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Sharethrough Acquires UK’s VAN As A Springboard For International Growth

submitted 2 weeks ago by in Acquisitions

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sharethrough 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

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Square To Acquire Caviar Delivery Startup

submitted 2 months ago by in Acquisitions

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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.

Re/code

 

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Tribe acquires infielder Sellers from Dodgers

submitted 7 months ago by in Acquisitions

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Swisher chooses to ease into Spring Training

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.

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Google Acquires Spider.io To Help Spot And Stop Online Ad Fraud

submitted 7 months ago by in Acquisitions

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spider.io plus googleLondon-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.

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Publicis Groupe Acquires Lighthouse Digital in South Africa

submitted 7 months ago by in Acquisitions

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Ad Age LookBook

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Publicis Groupe is continuing on the acquisition trail, boosting its digital offering in South Africa with the purchase of Lighthouse Digital, which will become part of Publicis division Starcom MediaVest Group, the company said Tuesday.

Iain Jacob

Iain Jacob

Lighthouse was founded in 2009, and has 30 staff across its two offices, one in Cape Town and one in Johannesburg. It now claims to be the largest digital media agency in Africa, with campaigns running in 14 countries across sub-Saharan Africa and clients including Microsoft, SABMiller, MasterCard, General Motors, HTC, Vodacom and South African Tourism.

As part of Starcom MediaVest Group, the agency will be rebranded as SMG Lighthouse. Lighthouse founder and CEO Aaron van Schaik will become CEO of SMG in South Africa, while his co-founder, Steven Waidelich, will become digital operations director of SMG there. Both will report to Iain Jacob, the London-based president of dynamic markets for SMG.

“Africa is a core growth region for us, and this deal doubles the size of SMG in South Africa,” Mr. Jacobs said. “Lighthouse is the first agency that really puts digital at the heart of a full-service media agency. It’s unique to the market, and to most markets.”

SMG South Africa will have more than 80 employees following the Lighthouse deal. Lighthouse joins existing SMG agency brands LiquidThread and Starcom Johannesburg, working on clients including Mondelez, Etisalat and S-Mobile. Publicis Groupe has been busy in South Africa recently. In December it bought Synergize, now part of Saatchi Saatchi, and in January it bought AML, now part of ZenithOptimedia.

“Aligning with SMG gives us global scale and a more powerful face to the market which we can leverage to constantly improve our offering and give our clients the tools and solutions they won’t get anywhere else,” Mr. van Shaik said in a statement.

Omnicom, which is set to merge with Publicis Group later this year, also said Tuesday that it had made a digital acquisition, this one in India, bringing Bangalore-based 22feet Communications into DDB‘s Tribal Worldwide network. 22feet — which will become 22feet Tribal Worldwide — is a digital marketing agency focusing on brand and creative strategy as well as web design, search engine marketing and analytics. The agency, which also has an office in Mumbai, has clients including Red Bull, and Unilever’s Axe and Lenovo brands.

In 2013, WPP was the most acquisitive agency group, making 54 deals during the year. Publicis came second with 19 deals, and Omnicom fourth — after Dentsu Aegis — with nine deals, according to Results International.

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BuySellAds Acquires Ad Startup LaunchBit

submitted 2 weeks ago by in Acquisitions

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launchbit LaunchBit, an ad startup focused on helping software-as-a-service businesses find new customers, is announcing that it has been acquired by ad platform BuySellAds.com.
The financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed. LaunchBit co-founder and CEO Elizabeth Yin told me via email that the LaunchBit ad network will continue to operate, “business as usual,” while it’s… Read More

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Floodgate closes its fifth fund with more of the same

submitted 1 month ago by in Acquisitions

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Floodgate closes its fifth fund with more of the same

Above: Mike Maples, managing partner of the Floodgate Fund.

Image Credit: Dylan Tweney/VentureBeat

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

That’s exactly what seed-stage venture firm Floodgate is thinking as it closes its fifth and new fund. According to a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, this fund of just under $76 million, more or less the same size as its previous two, is again headed by managing partners Mike Maples Jr. and Ann Miura-Ko. Moreover, the fund will also have the same investing strategy, according to Fortune.

