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.
Content identification specialist Vobile has acquired Los Angeles-based video analytics startup Blayze to better target YouTube networks and other publishers interested in making more money with the Google-owned video site. Blayze’s two co-founders are joining Vobile and are tasked with establishing a new Los Angeles office.
The acquisition was part cash, part stock, and Vobile CEO Yangbin Wang said during an interview Wednesday that the total value of the deal could reach eight figures, depending on certain benchmarks, but declined to offer further details.
For Vobile, the deal represents an interesting opportunity to take a business it has been building for close to ten years to a new generation of publishers. Vobile started out as one of many content recognition and rights management companies, and for a while was best known for its automated content recognition and filtering technology that’s been used by adult video websites as well as major media companies to find and flag unlicensed content.
Initially, Vobile competed with a number of other players, many of which employed students to scour sites, flag uploads and issue takedown notices. Vobile instead chose to automate content recognition through audio and video fingerprinting. This helped Vobile to stay around and adapt to a changing business while others had to give up.
Fast forward to 2014, and a new crop of content identification and management companies is popping up, promising multi-channel networks and other publishers on YouTube to help them track and monetize their content on the site. And again, some are employing hordes of students as “claim managers.” It’s déjà vu for Wang, who still thinks that content identification should be left to machines.
That’s why he decided to acquire Blayze, whose co-founder Ben Smith was at Google when the company acquired YouTube and subsequently became YouTube’s first employee in Los Angeles. Smith developed relationships with major movie studios and broadcasters for YouTube, and now wants to bring YouTube business to Vobile.
Wang told me that Smith and his co-founder won’t be on their own for long in Los Angeles. The company is actively hiring to grow its team in the entertainment capital, and recently raised a $9 million Series C to finance its expansion. Wang said that the company now has close to 250 employees, and that it has been profitable “for quite a while.”
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A few months ago, on-demand home services startup Handy opened up its first international office and launched services in London. In an effort to quickly grow its business there, today the company is announcing it’s acquired local competitor Mopp, which also provides home cleaning services in select U.K. markets. Read More
Boxer, which initially launched on iOS with support for many major email clients, takes the position that your inbox is still the most valuable source of information because it’s where all the lines of communication cross, where meeting dates are confirmed, where tasks originate before getting added to task lists, and the like. However, all that information is usually too chaotic to manage when trying to use stock email apps. Boxer attempts to fix that by speeding up the message information sorting process — allowing you to create to-do lists, assign tasks, respond quickly, and generally use your inbox to its full potential.
And now the startup is going after enterprise-level clients.
“Most companies probably realize that if the tools provided to them don’t have the look and feel of a consumer app, employees will go around them and use something better,” Boxer CEO Andrew Eye told VentureBeat. “From a security standpoint that’s a problem, and as soon as the IT department realizes it, all they have to do is decide to block access.”
The result of this is that employees are essentially less productive than they could be, Eye added.
But Boxer hopes to solve that problem by offering a consumer-like app that integrates with key enterprise software. For example, Boxer’s Salesforce integration allows enterprise-level users to add new contacts directly into the Salesforce platform from Boxer’s email app within seconds. Using a stock email app would take exponentially longer, Eye said.
“Nobody wants to spend an entire minute to pull up Salesforce, pull up an email with all the contact information from a message, and then manually enter it. It usually just doesn’t happen, and people end up having to constantly search the inbox when they want to reach that contact instead,” Eye explained.
Boxer now offers a decent set of integrations with other sales and marketing platforms most companies use regularly, such as Box and Salesforce. Additionally, the app also offers enterprise-level client integration with “bring-your-own-device” security services like MobileIron and Airwatch. And now that Boxer is available on Android, pulling in new enterprise clients should prove easier.
Founded in 2012, Austin, Texas-based Boxer has raised $3.8 million in funding to date. The startup, which competes with Dropbox-owned Mailbox, offers both free and premium versions of its mobile email apps. For a closer look at the new Android app, check out the demo video below.
Tumblr has enlisted image-recognition startup Ditto Labs to help brands see how their stuff appears in pictures on the microblogging site, Mashable reports today. The news is interesting from a corporate perspective — another social service is becoming a place for brands to discover what’s going on in the world. But the news might be much more interesting than that.
And no, the fascinating part isn’t whether or not Tumblr will use Ditto’s technology to target ads to users based on the stuff in their pictures.
The more interesting question is whether Tumblr and its parent company, search giant Yahoo, believes in the power of analyzing pictures, potentially to improve its own services for searching, recommending, and doing other functions.
Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and even Google have made acquisitions or high-profile hires in this area in recent months. Now Tumblr is interested in at least one use of Ditto’s technology, following Kraft Macaroni and Cheese’s fascination with it.
Then again, the collaboration might not be that big of a deal at this point.
“This is a Tumblr firehose partnership with Ditto, where Ditto can tap into the massive stream of images shared on Tumblr daily to help their clients understand visual conversations happening around their brands,” A Tumblr representative wrote in an email to VentureBeat.
A Ditto representative did not immediately respond to VentureBeat’s request for comment.
Tumblr is a micro-blogging platform, built to let users effortlessly share anything. Post text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos, from your browser, phone, desktop, email, or wherever you happen to be. You can customize everyth… read more »
ICON said today it will acquire Aptiv Solutions for $143.5 million, in a deal that adds the acquired CRO’s expertise in adaptive clinical trials to the buyer’s array of outsourced development services for biopharma and medical device companies.
