Top Ten Digital M&A Deals For 2010 Editor’s note: As the capital markets heat up and the economy continues to rebound, the deal flow is starting to open up again. We’ve already given you our top ten IPO candidates for 2010. In this guest post, Kelly Porter, an M&A expert at Woodside Capital Partners, proposes ten digital media deals he’d like to see. Digital media M&A activity is expected to pick up in 2010—big acquirers have significant cash on their balance sheets, share prices are up, and many good acquisition candidates are on the landscape. 1. YouTube arguably holds the highest potential of Google’s major growth initiatives, capturing about 38% of video viewing on the web and serving more than 1 billion streams daily. 2. Cisco’s pursuit of enterprise communications is important, and LinkedIn would be a natural and powerful extension of this strategy. 3. As many music services struggle, Pandora has reportedly skyrocketed to 40 million registered users and is adding 600,000 new users per week. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.
Done deal: Critical Path acquires Shozu, CEO Chris Wade stays on Our earlier report about Critical Path buying mobile services startup ShoZu turns out to have been right on the money. Tomorrow morning, both companies will jointly announce that they have come to an agreement for Critical Path to acquire all of ShoZu for an undisclosed sum. We’re trying to get a hold of the price the London company, which was backed by $36 million in venture capital, sold for. The release is below, but here are more details, including some deal terms: ShoZu was founded back in 2001 and essentially enables people from around the work to connect with other people by exchanging video, pictures and commentary between mobile devices and social networks, photo sharing sites and information resources. Critical Path’s Memova suite of applications and services is also built to let people communicate and share with each other, but its strategy consists of offering its software as a white-label solution for mobile carriers and ISPs rather than targeting consumers directly.
Evernote, the startup that boosts your memory, raises $10 million Evernote, which lets you record almost any type of data and recall it when you need it, just raised $10 million in a second round of venture-backed financing. It was led by Morgenthaler Ventures, with more funding from earlier investors including Troika Dialog. (The startup said it raised $2 million from NTT DoCoMo in October on top of $4.5 million in a venture-backed round in January. They also raised $6 million in angel funding back in 2006.) The Mountain View-based startup says it now has nearly 2 million users on its desktop clients and apps for the iPhone and Blackberry. Evernote was built to help people remember things — from wine labels at a restaurant to shopping lists to voice notes or old photos.
The Dark Side of the Late 2009 M&A Surge With the year—and decade—coming to a close, the business press has been awash with stories about just how lousy the ‘00s were. As Paul Krugman details in the New York Times, it was a decade with a tiny amount of job creation, and the first decade on record where private-sector jobs shrunk. The typical family got no economic boost at all. And when the volatility rollercoaster ended there was also no appreciation in home prices and zero gains on stocks. That pain was felt by venture capitalists as well. Dow Jones VentureSource is releasing its year-end liquidity numbers for 1999 this morning and no surprise—it’s just another data point nail in the coffin. At a high level you can put a good spin on the facts: In the fourth quarter acquisitions rebounded mightily. But as frequently happens in quarter-to-quarter surveys, that $100 million number was skewed greatly by a few large deals, most notably, Zappos’s $1.2 billion purchase by Amazon. 1. 2. 3. I’m not blaming investors.
Eyeka raises €3 million for crowd-sourcing ad campaigns [France] Eyeka, which connects brands and creative consumers, has raised €3 million in a second round of financing. The company already had €5 million in backing in 2006 with Ventech, DN Capital and SFR Developpement, while the company was focused on a platform to enhance pictures and videos management from mobiles. For this new round, previous investors are joined by French VC I-Source. This new round is to accelerate their international development and develop new product. Essentially speaking it’s a platform for corwd-sourcing ad campaigns for ad agencies and brands. Eyeka is one of the leaders in the new wave of the “consumer engagement” business, as it’s being called. Eyeka is based in Paris and Singapore (20 employees and 5 employees) and they’ve announced [PDF] that they’ll soon open an office in London. Eyeka CEO François Petavy announced in an interview they could have reached break-even but preferred to accelerate and invest.
The Complete Guide To Freemium Business Models Editor’s note: This guest post was written by Uzi Shmilovici, CEO and founder of Future Simple, which creates online software for small businesses. The post is based on a study done with Professor Eric Budish, an economics professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. It also includes ideas and comments from Peter Levine, a Venture Partner at Andreessen-Horowitz and a professor at Stanford GSB The idea of offering your product or a version of it for free has been a source of much debate. Pricing is always tricky. Free is even trickier and with so many opinions about it, we thought it would be refreshing to take a critical approach and dive deep into why some companies are very successful at employing the model while other companies fail. The Law of Marginal Cost Pricing plays a huge part in competing for customers. Guess what? An Experience Good At the core of the “Free” models are the products or services being offered to the customer. A good example is Dropbox.
Valuing early stage companies | Startable - Healy Jones' & Prasa Since this is my first post as a former venture capitalist I thought it might be interesting to answer a one of the more… opaque issues in venture financing. Two of the most frequent questions I got as a VC from entrepreneurs were “how much is my company worth” and “how do venture capitalists value my company?” The truth is that the answer has nothing to do with DCF’s or other business school theories, but instead is based around what the VC thinks/needs to return to their fund from that particular investment. Series A valuations Series A* valuations are usually based on percentages – as in, how much of the company does the venture capital fund want to own. Getting a higher valuation Strange as it sounds, this does imply that the more you raise the higher the valuation. Have a name-brand management team. The rational So why are valuations dependant mainly on percentage of the startup owned? The VCs are also thinking about how much of the company is owned by the management team.
