Tag Archives: Money

Microsoft bets on enterprise search, offers to buy Fast.no for $1.2B

In what’s Microsoft’s second largest deal for the past 12 months the company offered to buy Fast Search & Transfer ASA, a leading provider of enterprise search solutions based in Norway. Details are as follows: Microsoft Corp. today announced that it will make an offer to acquire Fast Search & Transfer ASA (OSE: “FAST”), a leading provider of enterprise search solutions, through a cash tender offer for 19.00 Norwegian kroner (NOK) per share. This offer represents a 42 percent premium to the closing share price on Jan. 4, 2008 (the last trading day prior to this announcement), and values the fully diluted equity of FAST at 6.6 billion NOK (or approximately $1.2 billion U.S.).

FAST’s board of directors has unanimously recommended that its shareholders accept the offer. In addition, shareholders representing in aggregate 35 percent of the outstanding shares, including FAST’s two largest institutional shareholders, Orkla ASA and Hermes Focus Asset Management Europe, have irrevocably undertaken to accept the offer. The transaction is expected to be completed in the second quarter of calendar year 2008.

FAST has over 3500 enterprise clients, including heavyweights like Disney, The Washington Post, AutoTrader.com, and LexisNexis. According to Mary-Jo Foley from ZDNet, we should pay attention to how Microsoft will integrate FAST into their SharePoint Server. “Remember what Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said about SharePoint last year: He characterized SharePoint as the next big operating system from Microsoft,” she writes. “More and more, it’s looking like enterprise search functionality is one of the biggest reasons why.”

“Enterprise search is becoming an indispensable tool to businesses of all sizes, helping people find, use and share critical business information quickly,” said Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division. “Until now organizations have been forced to choose between powerful, high-end search technologies or more mainstream, infrastructure solutions. The combination of Microsoft and FAST gives customers a new choice: a single vendor with solutions that span the full range of customer needs.”

The companies possess a number of complementary strengths that advance a shared vision for helping businesses deliver information worker productivity and improved business results. FAST has a deep talent pool and is respected throughout the technology industry for its expertise in best-in-class, high-end search solutions. Microsoft offers worldwide customer reach and an extensive partner network, and is the recognized leader in business productivity with the popular Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, which combines search with best-in-class collaboration, business intelligence, portal and content management capabilities.

“This acquisition gives FAST an exciting way to spread our cutting-edge search technologies and innovations to more and more organizations across the world,” said John Lervik, CEO of FAST. “By joining Microsoft, we can benefit from the momentum behind the SharePoint business productivity platform to really empower a broader set of users through Microsoft’s strong sales and marketing network. It validates FAST’s momentum and leadership in enterprise search.”

In addition to bolstering Microsoft’s enterprise search efforts, this acquisition increases Microsoft’s research and development presence in Europe, complementing existing research teams in Cambridge, England, and Copenhagen, Denmark, with new and significant capabilities in Norway.

The offer will be subject to customary terms and conditions, including receipt of acceptances representing more than 90 percent of FAST shares and voting power on a fully diluted basis, and receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals on terms acceptable to Microsoft. The complete details of the offer, including all terms and conditions, will be contained in the offer document, which is expected to be sent to FAST shareholders during the week of Jan. 14, 2008. The offer will not be made in any jurisdiction in which the making of the offer would not be in compliance with the laws of such jurisdiction.

Larry Dignan, also from ZDNet, thinks this will lead the rest of the industry to consolidate the same way the advertising industry has been. “Until now organizations have been forced to choose between powerful, high-end search technologies or more mainstream, infrastructure solutions. The combination of Microsoft and FAST gives customers a new choice: a single vendor with solutions that span the full range of customer needs,” said Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft’s Business Division.

More about FAST

FAST, which was founded in 1997, creates the real-time search and business intelligence solutions that are behind the scenes at the world’s best-known companies with the most demanding information challenges. FAST’s flexible and scalable integrated technology platform and personalized portal connects users, regardless of medium, to the relevant information they need.

FAST is headquartered in Norway and is publicly traded under the ticker symbol ‘FAST’ on the Oslo Stock Exchange. The FAST Group operates globally with presence in Europe, the United States, Asia, Australia, the Americas, and the Middle East. For further information about FAST, please visit http://www.fast.no/.

FAST’s Business is Enterprise Search. Since they have set up their company in Norway back in 1997, they have grown rapidly to become a global organization with offices across six continents. FAST is said to be the forefront of search technology and it knows how to do the heavy lifting, as they claim. 
 
Execution excellence
With over 3500 installations, many at Fortune 500 and Global 2000 companies, we have an illustrious pedigree. These blue-chip companies rely on us to help them achieve their business goals and they are loyal. If you ask our customers why they remain loyal, they will probably tell you how we exceed their expectations, provide an unparalleled level of service and show a demonstrable return on their investment. In many cases we have fundamentally contributed to their success.

In 2005 independent evaluations of our support organization gave us a 98% satisfaction rating. We get tested quarterly. In 2005 we delivered more than 300 successful customer projects on schedule and within budget. We also ran over 100 Search Best Practices workshops across the world with extremely positive feedback. It helps that more than 60% of our work force are engineers and that close to 50 of our engineers have PhDs in relevant fields. They enable us to meet complex needs by delivering simplicity.

Financial strength
We are the market leader in Enterprise Search and number one in revenue growth. We have no debt. We have been profitable, exceeding our projections, for every quarter during the last 4 years. And we have made these profits while investing a quarter of our income back into R&D. Performance like this gives us the freedom to invest in innovation and win on value and financial return.

Partner power
Partners give us the ability to deliver total solutions and our FAST X 10 partner program plays a major role in our success. We have over 90 Systems Integrators and VARs on board, and over 30 OEMs embedding our search technology. We have also certified close to 1000 developers in FAST University, drawing on our best-of-breed approach to partnering. Quantity is less important than quality, of course. We only pursue a partnership if there is a mutually beneficial, lasting opportunity.

Global presence
We have been a globally minded company, with a global outlook, since our inception. Maybe it is because of our Norwegian roots. In fact, soon after we opened our doors we established an office in the United States. We now have offices in 6 continents and development centers in 4 of them. Our products support close to 80 different languages.

John M. Lervik, Ph.D., serves as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and is a co-founder of FAST. Dr. Lervik served as the Company’s Chief Technology Officer from 1997 to September 2001 overlooking all of the company research and product development activities. Dr. Lervik holds a Ph.D. from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and was awarded the best overall PhD at NTNU in 1996/97.

Other co-founders of FAST are Mr. Thomas Joseph Fussell, who was a co-founder of Fast Search & Transfer ASA and has served as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors since June 1997 and was Managing Director in 2000 and Mr. Robert Napier Keith, co-founded Fast Search & Transfer ASA and has served as Executive Director since June 1997.

Some people think this is a brilliant acquisition for Microsoft. Gartner says that Microsoft is struggling in this (already crowded) market. FAST is recognized as an industry-leader, along with Autonomy, Endeca, ZyLab, among others. 

The other thing to keep in mind is Microsoft’s biggest bet, which is its DYNAMICS (ERP/CRM) division. Because Business Objects was acquired by SAP, Microsoft possibly became more compelled to make an acquisition. Enterprise Search is going to be an absolutely massive component of ERP in the coming years, and this is a market that is strategic for Microsoft.

Fast.no seems to have some issues with its Board of Directors. More information enclosed below.

The conduct of Fast’s directors has been the subject of much comment in Norway. In Jan 2006 a article ran in the Norwegian IT paper that claimed that one of FAST’s directors Tomas Fussel had made a 2000% markup for himself by buying a loss making company Hercules communications and selling it to the public company Fast 3 weeks later for a massive mark up.

More recently there has been controversy at the board level with one director resigning and another making public statements about other directors and major shareholders. Fast’s board member Robert Keith said in a newspaper interview, “I ought to have seen the problems in Fast earlier. And I ought to have understood that Hans Gude Gudesen is a crazy liar. Also, I ought to have shot Oystein Stray Spetalen the first time I met him. That would have helped a lot of people, says the controversial Brit to the paper [Finansavisen].” Spetalen and Hans Gude Gudesen are both major shareholders in Fast. Furthermore directors Keith and Fussel are allegedly being pursued by the Norwegian tax authorities for $50M in unpaid taxes the government says it is owed by them. In the event of non payment liability may fall on the company. I should have shot Spetalen.

