Tag Archive | "acquisitions"

Is AdGrok Twitter’s next big acquisition?

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


adgrokTwitter may be in talks to acquire contextual keyword bidding platform AdGrok for less than $10 million, according to a TechCrunch report.

While AdGrok aims to simplify search engine marketing campaigns, the platform could be adapted and used by Twitter to help monetize promoted and trending tweets.

Purchasing AdGrok could alleviate some of the criticism many have had toward Twitter, which lags far behind the competition in developing a clear advertising strategy for the site.

However, buying AdGrok could also signal that Twitter is ready to start providing statistics and relevant data to its users, which has traditionally been handled by third-party services like Hoot Suit, bit.ly and several others. The company has already started to distance itself from third-party services by apparently developing its own photo sharing feature and improving notification support — so, adding its own statistics wouldn’t be a complete surprise.

The deal has yet to be confirmed by either company, but TechCrunch’s Alexia Tsotsis points out that the last person Twitter corporate development executive Jessica Verrilli followed on Twitter was AdGrok co-founder Argyris Zymnis.

Tags: ,

Companies: ,

People: ,




Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

Is AdGrok Twitter’s next big acquisition?

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


adgrokTwitter may be in talks to acquire contextual keyword bidding platform AdGrok for less than $10 million, according to a TechCrunch report.

While AdGrok aims to simplify search engine marketing campaigns, the platform could be adapted and used by Twitter to help monetize promoted and trending tweets.

Purchasing AdGrok could alleviate some of the criticism many have had toward Twitter, which lags far behind the competition in developing a clear advertising strategy for the site.

However, buying AdGrok could also signal that Twitter is ready to start providing statistics and relevant data to its users, which has traditionally been handled by third-party services like Hoot Suit, bit.ly and several others. The company has already started to distance itself from third-party services by apparently developing its own photo sharing feature and improving notification support — so, adding its own statistics wouldn’t be a complete surprise.

The deal has yet to be confirmed by either company, but TechCrunch’s Alexia Tsotsis points out that the last person Twitter corporate development executive Jessica Verrilli followed on Twitter was AdGrok co-founder Argyris Zymnis.

Tags: ,

Companies: ,

People: ,




Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

Is AdGrok Twitter’s next big acquisition?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


adgrokTwitter may be in talks to acquire contextual keyword bidding platform AdGrok for less than $10 million, according to a TechCrunch report.

While AdGrok aims to simplify search engine marketing campaigns, the platform could be adapted and used by Twitter to help monetize promoted and trending tweets.

Purchasing AdGrok could alleviate some of the criticism many have had toward Twitter, which lags far behind the competition in developing a clear advertising strategy for the site.

However, buying AdGrok could also signal that Twitter is ready to start providing statistics and relevant data to its users, which has traditionally been handled by third-party services like Hoot Suit, bit.ly and several others. The company has already started to distance itself from third-party services by apparently developing its own photo sharing feature and improving notification support — so, adding its own statistics wouldn’t be a complete surprise.

The deal has yet to be confirmed by either company, but TechCrunch’s Alexia Tsotsis points out that the last person Twitter corporate development executive Jessica Verrilli followed on Twitter was AdGrok co-founder Argyris Zymnis.

Tags: ,

Companies: ,

People: ,




Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

Microsoft acquires Skype for $8.5B, headed to Kinect, Windows Phone, Office

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Microsoft this morning confirmed that it has acquired internet video chat company Skype for $8.5 billion in cash.

And just like that, Microsoft has become a key player in the world of video chat. The deal is also Microsoft’s biggest acquisition yet, which tells us the company is finally looking closely at the possibilities of video chat after seemingly ignoring the technology for years.

Early reports of the deal surfaced last night following on the heals of word that Skype has been in deal talks with Facebook and Google.

Microsoft says that Skype will support the Xbox 360 and Kinect; Windows Phone (which doesn’t support front-facing cameras yet) and other devices; as well as software like Outlook. The company will also continue support for Skype on other platforms like Mac and Linux.

Skype will be transformed into a new division in Microsoft, and Skype CEO Tony Bates will be president of that division.

While many are already calling this acquisition the end of Skype, there’s no doubt that the video chat company has a lot to gain from Microsoft. For one, it won’t have to worry much about its revenue problems anymore. Plus, Skype will finally be able to bring on more developers to polish its software — recent updates have added some cool features like group video chat, but the software has also gotten slower and more difficult to use in the process.

Of course, there is some reason for concern. Microsoft hasn’t yet proven it can deftly integrate an acquired company into its fold. And Skype already went through a failed acquisition by eBay in 2005, so the company must be worried about being mismanaged once again. But overall, it seems like both Microsoft and Skype may be able to benefit from this union.

Tags: , , , ,

Companies: ,

People:




Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

Intel: Q2 View Tomorrow Critical, Says Raymond James

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


Hans Mosesmann with Raymond James this afternoon reiterated an Outperform rating on shares of Intel (INTC), writing that the company’s forecast for Q2 will be critical for the stock when Intel offers its Q1 report tomorrow afternoon.

