The Daily Startup: Jana Dials in $57 Million for Ad-Supported Web Access

dailystartup_D_20090806101628.jpgArt by Mike Lucas

Jana Mobile Inc., a platform  to bring ad-supported Web access to the developing world, has picked up $57 million for its expansion plans, which include China.  If the idea sounds remotely familiar, that is because it should.  Facebook has been trying to deliver free access to India through its Free Basics initiative. That effort has not been without its critics.  India’s telecom regulatory authority has banned the service as a net neutrality violation on the grounds that it only offered free access to some parts of the Web.   Jana’s Series C round included lead investor Verizon AOL and had participation from Spark Capital.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

Instart Logic Inc., whose technology speeds the delivery of Web and mobile applications, has acquired a company, Kwicr Inc., after raising $88 million in less than a year. The acquisition, which provides a Continue reading “The Daily Startup: Jana Dials in $57 Million for Ad-Supported Web Access”

The Daily Startup: Increased Spending in Cybersecurity Drives Funding Surge

As funding from venture capitalists tapered off in the fourth quarter of 2015, investment in the cybersecurity sector continued to boom, Cat Zakrzewski reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. Venture capitalists invested $675.43 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, up from $522.41 million in the same quarter a year before, according to data from Dow JonesVentureSource. Total annual venture capital funding in cybersecurity increased 76%, to $3.34 billion, in 2015.

In the wake of high-profile hacks and increased activity from state actors, companies are increasing their spending on security. Gartner predicts the world-wide cybersecurity market will increase to $170 billion by 2020, up from $75.4 billion in 2015. Investors see that boom as an opportunity, despite public security stocks struggling since the start of Continue reading “The Daily Startup: Increased Spending in Cybersecurity Drives Funding Surge”

The Daily Startup: Lender Renew Financial Secures $70 Million Series D

dailystartup_D_20090806101628.jpgArt by Mike Lucas

Renew Financial, a lender for energy-efficient home improvements, has raised $70 million in new funds, Yuliya Chernova reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. Oakland, Calif.-based Renew originates and underwrites loans used to make permanent energy improvements, such as the installation of efficient air conditioning systems, new windows or solar systems. New investor LL Funds Inc. joined Renew’s existing backers Angeleno Group, Apollo Capital Management, Claremont Creek Ventures, NGEN Partners and Prelude Ventures in the new round of financing.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

Acceleprise, an accelerator with offices in San Francisco that specializes in startups selling software as a service to businesses, has received hundreds of applications since it launched in June 2014 and has invested in 24 startups so far, with a new group of eight just selected. Based on its track record–two startups acqui-hired, one acquired and Continue reading “The Daily Startup: Lender Renew Financial Secures $70 Million Series D”

The Daily Startup: Investor Stakes in Education Tech Boom in 2015

The education technology sector chalked up $1.42 billion in investments last year, the most amount of dollars booked since 2000, the peak of the dot-com boom, according to industry tracker Dow Jones VentureSource. Education technology Investments jumped 69.9% in 2015 from the $836.4 million dispensed in 2014, according to the data.

By far the largest amount of investment dollars went to companies developing educational training and media services aimed at corporations. Investors put $1.3 billion into these companies working on corporate training and lifelong learning programs, about double from the $643.3 million invested in 2014.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

DataRobot Inc., which is automating the analysis of big data that is often done manually or with lower-order tools by data scientists Continue reading “The Daily Startup: Investor Stakes in Education Tech Boom in 2015”

The Daily Startup: Smart Lock Startup Latch Secures $10.5 Million Series A

dailystartup_D_20090806101628.jpgArt by Mike Lucas

Smart locker maker Latch has raised $10.5 million in Series A funding, Patience Haggin reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. While other companies are focusing on smart locks for the home, Latch, which is incorporated as Latchable Inc., is focusing on locks for commercial properties and apartment buildings. Latch produces a keyless entry system that features a traditional keyhole as well as touch screen and a camera that can record who is at the door. Users can open the door by using a smartphone app, entering a key code on the touch screen or using a key.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

ARMO BioSciences Inc. has secured $50 million, and increased its total venture backing to $100 million, after clinical studies showed that its lead immuno-oncology drug could be used on its own or with other therapies to treat several cancers.

