Hello and happy Tuesday, good people. Looks we had a delivery issue yesterday; here’s a copy of our Monday newsletter in case yours went missing. (Web visitors, this version of today’s email is easier to read.)
Top News in the A.M.
The FBI is warning U.S. businesses that hackers have used malicious software to launch a destructive cyberattack in the United States. Reuters has the story here.
Intel has just unveiled a new open-source communication system created for Professor Stephen Hawking — and it can be adapted for use by millions of disabled people.
The good news: Internet holiday shopping reportedly rose 8.1 percent yesterday. The bad news: Internet holiday shopping rose 17.5 percent on Cyber Monday last year, when consumers spread their online purchases over fewer days.
SendGrid Raises $21 Million to Perfect the Business Email
SendGrid, an email delivery platform that counts Pinterest, Uber and Glassdoor among many others that use its technology to engage with their customers, has just raised $20.7 million in Series C funding led by Bain Capital Ventures. (The company has now raised $48 million altogether.)
Last week, we chatted with SendGrid’s new CEO, Sameer Dholakia, a former key Citrix cloud executive, about what the round says about the five-year-old, Boulder, Co.-based company and the email industry more broadly.
You joined SendGrid roughly six weeks ago. Why the management change?
The company had a terrific CEO, Jim Franklin, who helped grow the company from a couple of million in sales to a company that now has 180,000 customers. But he and the board thought it was the right time to make a transition.
What are you looking to do with this new funding?
One thing we’re looking to do with this Series C is to accelerate our product innovation and new product lines to kind of diversify the business. One of two themes that we’ll push along is big data. You can imagine that [given the scale of our business], there are insights we can glean and actions we can take on behalf of our customers to make them more effective communicators with their users. We want to take a more holistic approach to email marketing.
Can you elaborate?
Not a lot without giving too much away. But as a brand, any customer knows about its users. Their digital fingerprints are significant, from their use of a site, how frequently they open emails, their purchase activity. We want to use that data to create insights that were previously unavailable. At the end of the day, email is an interaction with your user, and you want to customize that interaction based on everything you know.
How many employees does SendGrid have now, and is it profitable?
We don’t share information about our finances, but we’ve grown from 150,000 to 180,000 customers over just the last six months, and we’ve sent 300 billion emails, up from 200 billion eight months ago.
We have 250 employees. We’ve probably added 100 in just the past year, and we’ll be looking to add [roughly another 100] in the next 12 months. It’s a low-touch, go-to-market model, so the size of our direct sales team is minuscule, which is great. It allows us to invest an incredible amount in engineering and technical account mangers and support. A lot of art and science goes into ensuring that our customers’ trusted email makes it to the inbox. We have a double-digit size team that focuses on nothing but catching bad guys on our system and shutting them down.
How much does your service cost?
We have a broad base of customers who might be spending a few hundred dollars a month, all the way to some of our largest customers, and they’re in the range of [spending] many tens of thousands of dollars per month.
New management, new funding. Is it fair to think that you’re eyeing an IPO in the next couple of years?
Certainly, if our growth rates continue at their current clip, we hope to look toward that in the not-too-distant future.
Beep, a nearly three-year-old, San Francisco-based company that makes a connected audio device (a small copper dial that connects a users’ speakers to their music over Wi-Fi), has raised $4 million in new funding from investors, including David Dolby, Tony Hsieh, Justin Kan, Alexis Ohanian, Garry Tan, Technicolor Ventures, Y Combinator and WTI. The company has now raised $5.6 million altogether. Gigaom has morehere.
Bonusly, a two-year-old, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based online platform that helps companies reward and motivate employees by using peer-to-peer bonuses, has raised $1 million in seed financing from Bloomberg Beta and FirstMark Capital.
CompleteSet, a two-year-old, Cincinnati, Oh.-based company that aims to build an online catalog and marketplace for every collectible item ever made, has raised $650,000 in seed-round capital, including from Chrysalis Ventures cofounder Doug Cobb and the Lexington, K.Y.-based investment firm Cherub Fund. The Cincinnati Business Courier has more here.
Helpling, a months-old, Berlin, Germany-based Rocket Internet-backed cleaners-on-demand service, has raised $17 million in Series A funding from Mangrove Capital, Phenomen Ventures, Point Nine Capital and Delivery Hero chairman Lukasz Gadowski. TechCrunch has more here.
Moko, a seven-year-old, Beijing, China-based online marketplace for fashion models looking to connect with fashion agencies, has raised RMB 50 million ($8.1 million) in funding from the regional investment firm Holch Capital, according to press reports.
NowSecure, a five-year-old, Oak Park, Il.-based mobile security company, has raised $12.5 million in Series A funding led by Baird Capital, with participation from earlier investor Jump Capital and new investor Math Venture Partners.
Fatmap, a two-year-old, London-based company that makes ultra-high-resolution 3D ski maps, along with a “mapping engine” that it plans to license to other app makers and industries, has raised £300,000 ($470,000) in seed funding from numerous angel investors, including Kenton Cool, an English mountaineer. TechCrunch has more here.
Fenox Venture Capital, a three-year-old, San Jose, Ca.-based outfit that invests across stages, says it’s launching a $200 million fund to invest in Bangladesh’s technology, Internet and media industries. Toward that end, it has brought aboard serial entrepreneur Shameem Ahsan, an angel investor and the president of the Bangladesh Association of Software & Information Services, as a general partner. More here.
Hortonworks, a three-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based Hadoop startup that spun out of Yahoo and disclosed its plans to go public early last month, has now set the terms for its IPO, saying it plans to raise $78 million by offering 6 million shares at a price range of $12 to $14. Hortonworks would command a fully diluted market value of $659 million at the midpoint of that range, which is notable as the company had said it raised its $150 million Series D round at a valuation of more than $1 billion.
Days after a merger announcement was inadvertently published (then deleted), Acompli, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company that raised at least $7.3 million from investors, has officially been acquired byMicrosoft for $200 million in cash. Acompli, whose mobile email application helps customers quickly find emails in their inboxes, was backed by Felicis Ventures, Harrison Metal, and Redpoint Ventures.
AdVine, a four-year-old, Cape Town, South Africa-based mobile ad agency, has been acquired for undisclosed terms by Opera, a Norway-based company that develops data-compressed web browsers, app storefronts, and other cloud-based services. TechCrunch has more here.
Cypress Semiconductor, based in San Jose, Ca., is acquiring the Sunnyvale, Ca.-based flash system company Spansion for about $1.6 billion in stock. The deal is set to create a semiconductor company that will be the biggest provider of certain types of chips for embedded systems, notes Bloomberg. Cypress is one of the largest makers of a flash chip called SRAM, which is used in consumer electronics; Spansion makes NOR flash systems, typically used in automobiles and industrial systems.
Freightquote, a 16-year-old, Lenexa, Ks.-based freight shipping logistics company, is being acquired by the publicly traded company C.H. Robinson for $365 million in cash. Freightquote was backed by Menlo Ventures, which first invested in the company in 1999.
Vidible, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based startup behind a multi-platform, programmatic video exchange platform for discovering and distributing video content, has been acquired by AOL for around $50 million, reports Recode. Vidible had raised $3.5 million, most of which came via a $3.4 million round earlier this year led by Greycroft Partners, with participation from IDG Ventures.
Wallaby Financial, a nearly three-year-old, Pasadena, Ca.-based company whose apps help consumers optimize their credit card usage based on their preferences, has been acquired by publicly traded Bankrate. Financial terms were not disclosed. The company had raised $1.1 million in seed funding from a long list of investors, including Mucker Capital, Quotidian Ventures, Karlin Ventures, Lion Wells Capital, and Founders Fund.
Wyth, a 1.5-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based startup that had built a scheduling app, has been acquired by Airbnb for undisclosed terms. Cofounder Carla Pellicano had previously served as an entrepreneur-in-residence at both CRV and Matrix Partners, which collectively provided Wyth with $1 million in seed funding. BetaBoston has the story here.
Fontinalis Partners, a Detroit-based venture capital firm that’s focused on mobile technologies, has formed a Special Venture Partner program and named five advisors to it, including Mark Schulz, Luis Blaquier, Mei-Wei Cheng, Gabe Klein, and Paul Mascarenas. Shulz, a former Ford Motor Company exec, was a founding partner of Fontinalis and sits on the board of two of its portfolio companies. Blaquier is a partner at Grupo Pegasus and is the ex-head of Goldman Sachs’s investment banking activities in the Southern Cone. Cheng was the president and CEO of Siemens, China, until April of this year. Klein is COO of Bridj, a data-driven transportation company. And Mascarenas most recently served as the CTO and VP of Research and Advanced Engineering at Ford Motor Company.
Clients of Goldman Sachs‘s wealth managers received some surprise news yesterday: according to Fortune, they learned that they’ll have the chance to invest in Uber. More here.
Apple cofounder Steve Jobs still casts a long shadow, including in the courtroom, reports the New York Times. Specifically, Apple is set to go to trial in the third major antitrust lawsuit it has faced since Jobs died — a class action involving older iPods — and Jobs’s no-holds-barred emails may make Apple’s attorneys’ jobs harder if recent history is any indicator.
Divesh Makan has turned his investment advisory firm, Iconiq Capital, “into an exclusive members-only Silicon Valley billionaires club,” reports Forbes, in a short, new profile of Makan, whose famous clients include Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook.
General Motors is looking for a strategy and innovation manager to work with venture capital firms to seed products, among other things. The job is in Detroit.
This year could be the second year in a row that corporate financings are up. In fact, the percentage of U.S. venture financings in 2014 that have included corporate investors is 17 percent, says VentureSource. But while that may seem like a lot, it’s a far cry from 2000, the peak of corporate venturing, when companies participated in 30.2 percent of all financings. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.
Paranoid though it may sound, security experts tells the Washington Post that no taxi company, no car service, no private entity of any kind has ever presented the kind of cyber-espionage target that Uber now does, given the troves of private travel information at its fingertips.
Entertainer Chris Rock in a must-read conversation with Frank Rich.
Why the scientist who unravelled DNA is selling his Nobel Prize.
See the Milky Way from Earth.
Girl Scout cookies. For sale. Online. [Does cartwheels.]