Floodgate has previously invested in buzzy startups such as Lyft, AngelList, IFTTT, Xamarin, Bigcommerce, TaskRabbit, and TapTalk, which SV Angel discovered on Product Hunt, resulting in the company raising a round of funding.

Among its investments, several have already exited, included Dasient (Twitter), DemandForce (Intuit), Gowalla (Facebook), ng:moco (DeNA), Playdom (Disney), and most recently Twitch.tv, which Amazon acquired. Maples invested in Justin.tv, Twitch.tv’s earlier incarnation, just before it graduated from Y Combinator and raised its first institutional round from Alsop Louie Partners and Felicis Ventures.

Floodgate was previously Maples Investments and morphed into Floodgate in 2010 with the addition of Miura-Ko and other tweaks to the firm’s setup.

FLOODGATE is a Silicon Valley based, early-stage micro-VC fund focused on start-ups that fundamentally disrupt existing large markets or create new market categories. The firm currently works with consumer-focused companies such as Twi… read more »

Mr. Mike Maples, Jr. is the managing partner of FLOODGATE, and was recently named as one of “8 Rising VC Stars” by Fortune Magazine for his investments in business and consumer technology companies. Before becoming a full-time investor… read more »

Ann Miura-Ko is a co-founding partner at FLOODGATE where her investment interests include the innovations in e-commerce, security, and big data. Her board seats include Modcloth, Refinery29, Chloe and Isabel, Wanelo, Ayasdi, Xamarin, R… read more »



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Ask.com buys Q&A social network Ask.fm; rolls out anti-bullying ‘best practices’

submitted 2 months ago by in Acquisitions

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Ask.com buys Q&A social network Ask.fm; rolls out anti-bullying ‘best practices’
Image Credit: Tsahi Levant-Levi

IAC-owned Ask.com has acquired popular question/answer service Ask.fm for an undisclosed amount, the company announced today.

Ask.com (formerly known as AskJeeves) is a Q&A search engine that focuses on answering natural language questions. The purchase of Ask.fm changes that and shows that the site is finally willing to embrace social media.

Ask.fm operates like many other popular Q&A services like Quora, where users ask questions and allow others in the community to respond with the best answer. Touting itself as the largest Q&A service in the world, Ask.fm claims to have 180 million monthly active users, predominantly using the service from mobile devices.

As terms of the deal, Ask.com also worked with the New York attorney general on a set of “best practices” for the Q&A service to ensure it properly combats cyberbullying. Ask.fm dealt with criticism a few years back after being linked to a string of teen suicides. (And in light of the recent suicide of beloved actor Robin Williams, that topic is getting some much needed discussion now in the media.) Ask.com is also bringing on Catherine Teitelbaum for the newly created position of chief safety officer.

Prior to the purchase, a large chunk of Ask.fm’s employees were moderators tasked with watching out for cases of cyberbullying and conversations that might prove dangerous to the community, as the New York Times points out.

Ask.fm’s leadership team and founders will not be sticking around after the sale to Ask.com, the company said.



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DayZ developer acquires new studio to work on standalone version

submitted 6 months ago by in Acquisitions

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Update: Bohemia have been in touch to provide the following clarification: they have acquired Cauldron’s facilities, technology and staff for their new Slovakian studio, but not the Cauldron brand itself.

It looks like the DayZ Standalone will be getting a few new helping hands. Creator Dean “Rocket” Hall has announced the purchase of Slovakian game developer Cauldron by Bohemia Interactive, with 25 of that studio’s staff set to work on the zombie survival sim, according to a report at Eurogamer.

Hall announced the purchase during an appearance at EGX Rezzed 2014, where he also revealed the DayZ SA alpha had sold more than 1.7 million copies since its December launch. Cauldron is to be re-named Bohemia Interactive Slovakia, according to the Eurogamer story. The Bratislava-based studio has worked on a range of different titles over the years, including several in the Cabela’s hunting series. The studio purchase is likely what Hall was referring to when he wrote in a blog update a month ago that the development team was “effectively doubling.”

Other details revealed in Hall’s presentation include some new in-game items and mechanics planned for the next update to the alpha. These include upgradable fireplaces and a crossbow which should be introduced when the update goes live sometime in April. The loot spawning system will also see some changes after the update, with doors resetting and gear reappearing in different areas of the game map at different times.

Even in its alpha state, DayZ still offers one of the most unique gaming experiences around. To get more people on the project, plus designers who have some experience recreating the great outdoors in gaming, sounds like a welcome development for the game’s future. For a refresher on what DayZ is all about, be sure to check out the excellent DayZ Diaries.

 

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SAP acquires VMS provider Fieldglass

submitted 6 months ago by in Acquisitions

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SAP announced Wednesday its plans to acquire the VMS solution provider Fieldglass, a move that SAP said strengthens its cloud portfolio with a business that hits the sweet spot between Ariba and SuccessFactors, offering companies an end-to-end solution for total workforce management.

Fieldglass’ VMS allows companies to automate their contingent workforce management and services procurement programs, with the goal of helping companies gain visibility into complex services spend, improve worker quality, enforce corporate and external compliance and realize greater contingent workforce program efficiencies.

According to an announcement from SAP, the fast-growing contingent workforce management field is a $3.3 trillion market, as companies move to more variable operating models that enable them to scale their infrastructure, talent and expertise.

“The acquisition of Fieldglass creates a compelling advantage for SAP customers as they access, attract and manage talent via the networked economy,” said Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe, co-CEOs and members of the Executive Board of SAP AG, in a joint statement. “This move reaffirms SAP as the undisputed leader of integrated human resources and procurement in the cloud for businesses of all sizes and industries.”

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ReachLocal Acquires Its Exclusive New Zealand Distributor

submitted 6 months ago by in Acquisitions

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WOODLAND HILLS, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–ReachLocal,
Inc
. (NASDAQ:RLOC), a leader in powering local online marketing for
small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs), today announced its
acquisition of the (SME) division of SureFire Search Limited, the
exclusive distributor of ReachLocal solutions in New Zealand. The two
companies started working together in 2011, when SureFire’s strong New
Zealand-based sales team began to exclusively distribute ReachLocal’s
leading edge online marketing solution to the local market.

Surefire has been a fabulous strategic partner and provided us
with a seamless way to bring our products to the New Zealand market,”
said Josh Claman, President of ReachLocal. “At their current size, it
makes good sense to integrate their operations into the rest of our
international businesses. We’re excited to take this opportunity to
further our expansion in the New Zealand market.”

Following this acquisition, SureFire’s current SME customers will
continue to receive the industry-leading ReachLocal products and
technology they have come to know and trust.

“The ReachLocal platform was ideally suited for our SME client base,”
said Mark Sceats, Managing Director of SureFire Search Ltd. “Our success
using the platform in New Zealand confirms the strength of the
ReachLocal model. We are very proud of what the team in New Zealand has
achieved and our contribution to the business, and we believe that they
are on track to build a very significant business here in New Zealand.”

Over the past six years, ReachLocal has established a strong
international presence. The company now helps SMEs across 16 countries
overcome increasingly complex marketing challenges by providing them
with state-of-the-art solutions. Last year, the company’s international
revenue grew 41% to represent 38% of its total revenue.

About ReachLocal, Inc.

ReachLocal, Inc. (NASDAQ: RLOC) develops online marketing and
transaction solutions that power local commerce for SMBs, from lead
generation and lead conversion to booking and buying. Our global
distribution network includes local Internet marketing consultants and
service professionals, along with select third-party agencies and
resellers across 5 continents. ReachLocal is headquartered in Woodland
Hills, Calif.

Subscribe to ReachLocal’s free newsletter to receive news, tips and
other online marketing insights.

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Russian search engine giant Yandex acquires KitLocate

submitted 6 months ago by in Acquisitions

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Yet another multinational is setting up shop in Israel. Russian search engine giant Yandex this week acquired Israeli location technology start-up KitLocate. Details of the deal were not revealed, but sources close to KitLocate said that Yandex paid as much as $20 million for the Tel Aviv-based company.

Whatever it paid for his company, said KitLocate CEO Omri Moran, Yandex is going to get its money worth, and more. “Yandex is like Google, in that they are a search engine and have a lot of apps that provide many services, many of them geolocation and map based.” KitLocate’s approach to geolocation is different than that of others doing location technologies — resulting in not only a new set of services KitLocate can offer customers, but also in substantial battery savings, said Moran.

“That’s actually how we got together with Yandex,” Moran told The Times of Israel in an exclusive interview. “They have been looking for technology to extend battery life for some time, and we came across each other, resulting in a deal that is going to benefit both entities, as well as customers.”

KitLocate gets its battery saving abilities (according to Moran, phones using the KitLocate platform can get as many as 24 hours of normal use out of a single battery charge) by looking beyond the GPS chip for location information. In addition to GPS, KitLocate collects data about a user’s activities via wifi, accelerometers, and other sensors in the device.

Omri Moran (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Omri Moran (Photo credit: Courtesy)

“In order to do location properly, you need statistics and information about a user’s habits that you can analyze to keep track of what a person is doing,” Moran said. “This allows apps to anticipate needs and spring into action when necessary, and it also reduces the strain on the battery, because not all sensors have to be running at all times in order to ensure that a user gets the services they want.”

A lot of location services are contextual, said Moran, and as the context changes, the tools used to determine location — and what services should be supplied — change as well. “For example, if a person is driving on a highway and the next exit is ten miles away and we see that traffic in the area is light, we don’t need to check the GPS chip every five seconds to determine location.” Polling can be less frequent; thus, said Moran, the device will use less power, and the battery will last longer.

Data is another important element in the KitLocate toolkit. The system makes novel use of geo-fencing, a system that takes specific actions based on where a user is located. Using data the system collects on habits — what stores users frequent, even which sections of a store they are more interested in (i.e., the mens or ladies department), KitLocate allows businesses to proactively offer users services and experiences they could otherwise not offer. The information is collected from the apps that use the KitLocate system, and analyzed by the powerful big data apps.

As a search company, Yandex is naturally interested in big data, although Moran said he could not say at this point exactly what missions KitLocate would be assigned. The company will now become the nucleus of Yandex’s new Israel RD center, and presumably the current staff of 8 will be expanded, perhaps substantially, as Yandex integrates KitLocate into its development projects.

“KitLocate’s technology, packed into a developer-friendly SDK, provides location capabilities, including geo-fencing, motion detection and social location, for location-based apps on the user’s iOS or Android smartphone,” said Yandex in a statement. “The trick is, while doing that it lowers battery power consumption down to less than 1% per hour. KitLocate’s algorithms allow location-based apps to request the device’s geographic coordinates less frequently without losing precision, which considerably extends the phone’s life between charges.

“Those of Yandex’s mobile products that don’t need continuous GPS synching, such as our location-based search, cannot wait to be augmented by KitLocate’s smart solution. With KitLocate’s technology, we’ll be able to deliver search results, as well as product or service offers, on the user’s mobile phone or tablet, relevant not only to a specific user, but also to their current location. This cloud solution looks especially promising for location-based recommendation apps,” the company said.

KitLocate is barely a year old, and was a graduate of the most recent class of start-up graduates of Microsoft Ventures Accelerator in Israel. It was, in fact, through the program that Yandex found KitLocate, said Moran. “They did a presentation at MS Ventures listing the things they were looking for, and on their presentation was a bullet point on ”power efficient geolocation’ — and as it happens, we had a bullet point with that exact same name on our presentation.”

It was a meeting of the minds — or the bullet points that those minds created — that brought the two companies together, said Moran, adding that “we’re very glad to be a part of Yandex, and I know they are happy to have us as well.”