11-interwoven-announces-close.php
 

What is the real reason Automattic bought Glavatar?

As some of you already know w2i (web2innovations.com) is keeping an internal archive of almost all funding and acquisition deals that happened over the past years on web. While we have the ambitions to report on all of them the deals are so many so that we end up only writing about some of the most interesting ones. The same is the case with Automattic when they bought Glavatar some months ago. We kept the news in our archive for quite long time trying to figure out ourselves what is the real motive behind the acquisition of Glavatar and since we came up to no particular synergy and reason we have decided today to simply write about.

First off Automattic is the company behind the popular blog software WordPress. The site is amongst the most popular on web with more than 90M uniques per month. When Matt Mullenweg, announced the deal on the Glavatar’s blog he wrote about so many improvements that Glavatar is going to face with its new owner. Such as scaling things up, they transferred the Rails application and most of the avatar serving to WordPress.com’s infrastructure and servers. Avatar serving was said is already more than three times as fast, and works every time. They’ve also moved Glavatar’s blog from Mephisto to WordPress, of course.

He further said “Basically, we did the bare minimum required to stabilize and accelerate the Gravatar service, focusing a lot on making the gravatars highly available and fast. However our plans are much bigger than that.” Among those are all of the Premium features have gone free, and refunding was offered to anyone who bought them in the last 60 days; gravatar serving moved to a Content Delivery Network (CDN) so not only will they be fast, it’ll be low latency and not slow down a page load; Merging the million avatars WordPress had with the 115,000 or so Glavatar brought on the table after the deal and make them available through the Gravatar API; integrate and improve templates and bring features like multiple avatars over; from WordPress.com, bring the bigger sizes (128px) over and make that available for any Gravatar (Gravatars are only available up to 80px); Adding Microformat support for things like XFN rel=”me” and hCard to all avatar profile pages (that is in particular an interesting move); develop a new API that has cleaner URLs and allows Gravatars to be addressed by things like URL in addition to (or instead of) email addresses and not last rewrite the entire application itself to fit directly into WordPress.com’s grid, for internet-scale performance and reliability.

These days after Yahoo announcing big plans of moving towards web semantics and adopting some of the microformats and hinting LinkedIn for possible better relations with their data set if they adopt them too is a clear signal that web is slowly moving towards semantically linking of data. Automattic is obviously looking forward to that time too with its plans to add microformats like XFN (XHTML Friends Network) and hCard (simple, open, distributed format for representing people, companies, organizations, and places, using a 1:1 representation of vCard (RFC2426) properties and values in semantic HTML or XHTML). An interesting example of contextually and semantically linked web data is LinkedWords and, as you can see, the way we use them to semantically and contextually link words across our texts and connect them to their contextual platform.

So far so good, but nothing from the above indicates what is the reason Automattic bought the site called Glavatar. It is definitely neither because of their user base (only 115K) nor because of the technology, obviously. Employment through acquisition? Not really, Tom Werner, the founder of Glavatar is being said to be a big Ruby guy and taking into consideration the fact Matt seems to be moving towards PHP with Glavatar it seems highly unlikely for Tom to stay with Automattic.

From everything being said publicly it turns out that Automattic has decided to help the small site work better, but no clear benefits are seen for their company from this deal, or at least not to us.

We do believe Matt where he says “our plans are much bigger than that”, but what those plans are? Building a social network upon the avatars and the profile data associated with or perhaps having an online identity service built upon. Or, perhaps, simply building a global avatar service (with in-depth profiles) makes more sense for a company that commands over 100M uniques per month rather than for a tiny web site like Glavatar.

Whatever the case is congratulations to the involved. Terms of the deal were not publicly disclosed.

More about Glavatar

The web is no longer about anonymous content generated by faceless corporations. It is about real people and the real content that they provide.

It is about you.

But as powerful as the web has become, it still lacks the personal touch that comes from a handshake. The vast majority of content you come across on the web will still be near-anonymous even though it may have a name attached. Without knowing the author behind the words, the words cannot be trusted. This is where Gravatar comes in.