The ongoing turmoil has seen 3 directors resign from the board in the last month, the latest being Johan Fredrik Odfjell who is quoted in the company’s release as saying `FAST faces many challenges and opportunities going forward’

On December the 22nd Orka FAST’s largest shareholder demanded an EGM to force Fussel and Keith off the board

Need to Restate Accounts for 2006 and 2007

On the 12th of December 2007 Oslo Bors suspended trading of FAST shares. The next morning the company announced it was reviewing the accounting utilized for the 2006 and 2007 reports with a likely outcome that this would be changed. In an article titled “Fast restates its accounts” http://www.dagensit.no stated that Fasts results for 2006 and 2007 may be restated in what it called ”another clean up round.” It also stated “The Search technology vendor Fast Search & Transfer have had several rounds with restating of accounts. Also after CFO Joseph Lacson some months ago declared that “everything is cleaned up” one has found skeletons in the closet. Wednesday afternoon trading was suspended, after what the stock exchange called “certain conditions”.

Earlier last year FAST has acquired AgentArts, a San Francisco-based technology company with a personalization and recommendation engine for music, video, games and mobile entertainment. AgentArts clients include Infospace Mobile, Telstra Big Pond, Telstra Mobile, and Unipier. FAST said will add the technology to its enterprise search products, which will allow users to see the relationships between content and get recommendations for similar content based on their search patterns. It also includes a social recommendation feature, which helps users discover similar content based on patterns of other users with similar interests.

Although Fast Search & Transfer’s core business is widely known to be enterprise search, in 2007 the company seems to have sharply turned towards online advertising and search monetization, which seems the Web’s 2007 trend anyways, everybody is trying to become an ad company, platform or network. 

Also late last year (2007) FAST, which may be a company best known for specializing in site search, has launched a product platform that is looking to socialize the ecommerce storefront search function. It’s called FAST Recommendations and it is based on offering product recommendations similar to those of Amazon.com, but with a social twist.

If some of the information above proves to be true then this is a major, and in time, exit for the FAST’s shareholders.

More

http://www.fastsearch.com/
http://www.fast.no 
http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2008/jan08/01-08FastSearchPR.mspx
http://www.forbes.com/prnewswire/feeds/prnewswire/2008/01/08/prnewswire200801080443PR_NEWS_USPR_____AQTU104.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/08/microsoft-has-announced-a-takeover-bid-for-fast-search-transfer-priced-at-12-billion/
http://mashable.com/2008/01/08/microsoft-to-acquire-fast-search-transfer/
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/microsoft_fast_takeover.php
http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=1085
http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=7518
http://www.microsoft.com/enterprisesearch/serverproducts/searchserverexpress/default.aspx
 

After Last.fm, Wallstrip CBS has now acquired Dotspotter

Online gossip site Dotspotter has been acquired by CBS for $10 million. In Digg style Dotspotter lets users offer up celebrity news, video clips, images, articles and sightings for your leisurely enjoyment. You can vote up the ones you like and vote down the ones you hate.

After acquiring Last.fm for $280M CBS president Leslie Moonves laid out an online marketing strategy, which most likely includes the current acquisition. As Valleywag pointed out Dotspotter’s short one-year lifespan didn’t scare off serial charmer Quincy Smith, the startup-mad head of CBS Interactive. Earlier CBS has also bought the financial video blog Wallstrip. Sources also claim that one of Dotspotter’s beneficiaries is Facebook CFO Gideon Yu.

According to Quantcast the site is getting less than 600,000 American unique visitors per month. Compete is reporting for pretty much the same number of visitors. At the time the deal was announced (Oct 2006) the site had only 280,000 users a month according to Compete. This compared to the 3.6 million for TMZ and 1.5 million for PerezHilton, perhaps the most popular entertainment blog.

The company is founded by Anthony Soohoo, who is a former Yahoo exec.  It would appear that Anthony Soohoo made the right choice by leaving Yahoo back in March 2006.

The price seems pretty high for a sector which is crowded with more high profile celebrity blogs/sites like TMZ.com, PerezHilton, and others as well as the fact that the site has only been launched mid-January last year. Online sources close to the situation tell the price is not for the site itself, but the team that has built it. Structured this way the deal may also include a heavy earn-out component.

CBS has launched celebrity news before like the site Showbuzz in June 2006, but things did not go any further. CBS also produces two celebrity tabloid shows The Insider and ET.

At the end of the day it appears as a nice exit for the investors since the site is said to have only raised seed money from angels and the amount is rumored to be less than $1M. Gideon Yu is one of the investors, along with couple of other angels.

More about Dotspotter

Dotspotter is a new way to explore and enjoy pop culture. We’re the community that lets users discover, share and talk about the people, places and ideas that are defining what’s hot and happening. People use Dotspotter to find the latest scoops, gab with their friends, share celebrity sightings and cast their votes on the pop culture topics that they care about.

People join for many different reasons. Whether you want to try your skills at breaking celebrity gossip (you know, bring out your inner paparazzi!) or you just want to have fun socializing with others, Dotspotter members can do it all. And the best part is that joining Dotspotter is absolutely FREE. All that’s needed to join Dotspotter is a valid email address. Once you register, join the topics that interest you and connect with people like you who have a passion for all things pop culture!

Dotspotter is made up of many different and interesting people with a common interest centered on pop culture entertainment. Join in the discussions, participate in the community and make new friends.

About CBS Interactive

As the online extension of America’s most-watched network, CBS Interactive enhances the viewer experience with best-of-breed content from some of the biggest brands in television across multiple platforms.

CBS has partnered with a collection of leading next-generation companies to create the CBS Audience Network, the web’s first and largest professional video content network, delivering reach and targeting capabilities to our advertisers. The result… the best lineup of full-length and short-form clips from CBS, CSTV and Showtime are now available to over 140 million uniques per month reaching 89% of the Web. Some of the online brands include: CBSSports.com, NCAASports.com, CBSNews.com, TheShowbuzz.com, Wallstrip, CBS.com, STARTREK.COM, Last.fm, CBS Audience Network, CBS Games and CBS Mobile.

Oddly but Dotspotter does not appear as a stand alone online destination/brand.

More

http://www.dotspotter.com
http://www.cbs.com/
http://valleywag.com/tech/acquisitions/cbs-eyes-gossip-site-for-10-million-309047.php
http://mashable.com/2007/10/10/cbs-dotspotter/
http://www.quantcast.com/dotspotter.com
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/dotspotter.com/?metric=uv
http://www.thealarmclock.com/mt/archives/2007/10/pink_pop_cultur.html
http://blogs.business2.com/startups/2007/06/thousands-of-ma.html
http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-cbs-buys-a-year-old-celebrity-gossip-blog-dotspotter-price-around-10-mi/
http://www.alleyinsider.com/2007/10/cbs-buys-celeb-.html
http://www.cbscorporation.com/
http://www.cbsdigitalmedia.com/

Google bought Jaiku, instead of Twitter

Finnish short messaging and microblogging service Jaiku has been acquired by Google. 
Notable fact here is the fact that Google bought Jaiku instead of its competitor Twitter, a service founded by Blogger founder Evan Williams.

We think a possible reason of that situation could be the current overvaluation of Titter.  Jaiku may also be better on the mobile platform than Twitter.

Technology has made staying in touch with your friends and family both easier and harder: living a fast-paced, on-the-go lifestyle is easier (and a lot of fun), but it’s more difficult to keep track of everyone when they’re running around at warp speed.

That’s why, Google said, we’re excited to announce that we’ve acquired Jaiku, a company that’s been hard at work developing useful and innovative applications for staying in touch with the people you care about most — regardless of whether you’re at a computer or on a mobile phone.

Google has lately been rolling out a number of very young mobile services. Interesting fact from the past of Google is yet another acquisition of very similar company called Dodgeball that went literally no where. 

RedMonk analyst James Governor, who has blogged extensively about the business value of Jaiku competitor Twitter has some interesting thoughts on the news. Governor says he’d like to see RIM buy Twitter but thinks Yahoo! is much more likely. He says the Jaiku mobile download could be a key addition to the Google Phone kernel but fears that all the leading microblogging services will be quickly overrun with commercial messages. Perhaps that is the commercial future of the microblogging services.

At the time of the deal took place Twitter was full with conversation on the acquisition, according the tracking service Twitterverse, the hottest word across Twitter in the last hour is Jaiku.

With easy group creation, RSS import and threaded conversation, amongst other features, Jaiku is probably a superior service to Twitter. Creation of new accounts have been stopped at Jaiku with news of the announcement.

More about Jaiku

Jaiku’s main goal is to bring people closer together by enabling them to share their activity streams. An activity stream is a log of everyday things as they happen: your status messages, recommendations, events you’re attending, photos you’ve taken – anything you post directly to Jaiku or add using Web feeds. We offer a way to connect with the people you care about by sharing your activities with them on the Web, IM, and SMS – as well as through a slew of cool third-party applications built by other developers using our API.

The most powerful instrument of social peripheral vision is your mobile phone. We’ve put in a special effort to create Jaiku Mobile, a live phonebook that displays the activity streams, availability, and location of your Jaiku contacts right in your phone contact list. We modestly believe it is the best solution out there for seeing what your friends are up to. Currently Jaiku Mobile is available for phones based on the Nokia S60 software platform.

To learn more about Jaiku, this video interview may be found insightful and interesting. It is done by the new European outfit Intruders.tv with company founder Jyri Engestrom, trained as a sociologist and formerly from Nokia.

Jaiku’s founders have commented on the home page of their site on the acquisition.

While it’s too soon to comment on specific plans, we look forward to working with our new friends at Google over the coming months to expand in ways we hope you’ll find interesting and useful. Our engineers are excited to be working together and enthusiastic developers lead to great innovation. We look forward to accomplishing great things together. In order to focus on innovation instead of scaling, we have decided to close new user sign-ups for now.

But fear not, all our Jaiku services will stay running the way you are used to and you will be able to invite your friends to Jaiku.

More

http://jaiku.com/
http://jaiku.com/blog
http://google.com/
http://www.jaiku.com/blog/2007/10/09/were-joining-google/
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_acquires_jaiku.php
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/10/reach-out-and-message-someone.html
http://jaiku.com/help/google
http://us.intruders.tv/Essential-Web-07-Interview-with-Jaiku-co-founder-Jyri-Engestrom_a93.html
http://twitterverse.com/
 

Online storage sector is hot, yet another player is entering the game

Just it was a couple of days ago when we reported and analyzed the two major acquisitions within the online storage sector IBM announced it has acquired XIV, an Israeli company for what is believed to be $350M and some months ago EMC Corporation has snatched up Mozy for $76M. Today we have dug up yet another deal from the same industry.

Intronis Technologies, the parent company of eSureIt’s online storage and backup services, has raised $5 million in Series A round of funding. eSureIt claims to have about 5,000 customers. The funding comes from OpenView Venture Partners, a small Boston based investment fund. 

The sector is under no doubt overcrowded and there are many companies offering similar solutions and services yet the business has proved lucrative with recently some major exit hitting the sector. While eSuireIT has been launched in 2003, we think the real entrance for the company into the online storage and back up market is today after getting the crucial funding.

More about eSureIT

The founders of Intronis have more than 30 years of combined IT consulting, computer system and software design and network installation for small and medium sized businesses and individuals. In the late 1990’s, the founders, after talking with dozens of their clients and other IT professionals came to the realization that most small businesses were not backing up their data at all. The few companies that did backup, often did not properly rotate backup tapes, did not verify that backups were successful, and almost always stored their backup storage devices onsite, often right on top of their computers. This recognition led to the creation of Intronis Technologies and after three years of research and development, software design and testing, the launch of the eSureIT online backup service in 2003.

Essentially eSureIT is an online backup service that allows you to backup your valuable computer data over the Internet. eSureIT automates the process of backing up your data offsite.  Backups begin automatically and your data is sent to and stored in two redundant storage facilities located hundreds of miles apart.  Your data is encrypted, and always remains encrypted using a unique 256 bit encryption key that only you have.  Moreover, with this data backup solution, you can restore your files as often as you need to and at any time day or night, in as easy as a few clicks of your mouse. eSureIT has pricing plans starting at $9.95 for home users and $24.95 for businesses.  They are also offering a free 30-day software trial with no obligation whatsoever.

More about OpenView Venture Partners

OpenView is an expansion stage venture capital fund, with a focus on high-growth software, internet, and technology-enabled companies. Much of the team’s success has been driven by its active role in providing its portfolio companies with strategic value-add services and highly practical operating expertise. OpenView Venture Partners is based in Boston, MA, and invests globally. The current OpenView fund encompasses $100M in committed capital from leading institutional and private investors worldwide, as well as from the members of the OpenView team.

More

http://www.esureit.com/
http://www.intronis.com/
http://mashable.com/2007/10/10/esureit-funding/
http://www.thealarmclock.com/mt/archives/2007/10/online_backups_1.html
http://www.openviewpartners.com/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/01/03/two-major-acquisition-deals-within-the-online-storage-space/

Two major acquisition deals within the online storage space

IBM today announced it has acquired XIV, a privately-held storage technology company based in Tel Aviv, Israel. XIV, its technologies and employees, will become part of the IBM System Storage business unit of the IBM Systems and Technology Group. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed but sources tell the price was $350M. 

XIV’s main product Nextra is a storage system based on a grid of standard hardware components. XIV will become part of the IBM System Storage business unit of the IBM Systems and Technology Group. XIV was established in 2002 by five graduates from the 14th class of the Israeli Army’s elite “Talpiot” program where the name XIV coming from. It’s the Roman numeral for 14. The company got only $3 million in backing thus far, making this deal a fairly huge exit for the founders.

“The acquisition of XIV will further strengthen the IBM infrastructure portfolio long term and put IBM in the best position to address emerging storage opportunities like Web 2.0 applications, digital archives and digital media,” said Andy Monshaw, general manager, IBM System Storage. “The ability for almost anyone to create digital content at any time has accelerated the need for a whole new way of applying infrastructure solutions to the new world of digital information.  IBM’s goal is to provide the leading technologies and solutions at every layer of the data center – storage, servers, software and services – to address these new realities IT customers face.” 

“We are pleased to become a significant part of the IBM family, allowing for our unique storage architecture, our engineers and our storage industry experience to be part of IBM’s overall storage business,” said Moshe Yanai, chairman, XIV.  “We believe the level of technological innovation achieved by our development team is unparalleled in the storage industry.  Combining our architectural advancements with IBM’s world-wide research, sales, service, manufacturing, and distribution capabilities will provide us with the ability to have these technologies tackle the emerging Web 2.0 technology needs and reach every corner of the world.”

The NEXTRA architecture has been in production for more than two years, with more than four petabytes of capacity being used by customers today. 

IBM’s acquisition of XIV supports the IBM growth strategy and capital allocation model, as part of the company’s overall objective for earnings-per-share growth through 2010.

XIV is led by Moshe Yanai, one of the key architects of data storage systems and instrumental in the development of EMC’s Symmetrix and DMX product lines throughout the 1990s.

Which brings us to the question why EMC did not buy XIV but that was done by IBM? EMC instead has acquired the online storage startup Mozy, headquartered in Utah. EMC Corporation itself is a public storage company. EMC has paid $76 million for the company, according to web sources.

“Mozy’s technology and online delivery model has proven itself to be one of the industry’s most admired offerings for customers looking to safely and cost-effectively backup and recover their digital information stored on desktops, laptops, and remote office servers,” said Tom Heiser, EMC SVP, Corporate Development and New Ventures. “The acquisition of Mozy is a natural extension of EMC’s leadership in the protection and security of personal and business information. We will continue to invest in Mozy’s full portfolio of online backup and recovery services and advance the Mozy brand in the marketplace.”

“I have been researching and developing internet-scale storage and information management solutions throughout my career,” said Josh Coates, founder and former CEO of Berkeley Data Systems. “EMC and Berkeley Data Systems are a natural fit, and I’m confident that EMC is the right organization to take Mozy to the next level. I look forward to working with EMC to continue innovating in the storage and information management industry.”

The company has basically a very simple way for users to back up their computer hard drives online. You need to download their software and the backups occur slowly over time. Mozy supports both Windows and Mac machines.

Mozy has raised just $1.9 million in venture capital, which is less than the $3M XIV has raised but the XIV’s exit sale is much larger by contrast. The round, closed in May 2005, was led by Wasatch Ventures, with participation from Tim Draper of Draper Associates and Draper, Fisher, Jurvetson and Novell co-founder Drew Major. Mozy was created by Berkeley Data Systems, which is a technology company based in Utah that specializes in large scale, parallel storage systems and software.

There were rumors circulating some time ago that Mozy was close to being acquired by Google for significantly less than this. The company eventually passed on the deal, which must have been a tough call. They clearly made the right choice in waiting.

