Tag Archives: raises

Helpling, Rocket Internet’s home services company, raises further €10M as on-demand space cools

 Helpling, the Rocket Internet-founded company that lets you book a range of home services online, is disclosing €10 million in new funding. The round was led by Asia Pacific Internet Group (APACIG), the joint venture between Rocket Internet and Ooredoo, and also includes a number of other existing investors. Read More
Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

My 1st Years, a startup that sells personalised gifts for babies and children, raises further £5M

my1styears My 1st Years, a U.K.-based e-commerce startup that offers personalised gifts for babies and children, has picked up £5 million in growth funding. Read More
Fundings & Exits – TechCrunch

Airfare prediction app Hopper raises $61.2 million to go global

Hopper: Flight Predictions


Hopper, an app for predicting airfare and booking flights, is now flush with cash: The 6-year-old Montreal- and Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company has raised a $ 61.2 million round led by Canadian fund CDPQ ($ 82M CAD).

“We are selling $ 1 million of air a day,” Hopper CEO Frederic Lalonde told VentureBeat in a phone interview. “We’re a full blown agency, not like Hipmunk, not like Kayak. Completely standalone.”

For every ticket Hopper sells, it takes a commission — the company won’t say how much. And Hopper also charges users a $ 5 fee per ticket. Lalonde says customers don’t mind the fee because “on average people save $ 50 a ticket.”

“Our main competitor is your laptop,” Lalonde added. He hopes Hopper, which is only available on mobile devices, will become the “largest and most used travel app in the world.”

That’s why Hopper raised $ 61.2 million (on top of the $ 38 million it’s already raised). Lalonde says Hopper will triple its staff to 120 people next year, and the company plans to set up a “local presence” in 120 countries in order to find and sell low fares outside the U.S. and Canada.

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Big data software company Databricks raises $60 million

Databricks cofounder and chief technologist Matei Zaharia at Spark Summit EU 2016.


Databricks, a startup that has pushed the commercialization of the Apache Spark open-source big data software, today is announcing a $ 60 million funding round.

Databricks offers cloud service based on Spark that can be used for data integration, data pipelines, and other tasks. The Spark data processing engine is considered faster than Apache Hadoop, which companies like Cloudera, MapR, and publicly traded Hortonworks sell distributions of. Earlier this year, Hadoop-as-a-service startup Altiscale was acquired by SAP.

NEA led the round, with participation from Andreessen Horowitz. Both firms also participated in Databricks’ previous funding round. To date, Databricks has raised $ 107.5 million.

Databricks was founded in 2013 and is based in San Francisco. Last year, it announced a partnership with IBM around machine learning capabilities in Spark.

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Blackmore raises $3.5 million to fit roof-mounted sensors for self-driving cars onto a single chip

Google Self-Driving Car


Blackmore Sensors and Analytics today announced that it had raised $ 3.5 million to further develop its frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FMCW) Lidar for use in self-driving cars. The company aims to reduce the primitive-looking radar and camera systems atop today’s autonomous car prototypes to a single semiconductor mounted inside the vehicle’s front grill.

“The typical American consumer does not want a self-driving car with roof-mounted instruments,” Randy Reibel, CEO of Blackmore, told VentureBeat. “We’re reducing this to be stamped out on a single semiconductor so that it can fit in the front grill of a car and we can squeeze it in there, out of sight.”

Lidar stands for “light detection and ranging,” and it is the technology that helps autonomous cars “see.” Blackmore’s differentiated approach to Lidar relies on frequency-modulation, much the way FM radio differs from AM radio. It allows self-driving vehicles to detect range (how far away another car is) and spatial details (the shape and characteristics of that car), as well as speed (how fast the car is moving away from or toward you).

Next Frontier Capital and Millennium Technology Value Partners participated in the investment. “Blackmore’s Lidar engine provides advanced capabilities not available in competing systems,” said Next Frontier Capital managing partner, Richard Harjes, in a statement, “such as single photon sensitivity and the capability to simultaneously measure an object’s range and speed. These advanced capabilities will open up a new era of computationally efficient Lidar analytics that will lower the total cost of autonomous driving systems.”