Gravatar aims to put a face behind the name. This is the beginning of trust. In the future, Gravatar will be a way to establish trust between producers and consumers on the internet. It will be the next best thing to meeting in person.

Today, an avatar. Tomorrow, Your Identity–Online.

More

http://gravatar.com/
http://site.gravatar.com/site/about
http://automattic.com/
http://blog.gravatar.com/2007/10/18/automattic-gravatar/
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/automattic_acquires_gravatar.php
http://www.quantcast.com/p-18-mFEk4J448M
http://microformats.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://rubyisawesome.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about WeatherBill

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

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

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

Their Investors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More

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

22M uniques / mo site (Bebo) goes to AOL for $850M in all cash deal

Bebo, the global social network strong enough in UK and among the first in US, has quietly been up for sale for quite some time shopped around by the secretive investment firm Allen & Co. A number of potential acquires passed on a deal for Bebo, including News Corp., Microsoft and Google, sources tell. Yahoo is also rumored to may have also taken a long look. Until now when AOL has publicly announced they had acquired bebo.com for $850M in a deal all in cash off only $20M in revenues for 2007. AOL and Bebo have been in talks since September 2007. It is also publicly known fact that Bebo was looking for a price over $1B.

Launched in the middle of 2005 Bebo had quickly grown to millions of visitors per month and today stands at over 40M registered users as per company’s claims. Bebo has raised only (taking into consideration their exit number) $15M from Balderton Capital, which represents a very nice exit for the venture capitalists.  Competitors include MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, Piczo, Google’s Orkut, Flickr, and literally an endless army of social networking sites around the globe. Bebo has offices in the UK, San Francisco and Austin, TX with over 100 employees.

A quick look into the numbers reveals that AOL paid roughly $22 per registered user in Bebo’s acquisition. comScore reports for 22M unique visitors per month to bebo.com, which values each unique visitor at $39. Quantcast reports for less than 2M American visitors per month to bebo’s site but since the site appears to be not quantified we should not take these numbers for the correct ones.

Richard MacManus from RWW does not think this will make much headway for either company and calls it that way “Ultimately we’re talking about two middle of the road Web brands”. The Wall St Journal’s Kara Swisher has analyzed the deal and thinks in first place the numbers are not so big but sees that AOL is getting very attractive social-networking service and a very experienced exec who has been running it. According to the several sources, she quotes, who were privy to Bebo’s financials, for example, Bebo’s revenues for 2006 were only $7 million with $3 million in EBITDA. In 2007, the results are still small, with $20 million in revenues and $5 million in EBITDA. Using 2007 results, that means Time Warner’s (TWZ) AOL paid a handsome 42.5 times revenues and an incredible 160 times EBITDA.

Current President Joanna Shields (in the middle) is said will continue to run Bebo and will report to AOL President Ron Grant (in right) while the founders Michael Birch and Xochi Birch will shortly be leaving the startup, apparently.

Since its inception, Bebo has established a radical new vision for online media and engagement marketing, combining community, self-expression and entertainment, enabling its members to consume, create, discover, curate and share digital content in entirely new ways.  Bebo global users have high engagement levels spending an average of 33 minutes a day on the site. Its groundbreaking Open Media platform ushered in a new way for Bebo users to experience content online, while giving global media companies like MTV, CBS, BBC and more than 400 others, a new way to promote, distribute and monetize their programming. “Engagement Marketing,” is Bebo’s initiative for brands to build long-term relationships with their target audience.  Today, brands from Apple to Nike use Bebo as a platform to establish ongoing conversations with consumers. Bebo pioneered the blending of Web-native original content with interactivity in the social networking environment by co-producing “KateModern,” the most successful TV show on the Web, now in its second season, followed by the soon to be premiered “Sophia’s Diary,” and the upcoming “Gap Year.” In December 2007, Bebo opened its platform to external application developers becoming the first social network to embrace both Facebook and OpenSocial APIs. (a confusing signal, as up till then everyone had assumed that OpenSocial and Facebook platform were direct competitors.) To date, more than 1500 applications have joined the network.

