Advertising company Sharethrough announced today that it’s moving into Europe with the acquisition of a London-based company called VAN.
The financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed. Sharethrough’s head of communications Thomas Channick told me via email that the VAN team will form “the core” of European operations, although the company plans to double the… Read More
Square is on a mission to diversify, and it’s turning to the red-hot food delivery industry to do so.
The payments company run by CEO Jack Dorsey plans to announce this week that it has acquired San Francisco-based Caviar, according to a person familiar with the deal. Caviar runs a service that lets consumers order meals to be delivered to their homes or offices from restaurants that don’t normally offer delivery.
Caviar will receive only Square stock in the transaction, this person said. The New York Times reported on Friday that the deal, which was first reported by TechCrunch, will be valued at $90 million.
A Square spokesman and Caviar CEO Jason Wang declined to comment.
A move into delivery by most payments processing companies would be a head-scratcher. But it could make sense for a company in Square’s position. It has been furiously expanding the menu of services it offers over the last few months as it attempts to add new revenue streams that would help justify its $5 billion valuation.
Among the new products are a merchant cash advance program called Square Capital, a customer survey product called Square Feedback and a food pickup app called Square Order, which replaced the failed Square Wallet. The question remains whether Square is betting on the right new products and services or grasping at straws. In the world of food delivery, Caviar faces fierce competition from companies such as DoorDash with similar propositions as well as traditional delivery companies such as GrubHub.
With Caviar on board, Square could in theory offer the delivery service to restaurants and cafes that already run on its payments system, in a package deal or a la carte. It’s not clear what percentage of its customer base are restaurants and cafes. The company could also give restaurants and cafes that already work with Caviar a discount to start processing payments through Square.
On the consumer side, Caviar could eventually be integrated into Square Order, so customers could browse pickup and delivery options in their area from the same app. (Caviar hasn’t yet released its own app, which it has been able to get away with since about 50 percent of orders come from businesses for office meals.)
In the interim, Caviar gives Square an immediate delivery presence in around 10 U.S. cities. Its restaurant customers include big-city staples such as Momofuku in Manhattan and Nick’s Crispy Tacos in San Francisco.
The company charges customers $9.99 per delivery, though it recently told Re/code it would soon be dropping the fee to $4.99. Caviar takes anywhere from 10 percent to 25 percent of the bill as its cut from the restaurant. It has 70 employees, not including the independent contractors it pays $15 per order to pick up and deliver the food. Wang recently told Re/code that the company turned a profit three months after launch, but has since slipped into the red as it spends cash to accelerate growth.
It has raised $15 million in funding from investors including Andreessen Horowitz and Tiger Global. Perhaps its best-known competitor, DoorDash, recently announced a $17 million investment led by Sequoia Capital.
Additional reporting by Liz Gannes.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. — It is not uncommon for a veteran player to ease his way into the Spring Training routine. Nick Swisher took that approach in the early days of camp this year, but the Indians first baseman was back on the field Sunday afternoon.
For his Cactus League debut, Swisher was slotted into the second spot of the lineup for the Indians, providing an early look into how he might be used this season. Swisher said he was thrilled to be back in the order as Cleveland begins its quest to build on last summer’s run to the postseason.
“It was nice to get out there, man,” Swisher said, “just to be out there with the guys and playing. We’re super early in Spring Training now, but just to be able to get out there, get a few hacks, it felt good.”
Swisher went 0-for-3 in his three plate appearances for the Tribe, but he did strike the first blow within a three-run outburst in the fifth inning. With one out and runners on the corners, Swisher chopped into a fielder’s choice, but Yan Gomes scored from third base to put Cleveland on the board.
Cleveland played its first three games of the spring without Swisher, who asked manager Terry Francona to keep him off the field for a handful of contests to start the preseason. Swisher took that approach due to feeling that he pushed things too hard too early in the schedule last year, when he joined the Indians after signing a four-year, $56-million contract.
Swisher felt that too much was made this past week over the fact that he took the first few games off.
“In February? It’s not a big deal,” Swisher said. “I just said, ‘Hey, man, let’s give myself a week to get into Spring Training and then start playing some games.’ I don’t know, man. I think you guys are looking way too into it. Go to some other clubs and see how they do it.”
In 146 games for Cleveland last season, the 33-year-old Swisher hit .246 with 22 home runs, 27 doubles and 63 RBIs. At various points throughout the year, Swisher dealt with a left shoulder issue, which had its roots in Spring Training.
London-based Spider.io has been acquired by Google, the company’s DoubleClick advertising blog announced today (via Re/Code). Spider.io is a startup that specialized in weeding out fraudulent clicks around online ads. The three-year old company has tech that will help Google identify bad behavior around their content in video and display ads on the web, to help them get a more accurate picture of what is and isn’t succeeding.
From Google’s official blogpost on the deal:
Advertising helps fund the digital world we love today — inspiring videos, informative websites, entertaining apps and services that connect us with friends around the world. But this vibrant ecosystem only flourishes if marketers can buy media online with the confidence that their ads are reaching real people, that results they see are based on actual interest. To grow the pie for everyone, we need to take head on the issue of online fraud.
Google isn’t revealing the terms of the deal, but the small London company is only seven strong, and this is a fairly specialized niche product so it’s unlikely to have been a huge exit. Still, the Spider.io team brings some impressive talent to Google’s ranks, including three PhDs and a an ex-Yahoo natural language processing and artificial intelligence expert.
Spider.io’s tech is designed specifically to detect attacks originating from PCs infected by malware. Often these hijacked computers are programmed by their attackers to place a high volume of ad requests, thus skewing the numbers and defrauding online advertisers out of millions of dollars. An FT article from last year revealed that one botnet last year managed to falsify billions of web-based ad clicks, sometimes accounting for as much as two-thirds of the sum total of visits to some websites.
Back in the days, if you were a professional wanting to learn some new skills to get that promotion, switch jobs, or even switch careers, you’d enroll in some community classes.
Today, you can use the Internet, and more specifically, services such as Pluralsight, which offers a variety of online courses for professionals and has just raised $135 million in a second round of funding.
“Lynda for example, has a really wide breadth of content, but it doesn’t go very deep in a particular area, with a few exceptions,” he said. He added that it would thus make sense for someone to start with Lynda courses, and then graduate to Pluralsight’s once they need more depth in a particular course.
Another competitor, Udemy, is more reliant on a community of folks to submit courses, while Pluralsight invests a lot of energy in vetting and recruiting teachers for its courses. There are several other competitors in the space, all with some variation on online education.
Like Lynda, Pluralsight charges its customers a monthly or yearly fee to access its content (not per course, as Udemy does), and says it has more than 3,000 courses in its library, created by 600 instructors, and totaling 9,900 hours of content, according to its website.
Although Pluralsight first started as a consumer-facing product, making its courses available to any professional Joe out there and marketing to him, it eventually started to sell its services to companies as well. Now, with its extra infusion of cash, Pluralsight will dedicate a good chunk of that money to growing its enterprise business.
“A lot of companies around the world are constantly facing this challenge. ‘How do we ramp up our people to get the skills we need them to have?’” said Skonnard.
Through Pluralsight, companies can purchase access for their employees at bulk discounts and digitally manage their employees’ education through Pluralsight. The traditional alternative to this has been to hire a very expensive expert to host a training program at the company, usually costing a small fortune and with mixed results.
But Pluralsight’s biggest challenge right now is to find ways to verify what a student has learned through its courses.
“How do we prove that these individuals have actually learned something?” said Skonnard.
Skonnard said the company is exploring a bunch of possible ways to accomplish this, though he declined to share specifics. Developing these is one of the things the company plans to use its new funds for.
Moreover, the company is also putting a lot more resources into its enterprise product, beefing up analytics, working to get better integration with companies’ systems, and increasing its library of courses.
Lastly, Pluralsight plans to use some of its new funding towards mergers and acquisitions if any opportunities arise, Skonnard said. The company is currently “looking at a few” possible targets, although Skonnard declined to provide more details. Pluralsight has already acquired four companies: Digital-Tutors, Tekpub, TrainSignal, and PeepCode.
Insight Venture Partners led the round, with additional participation from Iconiq Capital and Sorenson Capital.
Pluralsight was founded in 2004 by Keith Sparkjoy, Aaron Skonnard, Bill Williams, and Fritz Onion and is based in Farmington, Utah. The company previously raised $27.5 million.
lynda.com is an online learning company that helps anyone learn software, business, and design skills to achieve personal and professional goals. With a lynda.com subscription, members receive unlimited access to a vast library of high… read more »
Pluralsight is the largest online tech and creative library on the planet. The revolutionary Pluralsight training library provides developers, IT admin and creative professionals everywhere with instant access to a rich collection of o… read more »
Yahoo has bought recommendation platform Zofari, Zofari’s founders announced today.
“After meeting some of the amazing folks on the Yahoo Search team and hearing about their vision, the decision for our team to join Yahoo was an easy one,” reads the announcement. “We can’t talk about what we’re working on yet, but needless to say we are very, very excited.”
Zofari, which raised $150,000 from friends and family to get off the ground, recommends restaurants, bars, and other attractions based on other places a user has enjoyed. The developers have said the service was inspired by music recommendation service Pandora, as well as Netflix’s sophisticated algorithm for recommending films related to what you’e watched in the past.
The idea of a Netflix-style recommendation engine for physical places is a compelling one, especially in a city, though it poses complex challenges. Zofari drew a lukewarm mention on the New York Times as recently as late last year.
It’s not yet clear what Yahoo intends to do with the fledgling company, though TripAdvisor’s purchase and subsequent shuttering of similar service Wanderfly — as well as Yahoo’s acquisition and closing of GoPollGo — cast a long shadow in the age of the “acqui-hire.“
What’s certain is that the buy plays a role in Yahoo’s scramble to rebuild traffic and influence under president Marissa Mayer, who has overseen the acquisition of A-list blogging platform Tumblr as well as a host of other startups, including another personalized recommendation outfit, Jybe.
“Zofari and Yahoo share a common goal to make the world an easier place to explore for as many people as possible,” said a Yahoo representative in a statement. “We’re thrilled to welcome the team to Yahoo, where they will join our growing Search organization and continue to build amazing discovery experiences.”
Yahoo! is the premier digital media company. Founded in 1994 by Stanford PhD candidates David Filo and Jerry Yang as a way for them to keep track of their personal interests on the Internet, Yahoo! has grown into a company that hel… read more »
AirStrip, a mobile healthtech company based in San Antonio, TX, has acquired FDA-approved technology developed by San Diego’s Sense4Baby that enables doctors and other healthcare providers to monitor maternal-fetal vital signs on a smartphone or tablet. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The San Diego-based Gary and Mary West Health Investment Fund put $4 million into Sense4Baby after the startup was spun out from the Gary and Mary West Health Institute. The wireless monitoring technology for high-risk pregnancies was developed in-house at the institute, and Sense4Baby was the first startup to be enrolled in a healthtech incubator Gary and Mary West established in 2012.
The West health investment fund and healthtech incubator are for-profit entities affiliated with the nonprofit West health institute. The telemarketing billionaires Gary and Mary West established all three organizations, along with a nonprofit health policy center, to work together to reduce healthcare costs.
Sense4Baby received clearance to commercialize its technology from the FDA and European regulators in 2013.
AirStrip says patient data from the Sense4Baby system will be integrated with its interoperable mobile technology, called AirStrip ONE, which is capable of transmitting data from multiple sources to caregivers using multiple mobile devices.
In a statement, AirStrip CEO Alan Portela says, “AirStrip pioneered data mobilization in women’s services ten years ago with the first FDA-cleared application that allowed doctors to monitor live data for patients in labor in the hospital setting. As a result, one in six babies born in the U.S. is now monitored using AirStrip ONE in labor and delivery. Now, AirStrip is innovating again by mobilizing waveform data of pregnant patients beyond the four walls of the hospital, expanding the ability to care for patients throughout the obstetrics care continuum.”
Red Robin International, Inc. – a wholly owned subsidiary of
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc.
) – announced the acquisition of four franchised units in Upstate
and Mid-Hudson region of New York.
Previously owned by Connecticut-based Swan Concepts Inc., the
franchised units are located in Latham, Halfmoon, Fayetteville
and Poughkeepsie. Red Robin Gourmet Burgers currently owns and
operates 12 locations in New York, with another restaurant coming
up in West Babylon, NY.
Post Hurricane Sandy and the economic downturn, Hudson County is
poised for strong economic growth in 2014. Additionally, the
waterfront towns in the Upstate and Mid-Hudson region are popular
tourist attractions. In our view, the acquisition will be a
strategic success, as the profitable location will drive Red
The trend of transitioning to a company-based model is fast
picking up, although most companies still prefer franchisees. A
host of restaurateurs like
Panera Bread Co.
Buffalo Wild Wings Inc.
) have also acquired franchised units in the recent past.
The strong growth witnessed in these franchised units makes them
a lucrative acquisition target. Hence, we view the deal as
strategically positive in an industry that depends largely on
At the end of the last quarter, Red Robin had 495 restaurants. Of
this, 6 were Red Robin’s Burger Works restaurants – the company’s
smaller prototype restaurant – 134 units were franchised and the
rest were company owned. The company has plans for aggressive
expansion and remains on track to unveil 20 units in 2014, along
with 5 Red Robin’s Burger Works.
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers currently carries a Zacks Rank #3
(Hold). A better-ranked stock in the same industry is
The Wendy’s Company
), which has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
Bernin (Grenoble), France, March 24th, 2014 -Soitec Solar Development, LLC (“Soitec”) announced today that Invenergy Solar Development LLC (“Invenergy”) has acquired Soitec’s 7 MWp (5 MWAC) Desert Green Solar Farm LLC (“Desert Green”) energy generation project in Borrego Springs, California.
Desert Green will be located approximately 90 miles from the City of San Diego, in northeastern San Diego County. The project will feature more than 2,800 Soitec Concentrix(TM) concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) modules, which are manufactured at Soitec’s Rancho Bernardo factory.
Project construction is scheduled to begin this month, with commercial operations expected to commence by the end of 2014. Power generated by Desert Green will be purchased by San Diego Gas Electric (“SDGE”) under a long-term agreement. The facility will connect to SDGE’s Borrego Springs substation.
“Invenergy is pleased to reach this agreement with Soitec, as California continues to lead the nation in its support for renewable power generation,” said Jim Shield, Chief Development Officer at Invenergy. “Desert Green is a real milestone for Invenergy as our first clean energy project in the state. We’re proud to invest in Borrego Springs, and look forward to a long and successful relationship with the community.”
In 2011, SDGE entered into five PPAs for 155 MW with Soitec Solar Development. Desert Green is the first project to start construction within that PPA portfolio. These SDGE PPAs underpinned Soitec’s investment of over $150 million in its San Diego CPV module factory which to date has created over 250 jobs at Soitec’s Rancho Bernardo facility.
“This is an important milestone occurring shortly after the first year of operation of our San Diego factory and demonstrates Soitec’s success in executing its strategic plan to complete its portfolio of CPV projects supporting the San Diego factory,” said Clark Crawford, Vice President of Sales and Business Development. “Invenergy’s clean energy industry experience and track record of raising project finance – along with its proven construction and operational capabilities – will ensure that the Desert Green project is completed and operated with the highest standards.”