About EMC Corporation

EMC Corporation is the world’s leading developer and provider of information infrastructure technology and solutions. We help organizations of every size around the world keep their most essential digital information protected, secure, and continuously available. We are among the 10 most valuable IT product companies in the world. We are driven to perform, to partner, to execute. We go about our jobs with a passion for delivering results that exceed our customers’ expectations for quality, service, innovation, and interaction. We pride ourselves on doing what’s right and on putting our customers’ best interests first. We lead change and change to lead. We are devoted to advancing our people, customers, industry, and community. We say what we mean and do what we say. We are EMC, where information lives. EMC Corporation has nearly $40 billion market cap. EMC is listed on the NYSE (NYSE: EMC).

About IBM System Storage business

IBM is a market leader in the storage industry. Innovative technology, open standards, excellent performance, a broad portfolio of storage proven software, hardware and solutions offerings – all backed by IBM with its recognized e-business on demand(r) leadership are just a few of the reasons why you should consider IBM storage offerings. Through its deep industry expertise, patent leadership, research and innovation, IBM has long been the leader in providing customers with technology solutions that help them deliver and utilize information effectively.  With industry recognized leadership in storage and server hardware and software, and through the recent strategic acquisitions of Softek, FileNet and NovusCG, IBM has grown its storage services offerings and presents customers with strategic solutions to deliver integrated software, hardware, services and research in standardized offerings that can be used by customers of all sizes to help them transform their businesses.  

Competition

Other online storage companies include: Amazon’s S3 (Simple Storage Service), Cnet’s All you can Upload, AllMyData, Box.neteSnips, Freepository, GoDaddy, iStorage, MofileOmnidrive, Openomy, Streamload, Strongspace, iBackup, Zingee, Xdrive and Carbonite, which is known to have raised $21 million in venture financing.

It is also rumored that Google is planning to launch gDrive. Microsoft is also jumping into the same bandwagon and more information can be found over here. Zmanda is an open source back up solution as well.

The online storage space is hugely overpopulated and crowded area. Who is next? A comparison chart over some of the companies above can be found over here: http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=93730415&size=o

Our basic conclusion is that both XIV and Mozy have made very impressive exit deals taking into consideration the small amount of funding they both have taken so far.

More

http://www.mozy.com/
http://mozy.com/blog
http://mozy.com/news/releases
http://www.xivstorage.com/
http://www.xivstorage.com/company/company_news.asp 
http://www.emc.com/
http://www.emc.com/about/
http://www.ibm.com/storage
http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/storage/index.html
http://crunchbase.com/company/mozy
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/01/31/the-online-storage-gang/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/03/ibm-acquires-storage-company-xiv-for-350-million/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/03/benchmark-europe-invests-in-uk-gambling-site/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/carbonite
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/01/31/the-online-storage-gang/
http://avc.blogs.com/a_vc/2005/12/online_backups_.html
http://jeremiahthewebprophet.blogspot.com/2006/05/online-data-storage-companies-ongoing.html
http://www.microsoft-watch.com/article2/0,1995,1951237,00.asp?kc=MWRSS02129TX1K0000535
http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,1934589,00.asp
http://sftechsessions.com/2006/06/june-online-storage/
http://c2web.blogspot.com/2006/01/carbonite-online-photo-backup.html
http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=93730415&size=o
http://www.storagesearch.com
http://ptech.wsj.com/archive/ptech-20061214.html
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/2007-10-30-tech-backup_N.htm
http://draperandassociates.com/
http://www.dfj.com/

Some of the web’s biggest acquisition deals during 2007

As the end of the year approaches us we would like to briefly sum up some of the web’s biggest acquisition deals for the 2007, as we know them. 

All deals will logically be ranked by their sizes and less weight will be put on the time the deal happened through out the year. Deals from all IT industry sectors are considered and put in the list, from Web and Internet to the Mobile industry as well. The size’s criterion for a deal to make the list is to be arguably no less than $100M unless the deal is symbolic in one way or another or either of the companies involved was popular enough at the time the deal took place. Otherwise we think all deals are important, at least for its founders and investors.

Under no doubt the year we will remember with the number of high-profile advertising company acquisitions for large-scale companies like DoubleClick, aQuantive, RightMedia, 24/7 Real Media, among others. Putting all acquisition deals aside, one particular funding deal deserves to be mentioned too Facebook raised $240 million from Microsoft in return of just 1.6% of its equity. The Honk Kong Billionaire Li Ka-shing later joined the club of high-caliber investors in Facebook by putting down $60M for unknown equity position.  

Other remarkable funding deals include: Alibaba.com raised $1.3 Billion from its IPO; Kayak raised $196 Million; Demand Media took $100 Million in Series C; Zillow totaled $87 Million in venture capital funding; Joost announced $45 million funding from Sequoia, Index, CBS & Viacom, among others. 

Yet another noteworthy deal is the Automattic (wordpress.org) turning down a $200 Million Acquisition Offer. 

And the 2007 Web 2.0 Money winner is… Navteq for its deal with Nokia for $8B. Apparently Microsoft has this year lost the crown of being named the deepest pocket buyer.

Nokia Buys Navteq For $8 Billion, Bets Big On Location-Based Services

Nokia (NOK), the Finnish mobile phone giant with nearly a third of the global handset market, has decided to bet big on location based services (LBS), and is buying Chicago-based digital map company NAVTEQ (NVT) for $8.1 billion. That works out to about $78 a share. This is one of Nokia’s largest purchases to date — the Finnish mobile giant has a mixed track record when it comes to acquisitions. This is also the second megabillion dollar buyout in the maps (LBS) space.

SAP Germany makes its biggest deal ever – acquires Business Objects for 4.8B EURO (around ~$6.8 billion)

SAP, the world’s largest maker of business software, has agreed to acquire Business Objects SA for €4.8 billion euros, which was around ~$6.8 billion at the time the acquisition deal was announced. The deal is amongst the largest for 2007 alongside with Oracle’s Hyperion deal for over $3.3B and the Nokia’s Navteq for over $8B. [more]

Microsoft to buy Web ad firm aQuantive for $6 Billion

Microsoft Corp. acquired aQuantive Inc. for about $6 billion, or $66.50 a share, an 85 percent premium to the online advertising company’s closing price at the time the deal was publicly announced. Shares of aQuantive shot to $63.95 in pre-opening trade, following news of the deal. The all-cash deal tops a dramatic consolidation spree across the online advertising market sparked when Google Inc. agreed to buy DoubleClick for $3.1 billion.

Oracle to buy Hyperion in $3.3 Billion cash deal

Oracle Corp. has acquired business intelligence software vendor Hyperion Solutions Corp. for $3.3 billion in cash. Oracle has agreed to pay $52 per share for Hyperion, or about $3.3 billion, a premium of 21% over Hyperion’s closing share price at the time of the deal. Oracle said it will combine Hyperion’s software with its own business intelligence (BI) and analytics tools to offer customers a broad range of performance management capabilities, including planning, budgeting and operational analytics.

Cisco Buys WebEx for $3.2 Billion

Cisco has agreed to acquire WebEx for $3.2 billion in cash. In 2006, WebEx generated nearly $50 million in profit on $380 million in revenue. They have $300 million or so in cash on hand, so the net deal value is $2.9 billion.

DoubleClick Acquired by Google For $3.1 Billion In Cash

Google reached an agreement to acquire DoubleClick, the online advertising company, from two private equity firms for $3.1 billion in cash, the companies announced, an amount that was almost double the $1.65 billion in stock that Google paid for YouTube late last year. In the last month for this year the US Federal Trade Commission has granted its approval for Google to purchase DoubleClick.

TomTom Bought Tele Atlas for $2.5 Billion

It took $2.5 Billion dollars for TomTom to buy mapping software company TeleAtlas, this will set the stage for TomTom to be big rival of Garmin across Atlantic. Tele Atlas went public in 2000 on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, and last year, it bought another mapping firm, New Hampshire-based GDT.

Naspers acquires yet another European company – Tradus for roughly $1.8 Billion

Simply put a fallen dot com star with eBay ambitious, once worth more than 2B British pound (around $4B) and collapsed down to £62M at the end of 2000 is now being basically said rescued by the South African media company Naspers that is spending money at breakneck pace. The offered price is £946M (more than $1.8B) based on just £60M annual revenues. [more]

HP acquired Opsware For $1.6 Billion

HP has acquired IT Automation company Opsware for $1.6 billion. Whilst any acquisition of this size is interesting in itself, the back story to Opsware is even more so; Opsware was originally LoudCloud, a Web 1.0 company that took $350 million in funding during the Web 1.0 boom.

