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Hope you snuck your order in; according to 9to5Mac, all models of Apple Watch have now almost entirely sold out.
One of Craiglist’s Biggest (Only) Threats to Date: VarageSale
It’s accepted wisdom that nothing and no one can destroy Craiglist, the San Francisco-based local classifieds marketplace whose success has continued unhampered for roughly 20 years, despite many newer entrants with far snazzier technologies.
VarageSale might just be different. At least, the 50-person, Toronto-based outfit is gaining enough traction that last month, Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners sank $34 million into its operations.
What makes the startup, which claims to have millions of users, so promising? A few things, according to cofounder Carl Mercier, who sold an antispam company to security-software maker Websense in 2009 and founded VarageSale with his wife, Tami Zuckerman, in 2012. For starters, users have to be accepted onto the platform by volunteer moderators in the many communities in which VarageSale now operates. (The company has quietly spread to cities in 42 states and in every Canadian province.)
As key, seemingly, the conversations that happen behind the scenes between Craigslist users — the harried “I’ll take it!” emails, along with the privately asked questions and price haggling — are instead displayed in Twitter-like feeds at VarageSale. It helps build interest in users’ items, suggests Mercier; it also builds community.
We talked with Mercier this week. Our conversation has been edited for length.
You say VarageSale has millions of users. Is that single-digit millions? And how many items are selling on the platform each month or year?
We have millions of users who view billions of items of month. For competitive reasons, we’d rather not be more specific. But 50 percent of our mobile users open the app every day, which is very unusual for a commerce app.
What are they returning to check out?
Typically people are coming to the site for information about a specific category they’re following — like clothes for a two-year-old boy, or smartphones. They also come back all the time because they want to make sure they don’t miss that treasure, or because they posted an item and there are 10 people who’ve expressed an interest in it.
Do you do anything to slow the pace of transactions to foster those conversations? It’s interesting that people don’t just sell to the first interested party.
It’s more akin to people putting their towel on a beach chair at 6 a.m to reserve it. Maybe the first person to express an interest [lands the item], but once they ask a question, then we see other people become interested — sometimes tens of them.
You don’t enable people to transact through the site, though. Like Craigslist, that happens offline. Might that change?
We really want to focus on building up our local communities right now — growing our user base and coverage. That’s where we feel like we’ll have the biggest impact.
I’d read about VarageSale meet-ups. How do most people come together?
It really depends on the people and the communities. Sometimes people meet in a parking lot or at their house; sometimes, our moderators organize events every one or two weeks.
Given your emphasis on community, VarageSale sounds like a hybrid of a number of things, including Craigslist and NextDoor. Maybe even Airbnb? Are people selling home items alone, or are you starting to see other things, like neighbors alerting others to their available in-law unit?
Hah, no. Airbnb is really good at that. Some people are renting properties [on the platform], but we mostly focus on physical goods.
You’ve just raised a lot of money. Is this an employee-intensive business? How will you use the capital?
Building strong communities isn’t something that we can just press a button and it happens. It’s definitely hard work that involves a lot of human intervention. We probably won’t be hiring 1,000 people, but we think we’ll add 30 to 40 employees in the next year. We already have a small presence in Europe, Australia, and Japan that we’re growing.
Will your eventual business model center on transaction fees? Local advertising?
Revenue isn’t a priority for us. We want to focus on improving user experience and we have great partners [in our venture investors]. With the money we now have in the bank, we have runway for a few years.
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Asqella, a 3.5-year-old, Helsinki, Finland-based maker of advanced imaging systems for security screening applications, has raised 1.8 million euros ($1.9 million) in funding led by Shenzhen Lietou Fund and VTT Ventures Oy.
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Carbon 3D, a two-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based company that uses something called liquid interface production technology to advance 3D printing from basic prototyping to manufacturing, has raised $10 million in venture funding from the Autodesk Spark Investment Fund. The company had earlier raised $41 million in two rounds of venture funding led by Sequoia Capital and SilverLake Kraftwerk, says VentureWire.
Clypd, a 2.5-year-old, Boston-based programmatic TV startup, has raised $19.4 million in Series B funding led by RTL Group, with participation from Atlas Venture, Data Point Capital, Duke University, TiVo, Transmedia Capital and Western Technology Investment. According to Crunchbase, the company has raised roughly $31 million to date.
DemoChimp, a two-year-old, Salt Lake City, Ut.-based company whose software automates custom product demos to accelerate sales, has raised $2.8 milion in seed funding from Seed Equity Ventures, Peak Ventures, Albion Financial, and individual investors.
EBR Systems, a 12-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based medical-technology company that makes a wireless implantable simulator for the heart, has raised $20 million in Series E funding led by Emergent Medical Partners, with participation from earlier investors Split Rock Partners, SV Life Sciences, Delphi Ventures and St. Paul Venture Capital. The company has now raised at least $81 million to date, shows Crunchbase.
Edge Therapeutics, a six-year-old, New Providence, N.J.-based company with a drug delivery system for brain hemorrhaging and other acute neurological conditions, has raised $72.5 million in Series C funding, including a C-2 round led by Venrock, with participation from Sofinnova Ventures, Janus Capital Management, New Leaf Venture Partners and BioMed Ventures, and a first tranche that closed in December and came from individuals, family offices and private foundations. MedCity News hasmore here.
Maven Clinic, a year-old, New York-based company whose mobile applications connect women with health-care providers via video, has raised $2.2 million in seed funding from Great Oaks Venture Capital, Box Group, Female Founders Fund and angel investors.
Niara, a 1.5-year-old, Sunnyvale, Ca.-based stealth security analytics company, has raised $20 million in Series B financing led by Venrock, with participation from New Enterprise Associates and Index Ventures. The company has now raised roughly $30 million altogether.
PeerIQ, a year-old, New York-based credit risk analytics firm that helps financial institutions analyze risk in the peer-to-peer lending sector, has raised $6 million in seed funding led by Uprising and John Mack, former chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley. Other participants in the round include Vikram Pandit, former Citigroup CEO; Arthur Levitt, former SEC chairman; former Bloomberg CEO Dan Doctoroff ; and Eric Schwartz, former co-CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.
Rubicon Labs, an 8.5-year-old, Austin, Tx.-based cybersecurity company that’s developing secure communication technologies for cloud-based data centers, has added Akamai Technologies as an investor in its Series A financing. The round, which now exceeds $11 million, also includes participation from Third Point Ventures and Pelion Ventures.
Stanza, a three-year-old, Redwood City, California-based company whose “button” lets users add online events to their personal calendar, has raised $4.3 million in seed funding from Metamorphic Ventures, Founder Collective, Tekton Ventures, Western Technology Investment, and Stanford-StartX Fund, along with a group of angel investors.
Urban Ladder, the 2.5-year-old, Bangalore, India-based e-commerce store that claims to be India’s largest online seller of furniture and home accessories, has raised $50 million in new funding led by Sequoia Capital and TR Capital, with participation from earlier backers Steadview Capital, SAIF Partners, and Kalaari Capital. The company has now raised $77 million altogether. TechCrunch has more here.
VendOp, a 1.5-year-old, San Francisco-based review site where professionals can share opinions on business and industrial vendors, has raised $1.1 million in seed funding from individual investors.
Vulcun, an 11-week-old fantasy e-sports site, has just raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from Matrix Partners, Universal Music Group, Battery Ventures, Creative Artists Agency, Crosscut Ventures, and a long list of notable angel investors, including AngelList cofounder Naval Ravikant, Zynga cofounder Mark Pincus, and Joe Kraus of Google Ventures. More here.
Illuminate Ventures, an Oakland, Ca.-based early-stage venture that focuses on enterprise cloud and mobile computing startups, is targeting a second, $30 million fund, suggests a new SEC filing that states a first sale has yet to occur. StrictlyVC talked with Cindy Padnos, the founder of Illuminate Ventures, when she closed her last, $20 million fund, roughly 15 months ago.
According to the Times of India, Sequoia Capital has added another $210 million to its existing $530 million India-focused fund, giving the firm a “bigger war chest and a substantial leg up over other VCs amid rising valuations of tech companies” in the country.
Etsy is crafting an “artisanal public offering,” reports the WSJ, whose sources say the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based online marketplace is making a big effort to attract small investors and fewer big investors.
ViewRay, an 11-year-old, Oakwood Village, Oh.-based company that markets an FDA-approved MRI-guided radiation therapy system, postponed its IPO yesterday.
The Nasdaq debut of Wowo — a three-year-old, Beijing, China-based company that operates the Groupon-like, Chinese group-buying site — didn’t wow investors this week. That could prove problematic for other, smaller tech IPOs, suggests The Street.
Collegefeed, a two-year-old, Mountain View, Ca.-based company that helps college students and recent grads find jobs, has been been acquired by rival AfterCollege in San Francisco for an undisclosed sum. Collegefeed had raised $1.8 million from investors, including Accel Partners and Silicon Valley Angels. AfterCollege has raised an undisclosed amount of equity funding from Flywheel Ventures; it has also raised an undisclosed amount of debt funding, according to Crunchbase.
Shoefitr, a five-year-old, Pittsburgh, Pa.-based company whose 3-D technology helps consumers purchase footwear online by providing measurements pertinent to fitting, has been acquired by Amazon for undisclosed terms. Shoefitr looks to have raised $1.3 million in funding from Vital Venture Capital, Innovation Works, and AlphaLab. TechCrunch has more here.
Analysts at Morgan Stanley say that Yahoo, which has fired up to 900 employees since last fall, needs to reduce its headcount by another 11 percent just to keep earnings flat between 2014 and 2015. That’s about 1,400 more employees.
People Magazine could go to trial for misidentifying an entrepreneur as the mistress of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, based on an April 3 court decision. More here.
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