“SDGE looks forward to working with Invenergy as it builds a new source of clean, homegrown energy here in Southern California, helping SDGE to meet its state Renewable Portfolio Standard goals,” said James Avery, Senior Vice President of Power Supply at SDGE. “SDGE is proud to have spurred Soitec’s investment in the local CleanTECH cluster with its San Diego factory, and the PPAs using Soitec’s CPV modules will help SDGE to meet its RPS goals.“
The project is expected to create approximately 50 jobs during the peak of construction. In its first year of operation, the Desert Green solar project will generate enough clean energy to power nearly 2,000 homes in SDGE’s service territory. The project will displace nearly 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, the equivalent of taking more than 1,000 cars off US roadways.
The energy will be produced using Soitec’s Concentrix 5th generation CPV dual-axis tracking technology. The Soitec CX-S530 system is designed to improve the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) for utility-scale solar power plants in the sunniest regions of the world. With installations in 20 countries around the world, Soitec’s CPV technology has proven to be the most efficient and environmentally friendly solar power generation technology. It demonstrates unique cost competitiveness compared to other solar technologies, largely due to its higher production yields throughout the sunlight hours and lower construction and maintenance costs. In addition, CPV technology’s ability to operate without cooling water, withstand hot ambient temperatures with minimal environmental impact make it perfectly suited for use in desert areas such as Borrego Springs, CA.
Soitec is an international manufacturing company, a world leader in generating and manufacturing revolutionary semiconductor materials at the frontier of the most exciting energy and electronic challenges. Soitec’s products include substrates for microelectronics (most notably SOI: Silicon-on-Insulator) and concentrator photovoltaic systems (CPV). The company’s core technologies are Smart Cut(TM), Smart Stacking(TM) and Concentrix(TM), as well as expertise in epitaxy. Applications include consumer and mobile electronics, microelectronics-driven IT, telecommunications, automotive electronics, lighting products and large-scale solar power plants. Soitec has manufacturing plants and RD centers in France, Singapore, Germany and the United States. For more information visit: www.soitec.com.
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Summit Midstream Partners, LP (NYSE: SMLP) today announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Grand River Gathering, LLC (“Grand River”), has closed the previously announced acquisition of Red Rock Gathering Company, LLC (“Red Rock”) from a subsidiary of Summit Midstream Partners, LLC (“Summit Investments”) for total cash consideration of $305.0 million, subject to customary working capital adjustments. The Red Rock drop down was financed with the net proceeds from SMLP’s primary equity offering of 5.3 million common units and borrowings under SMLP’s revolving credit facility.
Red Rock is a natural gas gathering and processing system located in the Piceance Basin in western Colorado and eastern Utah with approximately 1,480 miles of low-pressure and high-pressure pipeline, 54,000 horsepower of compression and two processing plants with 50 MMcf/d of processing capacity. The Red Rock system gathers and processes natural gas, primarily under fee-based contracts, for more than 55 producer customers. Natural gas on the Red Rock system interconnects with downstream pipelines serving Enterprise Products Partners L.P.’s (“Enterprise”) Meeker Natural Gas Processing Plant, Williams Partners L.P.’s Northwest Pipeline system, and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners L.P.’s TransColorado Pipeline system. Processed natural gas liquids from the Red Rock system are injected into Enterprise’s Mid-America Pipeline system.
Red Rock’s largest customers include subsidiaries of WPX Energy, Inc., Encana Corporation, Noble Energy, Inc., Black Hills Corporation, Piceance Energy LLC, and Ursa Resources Group II LLC. For the year ended December 31, 2013, volume throughput on the Red Rock system averaged 148 MMcf/d and more than 80.0% of its revenue was generated from fee-based services.
Pro forma for the Red Rock drop down, SMLP will continue to generate more than 90.0% of its revenue under long-term, fee-based contracts and will have over 4.2 Tcf of minimum volume commitments through 2026.
The terms of the Red Rock drop down transaction were approved by the board of directors of SMLP’s general partner and by the board’s conflicts committee, which consists entirely of independent directors. The conflicts committee engaged Evercore Partners to act as its independent financial advisor and to render a fairness opinion, and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld, LLP acted as its legal advisor.
Because of the common control aspects in a drop down transaction, the Red Rock acquisition is deemed a transaction between entities under common control and, as such, will be accounted for on an “as if pooled” basis for all periods in which common control existed. As a result, SMLP’s financial results will retrospectively include Red Rock’s financial results for all periods ending after October 23, 2012.