Together with its AIM and ICQ personal communications network, the acquisition will give AOL a premier position in the fast growing world of social media with a network of approximately 80 million unique users.

With a total membership of more than 40 million worldwide, Bebo is a global social media network which combines community, self-expression and entertainment to enable its users to consume, create, discover and share content. Bebo is one of the leading social networks in the UK, and is ranked number one in Ireland and New Zealand, and number three in the U.S. in terms of engagement. Its users are heavily engaged and view an average of 78 pages per usage day.

The deal comes just one week after AOL’s launch of Open AIM 2.0, an initiative that allows the developer community greater freedom to access the AIM network and integrate AIM into its sites and applications, and the announcement by Apple of a downloadable AIM application for the iPhone.

“Bebo is the perfect complement to AOL’s personal communications network and puts us in a leading position in social media,” said Randy Falco, Chairman and CEO, AOL. “What drew us to Bebo was its substantial and fast-growing worldwide user-base, its vision of a truly social web, and the monetization opportunities that leverage Platform-A across our combined global audience. This positions us to offer advertisers even greater reach and marketers significant insights into the desires and needs of consumers.”

“AOL understands the shifting dynamics of the Web and has clearly demonstrated its commitment to leveraging the ever-increasing power of social networks,” said Bebo President, Joanna Shields. “With one and the same vision in this area, it was a natural progression for Bebo to join AOL, and we look forward to working together to continue to expand the online social experience globally.”

“Bebo’s dynamic management team recognizes that the Internet is less about destination and more about connecting people, culture and lifestyles,” said Ron Grant, President and COO, AOL.  “This acquisition supports our key objectives – accelerating the growth, engagement and monetization of one of the world’s most engaged online communities.” 

Analyst eMarketer predicts that by 2011, $4.1 billion will be spent worldwide for social network advertising – a dramatic increase from the $480 million spent in 2006.  In 2008 alone, global ad spend in the social networking arena is expected to increase 75% year over year, amounting to $2.1 billion.

In recent months, AOL has moved aggressively to bolster its position in areas critical to its emergence as a leading advertising-supported Web media and marketing company. Building on its number one position in third party display with Advertising.com, AOL has spent nearly $1 billion on online advertising acquisitions, including market leaders like ADTECH, buy.at, Lightningcast, Quigo, TACODA and Third Screen Media to create Platform-A. Platform-A is the top display ad serving network focused on helping marketers build brands that perform online.* In Web content, AOL’s revitalized network of sites has experienced five months of consecutive page view growth and key categories like Music, Television, Moviefone, TMZ, Money & Finance, News, Living and Body are all in the top four in their respective categories.

As part of its international growth plans, AOL has launched 17 international web sites over the last year and has plans to expand to 30 countries outside the U.S. by the end of 2008. In addition, AOL teamed up with HP last September to include localized versions of the AOL.com portal and other AOL services as the default setting on HP computers shipped in the United States and around the world. Bebo, which has announced plans to launch in five countries this year, will be featured prominently in AOL’s international expansion efforts after the deal is closed.

AOL was advised by Banc of America Securities LLC and Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. Bebo was advised by Allen & Co.

The deal is said to be subject to U.S. and EU antitrust regulations before it effectively closes.

More about AOL

A Global Ad-Supported Web Services Company

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

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

Core Statistics

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

 A sophisticated advertising network

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

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

Industry-leading products and programs

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

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

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

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

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

Expanding worldwide

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

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

Meanwhile AOL seems to be looking for a buyer for … itself.

More

http://www.bebo.com/
http://developer.bebo.com
http://aol.com/
http://corp.aol.com/press_releases/2008/03/aol-acquire-global-social-media-network-bebo
http://developer.bebo.com/blog/index.php/2008/03/13/company-and-platform-newsjs-and-pre-load-sql-coming-soon/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/13/aol-buys-bebo-for-750-million/
http://mashable.com/2008/03/13/aol-bought-bebo/
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/aol_acquires_bebo.php
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080313/bebo-by-the-not-so-big-numbers/
http://www.techmeme.com/080313/p77#a080313p77
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/14/aol-on-a-bender-kickapps-may-be-next-acquisition/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/02/12/bebo-1-billion-acquisition-definitely-happened/
http://kara.allthingsd.com/20080314/is-kickapps-next-to-board-aols-gravy-train/
http://www.rev2.org/2007/07/31/bebo-an-in-depth-look/
http://www.lastpodcast.net/2008/03/13/thursday-night-thoughts/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/bebo
http://www.centernetworks.com/bebo-aol-live-call
http://www.quantcast.com/bebo.com
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/03/12/aol-is-offered-up-for-sale/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The market

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

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

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

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

More about Jivox

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Management team

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

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

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

More about Opus Capital

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

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

Video advertising networks are hot, Brightroll gets its second round, claims it already served over 1 Billion video ads

After having covered the video ad networks BlackArrow and YuMe Networks today we have discovered that yet another one called Brightroll has also recently closed its Series B funding taking $5M more. The round was led by existing investor True Ventures with Adams Street Partners and KPG Ventures as new participants. The first round’s amount is not publicly disclosed.

The company offers both pre-roll and mid-roll ads and Brightroll contextually matches the ads based on webpage information, site behavior and demographics. Assessing tags, profiles and data from ComScore, Brightroll aims to provide publishers and advertisers targeted ads, where the publishers need to do very little work to this end.

BrightRoll helps leading agencies, representing brands such as Walmart, Hewlett-Packard and Sony Pictures, launch and scale video campaigns across the industry’s leading publishers. The one-year-old start-up will use the capital to continue to grow its agency and publisher relationships, as well as accelerate product development.

“Video advertising is the future of online marketing and we are exclusively focused on simplifying the process of targeting, distributing and executing online video campaigns,” said Tod Sacerdoti, co-founder and CEO of BrightRoll. “BrightRoll provides efficiency and technology to agencies today and we will continue to expand our solutions for agencies and brands moving forward.”

“We increased our investment in BrightRoll because the company is the emerging leader in a revolutionary category,” said Jon Callaghan, a partner at TRUE Ventures. “This is my third time working with the founders, Tod Sacerdoti and Dru Nelson, and I could not be more ecstatic about the team they are building.”

BrightRoll can execute video campaigns across more than 50% of the top 100 online media properties in the United States. The average BrightRoll video campaign reaches over 50 million unique users over a six week period. A video advertising innovator, BrightRoll is built entirely on proprietary video ad serving, targeting and optimization technology.

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 BrightRoll

Led by a team of Internet advertising veterans and engineers, BrightRoll has served billions of advertisements since we got started. We achieved this growth by enabling agencies and brand advertisers to execute smart video ad campaigns across the industry’s leading publishers, including over half of the top 250 websites in the United States.

Dozens of advertising agencies work with BrightRoll to execute campaigns for their premier brands. By offering full site disclosure, detailed performance reports and flexible targeting, we provide advertisers with the reach, frequency, scalability, and transparency needed to achieve their goals.

Hundreds of branded publishers work with BrightRoll to maximize the value of their online inventory. We are fortunate to work with many of the Internet’s leading branded publishers, including multiple television properties, and most of the leading high-volume video sites.

The company was launched in 2005 and has offices in San Francisco and New York City. Founders are Tod Sacerdoti and Dru Nelson.

The Team

Tod M. Sacerdoti, CEO, Founder

Tod M. Sacerdoti is the Chief Executive Officer of BrightRoll and co-founded the business in July, 2006. Most recently, Tod was the Director of Revenue and Business Development at Plaxo, one of the fastest growing companies in the history of the Internet. Previously, Tod was the Director of Business Development at Spoke Software, an enterprise software firm providing tools to sales forces to better leverage relationships. Tod also worked at Interscope, Geffen and A&M Records, a division of the Universal Music Group and was an analyst in both the Mergers & Acquisitions Group and the Internet Corporate Finance group at Robertson Stephens. Tod has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and has a B.A. in Economics from Yale University.

Dru Nelson, CTO; Founder

Dru Nelson is the Chief Technology Officer of BrightRoll and co-founded the business in July, 2006. Dru brings over twelve years of senior software development expertise to the company. Prior to BrightRoll, Dru was a Senior Software Engineer at Plaxo Inc. , where he was also the first Engineer hired and the first Client Engineer. Previously, Dru was the Director of Service Operations at eGroups (sold to Yahoo), Senior Software Engineer at Diva Systems (spinoff of SRI Research) and a Software Engineer at Four11 (sold to Yahoo and became Yahoo!Mail). Dru also has previous experience at the Florida State University Supercomputer Research Institute (SCRI).

Charlie Whittingham, Vice President, Sales

Charles Whittingham is the Vice President of Sales at BrightRoll and brings over 25 years experience in media, advertising and building Internet sales teams. Most recently, Charles was the Vice President of Sales, Western Region, for Advertising.com (a wholly owned subsidiary of AOL). Previously, he was Regional Vice President of Sales for About.com (owned by the New York Times), Regional Vice President of Sales for The Excite Network (owned by IAC/Interactive Corp.) and Executive Vice President, Sales Marketing at Wired Magazine. Prior to his Internet experience, he held senior positions as Director of New Business Development for advertising agencies McKinney & Silver and J. Walter Thompson, Southeastern Sales Director at The National Sports Daily and Sales Manager with People Magazine.

Lewis Rothkopf, Vice President, Network Development

Lewis is charged with broadening BrightRoll’s audience reach and enhancing client value by building strategic partnerships with the web’s top publishers. Prior to joining BrightRoll, lewis was Head of Distribution for the national Broadband Company (NBBC), NBC Universal’s digital video syndication business, where he was responsible for connecting premium digital video owners with the web’s premier publishers. Active in the digital media community for a decade, Lewis spent five years at DoubleClick Inc.’s TechSolutions for Publishers business, most recently as a sales and account management leader. He was at LightningCast Inc., one of the first video advertising companies, as a director of sales for the video ad insertion technology business, where he helped ready the company for acquisition by AOL LLC. In those capacities, he spearheaded technology and media solutions for numerous industry leaders, including AOL, Washington Post, Newsweek Interactive, Disney/ABC, Scripps, Networks, MTV Newworks, CBS Inc., Knight Ridder Digital, United Online, among many others. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Boston University and lives in Manhattan with his wife Nicole.

Calton Chan, Director of Sales, Eastern Region

Calton Chan is the Director of Sales, Eastern Region at BrightRoll and brings over 10 years experience in media, advertising and building Internet sales teams. Most recently, Calton was the Vice President of Agency Relations for ContextWeb, one of the leading contextual ad networks. Previously, he was Sales Director at The Excite Network (owned by IAC/Interactive Corp.) and Director of Sales for About.com (owned by the New York Times). Prior to his Internet experience, Calton worked in software sales for Autodesk. Calton has a B.A. in Biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Mike Enomoto, Director, Media

Mike Enomoto is the Director of Media at BrightRoll and brings over eight years of managing media buying, ad ops, campaign management, and publisher relationships. Most recently Mike managed sales and distribution for Adteractive, one of the largest online lead generation marketers. At Adteractive, Mike was responsible for buying display media, creative and product strategy, and client development. Previously, he was the primary display media buyer for the Alena division of Intermix Media (acquired by News Corp) where he was responsible for all portal media relationships and campaign profitability. Mike began his career with MaxOnline (acquired by IAC / Interactive Corporation), one of the pioneering online ad networks. Mike has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

About the Investors

About TRUE Ventures

True Ventures invests in promising entrepreneurs at the earliest stages in the highest-growth segments of the technology market. The Partners at True have started over ten companies as founders, and True is designed by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs. The firm clearly understands both opportunities and challenges in the earliest stage of development and provides young companies with a powerful, seasoned partner.

About KPG Ventures

KPG Ventures, a San Francisco based venture capital firm founded by Vince Vannelli, brings capital, experience and strategic relationships to early and seed stage companies. KPG is committed to investing in talented people and actively supporting each portfolio company in building their business.

Adams Street Partners, LLC

Adams Street Partners has been making investments in private equity since 1972 and is also credited with establishing the industry’s first institutional private equity fund of funds in 1979. Adams Street Partners has made over 140 investments with the objective of backing experienced management teams focused on high-growth markets. Investments are made primarily in companies in the technology, life sciences, and technology-enabled services sectors. Adams Street Partners currently manages $15 billion and has offices in Chicago, Menlo Park, London and Singapore.
 
Private investors include Jeff Clavier (SoftTechVC), Fabrice Grinda (Co-CEO, OLX and Founder, Zingy), Auren Hoffman (CEO, Rapleaf), Oliver Jung (Partner, Adinvest), Ariel Poler (Founder, Topica), Aydin Senkut (President, Felicis Ventures), Michael Tanne (CEO, Wink & Founder, AdForce), Colin Wiel (President, Keiretsu), Jeremy Wenokur (Former Corp. Dev., Google).

More

http://www.brightroll.com/
http://blog.brightroll.com/
http://www.brightroll.com/2007/10/23/brightroll-secures-5-million-in-venture-capital-funding/
http://www.brightroll.com/2007/10/24/brightroll-serves-1-billionth-video-advertisement/
http://mashable.com/2007/10/19/brightroll-funded/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/10/yume-a-broadband-video-advertising-network-has-taken-16m-so-far-to-tackle-the-video-advertising/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/02/09/blackarrow-took-12-million-to-tackle-the-video-advertising-relies-on-cable-companies/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/brightroll
http://www.todsacerdoti.com/

Pluck acquired by Demand Media

Demand Media, a major buyer and operator of Internet domain name companies, has announced just a few days ago it has acquired the Austin-based social media company Pluck after about reportedly two months of negotiations. The price is $75M in all cash deal. Pluck revenues are around $10 million/year and the company has raised $17 million in three rounds of funding, which makes the deal a nice exit for Pluck’s investors among which are Austin Ventures, Mayfield Fund, and Reuters. Michael Arrington from Techcrunch however does not seem to agree with that constatation and calls it that way: VCs who aim for 3x their money tend to go out of business.

Pluck, a provider of social media tools and technologies, is serving more than 200 media websites, which are reaching over 100M users, and serving over 1.5 billion interactions per month. The acquisition expands Demand Media’s social media platform beyond its owned network of web sites to power leading media properties and brands worldwide including Gannett/USA TODAY, Guardian Unlimited, Hearst Corporation, Fox, The Washington Post, Scotts and Circuit City.

“We founded the company with a vision for expanding social media beyond the traditional social networking portals. To that end, we have acquired and developed the components necessary to create, distribute and monetize web sites and content,” said Richard Rosenblatt, co-founder, CEO and chairman of Demand Media. “Now, we are ready to expand the platform and model beyond our proprietary network. Pluck provides the technologies, people and partners to accomplish this vision.”

Demand Media’s social media platform currently supports more than 64 million unique visitors per month according to the company’s own Google Analytics data from January 2008. The platform features multiple social media applications such as social Q&A and a vast wholly-owned and rights-cleared content library of Pro Amateur text and video. All this will be enhanced by Pluck’s widget and API-based social media technologies.

“This combination will allow us to provide our customers with an even broader suite of social media products and monetizable content,” said Dave Panos, CEO of Pluck and executive vice president for Demand Media. “The combined expertise of our two companies in platform technology development, content creation and community management is truly un-matched.”

Since its inception in May 2006, Demand Media has raised over $350 million in equity capital and pioneered a new formula for building an interactive media company. Through its social media platform, Demand Media has grown its vertical network into one of the Internet’s largest.

Pluck was founded in 2003 and built a world-class social media platform that enables leading publishers, brands, and retailers to grow their audiences by seamlessly integrating content, community and social media technologies directly into their existing web properties.

