Archive for November 13, 2008

Digital Media VC

Posted in Deals, Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2008 by Dave Liu

ImageShack Raised $15 Million In Funding Round — The online image sharing
portal has raised $15 million from Sequoia Capital, according to
VentureBeat.

One True Media Raised $8 Million In Series B — Redwood City, Calif.-based
provider of online editing and sharing tools for videos and photos, has
called down $8 million of a $10 million Series B round (including $2
million in called convertible notes), according to a regulatory filing. DAG
Ventures was joined by return backer Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

AdMeld Raised $8 Million In Series A — New York-based provider of online
advertising optimization and integration, has raised around $7 million in
Series A funding from Foundry Group and Spark Capital. It also has hired
Michael Barrett as CEO. Barrett previously was with Fox Interactive Media
as executive VP and chief revenue officer.

Second Rotation Raised $6 Million In Series B — Boston-based operator of
online “recommerce” site Gazelle, has raised $6 million in Series B
funding. RockPort Capital Partners led the round, and was joined by return
backers Venrock Associates, Austin Ligon and Henry Vogel.

HomeAway Raised $250 Million In VC Funding At $1.15 Billion Post Money
Valuation
— Austin, Texas-based operator of an online vacation rentals
website, has raised $250 million in new VC funding. Technology Crossover
Ventures led the round, and was joined by return backers investors
Institutional Venture Partners and Redpoint Ventures. It had previously
raised over $230 million from IVP, Redpoint, Trident Capital, Austin
Ventures and American Capital.

Project Playlist Raised $20 Million In VC Funding — online music site, has
raised just under $20 million in VC funding led by Pilot Group, according
to TechCrunch. The company has also hired former Facebook chief revenue
officer Own Van Natta as CEO. It had previously raised $3 million.

Alice.com Raised $4.3 Million In Series A — Madison, Wis.-based online
platform for connecting manufacturers and consumers in the packaged goods
market, has raised $4.3 million in first-round funding. Kegonsa Capital
Partners and DaneVest Tech Fund co-led the round.

IKobo Inc. Raised $13 Million In VC Funding — Atlanta-based provider of
online electronic payment and remittance services,is discontinuing
operations. It had raised over $13 million in VC funding, from firms like
Total Technology Ventures, Council Ventures, WS Investments LLC, Silicon
Alley Venture Partners, Greenhill Capital Partnersand seed-stage backers
Global Bank of Commerce.

be2 Raised €15 Million In Series B — London-based global matchmaking site,
has raised €15 million in second-round funding from the Index Ventures
Growth Fund. It had previously raised capital from Banexi Ventures and
individual angels.

Transpera Raised $8.25 Million In Series B — Santa Monica, Calif.-based
provider of a platform to monetize Web video on mobile phones, has raised
$8.25 million in Series B funding. first round funding. Flybridge Capital
Partners led the round, and was joined by fellow return backers First Round
Capital and Intel Capital. New investor Labrador Ventures also
participated.

Digitalsmiths Raised $12 Million In Series B — Morrisville, N.C.-based
provider of broadband video indexing, analytics and publishing solutions,
has raised $12 million in Series B funding. 406 Ventures led the round, and
was joined by return backers The Aurora Funds and Chrysalis Ventures.

Cfares Raised $7.6 Million In Series A — Redwood City, Calif.-based online
travel search engine, has $3.1 million in additional Series A funding, to
close the round at $7.6 million. Backers include Claremont Creek Ventures
and Garage Technology Ventures. The company also named former Leapfrog and
Knowledge Universe CEO Tom Kalinske as its CEO.

Digital Media M&A

Posted in Deals, Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2008 by Dave Liu

Lifetime Buys S. Korean Dress-Up Site Roiworld; Expands Gaming With

Lifetime Games Studio Korea — Lifetime Networks is expanding its casual
gaming with the acquisition of South Korean dress-up site Roiworld for an
undisclosed amount and the simultaneous launch of Lifetime Games Studio
Korea. Lifetime, a 50-50 joint venture of Hearst and The Walt Disney (NYSE:
DIS) Company, plans to launch a U.S. version of Roiworld.com in early 2009.
The site mixes “casual” virtual worlds, user-generated content and social
networking with fashion. Lifetime says the Korean version had 2.8 million
uniques and 117 million page views in September, with visitors averaging 50
minutes a month. At the same time, Lifetime is investing further in casual
gaming by launching Lifetime Games Studio Korea with headquarters in Seoul
and a San Francisco office focused on biz dev, technology and sales.
Roiworld founder Kiseo Kim, will head the new studio as CEO, extending
Roiworld and developing new games. Kris Soumas, head of Lifetime Games,
adds the new venture to her portfolio. Plans call for integrated ad
packages and micro-transaction technology, in addition to more social
networking.