ATT bought the small prepaid wireless firm Leap Wireless this week. Leap Wireless famously runs the prepaid services under the brand name of Cricket. The Federal Communications Commission approved the acquisition and said that it took this decision in the public interest. Cricket Wireless has become a substantial player in the US prepaid wireless market as its customers increased to nearly 5 Million. It has been decided by ATT to merge its prepaid service under the cricket brand name.
Technically, Cricket Wireless uses CDMA radio access technology compared to ATT’s GSM wireless technology. ATT has planned to switch cricket to its radio access technology which is GSM. This acquisition means ATT has now got a strong market share in the American prepaid wireless business.
ATT had to agree on a lot of terms in the buying agreement. Cricket had a targeted economy customers and so ATT has agreed to keep up certain mobile voice and data plans that would not affect the existing Leap Wireless customer base. ATT also agreed on using the unused Cricket network’s latest fourth generation wireless technology LTE Spectrum. LTE spectrum is expected to be implemented in three to twelve months duration.
South Texas is a hot bed for Leap Wireless and ATT is planning to provide the advanced LTE technology in that area in three years time. ATT and formerly Bellsouth has had a considerable market share in Texas historically. This acquisition and transformation of the Cricket network into GSM technology means that the current CDMA mobile phones shall be incapable for usage on the ATT network. So, ATT has decided to start a device exchange credit program for all Cricket customers when the network is officially switched to LTE in a few months. The only device exception is for Cricket Apple iPhone 4 users who can claim an ATT GSM sim card from the ATT retail stores.
The expected rate plans for the Leap wireless customers now would be a convenient forty dollar unlimited talk, text and data plan for the next three years till the transition to a new technology is successfully done. The data rates expected for the Cricket customers till then would be 500MB at high-speed. If the customers are willing to pay $50 then the data would increase to 2.5 GB and for $60 the customers would get a mammoth 5GB data plan per month. That would be similar to the existing Leap wireless plans and rates.
For music lovers, Cricket wireless used to provide great unlimited download feature called Muve Music but now, ATT’s music feature Beats Music would cost the customers ten dollars more.
A lot of eyebrows have been raised at the FCC after this approval to ATT and Leap Wireless merger. FCC has strongly denied any approval for the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint who are the two significant wireless players in US telecommunications market. The FCC paddled this question aside by saying that T-mobile with its jump plan has proved itself as a maverick competitor but, Leap Wireless is not a regulatory concern and so is ATT.
By Vikas Vemuri
Postproduction and broadcaster technology developer Quantel has acquired Snell, which creates technology for broadcast production and the management and distribution of web content. The terms of the deal between the two UK-headquartered companies was not disclosed.
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With the acquisition — which comes just week’s before the annual NAB Show — Quantel plans to offer a “complete product range to create, version and deliver high quality content efficiently across multiple platforms.” Quantel’s technologies include its Pablo and Pablo Rio 4K postproduction systems; Snell’s lines include the Alchemist Ph.C-HD standards converter. The two companies have combined revenues of $170 million.
“Our product ranges are entirely complementary so the excellent Snell and Quantel brands and product ranges will continue,” said Ray Cross, executive chairman and CEO of Quantel, in a statement. “We’ll be able to combine the best in class talent and technologies from Quantel and Snell to bring exciting new products to market to help our customers transform their businesses. More local offices across the world will enable us to build closer relationships with our customers and to offer even better support.”
Paul Martin, managing director of the Snell TV Everywhere division; and Robert Rowe, managing director of the Snell Live TV division, will join the Quantel board. Tim Banks, Snell sales director; and Peter Fredericks, Snell finance director, are also “taking leading roles” at Quantel.
Said outgoing Snell CEO Simon Derry in a statement: “I’m really delighted that the Snell and Quantel businesses have come together to increase the scale and scope for both. I look forward to supporting Ray during the important period of transition.”