More about Pluck

A leader in social media software solutions, Pluck helps transform how publishers, retailers and major brands engage their audiences and customers to discover, create and distribute information online. Providing the technologies for content generation, syndication, social networking and news personalization, Pluck helps its customers more easily consume and leverage the new open content model that has emerged as the cornerstone of Web 2.0.

Products
If your goal is to drive brand recognition and revenue by leveraging the power of user contributions and interaction on your web site, Pluck offers a complete suite of rich Social Media products called SiteLife. Ready for embedding into any web site, SiteLife helps build vibrant communities of active bloggers, citizen journalists and consumers while driving the creation of new content, traffic and repeat visits.

For bloggers and publishers, Pluck offers BlogBurst, a syndication service that places blogs on top-tier online destinations. With BlogBurst, publishers weave the rich and diverse fabric of the blogosphere into their sites to drive site traffic, while bloggers gain visibility and grow their audience and reach.

Management Team

Pluck was co-founded in 2003 by Dave Panos and Andrew Busey, two executives with entrepreneurial experience in some of the industry’s earliest efforts in instant messaging, real-time collaboration, e-commerce, and e-learning. Meet the Pluck management team.

Dave Panos – Chief Executive Officer, Co-founder
 
A software industry veteran with more than 16 years of start-up experience, Dave has helped define new markets across a range of Internet and Enterprise sectors. He co-founded Pluck as a Venture Partner at Austin Ventures. Previously, he was a co-founder and executive vice president for B2B eCRM provider Question Technologies (sold to Motive). For seven years, he was vice president of marketing and business development at web collaboration pioneer DataBeam before their successful sale to Lotus/IBM. Previously, Mr. Panos ran product management at Easel Corporation, a popular software development tool company that went public. He earned his MBA from Harvard Business School and his undergraduate degree from Furman University.

Will Ballard – Vice President and CTO
 
In his role as Chief Technical Officer at Pluck, Will oversees a team of 20 engineers responsible for the company’s software architecture, design, development and quality assurance. He is also responsible for the design and operation of the growing data center that runs key aspects of site services for Pluck customers, including Hearst Magazines, WashingtonPost.com, TheStreet.com and Cox Newspapers. Prior to joining Pluck, Will served in a variety of software development leadership roles where he designed and managed the development of massively scalable, high-velocity software platforms at NetSpeed (now Cisco), the outsourced network management and security provider for more than 10,000 businesses; NetSpend, high availability provider of credit card transaction services for leading financial institutions; and Works.com (now Bank of America), the automated corporate purchasing solution for corporate treasury operations.

Ken Nicolson – Chief Marketing Officer
 
As Chief Marketing Officer, Ken leads market and product expansion for Pluck social media platforms to further serve the audience engagement and analytics needs of digital publishers and advertisers around the globe. Prior to joining Pluck, Ken served as president and CEO at Veridiem, a software firm that helped global brands plan, measure and optimize their return on marketing investments. Before joining Veridiem, Ken served as Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Alphablox Corporation, a leading provider of Web-based analytics applications. He has also served in executive marketing positions at Kiva Software, Red Brick Systems, Informix and IBM. Ken received an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Duke University.

Rachel Brush – Vice President of Operations and Content Services
 
As vice president of Operations and Content Services, Rachel oversees finance, legal and human resource operations for Pluck in the U.S. and Europe. She also leads the editorial and account management teams for the BlogBurst™ syndication network, which serves content from more than 4,000 top bloggers to leading media sites around the world. Before joining Pluck, Rachel spent eight years in leadership roles at Hoover’s, Inc., where she held various senior management positions, including serving as vice president of Content and vice president of Customer Operations and Quality. Previously Rachel worked in retail operations for industry giants, including Ann Taylor, LensCrafters and The Limited. Rachel holds a BA in English from The University of Texas at Austin and is pursuing an MBA in Operations and Business Management at St. Edward’s University. Rachel is also an Advisory Board Member of The Periwinkle Foundation, which provides summer camps and other activities for children with cancer.

