Hi, everyone, happy Tuesday! (Psst, web visitors, here’s an easier-to-read version of today’s email newsletter.)
Top News in the A.M.
For the first time, Uber is (very smartly) giving government officials a look inside its rich trove of transportation data. Specifically, reports the WSJ, it will provide the city of Boston with anonymized information about rides that might help ease traffic congestion and lead to better city planning.
App Annie Rakes in $55 Million, As It Races Away from the Pack
According to Comscore, activity on smartphones and tablets now absorbs60 percent of our digital media time, driven predominately by apps. Yet, for the most part, anyone hungry to know how — and how often — those apps are used has been left in the dark.
Onavo, an app analytics company, was widely seen as providing better insights into app usage than most analytics startups. But when it was acquired by Facebook last year, its insights were moved behind a curtain.
Now, App Annie, the five-year-old, San Francisco-based mobile analytics company, says it has developed everything Onavo featured and much more.
To an extent, it’s following Onavo’s playbook.
Onavo’s mobile measurement product evolved out of a couple of applications designed to do something very different – help users reduce their expensive data consumption. Once the company gathered enough user data, it shifted gears, turning itself into a market intelligence product.
Similarly, App Annie is rolling out a tool today called Usage Intelligence that provides customers with detailed analytics about individual app usage and engagement – information that largely comes from its free, five-month-old VPN Defender app, which offers encrypted and secure access to a user’s favorite sites and apps.
Conveniently, VPN Defender also gives App Annie a window into its users’ app usage.
The development is a big deal for app developers and investors who’ve been unable to accurately gauge how apps fare on the open market, as well as how people use them after they’ve been downloaded.
It’s a huge boon, too, for App Annie, which makes money by selling yearly contracts for its analytics and says its broader tool sets are already being used by most top mobile app developers, giving it insights into 675,000 apps as a result.
The company — whose average contract is $80,000 per year — isn’t yet profitable, says cofounder and CEO Bertrand Schmitt. “I’d be sad if we were,” he says. “It would mean we don’t know where to invest next.”
App Annie is clearly an IPO candidate, though. In fact, the 300-person company has just raised $55 million in Series D funding led by Institutional Venture Partners, a late-stage investment firm that just saw its 101st portfolio company go public in December. “Among the reasons we chose to work with IVP was their extensive experience with IPOs,” says Schmitt, who says an offering isn’t in the cards for 2015 but suggests it’s not too far off either.
In the meantime, App Annie — which has now raised $94 million altogether — remains focused on growing its business as fast and as wide as possible. The company already has 10 offices around the world. And it expects its headcount to reach 450 by year end as it pursues several new markets more aggressively, including India and South America.
Schmitt says App Annie intends to create more of a social network around the business that makes it easier for developers to share and collaborate on App Annie.
Unsurprisingly, the company also plans to release many more apps like VPN Defender from which it can continue to wring valuable and lucrative insights for its customers — and break further away from competitors in the process.
“If we keep improving as we have done, how do you fight?” says Schmitt. “There’s no other company with the same ability to execute.”
10X Genomics, a two-year-old, Pleasanton, Ca.-based company at work on a new DNA sequencing technology, has raised $55.5 million in Series B funding led by Foresite Capital Management, with participation from Venrock, Paladin Capital Group and funds managed by Morgan Stanley. Forbes has more here.
AppVirality, a year-old, Hyderabad, India-based startup that makes a plug-and-play growth hacking toolkit for mobile applications, has raised $465,000 in seed funding from India Internet Group, TNN Capital, and individual investors, including Rajan Anandan, managing director of Google India, and Mike Galgon, co-founder of aQuantive.
Basho Technologies, a seven-year-old, Cambridge, Ma.-based company behind the Riak key-value database and Riak CS cloud-storage system, has raised $25 million in fresh funding from earlier backer Georgetown Capital Partners. The company has now raised $57.5 million to date. GigaOm has more here.
FSLogix, a two-year-old, Suwanee, Ga.-based company whose software enables policy-based control of an app’s visibility on a physical or virtual desktop, has raised $1.1 million of an anticipated $2 million round led by Mosley Ventures of Atlanta. The company has now raised $2.3 million, including from angel investors.
Gluru, a 1.5-year-old, London-based company that makes advanced analytical and predictive user data software, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding led by Playfair Capital and Gecad Group, with participation from angel investors.
Ionic Security, a 3.5-year-old, Atlanta, Ga.-based data security platform, has raised $40 million in Series C funding less than a year after closing a $25 million Series B round. The newest funding was led by Meritech Capital Partners and includes earlier backers Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Google Ventures, Tech Operators and Jafco Ventures. The company has now raised $78.1 million altogether. Venture Capital Dispatch has more here.
Juicero, a two-year-old, New York-based company that’s reportedly developing juice in a pouch, along with a contraption that turns it into something drinkable, is raising $100 million in funding right now, according to Business Insider, which says that the company has already quietly closed on two previous rounds of funding, totaling roughly $21 million. Investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (which reportedly housed the early-stage startup), and Campbell’s Soup. Google Ventures, Thrive Capital, and Vast Ventures may also be involved, reports BI.