AOL acquired TradeDoubler for $900 Million

AOL has acquired Sweden-based TradeDoubler, a performance marketing company, for €695 million in cash, which was about US$900 million at the time the deal took place.

Microsoft acquired Tellme Networks for reportedly $800 Million

Microsoft Corp. has announced it will acquire Tellme Networks, Inc., a leading provider of voice services for everyday life, including nationwide directory assistance, enterprise customer service and voice-enabled mobile search. Although the price remains undisclosed, it is estimated to be upwards of $800 million.

Disney acquires Club Penguin for up to $700 Million

Club Penguin, a social network/virtual world that has been on the market for some time, was acquired by The Walt Disney Company. An earlier deal with Sony fell apart over the Club Penguin’s policy of donating a substantial portion of profits to charity. The company, which launched in October 2005, has 700,000 current paid subscribers and 12 million activated users, primarily in the U.S. and Canada.The WSJ says the purchase price is $350 million in cash. Disney could pay up to another $350 million if certain performance targets are reached over the next couple of years, until 2009.

Yahoo acquired RightMedia for $680 Million in cash and stock

Yahoo has acquired the 80% of advertising network RightMedia that it doesn’t already own for $680 million in cash and Yahoo stock. Yahoo previously bought 20% of the company in a $45 million Series B round of funding announced in October 2006. The company has raised over $50 million to date.

WPP Acquires 24/7 Real Media for $649 Million

Online advertising services firm 24/7 Real Media was acquired by the WPP group for $649 million. The old time internet advertising firm had its origins serving ads for Yahoo! and Netscape in 1994 and was formerly founded the following year as Real Media. After numerous acquisitions it took its current name and grew to have 20 offices in 12 countries, serving over 200 billion advertising impressions every month.

Google bought the web security company Postini for $625M

Google has acquired e-mail security company Postini for $625 million, a move intended to attract more large businesses to Google Apps. More than 1,000 small businesses and universities currently use Google Apps, but ‘there has been a significant amount of interest from large businesses,’ Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager of Google Enterprise, said in a Monday teleconference.

EchoStar Acquires Sling Media for $380 Million

EchoStar Communications Corporation, the parent company for DISH Network, has announced its agreement to acquire Sling Media, creator of the Sling suite, which lets you do things like control your television shows at any time, from their computers or mobile phones, or record and watch TV on your PC or Windows-based mobile phone. The acquisition is for $380 million.

ValueClick acquired comparison shopping operator MeziMedia for up to $352 Million

ValueClick has acquired MeziMedia for up to $352 million, in a deal consisting of $100 million in upfront in cash, with an additional sum of up to $252 million to be paid depending on MeziMedia’s revenue and earnings performance through to 2009.

Yahoo Acquires Zimbra For $350 Million in Cash

Yahoo has acquired the open source online/offline office suite Zimbra. The price: $350 million, in cash, confirmed. Zimbra gained wide exposure at the 2005 Web 2.0 Conference. Recently they has also launched an offline functionality.

Business.com Sells for $350 Million

Business.com has closed another chapter in its long journey from a $7.5 million domain name bought on a hope and a prayer, selling to RH Donnelley for $350 million (WSJ reporting up to $360 million). RH Donnelley beat out Dow Jones and the New York Times during the bidding.

AOL acquired online advertising company Quigo for $350 Million

AOL announced plans to buy Quigo and its services for matching ads to the content of Web pages. The acquisition follows AOL’s September purchase of Tacoda, a leader in behavioral-targeting technology, and comes as AOL tries to boost its online advertising revenue to offset declines in Internet access subscriptions.

eBay bought StubHub For $310 Million

eBay has acquired the San Francisco-based StubHub for $285 million plus the cash on StubHub’s books, which is about $25 million.

Yahoo! Agreed to acquire BlueLithium for approximately $300 Million in cash

Yahoo! Inc. has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire BlueLithium, one of the largest and fastest growing online global ad networks that offers an array of direct response products and capabilities for advertisers and publishers. Under the terms of the agreement, Yahoo! will acquire BlueLithium for approximately $300 million in cash.

CBS to buy social network Last.fm for $280 Million

CBS is known to have paid $280 million for the Last.fm site, which caters to music fans. CBS Corp bought the popular social networking website organized around musical tastes for $280 million, combining a traditional broadcast giant with an early leader in online radio. Last.fm, claims more than 15 million monthly users, including more than 4 million in the U.S.

AOL Acquired Tacoda, a behavior targeting advertising company for reportedly $275 Million

AOL has announced the acquisition of New York-based Tacoda earlier this year, a behavior targeting advertising company that was founded in 2001. The deal size, which we haven’t had confirmed, is likely far smaller than Microsoft’s $6 billion for aQuantive , Yahoo’s $680 million for RightMedia , or Google’s $3.1 billion for DoubleClick. The price might be low enough that it isn’t being disclosed at all.Jack Myers Media Business Report has confirmed the $275 million price tag

MySpace to acquire Photobucket For $250 Million

MySpace has acquired Photobucket for $250 million in cash. There is also an earn-out for up to an additional $50 million. Oddly enough MySapce has dropped Photobucket off its social networking platform. The dispute that led to the Photobucket videos being blocked on MySpace letter also led to acquisition discussions, and the block was removed. They have hired Lehman Brothers to help sell the company. They were looking for $300 million or more, but may have had few bidders other than MySpace.

Hitwise Acquired by Experian for $240M

Hitwise, the company that performs analysis of log files from 25 million worldwide ISP accounts to provide relative market share graphs for web properties, has been acquired by Experian for $240 million.

$200+ Million for Fandango

Comcast paid $200 million or perhaps a bit more. Fandango revenue is said to be in the $50m/year range, split roughly evenly between ticket sales and advertising. Wachovia Securities analyst Jeff Wlodarczak estimated the multiple-system operator paid $200 million for Fandango, whose backers include seven of the 10 largest U.S. movie exhibitors.

Intuit Acquires Homestead for $170 Million

Small business website creation service Homestead, started out in the web 1.0 era, announced tonight that it has been acquired by Intuit for $170m. In addition to Intuit’s personal and small business accounting software, and the company’s partnership with Google to integrate services like Maps listing and AdSense buys, Intuit customers will now presumably be able to put up websites quickly and easily with Homestead. [more]

Naspers Acquired Polish based IM Company Gadu Gadu (chit-chat) for reportedly $155 Million

South Africa’s biggest media group Naspers Ltd offered to buy all outstanding shares in Polish Internet firm Gadu Gadu S.A. ( GADU.WA ), a Polish IM service, for 23.50 zlotys ($8.77) per share. The current majority shareholder of Gadu Gadu has agreed to tender its 55% shareholding in the public tender offer. The price is $155M. [more

Studivz, a Germany Facebook clone, went for $132 Million

German Facebook clone Studivz has been sold to one of its investors, Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, a German publishing group, for €100 million (about $132 million). Other investors of Studivz include the Samwer brothers, founders of ringtone company Jamba (sold for €270M) and Alando (sold to eBay for €43M in 1999).

Feedburner goes to Google for $100 Million

Feedburner was acquired by Google for around $100 million. The deal is all cash and mostly upfront, according to sources, although the founders will be locked in for a couple of years.

Answers.com has purchased Dictionary.com for reportedly $100 Million

Question and answer reference site Answers.com has acquired Dictionary.com’s parent company, Lexico Publishing, for $100 million in cash. Lexico can really serve all your lexical needs because it also owns Thesaurus.com and Reference.com.

Yahoo Acquires Rivals for $100 Million

Yahoo has acquired college sports site Rivals.com, reported the Associated Press in a story earlier this year. The price is not being disclosed, although the rumor is that the deal was closed for around $100 million. Rumors of talks first surfaced in April 2007.

UGO Acquired By Hearst for reportedly $100 Million

Hearst has acquired New-York based UGO. Forbes reported the price should be around $100 million. UGO is a popular new media site that was founded in 1997 and, according to Forbes, is generating around $30 million/year in revenue. UGO media is yet another web 1.0 veteran and survivor.

Fotolog Acquired by Hi Media, French Ad Network for $90 Million
 
New York-based Fotolog been acquired by Hi Media, a Paris-based interactive media company for roughly $90 million – a combination of cash and stock, according to well-placed sources. 