How eBuddy’s Mobile Monetization Strategy Helped It Turn A Profi For the past four months, Amsterdam-based eBuddy has turned a profit, CEO Jan-Joost Rueb tells me, by offering advertising-supported services for free in combination with sales of a premium iPhone application. The company, backed by 11.5 million Euros in venture capital from Lowland Capital Partners and Prime Technology Ventures, markets a Web-based social network and instant messaging aggregator that enables people to sign in to their service once and stay connected to people through various platforms in one single interface where all of them are centralized. It also offers a number of ways for people to use the service on their mobile phones, through a mobile web service, a Java-based messenger client and applications for iPhone and Android. (Keep reading if you want to try their premium iPhone app for free, by the way) Rueb informs me that the J2ME client in particular has seen phenomenal success, recently surpassing 50 million downloads.
How App-Like Design Can Turn Your Site Visitors Into Customers Lisa Wehr is the founder and CEO of Oneupweb, a leading digital marketing agency representing some of the nation’s most recognized brands for more than 15 years. We’ve all heard the expression “The customer is always right,” but what about making the customer experience on your website so thoughtful that they don’t ever feel unappreciated, forgotten or neglected? According to AnnoyingDesign.org, the average time a user spends on a site is only 56 seconds. You have just 56 seconds to turn your site visitors into customers. What’s the cornerstone of app-influenced design? Visuals: Symbols and Icons and Pictograms, Oh My! Take a look at the two major printing sites shown here. The second company’s site follows the same structure — listing its popular products in the left navigation — however it outdoes the first company by having a much more accommodating design. Apps are all about pleasing the user by making navigation easier so people can achieve results faster. Looking Ahead
You Don’t Mean Average, You Mean Median Every quarter, without fail, a bunch of articles appear talking about the venture capital industries investment pace as a result of the PWC MoneyTree report. I used to get calls from all of the Denver / Boulder area reporters about my thoughts on these – that eventually stopped when I started responding “who gives a fuck?” A few days ago I got a note from Steve Murchie about his new blog titled Angels and Pinheads. I’m glad Steve is blogging about this as he’s got plenty of experience and thoughts around the dynamics of angel investors – some that I agree with and some that I don’t. Regardless, my view is that there more there is out there, the better, as long as people engage in the conversation. In his post Mind the Gap he made an assertion that “the VC industry has effectively stopped investing in seed stage ($500K and less) and startup-stage ($2M and less) opportunities.” Steve’s response to the Startup/Seed “Average Deal Size” was “WTF??!” I’m still feeling generous (e.g.
Social Network For Traders Currensee Raises $8 Million Social network for currency traders Currensee has raised $8M in Series B funding led by prior backer Northbridge Venture Partners and joined by new investor Egan-Managed Capital. The company had earlier raised $6 million from Northbridge Venture Partners, but $2 million of the Series A round (raised in October 2009) was converted to Series B terms as part of the deal. Thus, this round brings the total of financing for the company to $12 million. Currensee allows members of its trader network to see each other’s trades and positions, strategies and performance in real-time, enabling them to make more informed decisions. The company says its network boasts traders from over 70 different countries, and that its platform supports over 100 brokers. The company recently launched Currensee Marketplace, released full MT4 support, a Tweet My Trades feature and a partnership with Thomson Reuters IFR Markets. To a degree, the company competes with StockTwits, which has raised $4.6 million to date.
Case Study: How Google Sells Its Free Products Modern commercials are a funny thing. Ad agencies are trying to figure out how to give their commercials viral appeal while balancing that against providing company or product information. The Old Spice guy campaign is more or less universally lauded as an example of how to reboot a company's image and turn a commercial idea into a viral phenomenon. That worked for Old Spice, because most people can intuit how deodorant works; the company wasn't reinventing the wheel, it was reinventing its brand. Google's products are often less obvious to an everyday audience. Despite the odds, the technology giant has done a great job with its latest round of marketing campaigns by applying some basic principles in some very creative ways. Make Your Audience Feel Smart Google was not a company known for its commercials until last year's Super Bowl "search" ad that simultaneously showed the narrative arc of a budding romance and the vast possibilities of Google's core product all via search terms.
Top Tech Acquisitions Of 2009 We track a lot of acquisitions on CrunchBase. At the beginning of 2009, acquisitions were at a standstill. But as the economy begrudgingly roused itself from recession, the deal flow started to pick up in the summer, and then rebounded more in the third quarter. We’ll update the list if necessary at the end of the year (for instance, we don’t include Yelp in our list because it is not yet final), but it is not likely to change by much. The largest announced deal, Oracle’s $7.4 billion purchase of Sun Microsystems, is still awaiting regulatory approval. Some of the more significant deals in terms of potential market impact include Amazon’s $1.2 billion shoe-buying spree with Zappos (No. 14), Google’s $750 million acquisition of mobile ad network AdMob (No. 20), and Cisco’s $590 million Pure Digital/Flip Video deal (No. 21). The top 30 tech M&A deals are below: