Tag Archive | "media"

GigaOm doubles down on research, raises another $6M

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Om MalikGigaOm already stands out as one of the most heavily-funded sites in the tech news world — and today it nearly doubled that funding, announcing that it has raised another $6 million.

Back when the San Francisco-based company had “only” raised around $8 million, I already found the funding “kind of remarkable”. The new total, $14 million, isn’t a huge amount for a tech startup, but it certainly dwarfs the amount raised by most competing sites. (VentureBeat, for example, has raised less than $1 million, while Business Insider has raised more than $6 million.)

When I asked GigaOm chief executive Paul Walborsky about the decision to raise more money, he responded, “We are big believers in building out a big company.”

GigaOm is certainly one of the most-respected names in the field, but thus far, tech blogs haven’t been acquired for enough money to justify a higher level of funding — the biggest deal has probably been AOL buying TechCrunch for $40 million. Walborsky said that he and founder Om Malik (pictured above) are confident that they’ve figured out a model that works and can continue grow. Rather than limiting its monetization efforts on GigaOm sites (which include GigaOm itself, as well as sites like video-focused NewTeeVee and cleantech-focused Earth2Tech), it sounds like the company sees the blogs as a way to build its brand. The sites also draw in potential new customers for its conferences and the research and reports sold through GigaOm Pro. The new money will mostly go towards building out the technology infrastructure behind Pro, Walborsky added.

“We believe that the growth of GigaOm is going to be driven by our research platform and GigaOm Pro,” he said. “That does not minimize the importance of our online audience. What we write about on the blog is what brings people to read GigaOm on a daily basis.”

GigaOm now claims more than 4 million unique monthly visitors across its sites, a number that’s growing 30 percent annually. According to Walborsky, the company doubled its revenue in 2010, thanks largely to GigaOm Pro. It’s on-track to double that revenue yet again this year, and to become cash-flow positive by the end of 2011.


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Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

UBS Chairman Would Like A Little Credit For All The Investment Bank’s Legitimate Achievements

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As you may have heard, UBS has been going through a bit of a rough patch. Despite posting an annual profit (of 7.2 billion Swiss francs) for the first time since 2006, things just haven’t been the same since the crisis, and some have suggested it never will be, claiming that the bank “doesn’t have a chance” getting back to pre-crisis levels because “too much damage has been done.” Not helping things is the fact that there’s been very high turnover in the last couple months, which may have something to do with the fact that people would like to get paid. What you may not have heard is that the investment bank? Is kicking ass, according to Chairman Oswald Gruebel who is kind of confused as to why the media has chosen to ignore the division’s “steady progress” but wants employees to know he, for one, has not.

UBS Chief Sends Memo to I-Bankers [NetNet via BI]

Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

What Was Former RBS CEO Fred Goodwin Doing While The Bank Was Burning To The Ground?

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A senior staffer, allegedly, which he preferred no one know about. Making this slightly awkward.

Former Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc Chief Executive Officer Fred Goodwin obtained an injunction to keep the media from reporting allegations that he had a “relationship” with a senior colleague, a U.K. lawmaker said during a public hearing in Parliament today.

“Every tax payer has a direct public interest in the events leading up to the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland, so how can it be right for a super-injunction to hide the alleged relationship between Sir Fred Goodwin and a senior colleague?” Ben Stoneham asked. “If true, it would be a serious breach of corporate governance and not even the Financial Services Authority would be allowed to know about it.”


Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Pink Taco Would Like To Clear Up Your ‘Misperceptions’ About That Donkey They Painted Pink

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When you run a less than authentic Mexican restaurant with a name that’s a euphemism for a vagina located in a yuppie mall, you’re already fighting an uphill battle for credibility. Something tells me humiliating nature’s saddest animal won’t help with that. But don’t tell that to Pink Taco in the Century City Mall, who made national headlines last week by chaining a shaved, spray-painted donkey to their front door to celebrate a regional Mexican military holiday. Now, the restaurant has released a statement addressing the controversy. Wait—you weren’t expecting them to admit they did anything wrong, were you? Read the full story

Commenting startups Disqus celebrates its birthday with $10M more

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daniel ha disqusDisqus, a startup offering a commenting system across a number of sites (including VentureBeat), says it’s turning four years old this week, and it’s using the occasion to reveal some big numbers. Not quite the biggest, but perhaps the most important is the fact that the company has raised $10 million in new funding from North Bridge Venture Partners and Union Square Venture Partners.

The company says it’s seeing rapid growth, having more than doubled the amount of unique visitors to Disqus sites since November 2010, from 200 million to nearly 500 million. There are now 750,000 “communities” using Disqus and 35 million commenters have created profiles. The company is also pointing to a recent study by Lijit showing that 75 percent of sites using a third-party commenting system use Disqus.

All of that adds a little substance to the comments earlier this year by co-founder and chief executive Daniel Ha (no relation to me) that he wasn’t too worried about the threat from Facebook’s new commenting system for publishers.

“They’ve put a stake in the ground –- they see a lot of value in what we do,” Ha said at the time. “But we haven’t seen [Facebook] make a dent in our traction, which is why we aren’t shaking in our boots.”

San Francisco-based Disqus was incubated at Y Combinator. It previously raised a $500,000 round from backers including Union Square, Knight’s Bridge Capital Partners, Naval Ravikant, and Aydin Senkut (who is also an investor in VentureBeat).

[image via Flickr/Robert Scoble]




Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

Warner Bros. beats out Yahoo to buy Rotten Tomatoes owner Flixster

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Social movie site Flixster’s long acquisition saga has now come to an end. Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group announced this morning that it has acquired the site, a deal that also includes the popular movie ratings aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, which Flixster bought last year.

The deal would put WB in charge of one of the biggest social movie sites on the web — Flixster has some 25 million users, and its apps have received over 35 million downloads on mobile devices. But it may also affect the way users perceive Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes, which will now be owned by a major studio instead of being mostly agnostic (News Corp. received a 20 percent stake in Flixster in exchange for Rotten Tomatoes last year).

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but according to All Things Digital’s Kara Swisher, Flixster was looking for somewhere between $60 million and $90 million. If true, that’s a decent return on investment for Flixster, which has raised $7 million in funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Pinnacle Ventures and others.

Yahoo, the previous front-runner to acquire Flixster, dropped out in late March due to price concerns, according to Swisher. Other media companies were also reportedly interested in the site, possibly including Disney.

According to WB’s release, Flixster will continue to operate independently. But the studio will also tap the brand to help with upcoming consumer initiatives, like its “Digital Everywhere” app that will allow consumers to organize and share their digital library. From the release:

The Flixster acquisition and “Digital Everywhere,” combined with the Studio’s support of the UltraViolet format [a new digital format that will make it easy for consumers to put content on multiple devices] are all part of an overall strategy to give consumers even more freedom, utility and value for their digital purchases.

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Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

Game fundings and acquisitions rise 130 percent to $1.89B in 2010

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Video game acquisitions and funding deals rose 130 percent to $1.89 billion in 2010, up from $819 million in 2009, according to market researcher IHS Screen Digest.

The number of fundings and acquisition deals combined was 210 during last year, up 36 percent from a year earlier, thanks to the disruption in the game business caused by the growth of online and social networking games. Our own count found that game fundings hit $1.05 billion raised across 91 deals in 2010, up 58 percent from $663.1 million across 115 deals a year earlier.

There were 123 fundings and 87 acquisitions during the year, IHS Screen Digest said. There were 20 to 24 acquisitions every quarter, double the rate of the year earlier.

The numbers cover funding and acquisitions activity in all areas of games except mobile. Oddly enough, that’s the most active area of the game business today, and Screen Digest says it tracks that market separately.

“Two key trends fueled the robust pace of funding and acquisitions in gaming during 2010,” said Steve Bailey, games analyst at IHS. “First, it was driven by burgeoning activity in the fast-evolving sphere of online gaming, with particular emphasis on social network gaming. Second, movement in funding and acquisitions also has ramped up between Western markets and entities in Asia, centered likewise on the growth to be found in various aspects of online gaming.”

Companies in all regions are starting to go global, raising the likelihood of international deals. The total declared value of funding deals in social network games alone rose 300 percent in 2010.

The biggest funding event was when Chinese online gaming giant Tencent invested $300 million in Russia’s Digital Sky Technologies, which itself has invested in social game companies such as Zynga. Zynga raised $147 million from Japanese investor Softbank. But we noted the biggest funding of the year was Providence Equity Partners investing $150 million in ZeniMax, which acquired id Software, whose upcoming game Rage is pictured at top.

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Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals

Erin Burnett Is Leaving You

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The Times reports that Mark Haines’ gal-pal is “ready” to jump to CNN.

Erin Burnett is poised to sign a long-term contract with CNN, according to three people with knowledge of her plans. The signing will represent a shift to general news anchoring for Ms. Burnett, who has shown interest in branching out beyond business news, CNBC’s specialty. It is unclear what time slot she will occupy at CNN.

Ms. Burnett, who was considered a rising star within CNBC and its parent, NBCUniversal Media, held talks with two broadcast networks, ABC and CBS, before deciding to join CNN, according to two of the people.

For those of you not ready to accept the news, you could conceivably zero in on the fact that it doesn’t sound like Burnett has *actually* signed the contract yet, meaning perhaps she can be convinced (by begging on hands and knees, Mark) to stay. For those who’ve hearts have been broken by the betrayal and need to rebound in the arms of another woman or man, who would you like to see take over the Squawk on the Street slot? Don’t limit yourselves to just the CNBC talent pool.


Article courtesy of Dealbreaker

Amazon Gains on Earnings, Analyst Roundup

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Shares of Amazon (AMZN) were rising 3.7%, to $189 in recent morning trading after the company’s earnings report last night: although EPS came in light, it beat on the top line.

Here’s what analysts are saying about the quarter.