Online Backup Startup Mozy Acquired By EMC For $76 Million

Online storage startup Mozy, headquartered in Utah, has been acquired by EMC Corporation, a public storage company with a nearly $40 billion market cap. EMC paid $76 million for the company, according to two sources close to the deal.

eBay Acquiring StumbleUpon for $75 Million

The startup StumbleUpon has been rumored to be in acquisition discussions since at least last November (2006). The small company had reportedly talks with Google, AOL and eBay as potential suitors. At the end of the day the start-up got acquired by eBay. The price was $75 million, which is symbolic with the fact the site had only 1.5m unique visitors per month at the time the deal took place. The company was rumored to be cash-positive.

General Atlantic Has Acquired Domain Name Pioneer Network Solutions

General Atlantic has acquired Network Solutions from Najafi Companies. Network Solutions was founded decades ago in 1973 and had a monopoly on domain name registration for years which led Verisign to pay billions to buy it. Najafi Companies purchased NS from VeriSign in November 2003 for just $100M. No financial terms were disclosed for the deal and no price tag is publicly available, although we believe it is way over $100M, but NS made our list due to its mythical role for the Internet’s development. That deal is symbolic for the Internet. 

MSNBC made its first acquisition in its 11-year history, acquired Newsvine

In a recent deal the citizen journalism startup Newsvine has been acquired by MSNBC, the Microsoft/NBC joint venture, for an undisclosed sum. Newsvine will continue operating independently, just as it has been since launching in March of 2006. The acquired company also indicated there would be little change in the features of the site.  We think the price tag for the Newsvine is anywhere in the $50/$75M range, but this is not confirmed. [more]

Google to buy Adscape for $23 Million

After some rumors of a deal earlier this year, Google has expanded its advertising reach by moving into video game advertising with their $23 million acquisition of Adscape.

Disney buys Chinese mobile content provider Enorbus for around $20 Million

Disney has bought Chinese mobile gaming company Enorbus , for around $20 million, MocoNews.net has learned. Financial backers in the company included Carlyle and Qualcomm Ventures.

BBC Worldwide Acquires Lonely Planet

BBC Worldwide, the international arm of BBC, has acquired Lonely Planet, the Australia-based travel information group. The amount of the deal was not disclosed, but Lonely Planet founders Tony and Maureen Wheeler get to keep a 25% share in the company. We truly believe this deal is in the $100M range, but since no confirmation was found on Web and therefore we cannot put a price tag for the sake of the list. Even though a global brand their site is getting just 4M unique visitors per month.

AOL Acquires ADTECH AG

AOL has acquired a controlling interest in ADTECH AG, a leading international online ad-serving company based in Frankfurt, Germany. The acquisition provides AOL with an advanced ad-serving platform that includes an array of ad management and delivery applications enabling website publishers to manage traffic and report on their online advertising campaigns. No details about the acquisition price were found on Web but we would suspect a large-scale deal and rank it very high. 

Amazon Acquires dpreview.com

Amazon have announced the acquisition of the digital camera information and review site dpreview.com. UK based dpreview.com was founded in 1998 by Phil Askey as a site that publishes “unbiased reviews and original content regarding the latest in digital cameras. Dpreview.com has in excess of 7 million unique viewers monthly. The value of the deal was not disclosed but we believe the purchase price should be in the $100M range (not confirmed).

HP Acquired Tabblo

HP announced the acquisition of Cambridge, Massachusetts based Photo printing site Tabblo this morning. The price was not disclosed.

eBay Gets Stake in Turkish Auction Market

eBay announced yesterday that it has acquired a minority stake in Turkish-based GittiGidiyor.com, an online marketplace structured in a similar manner to eBay. GittiGidiyor reportedly has more than 400,000 listings and 17 million users, which is a considerable percentage of the Turkish population. With the stake in GittiGidiyor, eBay now has the opportunity to enter the Turkish market via a system that’s already similar to theirs in functionality and purpose. Istanbul-based GittiGidiyor.com was founded in 2000. GittiGidiyor is Turkish for Going, Going, Gone. Terms of the deals were not found publicly available. Looking at the size of the Turkish site and the buying habits and history of eBay, the price should be considerably high, at least for the region.

Microsoft Acquiring ScreenTonic for Mobile Ad Platform

Microsoft is acquiring ScreenTonic, a local-based ads delivery platform for mobile devices, for an undisclosed amount. Paris-based ScreenTonic was founded in 2001, and has created the Stamp platform to deliver text or banner links on portals, text message ads and mobile web page ads, that vary depending on the recipients’ geographical location in a so called geo-targeting approach. 

~~~

MSNBC made its first acquisition in its 11-year history, acquired Newsvine

In a recent deal the citizen journalism startup Newsvine has been acquired by MSNBC, the Microsoft/NBC joint venture, for an undisclosed sum.

Newsvine will continue operating independently, just as it has been since launching in March of 2006. The acquired company also indicated there would be little change in the features of the site. 

Newsvine is one of the good CJ [Citizen Journalism] web sites. Others include Digg, Reddit and Netscpae’s Propeller among others. Newsvine is a good example of a startup CJ site aimed to be a mainstream news destination in the future. Along with most of the other current CJ sites, Newsvine uses many of the ‘web 2.0’ functionalities in its design – such as user-generated content, reputation, voting, comments, friends lists, tags, and more. Newsvine was among the first sites on web to implement basic semantic tagging based on the content submitted. The first site, as far as we know, was NosyJoe.com with its intelligent tagging engine.  It allows users to ‘seed’ stories, by adding a link and short description. Users can also write a full article as well. Newsvine is arguably more advanced in its design than other CJ sites, often trying new things and design techniques – e.g. the Newsvine, a color-coded visual representation of a user’s impact on the site.

The site opened as a private beta in December 2005 and was officially launched on March 1, 2006. Newsvine CEO is Mike Davidson and the company is based in Seattle which is the home of MSNBC too. Calvin Tang is the Co-founder and COO. More details about Newsvine can be found below.

“Over the next few years, Newsvine technology and content will make its way onto msnbc.com, and vice-versa where it makes sense.” Davidson explained further.

Newsvine officially became part of MSNBC on Friday, October 5th, but Davidson said they’d “been talking since May.” The company will continue to be based in Seattle, perhaps due to the location of the MSNBC too.

What is MSNBC getting, anyway? Mostly the citizen journalism community and features combined with some basic (compared to MSNBC’s) traffic but representing a very loyal community. From our perspective this deal looks more like acquiring technologies, features and mostly practical experience from the citizen journalism and the social news sector. It could also be an employment through acquisition. Basically Newsvine successfully established and positioned itself especially within the social news arena yet the site cannot be clearly identified as a popular site with its only 1.2M unique visitors per month. So, MSNBC is clearly trying to tap into the social news space and is buying experience.

The following statement from the company supports out thinking:

“While Newsvine may be well known in early adopter circles, we want every college student, every farmer, every weekend journalist, and every household to have their own branch on the “Vine”.

Davidson, the Newsvine’s CEO has explained the reason why he sold out to MSNBC.
It seems it is all about scale and partnering with bigger media company to achieve that:

“Why would a young, efficient independent news startup become part of a large organization? For us, the answer is simple: it’s all about growing the community and spreading the idea of participatory news as far and wide as possible. Although going from zero to over a million users a month in less than two years is heartening, msnbc.com operates on another scale entirely. While Newsvine may be well known in early adopter circles, we want every college student, every farmer, every weekend journalist, and every household to have their own branch on the ‘Vine. In order to spread this idea further, we could have gone out and raised a lot of money, quadrupled our staff, and gone it alone, but when one of the finest news organizations in the world is headquartered right across Lake Washington, the potential of partnering with such a great team is dramatic. We feel strongly that we can learn from the successes of their experienced team, in a way that will empower Newsvine to become the worldwide mouthpiece of the citizen journalist.”

This is the MSNBC’s first acquisition in its 11-year history and is a good fit for MSNBC.com. Newsvine will report directly to the Publisher/President of MSNBC.com.

Neither of the companies would disclose terms of the all-cash transaction, but deals for other social media sites have ranged as high as the $75 million that eBay was reported to have spent for StumbleUpon.com, which claims about 3 times the number of users as Newsvine.

It appears as Newsvine will move to the server farms of MSNBC.com to allow for greater reliability and expansion.

Reach

Back in July 2007 the stat numbers were reported by the founder Mike Davidson, to be in about 1.2 million unique visitors per month and Newsvine has grown at an average rate of 46% per quarter. Newsvine community members view an average of 21 pages per day and spend an average of 143 minutes per month on the site. The site gets about 80,000 comments a month and 250,000 votes a month.

Where the site stands at today?

Quantcast is reporting for slightly over 260,000 unique visitors per month but Newsvine is not quantified there. Compete on the other side is reporting for 409,000 unique visitors.  Both sites are reporting on only the American traffic.

In details about Newsvine

Newsvine is a website consisting of community-driven news stories and opinions. Users write articles and save links to external content, vote, comment and chat on article pages created by both users and by professional journalists.

Seattle-based “Newsvine, Inc.” was incorporated in March of 2005 by Calvin Tang. Mike Davidson, Lance Anderson and Mark Budos subsequently left The Walt Disney Internet Group and together began development of Newsvine during the summer of 2005, as the four co-founders of the company. Josh Yockey joined the company shortly after development began, with Tom Laramee following in the spring of 2006. Eric Glomstad joined as an intern over the summer of 2006 and has stayed on with the company since. The development team consists of several veterans from the Disney Internet Group and ESPN. Mike Davidson, CEO of Newsvine Inc. was interviewed in episode 8 of Leo Laporte and Amber MacArthur’s weekly Inside the Net podcast.

Community

Newsvine is a community-driven news site similar to sites such as Slashdot, reddit and Digg. It combines user submission of information with items from the Associated Press and provides each user with a blog-style “column” for writing their own ‘posts’.
Features
 
Seeding
Newsvine allows users to “seed,” or post links for others to view. Seeds usually contain a short description or direct quotation from the linked article. With the “Newsvine Button,” users can select “Seed Newsvine” from their bookmarks and a seeding dialog will appear. Seeds allow for all of the same options as articles except the ability to insert photographs.

Articles
One of the most defining features of Newsvine is the ability for users to write their own articles. Commonly known as citizen journalism, this allows for users to express their opinions for public disccusion or even report in a journalistic manner. The most popular articles for top tags appear in the “Featured Writers” section, where article writers can receive extra publicity.

While writing articles, users are also given the ability to upload their own photographs or choose from a list of Flickr photos registered under a Creative Commons license for addition to the post. Captions can be written as well to clarify the meaning of the photograph.

Voting
Another common feature among social bookmarking websites is the ability to vote for content. Users who enjoy reading an article/seed or agree with its content are encouraged to vote for the content. Articles and seeds with the most votes appear in the “Top Wire,” “Top Seeds,” or “Top of the Vine” sections of the site.

Newsvine also allows for users to vote for comments that they enjoyed reading. This aspect of commenting encourages better content and friendly discussions. When a comment receives at least five votes, a green star is placed in the upper right-hand corner, signifying that many users enjoyed or agreed with the comment. Clicking the star will lead viewers to the next highly rated comment.

Negative votes are also registered, and a comment that receives too many negative votes will often be collapsed, so that it can only be viewed by deliberately opening it. This limits discussion under that comment, since new comments under it will not be seen automatically.

Commenting
The ability to comment on seeds and articles allows for extra discussions regarding the content to take place. While debates are welcome, useless, insulting, and self-promoting comments are not. If a comment receives enough reports, that comment will be collapsed and its contents can only be shown by choosing to expand it. The Newsvine comment system also allows for threaded comments, easing the confusion of comment direction. While users do not yet have the ability to edit or delete their own comments, writers are allowed to delete comments on their own content. Unregistered users are also allowed to have their say, but comments by unregistered users are not made public until that user creates a registered account.

User Columns
Newsvine user columns give users the ability to manage and share their articles, seeds, friends, recommendations, and other statistical information. Every user has one, and each is given their own subdomain to access it (<user>.newsvine.com). User columns are customizable: aspects of the layouts can be moved or hidden, a user photo and biography can be added, a header (such as a welcome message) can be added, friends can be invited to Newsvine or added to your friends list, recommendations (such as favorite books, bands, blogs, etc.) can be shown, and comments and feedback from other users can be managed. Also, through user columns, members have the ability to add others to their watchlist and friend list or to send another a chat invitation.

Earnings
Newsvine tells users that they will receive 90% of ad revenue from ads on their personal Newsvine pages. These earnings are “based on traffic to your articles and seeds,” but it is unclear exactly how Newsvine calculate earnings. The remaining 10% go to whoever referred the user to Newsvine, or for site maintenance if there was no referrer. Newsvine does not publish the amount of revenue that has so far gone to users.

Chat Lobby
The Chat Lobby is a section of Newsvine that manages the various chat rooms available or open. Every article or seed on Newsvine has the ability to have a chat room created for it, where users can discuss the subject matter real-time rather than posting a comment. While this feature is not often used, the capability is there for those users that want to participate in a discussion.

Watchlist
If a user finds a particular writer or tag that he/she enjoys to read content from, it can be added to the Watchlist. Watchlists are lists of members and tags that a user can compile to easily find interesting news. Items on a user’s watchlist appear on the left column and, if there is content that the user has not read by a watchlisted author or tag, a number will appear next to the item name signifying how many articles or seeds have not been read.

Conversation Tracker
Much like the Watchlist, the Conversation Tracker allows users to track other members. However, the Conversation Tracker is a notifier of new comments. There are three sections to the Conversation Tracker: new comments from a user’s Newsvine column, new comments from articles that a user has commented on, and new comments from an article a user’s friend has commented on. If a user has added members to the friend list that share a common interest in content, the Conversation Tracker can act as a list of recommended articles.

Friends List
The Friends List gives users the ability to meet new people and find others with common interests, but there are no requirements in doing so. Creating a populated friends list gives users the ability to find interesting new articles through the Conversation Tracker. Once a user adds a friend to the list, the added friend receives a notification and is given the ability to accept or decline the offer.

Vineacity

