Archive for November 21, 2008

Digital Media VC

Posted in Deals, Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2008 by Dave Liu

Waterfront Media Raised $20 Million — New York-based online health media company, has raised $20 million in fifth-round funding, according to a regulatory filing. No investor information was disclosed. The company had previously raised around $42 million in venture capital and debt funding from Scale Venture Partners, Foundation Capital, Rho Ventures, Time Warner Ventures, BEV Capital, Neocarta Ventures and Hercules Technology Growth Capital.

Rave Wireless Raised $7 Million — New York–based provider of mobile phone programs for colleges and universities, has raised $7 million in Series D funding, according to a regulatory filing. Listed shareholders include Bain Capital Ventures, Sigma Partners and RRE Ventures. The company previously raised around $35 million, including an $18 million Series C round last year led by Trilogy Equity Partners.

Blip.tv Raised $5 Million — New York–based online television network, has raised $5.2 million in Series B funding led by Bain Capital Ventures, according to a regulatory filing. The round was originally announced last month, but without a dollar amount.

The Mechanical Zoo Raised $2 Million — San Francisco-based social search startup, has raised $2 million in convertible promissory note funding led by August Capital, according to a regulatory filing. David Hornick of August has taken a board seat.

DigitalArbor Raised $5 Million — Cohasset, Mass.-based provider of back-end production services to the digital advertising, marketing and content/communications markets, has raised $5 million in Series A funding. Flybridge Capital Partners led the round, with partner Jeff Bussgang joining the company’s board of directors.

VibeAgent Raised $3 Million — Charlottesville, Va.-based hotel search engine, has raised $3 million in Series A funding from individual angels.

Blyk Raised $40 Million — Finland-based mobile network for young people, has raised €40 million in new VC funding. No additional details were disclosed for the round, which was announced on the company’s blog. Company shareholders include Sofinnova Partners.

Boxee Inc. Raised $4 Million — New York-based developer of a “social” media center, has raised $4 million in Series A funding from Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures. Bijan Sabet of Spark and Fred Wilson of USV will join the company’s board of directors.

Easou Raised $12 Million — Chinese mobile search company, has raised $12 million in third-round funding. iD TechVentures and AXA Private Equity co-led the round.

Digital Media M&A

Posted in Deals, Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2008 by Dave Liu

Adconion Media Group Acquired KTV Digital Media — Adconion, a global online advertising network, has acquired KTV Digital Media (a.k.a. RedLever), a Santa Monica, Calif.-based production studio, content distribution network and operator of video destination sites. No financial terms were disclosed. Adconion earlier this year raised the equivalent of $80 million in Series C funding from Index Ventures and Wellington Partners.

Publicis Acquires Tribal Agency, Buying Into LatAm Digital Marketing — Big Four ad agency Publicis is now buying into Latin American digital advertising, acquiring Sao Paulo-based Tribal to add to its Digitas online ad group. Digitas CEO Laura Lang said Tribal is “fundamental” to expanding in the growing region. Publicis bought Digitas back in 2006 and has grafted on various international digital acquisitions in the UK, India, Singapore, China and its native France, so this will be a foothold across the Atlantic. Tribal, which has 100 staff, counts Philips and Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) amongst its clients. Publicis is resisting the urge to rename Tribal “Digitas LatAm”; the agency will retain its name as well as its CEO Pierre Mantovani and creative director Renato Fabri. In Brazil, the ad market grew 25.1 percent in 2007, up from 2006’s 19.4 percent, outstripping the economy, according to ZenithOptimedia, which expects 15.4 percent growth this year while other international markets’ growth slows down.

Local Online Advertiser WebVisible Buys Adapt Technologies — WebVisible, a provider of local online ad tools, has acquired search marketer Adapt Technologies. Terms were not disclosed. The Irvine, Calif.-based WebVisible has raised $17 million in venture funding over the past three years, most recently securing $12 million in a second round from Redpoint Ventures in March. WebVisible markets software to small businesses with the promise of better management of their online ad buys. The company’s management tools operate across a range of platforms, including search engines, which is where Adapt Technologies comes in. Among Adapt Technologies’ services, WebVisible hopes to make greater use of its cost-per-action tracking system.

M2 Global Ltd. has acquired the assets of iKobo — Atlanta-based provider of online electronic payment and remittance services. No financial terms were disclosed. IKobo had previously discontinued operations, after having received over $13 million in VC funding, from firms like Total Technology Ventures, Council Ventures, WS Investments LLC, Silicon Alley Venture Partners, Greenhill Capital Partners Global Bank of Commerce.

Macrovision Sells Off eMeta Division To Atypon Systems — Macrovision, fresh off its $1 sale of TV Guide magazine, has now sold off its information content access and subscription software division eMeta to Atypon Systems, the e-publishing software firm based in Santa Clara, CA. Terms were not disclosed. MVSN bought eMeta in 2006, for about $35 million. This sale is likely nowhere near that amount, considering how MVSN is interested in disposing off non core assets on the cheap. eMeta has been part of MVSN’s discontinued line for better part of this year. Through this acquisition, Atypon has expanded its technical team and added a publishing services consulting team to the company’s existing proposition.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2008 by Dave Liu

Microsoft Considers Debt Offering — Microsoft is considering selling bonds for the first time in its history, Bloomberg reports, a curious move considering the software giant’s $20 billion cash hoard. An SEC filing noted that the company is now free to issue debt at any time. What does Microsoft need to raise capital for? Silicon Alley Insider reminds us that the software giant sought to at least partially pay for a Yahoo acquisition by issuing debt. Of course, that deal fell apart, leaving no obvious reason as to why the company would continue with the registration process. Is Microsoft preparing another bid for Yahoo? Not if you’ve been listening to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently. Maybe Microsoft wants to buy Salesforce.com or Facebook, or maybe both? SAI thinks the company is most likely preparing a massive stock repurchasing program. At $17.53 per share, or 9 times trailing earnings, Microsoft thinks its stock is undervalued. Brad Lutz, vice president of investment research at Declaration Management & Research LLC, says a bond offering from Microsoft would be in high demand among investors, who are anxious to find sound investments outside the realm of finance. “Non-financials have generally received a warm reception by the investment-grade capital markets,” Lutz said. “There’s certainly demand for higher-quality issuers.”

Vivendi CEO: No Decision Yet On Whether To Sell Stake In NBCU; GE’s Immelt: ‘Would Buy In Heartbeat’ — Vivendi SA has yet to decide whether it will keep its 20 percent stake in NBC Universal or exercise its annual option to sell, CEO Jean-Bernard Levy told analysts at a Morgan Stanley conference in Barcelona today. According to Bloomberg, Levy said: “Right now, considering the general expectations for the value of the assets, the dividend flow we get from NBCU is very good. … We will have to make a decision to optimize the proceeds that we get from NBC Universal (NYSE: GE). We will probably find a better allocation of assets at the right time, in the right environment.’’ This may not be the time given NBCU’s decent performance in a rough environment but he left the window wide open: “We will have to make the decision in the next two to three weeks, so you will hear about it shortly.’’ The deadline is in early December. Vivendi has an annual option through 2016 to call for an IPO to sell the stake; GE has the right to pre-empt that by buying it. Immelt told Bloomberg earlier this week that GE would do just that: “They have been a terrific partner. I’m not anxious to do it because they have been a good partner, but I would do it in a heartbeat.’’

Yahoo Remains In Talks With Time Warner About Buying AOL — Yahoo, the Sunnyvale, California Internet company, remains in talks about buying Time Warner’s (NYSE:TWX) AOL unit, reported the Boston Globe. The report, citing a newswire, reported people familiar with the matter said executives from both companies have met in the past few weeks and are negotiating over a deal. Time Warner would give Yahoo AOL’s advertising business in exchange for a stake in the combined company, according to the report. The report noted that differences between both sides still exist. Yahoo has a market capitalization of USD 12.4bn. Source: mergermarket.

Q3 Online Ad Revs Rise 11 Percent—Less Than Half Q307 Growth Rate: IAB — Considering the economic meltdown of the past few weeks, the fact that online ad revenues grew 11 percent in Q3 would seem to be reason to celebrate. But comparing the latest figures from the Interactive Advertising Bureau to its Q307 report shows how much growth has slowed. While online ad spending approached $5.9 billion this past quarter, in Q307, when the IAB said revenues hit $5.2 billion, it had gained 25.3 percent over the prior year. Although online ad dollars had already been slowing last year consider the difference from Q306, when web-based advertising was up 33 percent. Flat revenues: Compared to the other two quarters this year, online ad spending is dead flat, said the report, which the IAB partnered with PriceWaterhouseCoopers on. For example, in Q2, online ad dollars climbed 12.8 percent. Looking at the first nine months of the year at least, revenues totaled $17.3 billion, up from $15.2 billion in the same period a year ago, for a 13.8 percent gain. Again, for the sake of perspective, in Q307, the IAB reported that the first nine months of the year grew 26 percent year-over-year.

Google Unveils Search Personalization Tools — Google on Thursday unveiled new personalization tools that allow users to re-rank and edit search results. The SearchWiki tools let anyone logged into a Google account move results up or down, delete them entirely, or add personal notes through markers that appear next to each entry. The changes do not affect anyone else’s search experience, although users can click a separate link to see a view that reflects changes made by other SearchWiki users. Marissa Mayer, Google’s VP of search products and user experience, tells The Wall Street Journal that the tools are particularly useful for searches that users do repeatedly. Someone who frequently searches for medical reference materials, for example, would be able to eliminate results they haven’t found useful in the past.

As Economy Slows, Facebook Hits The Accelerator — As the economic outlook worsens, most Silicon Valley tech startups are cutting costs, but not Facebook, says BusinessWeek. The social networking giant is pressing ahead with aggressive plans for growth. As Facebook investor and board member Peter Thiel says, “This is not the time for tech companies to be cutting back; this is the time to be hitting the accelerator.” What does that mean, exactly? According to the report, Facebook will continue to go to great lengths to keep user growth high in tough times. This means hiring aggressively, hitting the M&A trail (possibly), and continuing to roll out new ad platforms. Despite the site’s growing development costs, engineers are working on versions in languages like Xhosa, Tagalong and French Canadian to corner niche audiences. “We’re in this game not just for five or 10 years,” says Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer. “We’re in it for 20 to 30 years.”