Blackmore is one of a new generation of auto parts suppliers preparing to meet the component needs of self-driving cars. Automakers like Ford, Fiat Chrysler, and BMW are investing heavily in self-driving car technology, and Google‘s self-driving car is seemingly everywhere. Tesla provides an Autopilot system, and everyone from Apple to Uber seems interested in the space. Blackmore estimates that the annual Lidar market will reach $ 10 billion by 2020, fueled, in large part, by the rapidly growing demand for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Blackmore’s competitors include Velodyne and Quanergy. Tesla, famously, has not adopted Lidar for its ADAS.

Blackmore is located in Bozeman, Montana and has 22 employees. The company will use the investment to begin manufacturing its Lidar engine using semiconductor processes, which will enable it to produce sensors at scale and at low cost. “Blackmore’s current plan is to deliver prototype automotive Lidar and deployable surveillance systems using our new Lidar engine in mid-2017,” said Reibel.

 

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Gay dating app Hornet raises $8 million, its first institutional funding

Hornet Logo


Hornet, a dating app that touts itself as “the world’s second largest gay social network,” announced that it has raised $ 8 million in its first round of institutional financing. The Series A round was led by Shanghai-based VC firm Ventech China, and adds to the $ 500,000 angel round Hornet raised back in 2012.

Founded out of San Francisco in 2011, Hornet serves to “strengthen” the gay community by “providing quality social interactions with more ways to meet and engage in local gay communities,” the company says. It recently made its first acquisition, snapping up gay city guide Vespa for an undisclosed amount, with Vespa’s places and events data integrated into Hornet in a major refresh earlier this month.

Vespa says that it’s now the top gay social network in some markets, including Russia, Brazil, France, and Taiwan, with three million active users each month across the board, or half of what Grindr counts. Indeed, Grindr is among the best-known gay online communities, and earlier this year it too nabbed its first ever institutional funding, closing a $ 93 million round after nearly seven years of bootstrapping. Similar to Hornet, Grindr’s investment also emanated from China, with gaming giant Beijing Kunlun Tech Company buying a 60 percent stake in the company, valuing it at around $ 155 million.

Hornet says that its cash influx will be used to “support rapid business growth and user adoption” around the world.

“We are excited to work with our new investors to further our mission and engage our community,” explained Christof Wittig, Hornet CEO, in a press release. “Hornet brings interaction and an experience that builds relationships and helps form meaningful connections to local communities. We will invest heavily into making our vision for a fully connected gay community a reality.”

Ventech China has invested in at least one other gay community app — it participated in the Series C round of China’s Blued in June this year. Blued is big in Asia, and has claimed to be twice as big as Grindr.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to invest in Hornet,” added Eric Huet, a managing partner at Ventech who also now joins Hornet’s board of directors. “The platform combined with the user functionality is unparalleled. In such a short time, Hornet has claimed leader position in many markets across the globe.”

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Cloud-based connected car startup Otonomo raises $12 million

Otonomo


Self-driving car startup Otonomo has closed a $ 12 million series A round, led by Bessemer Venture Partners and Stageone Ventures, with participation from Maniv Mobility and LocalGlobe.

Founded out of Tel Aviv in 2015, Otonomo’s cloud-based platform connects service providers and app developers with millions of connected cars. For example, car manufacturers may use Otonomo to share and monetize car data, while offering drivers access to additional in-car services. The company says that it has already begun trials with manufacturers and service providers, and with an extra $ 12 million in its coffers, it plans to expand and scale its service as it gears up for prime time.

“Gartner has predicted that by 2020, a quarter of a billion connected vehicles will be on the road — all of which will depend on in-car digital apps,” explained Ben Volkow, CEO and cofounder of Otonomo. “But in order for cars to provide the best connected service for drivers, car manufacturers need a platform they trust to share and negotiate data between them and application providers while meeting different data and privacy regulations that respect and accommodate drivers’ privacy. That’s where Otonomo comes in, as our integrated cloud-based platform is a trusted gateway between the services and apps drivers want and the security the automotive industry needs.”