Vineacity is a measure of six different elements that contribute to a Newsvine user’s overall rating as a positive influence to the Newsvine community. Earned as ‘branches’ on a Newsvine logo icon displayed next to the user’s name, the six areas of excellence include:

  • Courtesy – Earned when a user’s positive feedback outweighs any abuse reports they may have received.
  • Longevity – Earned when the users has been active for at least two months after registering.
  • Fruitfulness – Earned when the user has submitted a substantial amount of content or comments that have received votes.
  • Connectedness – Earned when the user appears on a substantial number of watch-lists and/or friend-lists.
  • Random Act of Vineness – Earned for an exceptional moment of greatness on Newsvine.
  • Lifetime achievement – Earned when a user has received a combined number of votes on all articles, links and comments around Newsvine.

 Newsvine is known to have had only 6 employees at the time the deal was announced.

About MSNBC

MSNBC.com is a privately run news organization started by Microsoft and NBC in 1996. The site is one of the most decorated, highly trafficked news sites on the web, serving more than 29 million unique visitors per month. Contrary to popular belief, msnbc.com is run independently from both Microsoft and NBC and even the MSNBC news channel. It is its own organization, headquartered in Redmond, and has been growing and profitable for several years now. MSNBC.com employs about 200 people.

More

http://www.newsvine.com/
http://www.newsvine.com/_cms/info/companyinfo
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21138371
http://blog.newsvine.com/
http://blog.newsvine.com/_news/2007/10/07/1008889-msnbccom-acquires-newsvine
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/newsvine_acquired_by_msnbc.php
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/the_state_of_citizen_journalism_pt1_newsvine.php
http://www.centernetworks.com/future-of-web-apps-mike-davidson
http://www.centernetworks.com/newsvine-acquired-msnbc
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newsvine
http://www.calvintang.com/blog/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/07/breaking-newsvine-acquired-by-msnbccom/
http://www.mikeindustries.com/blog/archive/2007/10/msnbc.com-acquires-newsvine
http://www.fimoculous.com/archive/post-3267.cfm
http://tang.newsvine.com/_news/2007/10/07/1008988-the-future-of-newsvine-and-what-it-means-to-you
http://www.quantcast.com/newsvine.com
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/newsvine.com/?metric=uv
http://www.zoominfo.com/Search/CompanyDetail.aspx?CompanyID=98714299&cs=QHF4kK7Uk&pc=compete

Hakia takes $5M more, totals $16M

In a new round of funding Hakia, the natural language processing search engine has raised additional $5M. The money came from a previous investor, some of which are Noble Grossart Investments, Alexandra Investment Management, Prokom Investments, KVK, and several angel investors. With plans of fully launching some time next year, Hakia has been working towards improving its relevancy and adding some social features like “Meet the Others” to their site. Hakia is known to have raised $11 million in its first round of funding in late 2006 from a panoply of investors scattered across the globe who were attracted by the company’s semantic search technology. As far as we know, the company’s total funding is now $16M.

We think that from all alternative search engines, excluding Ask.com and Clusty.com, Hakia seems to be one of the most trafficked engines with almost 1M unique visitors as we last checked the site’s publicly available stats. If it is us to rank the most popular search engines I would put them the following way: Google, Yahoo, Ask.com, MSN, Naver, some other regional leaders, Clusty and perhaps somewhere there is hakia going.

On the other hand and according to Quantcast, Hakia is basically not so popular site and is reaching less than 150,000 unique visitors per month. Compete is reporting much better numbers – slightly below 1 million uniques per month. Considering the fact the search engine is still in its beta stage these numbers are more than great. However, analyzing further the traffic curve on both measuring sites above it appears that the traffic hakia gets is sort of campaign based, in other words generated due to advertising, promotion or PR activity and is not permanent organic traffic due to heavy usage of the site.

In related news a few days ago Google’s head of research Peter Norvig said that we should not expect to see natural-language search at Google anytime soon.

In a Q&A with Technology Review, he says:

We don’t think it’s a big advance to be able to type something as a question as opposed to keywords. Typing “What is the capital of France?” won’t get you better results than typing “capital of France.”

Yet he does acknowledge that there is some value in the technology:

We think (Google) what’s important about natural language is the mapping of words onto the concepts that users are looking for. To give some examples, “New York” is different from “York,” but “Vegas” is the same as “Las Vegas,” and “Jersey” may or may not be the same as “New Jersey.” That’s a natural-language aspect that we’re focusing on. Most of what we do is at the word and phrase level; we’re not concentrating on the sentence. We think it’s important to get the right results rather than change the interface.

In other words, a natural-language approach is useful on the back-end to create better results, but it does not present a better user experience. Most people are too lazy to type in more than one or two words into a search box anyway. The folks at both Google and Yahoo know that is true for the majority of searchers. The natural-language search startups are going to find out about that the hard way.

Founded in 2004, hakia is a privately held company with headquarters in downtown Manhattan. hakia operates globally with teams in the United States, Turkey, England, Germany, and Poland.

The Founder of hakia is Dr. Berkan who is a nuclear scientist with a specialization in artificial intelligence and fuzzy logic. He is the author of several articles in this area, including the book Fuzzy Systems Design Principles published by IEEE in 1997. Before launching hakia, Dr. Berkan worked for the U.S. Government for a decade with emphasis on information handling, criticality safety and safeguards. He holds a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Tennessee, and B.S. in Physics from Hacettepe University, Turkey.

More

[ http://venturebeat.com/2007/12/12/hakia-raising-5m-for-semantic-search/ ]
[ http://mashable.com/2007/12/12/hakia-funded/ ]
[ http://www.hakia.com/ ]
[ http://blog.hakia.com/ ]
[ http://www.hakia.com/about.html ]
[ http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/hakia_takes_on_google_semantic_search.php ]
[ http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/hakia_meaning-based_search.php ]
[ http://siteanalytics.compete.com/hakia.com/?metric=uv ]
[ http://www.internetoutsider.com/2007/07/the-big-problem.html ]
[ http://www.quantcast.com/search/hakia.com ]
[ http://www.redherring.com/Home/19789 ]
[ http://web2innovations.com/hakia.com.php ]
[ http://www.pandia.com/sew/507-hakia.html ]
[ http://www.searchenginejournal.com/hakias-semantic-search-the-answer-to-poor-keyword-based-relevancy/5246/ ]
[ http://arstechnica.com/articles/culture/hakia-semantic-search-set-to-music.ars ]
[ http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9800141-7.html ]
[ http://searchforbettersearch.com/ ]
[ https://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/01/is-google-trying-to-become-a-social-search-engine/ ]
[ http://www.web2summit.com/cs/web2006/view/e_spkr/3008 ]
[ http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/18/googles-norvig-is-down-on-natural-language-search/ ]

MyPunchBowl gets angel funding, relies on algorithm to recommend best dates

MyPunchBowl, the event planning site that has joined the new crowd of Evite rivals, has recently been angel funded. According to some sources like VentureBeat and Mashable, the exact amount of funding has not been disclosed, but it’s less than $1 million, and is enough to keep the team in development for another year, at least.

MyPunchBowl is known to have had a pretty good year, with several developments and feature upgrades to its event-planning service. More niche templates have been added to its collection, and they released their new Facebook application called “Party Animal.”

Partnerships with traditional media companies like the Boston Globe could also help to establish MyPunchBowl as a viable option for planning your next event.

In technological aspect they’ve been building out tools for each step of planning a party: finding supplies, inviting friends, setting a date, and the after party. MyPunchbowl has also made setting a date that much easier through the help of an algorithm that recommends the best date for your party. Connecting party organizers with suppliers in an algorithmic approach (supplies on-demand, recommendations in context of the party, individuals, events, at the right time and place etc.) could be a viable business model in our understanding and this is where the site is planning to make money from, see below comments.

More about Punchbowl Software

At Punchbowl Software, we believe that planning an event or party should be enjoyable and easy.

For the host, there are typically lots of pieces to organize: picking a date, sending invitations, choosing catering and entertainment, purchasing party supplies, and renting party equipment just to name a few. It can be a time-consuming process, and it usually isn’t much fun.

To solve this problem, we’ve created MyPunchbowl, a new web application for event and party planning. MyPunchbowl provides software for every stage of planning. With MyPunchbowl.com you’ll actually enjoy planning while saving time.

“They are the developers of one of the hottest websites in America and around the world. These are the folks that are at the vanguard of web development” – one reads at CNBC. 

For now, MyPunchbowl is avoiding monetizing the site through display ads. Instead, it plans to open partnerships with vendors, helping users secure any party supplies they need. To make money, the site is working on opening more relationships with vendors. A guest asked to bring the turkey to a Thanksgiving event, for example, might receive a targeted offering from Butterball.

According to Quantcast the site’s reach is less than 12,000 American visitors per month and compared to Evite.com’s 7 million uniques / mo MyPunchbowl looks like it has way too much to do in order to be called even close competitor to Evite, despite the press attention it gained over the past year http://corp.mypunchbowl.com/news.php

The company was founded by software and user interface experts who are fanatics about simplicity and ease of use. As they say “they were frustrated with the current tools, and knew there had to be a better way”. The funding came from Intel Capital and eCoast Angels.

As far as we know MyPunchBowl’s competitor Planypus has recently been funded as well.

Other competitors include Skobee or Renkoo although they have differentiated themselves by helping plan the casual outings for drinks or dinner. Socializr is taking a social networking approach.

The company’s founder is Matt Douglas. Douglas, whose principal offices are based in the Boston Metrowest technology center (Natick, MA), has three employees for now. Formerly of Adobe Systems and Bose Corporation, Matt Douglas has 12+ years in product management and marketing with expertise in software product development. At Adobe, Matt was responsible for Adobe Premiere where he grew revenue from $15M to $50M in four years. At Bose, he was a senior manager in the professional division where he led a hardware and software product team. Matt has a degree in music from the University of Rochester and an M.B.A. from UNC Chapel Hill. Matt’s favorite reason to party is Groundhog Day–he and his wife held their 11th annual Groundhog Day party in 2007.

Otherwise Punchbowl Software is a privately held Delaware Corporation.

The competition in the event planning sector looks intensive, but the vast majority of the startups being active in the arena have chosen specific niches, and will be trying to secure their own markets without invading each other’s territory.

More

[ http://www.mypunchbowl.com/ ]
[ http://corp.mypunchbowl.com/ ]
[ http://venturebeat.com/2007/01/15/mypunchbowl-joins-growing-list-of-evite-rivals/ ]
[ http://mashable.com/2007/10/02/mypunchbowl-funded/ ]
[ http://venturebeat.com/2007/10/02/mypunchbowl-lands-seed-funding-for-online-invitations/ ]
[ http://www.quantcast.com/mypunchbowl.com ]
[ http://www.quantcast.com/evite.com ]
[ http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/05/21/mypunchbowl-the-algorithm-schedules-your-event/ ]
[ http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2007/07/22/will_boston_ever_catch_up/?p1=MEWell_Pos5 ]