ICON will acquire Aptiv Solutions from its owners, The Halifax Group, SV Life Sciences, Comvest Partners and Management, in a transaction subject to unspecified closing conditions. In addition to designing and carrying out adaptive clinical trials for biopharma and medical device sponsors, Aptiv Solutions sells statistical software intended for use in those trials.
Aptiv Solutions expanded its adaptive clinical-trial services into cancer therapeutics and other trials with long-duration endpoints on March 18, when it released the latest version of its ADDPLAN® statistical software. The company says ADDPLAN 6.1 is the first statistical software enabling the use of surrogate endpoints to speed up interim analysis decisions in adaptive clinical trials. ADDPLAN counts among its customers more than 50 pharma and medical device makers, as well as key regulatory agencies that include the FDA, the European Medicines Agency, and Japan’s Pharmaceuticals Medical Devices Agency.
Japan is where ICON will combine its operations in Tokyo and Osaka with one of Aptiv Solutions’ companies—Niphix, a full-service, oncology-focused CRO serving both Japanese and international customers.
“Aptiv Solutions’ adaptive trial capabilities will further differentiate and enhance our services to help our customers identify the most promising drug candidates earlier. Their presence in Japan will also broaden our existing capabilities in this market,” Nuala Murphy, Ph.D., president of ICON Clinical Research Services, said in a statement.
ICON’s programs to support clinical development range from compound selection to Phase I-IV clinical studies. Dublin-based ICON has about 10,300 employees operating from 77 locations in 38 countries.
Headquartered in Reston, VA, Aptiv Solutions has more than 850 professionals in 16 countries stretching across North America, Eastern and Western Europe, Israel, and Japan.
Simon Schuster imprint Scribner, which published True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto’s debut novel in 2010, bought investigative reporter and non-fiction author Ethan Brown’s book about the Jeff Davis 8, a case that has been cited as a possible inspiration for the insanely successful HBO show.
Mr. Brown spent two years investigating the Jeff Davis 8 case–an investigation into the eight prostitutes who washed ashore between 2005 and 2009 in the swamps and canals outside of the small Louisiana city of Jennings. The unsolved murders was thought to be the work of a serial killer.
But in an exhaustively reported, almost 8,000 word story that ran on Medium in January, Mr. Brown cast doubt on that theory and linked it to high-level corruption.
“My editor [at Medium], Mark Lotto, grasped the complexity of the story (eight unsolved homicides) but was adept at making it compelling and understandable to readers,” Mr. Brown told the Observer in an email. “And the enthusiasm and passion that Scribner, which published [Mr.] Pizzolatto, has already shown for the project makes me think that they’ll be as great a partner as Medium was.”
The longform story (Medium lists it as a 32 minute read) was one of the most popular so far on the site. Of course, the similarities to the plot of a hit HBO show that nobody can stop talking about certainly didn’t hurt.
The Observer first explored the connection to True Detective not long after the story was published. And it received a good deal of attention from other outlets: Vanity Fair‘s James Wolcott wrote about it, as did Jezebel. True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto called it an “important study of police corruption and a supposed serial killer in Louisiana” in a tweet.
Even the sheriff of the parish where these homicides occurred weighed in. In a blog post shortly after Mr. Brown’s story was published, Sheriff Wood railed against “out-of-town journalists trying to paint our parish with a broad brush that insinuates we are corrupt.”
Well, “time is a flat circle” and whatever else all the True Detective fans say.
Dell on Monday said it acquired StatSoft, a company that specializes in analytics and data visualization software.
Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. StatSoft is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma and operates in 25 countries.
The purchase gives Dell an information management and analytics play for its software portfolio. StatSoft’s tools will go along with Dell’s database management, optimization and integration applications.
StatSoft’s flagship software is Statistica Enterprise, which filters and analyzes data from multiple repositories. An enterprise server, data mining suite and modeling tool all fly under the Statistica brand.
On its site, StatSoft appears to position itself against SAS in many deployments. Statistica combines scientific and technical charts with customization and graphics tools.
Dell has gone private, but will report its earnings for institutional bondholders on April 1.
The Paris-based European childcare platform Yoopies has acquired local competitor (and neighbour) Yokoro to expand the range of homecare services offered via its marketplace. As it stands, Yoopies matches parents with sitters in a bid to take a slice of the childcare market. The acquisition of Yokoro — terms undisclosed — will enable it to buy its way into parallel homecare markets such as housekeeping or petcare.
Noteworthy is that Yokoro’s founders will not be joining Yoopies, so this feels like a customer grab more than anything, though of course Yokoro brings experience and expertise in those non-childcare additional verticals. We’re also told that Yokoro user accounts will be “gradually” transferred to Yoopies. To that end, the combined entity claims more than 370,000 caregivers.
Launched in January 2012, Yoopies currently operates across five countries in Europe, including France — where it claims to be the leader — along with Spain, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland.
The online platform matches parents with childcare, with an emphasis on “social recommendations”. Users can search on 50 or so criteria to find a suitable sitter, including reading reviews of “trusted” sitters and seeing recommendations from Facebook friends and their friends’ friends. Crucially, perhaps, Yoopies also does its own screening of sorts to “certify” sitter profiles.