Canaccord Genuity analyst Heath Terry reiterated his Buy rating and $220 price target: “Revenue growth in Q1 and guidance for Q2 exceeded expectations considerably, though costs in Q1 and cost forecasts for Q2 far outpaced consensus. The ongoing build-out of distribution centers (22 over two years) and technology infrastructure to meet the demands of the business’s growth (Figure 2) should, we expect, gradually drive margins back to prior levels beginning in Q4. In our view, growing competitive advantages, significant market-expanding opportunities, and ancillary growth drivers like AWS more than offset the impact of lower margins near term.”

Think Equity analyst Aaron Kessler reiterated his Buy rating and $205 price target: “Amazon reported strong 1Q11 revenue despite the negative impact from the Japan earthquake, but reported lower-than-expected profits due to continued high levels of investments in fulfillment, S&M, and Tech & Content. Amazon also guided 2Q11 revenue above, but operating profit below, due to the same trends. While we are lowering our 2011 EPS estimates materially, we expect improved operating leverage in 2012.”

Evercore Partners analyst Ken Sena reiterated his  Overweight rating and $215 price target: “Results well exceeded top-line but disappointed on margins as revenue growth of 38% (vs. 34% expected) and adj. operating margin of 4.7% (vs. 5.4% expected) respectively fueled our enthusiasm  and concerns…Despite the ratcheting down of margin expectation, we see the overall opportunity for Amazon as significant enough to justify the additional patience required.”

BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis reiterated his Sell rating and $125 price  target: “The company trades at the top of its peers in valuation – but we expect more intense competition that depresses margins – a shift in the media business – increased Kindle competition – or weaker consumer spending is needed before AMZN experiences notable multiple contraction.”

Article courtesy of Tech Trader Daily

Ebullient VCs pour $6.4B into 661 companies in Q1

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Can you feel the froth? Investment in U.S. venture-backed companies rose 35 percent in the first quarter, according to a report by Dow Jones VentureSource. Venture firms invested $6.4 billion into 661 deals in the U.S. during the quarter.

The increased activity is consistent with the buzz in the tech industry about an overall recovery, an increase in optimism, and a faster pace for innovation among start-ups. There is considerable discussion about whether there is a bubble in tech investing, with a major story on the topic every week or so. The Wall Street Journal ran its latest bubble piece on Tuesday, with the headline, “In Silicon Valley, investors are jockeying like its 1999.

The debate is about whether there’s a comeback, with a recovery that is just beginning, or a bubble that is getting ready to burst.

The media amount raised in the first quarter was $5 million for a round of funding, up from $4.4 million a year earlier and on part with the 2009 medium.

“Large deals for capital-intense industries — such as renewable energy, healthcare and information technology — drove the investment increase in the first quarter,” said Jessica Canning, global research director for Dow Jones VentureSource, in a statement. “Venture capitalists, however, were not the only investors giving venture-backed companies sizable cash infusions. With acquisition prices on the rise, corporations are more inclined to invest and they funded three of the 10 largest deals confirmed during the quarter.”

Corporations accounted for were the source of $448 million of the $6.4 billion raised by venture-backed startups. Business and financial services companies raised $935 million in 125 deals, 17 percent more capital and 21 percent more deals than a year earlier.

Ad technologies and services companies — which raised $306 million in 43 deals — accounted for the largest proportion of deals in the business and financial services segment.

Consumer services companies raised $1.2 billion for 106 deals in the recent quarter. That was  more than double the $517 million raised for 102 deals during the same period last year.

The consumer information services sector — which includes social media, gaming and online shopping companies — raised $875 million in 81 deals. That was triple the amount raised during the same period a year ago; the number of deals only increased 7 percent, which means the amount per deal was way up at $10.8 million, far above average. A handful of large rounds accounted for the big increase, said Scott Austin, editor of Dow Jones VentureWire. For consumer companies overall, the median amount raised is $4 million, which is less than half of the media round size during the dot-com bubble in 2000.

Deals for healthcare companies were down 6 percent but capital invested rose 21 percent. There were 148 deals worth $1.6 billion in this sector. Biopharmaceuticals raised $849 in 61 deals, a 13 percent drop in deals and 15 percent increase in the amount invested.  Medical devices companies raised $635 million in 60 deals, a 14 percent drop in deals and 31 percent increase in capital raised.

Information tech companies raised $1.6 billion in 212 deals, a 10 percent increase in deals and 16 percent increase in capital invested. Within that sector, software companies closed 152 deals worth $741 million, up 24 percent in deals and 10 percent in money invested.

Energy and utilities companies raised $742 million in 33 deals, almost double the amount of capital raised a year ago. Six renewables companies raised $50 million-plus rounds. Rewewable energy companies altogether raised $671 million in 26 deals. Early stage rounds were 38 percent of deals and 16 percent of capital invested. A year ago, 39 percent of deals were seed and first-round deals. They were 20 percent of capital raised. Later stage deals were 40 percent of the number of deals and 64 percent of capital raised. that was up from 35 percent of deals and 54 percent of capital raised last year.



Article courtesy of VentureBeat » deals