Teads, a four-year-old, Paris-based video advertising platform, has raised roughly $30 million in new funding split evenly between equity and debt. The equity portion of the round comes from Bpifrance, with earlier backers Gimv, Partech Ventures, and Elaia Partners participating.The debt portion of the funding comes from numerous banks, including Bank of China and HSBC. The company has now raised $81.9 million altogether, shows Crunchbase. TechCrunch has more here.
Thinkful, a 2.5-year-old, New York-based online education company focused on programmers and developers, has raised $4.3 million new funding led by Floodgate Fund, with participation from earlier investors RRE Ventures and Quotidian Ventures. The company has raised $5.3 million to date.
Verne Global, an eight-year-old, U.K.-based developer of energy-efficient data centers, has raised $98 million in Series D financing led by Stefnir, an Icelandic asset management and private equity firm. Earlier investors General Catalyst Partners, Novator Partners and Wellcome Trust also participated in the round.
Whistle Sports, a five-year-old, New York-based sports and entertainment broadcaster whose content largely appears on YouTube, has raised $28 million in Series B funding led by Emil Capital Partners, with earlier investors participating. TechCrunch has more here.
Qualcomm Ventures is forming a joint investment business with the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis. The entity will make as much as $100 million available for innovative health startups. Xconomy has more here.
Convergence Pharmaceuticals, a U.K.-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that spun out of GlaxoSmithKline last year with a portfolio of neuropathic pain drug candidates, has been acquired for $200 million by Biogen Idec, the publicly traded biotech company. FierceBiotech has more here.
Level Money, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based money management app, has been acquired by Capital One for undisclosed terms. The startup had raised $5 million in Series A funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
Tappy, an L.A-based mobile startup behind an ephemeral, mobile messaging app, has been acquired by IAC-backed Tinder, reports TechCrunch. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Tomax, a Salt Lake City-based cloud-based point of sale company, has been acquired by Boston-based Demandware for roughly $75 million in cash and incentives. TechCrunch has more here.
Twitter may be making an acquisition with international growth in mind, reports TechCrunch. According to its sources, Twitter is in negotiations to buy ZipDial, a startup whose use case — missed calls — is unique to the Indian market. Tech in Asia has more on the company here.
Zomato, the restaurant discovery site backed by Sequoia, has bought Urbanspoon from IAC. Terms of the deal were undisclosed, but sources tell TechCrunch it was between $50 million to $60 million. This marks the entrance of Zomato into the U.S. market and looks to be among the largest purchases of a U.S.-based consumer Internet company by an Indian startup. TechCrunch has more here.
Sophia Amoruso, the founder of the L.A.-based online fashion retailer Nasty Gal, is stepping down as CEO. Sheree Waterson, who joined the company as president roughly a year ago, will replace her. Waterson was formerly the chief product officer of Lululemon. Amoruso tells Recode the decision to change roles was her own. “While I find myself really capable of leading our customer . . . I’m not even a parent . . . I hope to someday be the leader that Sheree is.”
Sasha Frere-Jones, the longtime pop music critic for The New Yorker, has left the magazine to join Genius, the Andreessen Horowitz-backed onlne forum for annotated rap lyrics. Says Frere-Jones to the New York Times, “I don’t want to stay up until 4 a.m. any more at shows, and you can annotate lyrics during the day.”
Kelly Porter, a managing partner at investment bank Woodside Capital Partners, has sold finally sold his massive Los Altos Hills, Ca. home. The buyer: Nora Lacey, president of biotechnology company Cell Marque. The price was a whopping $25 million, though it represents a steep discount to the $45 million that Porter had been asking for the property in 2008. Porter reportedly purchased the home in 1999 for $5 million, then spent extensively on renovating it.
OpenTable is looking for a director of corporate and business development. The job is in San Francisco.
Venture capital investors in India are set to raise nearly $2 billion this year,reports the Economic Times. Accel Partners, which manages $230 million in India-focused capital, plans to raise up to $275 million for its fourth India fund, a Bangalore-based Accel partner tells the outlet. Another Bangalore-based early stage investor, Kalaari Capital, plans to raise up to $250 million.
Facebook‘s Mark Zuckerberg and Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun discussed a potential investment by Facebook in the Chinese smartphone maker ahead of its $1.1 billion fundraising last month, reports Reuters. A deal never materialized, “but the talks underscore how ties between U.S. and Chinese companies have deepened as China’s tech industry matures,” notes Reuters.
Twenty-four must-see cars from the Detroit Auto Show.
Woody Allen on his first ever TV series, which he’s creating for Amazon: “I don’t know how I got into this. I have no ideas and I’m not sure where to begin. My guess is that [Amazon Studios head] Roy Price will regret this.”
Markus “Notch” Persson made a lot of money making Minecraft. Some of his game’s players are getting rich and famous, too.
A graphic case for the Eames lounge chair.