Good morning, and welcome back!
Top News in the A.M.
Uber has partnered with car makers and financing providers to reduce the cost of new car ownership for Uber drivers in six of its fastest-growing markets.
Henry Blodget and his venture backers are looking to sell Business Insider for $100 million “in cash,” says media columnist Michael Wolff.
Betaworks Closes on a New, $20 Million Round
Betaworks, the six-year-old, New York City-based holding company that has collectively created and invested in more than a dozen startups focused on the “real time Web,” has raised $20 million in new funding, says cofounder John Borthwick, who tweeted in the wee hours of Friday morning: “Excited to bring a few new investors into betaworks. Approx. 20m total capital. The first time in 3 yrs+ that we have have done a raise.”
A new SEC filing shows a partial list of the firms to participate in Betaworks’s newest round, including Lerer Ventures, RRE Ventures and White Star Capital in the U.K., all of which are existing investors.
Also listed on the Form D are John Drzik, president and CEO of the management consulting company Oliver Wyman; Michael Buckley, a longtime managing director at Intel Capital who is now the head of finance and strategy at Nike Digital; and Paul Cappuccio, the chief legal officer at Time Warner.
RRE Ventures, Lerer Ventures and White Star Capital were among the first firms to provide Betaworks with its first, $7.5 million round, announced in early 2008.
Two years later, in 2010, Betaworks closed on a $20 million Series B round that was led by RRE Ventures and then-new investor Intel Capital, and which included DFJ Growth, AOL Ventures, The New York Times, Softbank Japan and Softbank NY, and Founder Collective.
Betaworks both invests in, acquires, and helps create real-time media startups. One of its first big wins was with Summize, a search engine that Twitter acquired in a mostly stock deal in 2008. Betaworks is also the company behind the link-tracking analytics company bit.ly, the Web site monitoring service Chartbeat, and numerous other products.
Recently, the company has made a big push into social reading, including acquiring Digg, which it nabbed at a fire-sale price last year, and purchasing the bookmarking tool Instapaper for an undisclosed amount in April. Betaworks has since relaunched both products.
Reached for comment on Saturday, Borthwick (nicely) declined to comment further, saying only that money was raised “recently.”
Earlier this month, Betaworks hired former Huffington Post Media Group publisher Janet Balis as its very first chief revenue officer, a sign that it’s looking for more ways to earn money off its portfolio. As Borthwick told AllThingsD of Balis’s appointment: “Phase one of Betaworks was building great companies. ” Phase two is “really building Betaworks as an operating media company.”
Active Mind Technology, a San Francisco-based company, has raised $7.8 million in equity, according to an SEC filing that shows former Palm CEO Ed Colligan is among its board members. Active Mind is a wearable technology outfit that was founded in Galway, Ireland but moved to San Francisco in 2011. Its first hardware and software product, Game Golf, designed with the help of famed designer Yves Behar, enables users to track their own golf games, as well as use the stats to compete online against friends and pros.
Coursera, an 18-month-old, Mountain View, Calif.-based education company that partners with universities to offer their courses online, has raised $20 million, adding to a $43 million Series B round the firm disclosed in summer. AllThingsD has the scoop. Coursera isn’t naming three universities that contributed to the fresh, $20 million, but the company told AllThingsD that the round also included the participation of previous investors GSV Capital and Learn Capital. Coursera has now raised around $85 million altogether, including from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and New Enterprise Associates.
Kensho Technologies, a year-old, Cambridge, Mass.-based company behind financial modeling and analysis software that some of Wall Street’s biggest institutions have been testing out, has raised $6.13 million in debt, shows an SEC filing. According to the Form D, the outfit plans to raise up to $8 million.
NGame, a two-year-old, Dallas-based startup whose software helps its customers track their own customers’ social media to better sell to them, has raised $680,000, according to an SEC filing.
See Me Group, a two-year-old, Long Island City, N.Y.-based online community of artists who share, Pinterest-style, what they love, has raised $1 million as part of a $2 million equity round, shows an SEC filing. O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures is an investor, as is Founder Collective, along with New York-based angel investor Josh Stylman. Founder William Etundi was featured in the New York Times several years ago, as an artist and street activist who for years hosted popular warehouse parties in Brooklyn.
Sitari Pharmaceuticals, a new, San Diego-based company that’s working on treatments for celiac disease (a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing important parts of food) has raised $10 million in Series A funding. The money comes from Avalon Ventures and GlaxoSmithKline, which formed the company through a new collaboration designed to fund and launch up to 10 early-stage life sciences companies in San Diego.
TapCommerce, a two-year-old, New York-based mobile retargeting company, has raised $10.5 million in Series A funding led by Bain Capital Ventures and RRE Ventures, along with participation from Nielsen Ventures. Previous investors Metamorphic Ventures, Eniac Ventures, and Nextview Ventures, also contributed to the round, which brings the company’s total capital raised to date to $11.7 million.
Jerusalem Venture Partners, the 20 year-old, Tel Aviv-based firm, has filed to raise $60 million for a fund branded JVP VII Cyber Strategic Partners, according to an SEC filing first spotted by Alt Assets. It isn’t clear if the fund is part of or separate from JVP II, a fund that is targeting $120 million. (JVP filed for the first late last month.) Asked about the two filings by Alt Assets, a spokeswoman for the firm declined to comment on them.
Cyber security has long been one of JVP’s biggest focus areas. In fact, earlier this year, JVP partner Gadi Tirosh talked with me about a cyber security incubator that the firm is in the process of establishing. The idea is for the firm to help create a dozen startups around different themes, including, as Tirosh had said, the “concept of the honeypot,” or creating fake machines to attract hackers; anomaly detection (monitoring data and discovering discrepancies); and software that defends mobile devices from attacks.
Billionaire Paul Allen appears to have acquired a $27 million mega mansion in tony Atherton, Calif., just a few miles from the new offices of his venture investment firm, Vulcan Ventures, in Palo Alto, Calif. The Real Estalker has all the luscious details about the 22,000-square-foot, 6-bedroom, 10-bathroom spread.
An attendee of last week’s Dreamforce conference, hosted by Salesforce.com, has since shredded Salesforce founder CEO Marc Benioff on Valleywag. (Comparing Benioff to the “Ron Burgundy of tech” is one of the author’s nicer observations.)
David Cowan of Bessemer Venture Partners chats with the WSJ about cyber security investing and Healthcare.gov in particular, saying: “When you think you need to put up a system to serve 100 million, the idea that you could plan in advance and one day launch it and it works, that is delusional. Nobody in the tech world would ever expect that would happen. It’s a delusional idea, and the fact the public expects it is because the public doesn’t understand, but Washington promised. Nobody puts up an app that serves 100 million and works on day one.”
Kristian Tear, the COO of Blackberry, and Frank Coulben, its CMO, have just been ousted from the company, after just one year in their respective roles. Chief Financial Officer Brian Bidulka has also lost his position, and will be leaving the Blackberry shortly. Engadget has the scoop.
Last week, Silicon Valley venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers said in a legal filing that it terminated former partner Ellen Pao for “longstanding performance issues” and not in retaliation for the lawsuit that Pao filed against the firm in May 2012. The response comes on the heels of Pao’s amended complaint, filed on October 16, which cites retaliation as cause for her termination from Kleiner in the fall of 2012. In Kleiner’s newest filing, its attorney, Lynne Hermle, writes that Pao was fired because she “was ‘not viewed as a good team player’ or trusted partner by others.” Pao’s attorney, unsurprisingly, said he strongly disagrees with that assessment. Deborah Gage has the story.
In recent weeks, several Chinese outfits have debuted on U.S. markets, raising the most capital that China-based companies on U.S. exchanges have raised since May 2011, observes Bloomberg. Among other signs of demand for Chinese IPOs, shares of 500.com, the online sports lottery service, surged 54 percent on Friday, their first day of trading. Meanwhile, shares of Sungy Mobile, which makes Android applications and also debuted on Friday, closed up 19 percent.
PrimeSense, an eight-year-old, Tel Aviv-based maker of motion-tracking 3D sensors used in Microsoft’s Kinect game console, has officially been acquired by Apple. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but sources have told numerous outlets that the price was somewhere between $300 million and $350 million. According to the Israeli news outlet Globes, PrimeSense has raised $84.5 million over the years, including from Silver Lake Partners, Gemini Israel Ventures, Genesis Partners, Canaan Partners, and Microsoft.
Qubecell, a two-year-old, Mumbai-based mobile payment startup, has been acquired by a bigger, global, competitor, the mobile payment company Boku. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Earlier this year, Qubecell raised a seed round led by angel investor Kae Capital, with participation from Mumbai Angels, Blume Ventures and TA Venture. Four-year-old Boku, meanwhile, which has offices in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America, has raised more than $70 million, including from Khosla Ventures, Index Ventures, Benchmark, and Andreessen Horowitz.
Venture capitalists love Ireland, apparently. According to data compiled by Dow Jones VentureSource, Ireland attracted four times as much venture-capital funding per capita as the European average, and 650 times as much per capital as poor Bulgaria, ranked last. After Ireland, the next nine biggest European centers for VC investment are: Sweden, the U.K., Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, France, Germany and Switzerland.
AOL is looking for a corporate development analyst in either New York or its Dulles, Va., headquarters. According to AOL, this role is involved in “domestic and international mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures and special projects” and requires “creative and critical analysis of strategic issues most important to the company.” To apply, you need a BS of BA degree in accounting, finance, economics, or business administration and at least one year of experience at an investment bank, private equity firm, or corporate development organization.
Eek. Revenge porn is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cyber-domestic abuse.
Venture-backed Judicata is part of a constellation of young startups trying to modernize the practice of law, notes Law.com in a solid overview of the company and some of its peers.
Got a gut feeling about something? There’s growing evidence that gut bacteria really might influence our minds.
In an interview, singer R. Kelly is asked to turn absurd phrases, including “sex dolphin” and “Italian hero sandwich of love,” into love songs. He does it, easily, and with a straight face.
Dogs slipping on wood floors. (We watched more of this than we’d care to admit.)
Meet James Bernthal, five-year-old realtor.
Everyone loves beautifully packaged products, but this is ridiculous.
Tor, a privacy tool used by activists, criminals, and U.S. intelligence to obscure traces of their online activities, has been repackaged for the mass market and will only set you back $49. Not that you have anything to hide, of course! Heh, heh, ahem.
Please feel free to send us any and all story suggestions (anonymous or otherwise) by clicking here. If you’re interested in advertising in our email newsletter, please click here. To sign up for the newsletter, visit strictlyvc.com.