Mosesmann is looking for Q2 sales to rise 2.6% from Q1, which incorporates a shorter quarter (Q1 was a 14-week quarter, he notes); the inclusion of the recently acquired business of McAfee and Inifineon Technology’s (IFNNY) wireless chip unit; and one week of shipments of Intel’s Sandy Bridge processor that were pushed into Q2.

Mosesmann models $12 billion in revenue for Q2 and 49 cents EPS, while he notes consensus is at $11.9 billion and 45 cents.

Still, he adds, “We suspect that even seasonal (excluding the impact of the acquisitions and extra week in 1Q11) sales guidance of down in the low-single digit percentage range sequentially would be viewed as neutral to favorable given the current bearish sentiment.”

As for Q1, Intel will probably make the midpoint of its Q1 forecast of $11.7 billion, as the company likely saw an uptick in shipments of Sandy Bridge during March. The Street is modeling $11.6 billion and 46 cents.

Mosesmann has a $31.50 price target on Intel shares. Intel stock is down 11 cents, or half a point, at $19.64.

Previously: Intel: License ARM, Buy OMAP, Says Nomura, April 18th, 2011.

Article courtesy of Tech Trader Daily

Q1 venture-backed IPOs strongest since 2007

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


The initial public offering market for venture-backed companies in the first quarter was the strongest since 2007, according to a report by Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association.

Fourteen VC-backed IPOs occurred in the first quarter, with companies raising an average of $98.3 million. The total amount raised was $1.37 billion. Coupled with a strong acquisition market, the results showed that venture capitalists are finally getting some decent exits as the tech industry recovers from the recession.

During the quarter, 109 venture-backed companies were acquired. Of the 45 deals where the acquisition price was disclosed, the total purchase prices added up to $5.9 billion.

“The venture capital exit market today is exhibiting a welcome stability in terms of both IPOs and acquisitions,” said Mark Heesen, president of the NVCA, the trade group for the VC industry. “For more than a year, we have seen a high volume of strategic sales that are bringing in solid returns for the venture industry, coupled with an IPO market that is growing and improving steadily in terms of volume and predictability.”

Heesen added, “This stability is an absolute prerequisite for the growth we need, particularly in the capital markets where the volatility of the recession years contributed to the many challenges of companies going public. A successful 2011 will be contingent upon maintaining the momentum in the acquisitions market while moving the current IPO pipeline through at a faster clip. Ideally we would like to see a 20 to 30 percent increase of US venture-backed companies going public this year. Market signs currently suggest that this is a reasonable goal.”

As you can see from the chart below, the merger and acquisition exits are far more popular than IPOs now. In 2010, there were 431 M&A deals, compared to just 72 IPOs. Back in 2007, there were 380 M&A deals and 86 IPOs. And way back in 1999, there were more than 300 IPOs.

[photo credit: greentechmedia]

Tags:

Companies: ,

People:




Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

Is the Answers.com sale in trouble?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


saleQ&A site Answers.com announced yesterday that it’s going to be acquired by private equity firm Summit Partners. But the decision still needs approval from the company’s shareholders, and according to a report in Business Insider, some of those shareholders aren’t very unhappy with the deal.

One source told BI, “There’s not a shot in the world this thing is going through.”

The publicly-traded company describes itself as the largest Q&A site on the Web. (It launched some of its features at the DEMO conference coproduced by VentureBeat.) Answers’ board of directors approved the deal unanimously, and at $10.50 per share/$127 million total, the deal values the publicly-traded company’s stock at 18 percent higher than its closing price on Wednesday. (After the deal was announced, the stock price rose to $10.46 at market close on Friday.)

So what’s the issue? Apparently BI talked to shareholders who think the price is way too low. During the first nine months of 2010, Answers reported $15 million in revenue, so Summit is paying less than 10 times the company’s annual revenue. Those shareholders point jealously to the 30x revenue that Demand Media earned in its initial public offering. They also say that Answers could use its $30 million in cash to improve its situation by acquiring companies or building out its salesforce.

The unhappy shareholders “claim to control as much as 40% of Answers.com stock,” but it’s not clear whether that’s actually true, or if their sentiments reflect a larger feeling of discontent among the company’s shareholders. We’ll see what happens during the actual vote.

[image via Flickr/Mark Hillary]

Tags:

Companies: ,




Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

How Hunch’s CEO just slapped a “For Sale” sign on his company

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


Chris DixonWe haven’t heard much about Hunch, the once-buzzy recommendations site based in New York — and what we’ve heard hasn’t been good. So it was interesting to read CEO Chris Dixon’s response to an anonymous questioner who asked why Hunch was building a general recommendations platform instead of focusing on solving one specific problem.