Continue reading “The Daily Startup: Smart Lock Startup Latch Secures $10.5 Million Series A”

The Daily Startup: Market for App Store Analytics Enters New Era

dailystartup_D_20090806101628.jpgArt by Mike Lucas

Several startups are vying to be the Nielsen Corp. for mobile app user engagement, but as the industry becomes more competitive, newcomers have forced down prices on once-premium analytics products like download and revenue estimates, Patience Haggin reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. As the first wave of app analytics becomes commoditized, the market’s established players like App Annie are striving to build the next generation, which will require tracking and predicting users’ interaction with apps, down to each individual click and swipe. Other newcomers include Mobile ActionCrittercism and Mixpanel.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

Zirx Consumer Services Inc. is shutting down its consumer on-demand parking service, saying that the company couldn’t scale the business to profitability. In a blog post, Zirx Chief Executive Sean Behr said the company would continue its enterprise business, which he said is growing.

AccelFoods, an accelerator for companies that Continue reading “The Daily Startup: Market for App Store Analytics Enters New Era”

The Daily Startup: General Catalyst Closes Pair of Funds at $845 Million

dailystartup_D_20090806101628.jpgArt by Mike Lucas

General Catalyst Partners announced Thursday that investors committed $845 million to its eighth set of funds, Russ Garland reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. The new funds are the largest pool the venture-capital firm has ever raised, according to VentureWire records. The Cambridge, Mass., firm, which also has offices in New York and Palo Alto, Calif., said the commitments were to two related funds, General Catalyst Group VIII LP and General Catalyst Group VIII Supplemental LP. The firm’s ability to round up $845 million is a sign that limited partners remain confident in the venture industry despite worries that some private companies are overvalued.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

SnagAJob.com Inc., a 16-year-old company that operates a marketplace for hourly workers, has found renewed interest from investors as the on-demand market for hourly labor matures. The company has raised $100 million in Continue reading “The Daily Startup: General Catalyst Closes Pair of Funds at $845 Million”

The Daily Startup: Agilent Sues Startup Twist Bioscience

dailystartup_D_20090806101628.jpgArt by Mike Lucas

Since 2013 Emily Leproust has raised $133 million in equity for Twist Bioscience Corp., a startup she formed to tap into rising demand for genes used to make biopharmaceuticals and other products. Now her former employer is suing her and Twist for allegedly stealing trade secrets. Twist didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Agilent declined to comment on the pending litigation. Agilent, which also alleges that she poached its employees, is suing to prevent Twist from using trade secrets and confidential information, according to a complaint filed Wednesday in Superior Court in Santa Clara County.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

Mersana Therapeutics Inc. could earn more than $800 million through an alliance with Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. to advance new cancer therapies that use antibodies to guide cell-killing drugs to tumors.

Simplex, a startup that is aiming to reduce fraud risk in bitcoin, Continue reading “The Daily Startup: Agilent Sues Startup Twist Bioscience”

The Daily Startup: Pear Therapeutics Aims for Digital Substance-Abuse Treatment

dailystartup_D_20090806101628.jpgArt by Mike Lucas

Mental-health and neurological conditions are now treated with medications, when available, and face-to-face therapy. Some venture investors are betting that software, videogames and other digital treatments will provide another option. Pear Therapeutics Inc., whose software-based substance-abuse treatments are part of a growing movement toward digital therapies for neurological conditions, has now raised $20 million and plans to use the funding to seek U.S. regulatory authorization to market the treatment, Brian Gormley reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. New investors Arboretum Ventures and Jazz Venture Partners led the Series A round along with return backer 5AM Ventures. New investor Bridge Builders Collaborative also participated.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

Index Ventures has closed its eighth fund, which totals $550 million, and announced it also raised $700 million for growth funds. The firm has added two partners, including Dick Costolo, the former chief executive Continue reading “The Daily Startup: Pear Therapeutics Aims for Digital Substance-Abuse Treatment”

The Daily Startup: HI-FI Seeded for Interest-Based Social Network

dailystartup_D_20090806101628.jpgArt by Mike Lucas

HI-FI Inc., which bills itself as the mobile lifestyle network, has raised $3 million in seed funding for an interest-based social-media network, Patience Haggin reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. HI-FI users join micro-communities of users who share a particular interest, such as fly-fishing or scrapbooking. The interest communities send both user-curated and professional content to users’ filtered newsfeeds.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

Two biopharmaceutical companies on Monday advanced offerings that could potentially mark the first IPOs of 2016. Cambridge, Mass.-based Proteostasis Therapeutics Inc. said it intends to raise up to $62 million in its initial public offering. AveXis Inc., based in Bannockburn, Ill., plans to raise up to $102.6 million through a sale of 4.25 million shares priced between $19 and $21 each.