Eric Newman – General Manager
 
Eric has a history of delivering successful embedded solutions for leading Internet and software companies. Prior to joining Pluck, Eric ran product management for data integration provider Pervasive (PVSW). He previously served as vice president of marketing at Powered, a provider of embedded internet marketing solutions. He was also director of portal solutions at AskJeeves (ASKJ) and served in various management roles at Lotus/DataBeam and Convergys. Eric earned his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and his undergraduate degree in Marketing and Management Information Systems from the University of Cincinnati.

Steve Semelsberger – Vice President, Sales & Business Development
 
Steve manages the team responsible for global revenue and partnerships. Prior to Pluck, he spent nearly six years with Motive (MOTV) in Director roles over Alliances, EMEA and Segment Marketing, helping the firm grow to ~$100M in revenue and complete an IPO in 2004. Previous experience in Steve’s 15-year career includes product management, marketing and sales positions with iChat, NetRatings and several media and services companies. He holds an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Spain’s IESE, along with a BS in management from Binghamton University.

Stephanie Himoff – Vice President of UK Sales and Business Development
 
As vice president of UK sales and business development, Stephanie will direct UK and European sales operations. Stephanie brings to Pluck over a decade of experience spearheading the growth of Internet businesses in Europe. Most recently she worked with US-based travel search site, SideStep, on its expansion in the UK. Previously Stephanie served in executive management positions for European operations at DirectoryM, a premier online advertising network used by top publishers, including Newsweek and ZDNet. Stephanie also served as Managing Director in the UK and France for AltaVista, a web search company now owned by Overture, a division of Yahoo. She holds an MBA and a BA from the University of San Francisco as well as a masters in French from IESEG.

Adam Weinroth – Director of Product Marketing
 
Leading product marketing for Pluck, Adam plays a central role in formulating the vision, definition and delivery of the company’s syndication and publisher software services including the groundbreaking BlogBurst syndication network and SiteLife Social Media Suite. Adam joined the company in 2005 when Pluck acquired Easyjournal, a community blog publishing platform which Adam founded and grew to more than 100,000 registered users. Prior to creating Easyjournal in 2002, Adam held leadership roles in new product development and technology marketing with Mediatruck and IntelliQuest. Adam has a BBA in Marketing and an MBA focusing on Technology Marketing Strategy from The University of Texas at Austin.

Pluck is headquartered in Austin, Texas, and has received funding from Austin Ventures, Mayfield Fund, and Reuters. Company was more known as rss software focused one when they started back in 2003.

More about Demand Media, Inc.

Demand Media™ is a leading social media company that provides an interactive, personalized and vertically-focused media experience for over 64 million unique users. By using its proprietary social media tools and the unique distribution platform of the world’s second largest domain registrar, the company connects content creators and audiences to grow its network of vertical media web properties. The privately held company was founded in May 2006 and is based in Santa Monica, CA, with offices in Bellevue, WA, Austin, TX and San Francisco, CA.

Demand Media was founded by former MySpace CEO Richard Rosenblatt. The company has been buying content sites and is rumored to be in preparations for a possible 2009 IPO, if and when the economy recovers. Their last round, $100M, was announced in September 2007. They’ve raised a total of more than $350M to date.

More

http://www.demandmedia.com/
http://www.pluck.com/
http://www.pluck.com/press/PluckPR-030408-Acquisition.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/03/04/demand-media-buys-pluck-for-50-million-to-60-million/
http://www.quantcast.com/pluck.com
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/pluck.com/?metric=uv
http://www.austinventures.com/
http://www.mayfield.com/
http://www.reuters.com/
http://riverace.statesmanblogs.com/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/pluck
http://www.demandmedia.com/demand-media-executives.asp
http://www.richard.tv/
http://www.reuters.com/article/internetNews/idUSWEN431620080305

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about Mint

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it’s Free!

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

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

Security

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Management team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More

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

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

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

Insitu

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

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

Incesoft

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

Until now Incesoft has more than 20 million users.

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

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

A4Vision

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

 Ophthonix

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

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

Dash Navigation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3DV Systems

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hyperactive Technologies 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More

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