Gannett Acquires Healthcare Education Site Pearls Review; Digital Now
Separate Segment
— Gannett, which reported its Q308 earnings late last
month, has filed its 10-Q and discloses a new online acquisition: it has
acquired Pearls Review, an online nursing certification and continuing
education review site. No financial details were disclosed, but the site is
now part of the Gannett Healthcare Group (I had no idea such a group
existed within Gannett…the group runs Nurse.com). Pearl has a series of
online courses in various sub-sectors of nursing profession, and is based
in St. Petersburg, FL.

Google SEC Filing Reveals DoubleClick’s Price Tag — Google sold

DoubleClick’s Performics SEM division to Publicis for $53 million in cash
in August 2008, according to a U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC)
filing that posted Friday. The 10-Q states the search engine acquired
DoubleClick “primarily for their customer relationships, as well as patents
and developed technology.” Since the sale of Performics was planned at the
time of the acquisition, the proceeds are netted against the purchase
price. The total net purchase price of DoubleClick was $3.2 billion paid in
cash, including transaction costs of $70.4 million. Google estimates the
life expectancy of customer relationships at 6.7 years; patents and
development technology, 5 years; and trade names, 5.5 years, according to
the filing.

Innovation Interactive Buys European Ad Targeter Netmining NV — Innovation
Interactive, the parent company of digital marketers 360i and SearchIgnite,
has bought Belgian behavioral targeter Netmining NV. Terms were not
disclosed. Netmining will continue to operate as a standalone brand.
However, officially, the company’s services will be merged into
Searchignite’s system within the first half of next year. Aside from
increasing New York-based Innovation Interactive’s European presence, the
company hopes that the promise of greater ROI that comes with Netmining’s
services will make it more attractive to web marketers unnerved by the
economic downturn. Innovation Interactive has been privately funded by ABS
Capital and CIBC Capital Partners. Its most recent funding was in February,
an Innovation Interactive rep said.

Canal Partners Acquires Limos.com — Canal Partners has acquired a majority
stake in Limos.com, a Beaverton, Ore.-based online provider of qualified
leads for ground transportation providers. No financial terms were
disclosed, although Canal’s website says its typical investments are
between $1 million and $5 million for companies worth between $5 million
and $30 million. Source: PEHub.

Gannett Buys Social Media Tech Company Ripple6 — Gannett has acquired
social net tools provider Ripple6 to create online communities for its own
properties and outside media companies. Terms were not disclosed. Gannett
chief digital officer Chris Saridakis had a 10 percent stake in Ripple6 and
as part of the deal, Gannett agreed to buy Saridakis’ stake in the company.
Gannett added that Saridakis was not a part of the negotiations. This is
similar to what Gannett did last March, when it completed its purchase of
PointRoll by buying Saridakis’ shares in the company. A Ripple6 rep also
told me that Saridakis was a member of the company’s board, but he resigned
after Gannett acquired his shares.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2008 by Dave Liu

Windows Live Is a Social Network — Microsoft has launched a new version of

its Windows Live service, or whatever it was before (search plus its myriad
communication services tacked on it), and now it is a full blown social
network, with the idea to integrate all the disparate MSFT online services,
as well as allow other third-party services to be embedded within it.
Pretty much everything except MySpace and Facebook is integrated into the
new service, including Flickr, LinkedIn, Pandora, Photobucket, Twitter,
WordPress and Yelp. Nevermind that MSFT has a big inv*stm*nt in
Facebook…apparently it is only being used to “borrow” ideas: it has the
now-de-rigueur news feed, a la Facebook, which lets you track your friends
and their activities. Apparently, people who have reviewed it like it.

Analysts Cut Estimates On Google, As Stock Dives Below $300 — CEO Eric
Schmidt’s has repeatedly said that the economic downturn won’t dent Google
(NSDQ: GOOG)—but that doesn’t seem to have satisfied analysts’ doubts. With
the stock now trading below $300 for the first time since October 2005,
MarketWatch reports that analysts have cut their estimates on Google’s Q4
profits and revenue. Google’s stock was down 6.57 percent, to $291.00, at
the 4 p.m. close today. On average, analysts expect Google to post earnings
of $5.12 a share by the end of this quarter, according to a consensus
estimate by FactSet Research. That same analyst compilation calls for $4.3
billion in net revenue.