SolidEnergy Systems Corp., a battery startup, has raised $12 million in Series B funding. Continue reading “The Daily Startup: HI-FI Seeded for Interest-Based Social Network”

The Daily Startup: KnowBe4 Catches $8 Million to Thwart Phishing Attacks

dailystartup_D_20090806101628.jpgArt by Mike Lucas

KnowBe4 LLC grabbed $8 million in funding to help small businesses protect themselves from vulnerabilities their own employees inadvertently expose them to, Cat Zakrzewski reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. The funding makes KnowBe4 the second portfolio company for Elephant Partners, a new venture-capital fund formed by Andy Hunt, co-founder of Warby Parker, and Jeremiah Daly, a former partner from Highland Capital Partners. KnowBe4 helps companies run simulations of phishing attacks on their employees to see what percentage would be vulnerable to such hacks.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

Screen–which has developed a piece of hardware, coupled with a mobile application, that would allow parents to manage the screen time on all devices–has raised $1.9 million in a seed equity round. The company, incorporated as LimitScreen Inc. raised the funding from Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Advancit Capital, Continue reading “The Daily Startup: KnowBe4 Catches $8 Million to Thwart Phishing Attacks”

The Daily Startup: Food, Beverage Investment Soars to Record in 2015

Venture investors’ appetite for food and beverage startups continued unabated in 2015, Lora Kolodny reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. Food and beverage deals rose to $603 million across 48 deals in 2015, up from $377 million across 46 deals in 2014, representing a 60% increase and record annual amount invested in the sector since 1992, when Dow Jones VentureSource began tracking the data.

Specialty foods accounted for 37% of the food and beverage deals, and the largest rounds of funding went into these businesses as well, most notably a $108 million investment in Impossible Foods Inc. in the fourth quarter of 2015.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

BloomReach Inc. has closed a $56 million round of funding to bring personalized recommendations for customers to any digital business that wants it. Investors in the BloomReach Series D round included Bain Capital Ventures, Battery Ventures, Lightspeed Ventures, New Continue reading “The Daily Startup: Food, Beverage Investment Soars to Record in 2015”

The Daily Startup: Naritiv Scores Funding for Disappearing Ads

dailystartup_D_20090806101628.jpgArt by Mike Lucas
Advertisers have been studying Snapchat for how to get exposure to its audience. Naritiv, a startup functioning as a digital agency, has figured out  way to help brand advertisers create promotional snaps.  The company has raised $3 million to create this branded content for Snapchat. “We don’t look at Vine or Snapchat as similar at all. We look at Snapchat as the future where messaging and media come together,” said the company’s co-founder and chief executive, Daniel Altmann.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

Pindrop Security Inc. picked up $75 million to bring its voice fraud authentication platform to the Internet of Things. Google Capital led the Series C round, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz, Citi Ventures, Felicis, GV (formerly Google Ventures) and Institutional Venture Partners. The company has raised $122 million to date but isn’t disclosing its valuation.

Blockchain Capital, Continue reading “The Daily Startup: Naritiv Scores Funding for Disappearing Ads”

The Daily Startup: Snyk Nabs $3M to Help Make Open-Source Code Safer

dailystartup_D_20090806101628.jpgArt by Mike Lucas

Software security breaches often happen because attackers exploit known vulnerabilities in open-source code built into programs. That is why new startup Snyk Ltd. is releasing developer tools in hopes that programmers would write more secure software from the get-go, Yuliya Chernova reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. Snyk started offering tools that find known vulnerabilities in a client’s code free. The company hopes to then sell monitoring tools that would scan a client’s code to identify holes that become known, as well as tools to fix and isolate the faulty code.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

Civic has received $2.75 million in seed funding for its technology to use blockchain to secure consumer data. The company plans to go a step further than other identity protection services, such as those available from LifeLock Inc. and Experian.

Savari Inc., a startup working on technology for Continue reading “The Daily Startup: Snyk Nabs $3M to Help Make Open-Source Code Safer”

The Daily Startup: Ignition Partners Invests in Docker

dailystartup_D_20090806101628.jpgArt by Mike Lucas

Docker Inc., one of Silicon Valley’s most highly valued private software companies, has accepted a new investor, Deborah Gage reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. Ignition Partners was added to Docker’s Series D round, which the company raised last April at a valuation of more than $1 billion, as part of Docker’s acquisition of an obscure software project at the University of Cambridge called Unikernal Systems. Ignition Managing Director Frank Artale worked with some of Unikernal’s developers at a previous company, XenSource, which was later acquired by Citrix Systems Inc. He was helping the Unikernal team figure out how to build a company around the open-source project when Docker executives got wind of it and acquired it, Mr. Artale said. He declined to say how much Ignition invested in Docker.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

5miles, a location-centric mobile marketplace app hoping to Continue reading “The Daily Startup: Ignition Partners Invests in Docker”

The Daily Startup: Health-Care Venture Investment Sets Records in 2015

Driven by investment in new disease treatments and other medical technologies, venture-capital funding in U.S. health-care companies rose to a record $16.10 billion last year, a 34% jump from 2014, Brian Gormley reports for Dow Jones VentureWire.