Dixon (pictured here, left) wrote an answer that is instructive when read closely:

We’ve talked to probably a hundred large websites about partnering and have found that personalization/recommendations is at the top of the priority list for almost all of them. It has surprised us, for example, how many large sites are either a) building significant internal operations to add personalization/recommendations to their sites or b) have recently hired senior executives to be “head of personalization.” … [P]eople seem to see personalization/recommendations as so important that they want to do it themselves. So our take is that what we are focused on is going to be a central theme in technology over the next few years and we are very well positioned having been working on the problem for almost 3 years.

Meanwhile, in the search space, technology like what we’ve built at Hunch is becoming increasingly important.

Dixon goes on to cite Google CEO Eric Schmidt on how mobile search will increasingly be personalized and anticipate users’ questions — something close to what Hunch does, in other words.

Reading between the lines here, Dixon seems to be saying that Hunch has found it challenging to sign partnerships for its recommendation engine because most companies want to own the technology themselves. He then argues that Hunch has a head start in solving the problem — which his potential partners may only realize after working on it for a while. And recommendations are important to the crucial search market, which currently has only two meaningful players, Google and Microsoft.

Dixon seems to be positioning Hunch for a sale to one of those two. Not likely Google, which is actively thinking about personalization and recently bought Aardvark, a question-answering startup which some have compared to Hunch. Perhaps Microsoft, though, which is Google’s last meaningful competitor in Web search?

On Twitter, I observed that Dixon’s post amounted to slapping a “For Sale” sign on Hunch. At first, Dixon disagreed. Then he observed that the “#2 [player] never builds hard tech themselves.”

Why build when you can buy? And why admit you want to sell when you can play hard to get?

If Dixon is dressing his company up for sale, he’s got the right backers. Hunch raised $12 million in March in a round of funding led by Khosla Ventures. Khosla partner Gideon Yu, a Hunch board member, is known for his role in high-profile Web acquisitions and investments, from Yahoo’s purchase of Flickr (cofounded by Hunch’s chief product officer, Caterina Fake); YouTube’s $1.65 billion sale to Google; and Microsoft’s $240 million investment in Facebook.

Tags: , , ,

Companies: , , ,

People: , ,




Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

WSJ: AOL and private equity firms consider buying Yahoo

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


Silver Lake Partners and Blackstone Group LP are interested in teaming up to purchase Web portal Yahoo, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

Yahoo has been under pressure to improve its performance since Carol Bartz was appointed CEO in 2009. Bartz herself has come under criticism for mishandling relationships with important partners in Asia and allowing high turnover in Yahoo’s executive ranks.

If AOL, Silver Lake Partners and Blackstone LP do not team up, the private equity firms would reportedly be interested in buying the company on their own and taking it private. There are also three other unnamed private equity firms that may be interested in making a deal with Yahoo, according to the report.

It isn’t clear how big of a player AOL would be in the deal — it’s current valued at $2.7 billion, and reported operating income of $166.6 million in its most recent quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. (It took a $1 billion goodwill-impairment charge in the quarter.) AOL has $391.6 million in cash, according to the filing.

Yahoo, on the other hand, is worth $20.6 billion, and reported net income of $143 million in its most recent quarter.

Yahoo has not participated in the discussions yet, according to the Wall Street Journal report. One option would be a “reverse merger” — in which Yahoo and AOL combine their operations after Yahoo sheds its valuable stake in Alibaba Group, a Chinese e-commerce concern that runs business trading and online retail sites and operates Yahoo China, according to reports. The other involves Alibaba Group repurchasing Yahoo’s 40 percent stake in the company, and Yahoo selling off various other assets to make it easier to purchase by private firms.

Tags: , , ,

Companies: , , , ,




Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

HP buys ArcSight for $1.5 billion (but not the yacht-club membership)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


ArcSight logoSome companies freeze up when they’re between CEOs. But Hewlett-Packard, the world’s largest tech company by revenues, just keeps rolling along. On Monday, it announced it would buy security software maker ArcSight for $1.5 billion.

It’s almost as if Hewlett-Packard has something to prove — namely, that it didn’t need that Mark Hurd guy anyway.

After noisily and messily ousting Hurd as its CEO last month, HP went on to wrest storage-software company 3Par away from Dell in a heated bidding war that drove its price to $2.4 billion, enriching Silicon Valley venture capitalists like Mayfield Fund in the process.

This time, it’s Kleiner Perkins that’s hitting the jackpot. As Dan Primack notes in Fortune.com, Kleiner retained more than half of its 19 percent stake after ArcSight’s IPO in June 2009.

There’s one other bond between HP and ArcSight: questions about executive compensation. Former ArcSight CEO Robert Shaw retired, reportedly for health reasons, in early 2009, after sharp-eyed readers of SEC filings noted that the company was paying for his yacht-club membership, a rare perk that clashed with the image of a Silicon Valley startup.

Tags: , ,

Companies: , , ,

People: ,




Article courtesy of VentureBeat » Deals & More