Microsoft Closing In On Search Deal With Verizon Wireless; Guarantees May
Exceed $500M
— Microsoft is finally close to edging out Google on a search
deal, and this one is on the mobile side: Under the deal, it would become
the default search provider on the Verizon (NYSE: VZ) Wireless’s phones,
and is even offering guaranteed payments to the carrier of approximately
$550 million to $650 million over five years, or roughly twice what Google
(NSDQ: GOOG) offered, reports the WSJ, citing sources. These revenues would
be against the ads that MSFT would be able to serve up in mobile searches.
Verizon’s talks with Google are still on, but it is leaning towards MSFT
because of better financial incentives. This is similar to the Facebook
deal MSFT did last year. Separately, in an effort to combat the potential
rise of Google-backed Android, MSFT is also trying to get Windows Mobile
software in more Verizon devices, and could even end up paying VZW to
encourage them to use the mobile OS. The combined value of the two deals
could top $1 billion, the story says. VZW has been working with Windows
Mobile for some time now, along with Palm and Brew, though it has also been
cozying up to open source Linux, after recently becoming a member of the
LiMo Foundation, the technology’s trade association.

Media Vets Launch Digital Entertainment-Focused Agility Studios; Gets
Funding
— A new digital studio called Agility Studios, started by three
online vets, has launched today. The company, based in Los Angeles, has
been founded by Scott Ehrlich, former VP of media at RealNetworks, who will
serve as the company’s CEO; Larry Tanz, till recently the President and CEO
of LivePlanet, will now be the President and COO; and Keith Quinn, recently
SVP of Production & Development for LivePlanet, who will oversee
programming and production as the company’s Chief Creative Officer. The
company has also received funding from Colorado-based Mantucket Capital,
which usually invests as a PE firm or provides distressed capital. The
amount was not disclosed, but it “several millions”, Ehrlich told me. The
reason he went outside the traditional VC route was because he believes
creative development requires a different kind of capital from VC money,
with a longer term horizon.

Dentsu Could Make More US Buys — Dentsu, the Japanese advertising giant
that acquired New York-based McGarry Bowen, could make more buys, reported
the Wall Street Journal. The report, part of a story looking at the deal,
cited people familiar with the matter as saying Dentsu is aiming to get 30%
of its revenue from North America by 2010, in part by making acquisitions.
Dentsu posted a net profit for the first six months of the year of USD 82.9
m, according to the report. Source: mergermarket.

Thomson Reuters Sales Up In First Full Quarter, But Will That Continue Next
Year?
— Thomson Reuters is beginning to reap the benefits of one of the
biggest company mergers of recent years, today reporting eight percent
better Q3 revenues of $3.3 billion (£2.2 billion), with operating profit up
17 percent to $676 million (£414 million). In the first full quarter since
the pair’s merger, those leaps come directly from the pair’s £8.7 billion
marriage this June and are helped by $550 million of savings from
integration-related activities – like laying off hundreds of staff
globally… no final figure on casualties has been given, but CEO Tom Glocer
said the process is “ahead of schedule”. Glocer said, while it’s “certainly
mathematically possible” that the company will begin 2009 negatively if it
has a disastrous November and December, in reality all the various
components of the business were holding up well. The dreaded credit crunch
is biting, but “there has already been a silver lining in the disruption…
the demand for financial news, for pricing data, for data feeds, for
infrastructure is strong,” said Glocer.

Social Search Engine OneRiot — The OneRiot search engine official
launched Wednesday after Me.dium, a browser add-on that provided insight to
what others search on, built the technology into a “social search”
application and rebranded the company name. The search engine relies on
feedback from other searchers to return queries. It combines relevant news
articles, blogs, videos and photos from across the Web.

Wall Street Journal Overheard: China

Posted in News with tags on November 13, 2008 by Dave Liu

Great line from the WSJ today:

Circulating in Asia, a view of how the Chinese stimulus package fits in history:

1949 (Chinese Revolution): Only socialism can save China.

1979 (Deng Xiaoping reforms): Only capitalism can save China.

1989 (fall of Berlin Wall): Only China can save socialism.

2008 (global crisis): Only China can save capitalism.