Last year’s tally beat the previous record of $12.04 billion set in 2014, according to industry tracker Dow Jones VentureSource. The surge occurred as investors funded startups in biotechnology, medical devices, and health-care software and services.

Despite the record year, falling oil prices, slowing growth in China and declining stock prices are prompting investors to predict a slower year for health-care investment in 2016, especially in biotech.

While a slowdown may be coming, it wasn’t evident in the fourth-quarter numbers. Biotech companies raised $2.47 billion in the fourth quarter, the most of any quarter last year. That sum was also a 28% rise from the third quarter, when $1.

Continue reading “The Daily Startup: Health-Care Venture Investment Sets Records in 2015”

The Daily Startup: Abingworth Raises $105M Fund for Drug Co-Development

dailystartup_D_20090806101628.jpgArt by Mike Lucas

After seeing success with two portfolio companies that join with drugmakers to advance specific therapies, Abingworth has raised a $105 million fund that gives it more firepower to put behind this strategy, Brian Gormley reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. Abingworth companies SFJ Pharmaceuticals Group and Avillion LLP formed to provide pharmaceutical companies with another way to finance late-stage clinical studies of individual drugs. Even though many large drug developers are cash rich, they still face profit-and-loss pressures and aren’t able to fund late-stage clinical studies for all of the products in their pipelines. SFJ and Avillion aim to help them get more products to market by financing studies of specific drugs.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

FiveStars Inc. has raised $50 million in Series C funding for its loyalty rewards business tailored for mobile usage. HarbourVest Partners led FiveStars’ Series C round and was joined Continue reading “The Daily Startup: Abingworth Raises $105M Fund for Drug Co-Development”

The Daily Startup: ScaleVP Closes New Fund, Tightens Funding Criteria

dailystartup_D_20090806101628.jpgArt by Mike Lucas

Scale Venture Partners closed its fifth fund at $335 million, an increase of $35 million from its last fund, which it raised in 2013, Deborah Gage reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. But startups will have to stand out more if they want Scale’s money. In the last six months or so, the Foster City, Calif.-based firm has tightened the criteria it uses to invest in companies, according to Partner Rory O’Driscoll, reflecting a greater caution among venture investors as the global economy wobbles and public markets become less receptive to IPOs.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

Venture capital investment dollars in 2015 soared to the highest level since the peak of the dot-com boom but slid in the fourth quarter amid concerns about the global economy and the run-up in technology startups’ valuations.

ForeScout Technologies Inc. closed a $76 million late-stage funding round Continue reading “The Daily Startup: ScaleVP Closes New Fund, Tightens Funding Criteria”

The Daily Startup: Media Startup Greatist Raises $4.5 Million

dailystartup_D_20090806101628.jpgArt by Mike Lucas

New York startup Greatist Inc. has raised $4.5 million to deliver health and wellness news to millennials, Lora Kolody reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. Greatist founder and Chief Executive Derek Flanzraich said he intends to use the capital to become the top, healthy-living brand for millennials, he said, including by moving aggressively into online video. The company generates revenue by selling native advertisements, or articles sponsored by a given brand, and brand partnerships, which can be more extensive campaigns and involve the startup acting as a kind of creative agency for its clients.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

Norwest Venture Partners has raised its second $1.2 billion fund in two years, indicating a strong appetite among limited partners for investments in successful technology companies. This latest fund, Norwest Venture Partners XIII, reflects a diversification strategy developed for the 11th fund, which when it closed Continue reading “The Daily Startup: Media Startup Greatist Raises $4.5 Million”

The Daily Startup: Airbus Ventures Makes Its First Investment

dailystartup_D_20090806101628.jpgArt by Mike Lucas

Local Motors Inc., a Phoenix-based company that uses digital manufacturing techniques to create appliances and vehicles designed by a crowd, has raised funding from Airbus Ventures, Deborah Gage reports. The investment is the first from the Airbus Group‘s corporate venture fund that was announced in May.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

Zoosk Inc., a dating site, has laid off employees for the second time within a year’s time. The San Francisco-based company said that it let go 40 workers on Thursday. Zoosk laid off 15% of its workers in January 2015.

Summit Partners said it made seven promotions in its Boston and Menlo Park, Calif., offices, five of which were to managing director positions. The firm promoted David Averett, Adam Britt, Andrew Collins, Robert Hassell and Michael Medici to managing director roles.

(VentureWire is a daily newsletter with Continue reading “The Daily Startup: Airbus Ventures Makes Its First Investment”