This year has seen a myriad of investments across the connected car and autonomous vehicle realm. Automile, a startup that helps companies manage their vehicle fleets, recently secured a $ 6.2 million investment; Civil Maps, a mapping startup that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and local vehicle-based processing to convert data obtained from a car’s sensors into “meaningful map information” for use in autonomous vehicles, raised $ 6.6 million; FiveAI closed a $ 2.7 million funding round for its machine-learning smarts that could underpin the autonomous cars of the future; and Drive Time Metrics raised $ 2.1 million to monetize connected car data.

Elsewhere, a number of startups have been snapped up by bigger companies as the autonomous vehicle land-grab enters overdrive — for example, Cruise Automation was acquired by GM for over $ 1 billion, while Uber acquired self-driving truck startup Otto.

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Solar lighting company D.light raises $7.5 million and reveals plans for a solar-powered TV

D.light technology in the wild


D.light, a for-profit social enterprise that manufactures and distributes solar-powered products aimed at “off-grid” communities, has raised $ 7.5 million in a debt financing round from investment management company Developing World Markets.

Founded in 2007, D.light makes myriad solar lighting products and claims five distribution hubs around the world, spanning the U.S., East Africa, West Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. The company also offers the D30 bundle, which constitutes a solar panel, battery-charging pack, solar lights, switches, FM radio, and a torch, all underpinned by D.light’s pay-as-you-go platform.

Today’s financing news comes less than two months after D.Light raised $ 22.5 million in a round that included a $ 5 million grant, $ 2.5 million debt funding, and $ 15 million equity financing from Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm set up by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, with participation from a handful of other parties. The company has now raised more than $ 50 million in total since its inception, and its latest cash influx will be used to expand its existing products as well as branch out into new products — including a solar-powered TV.

“We believe that capital markets can create positive economic and social change and that D.light can provide the kind of financial and social returns we seek from our investments,” explained Peter Johnson, managing partner of Developing World Markets.

D.light hasn’t divulged any details about when it plans to bring its solar-powered TV to market, but the funding news comes just a few months after U.K. electronics company Cello launched a solar-powered TV of its own, so it seems that there is demand for such a device.

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Enterprise elearning platform OpenSesame raises $9 million, says it will expand into VR training

Illustration: The Time Gate opened. The outsider stopped his car and walked towards it.


On-demand elearning startup OpenSesame has raised $ 9 million in a funding round led by Altos Ventures, with participation from existing investor Partech Ventures.

Founded in 2002, OpenSesame offers more than 20,000 courses aimed at enterprises, covering everything from accounting and customer service to I.T. certification and conflict resolution.

The company had raised around $ 10 million prior to this and says that its latest funding will be used to expedite its sales and marketing initiatives, while also allowing it to expand into new training technologies, including virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

As OpenSesame plans to branch out into high-tech training mediums, fellow online learning startup Udacity only yesterday announced a new VR Developer nanodegree in partnership with Google, HTC, and others. So it’s clear that there is a growing push to not only harness the burgeoning VR technology but to also ensure that there is enough coding talent behind the scenes.

The corporate elearning market was said to be worth $ 12 billion in the U.S. alone in 2015 and could hit $ 31 billion globally by 2020. And this could explain why online education company Coursera revealed less than a month ago that it was branching out to target businesses, specifically.

“OpenSesame has experienced tremendous growth in the last two years, because leading organizations understand that simple and effective online training gives them a competitive advantage,” said OpenSesame CEO Don Spear.

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KeyMe raises $15 million for digital key-copying kiosks

KeyMe's kiosk for copying keys.


Here’s a new twist on getting your keys copied at the hardware store. KeyMe has raised $ 15 million in funding to expand its key-copying kiosks, which enable you to save “digital copies” of keys in the cloud.

KeyMe promises to revolutionize costly locksmith services by enabling customers to copy their home, office, and car keys and then save copies of them in the cloud.

The third round of funding was led by QuestMark Partners, coming after a $ 20 million second round in December 2015. To date, the company has raised $ 45 million. All previous investors participated in an oversubscribed round, including Comcast Ventures, Battery Ventures, White Star Capital, 7-Eleven, Ravin Gandhi, and the Polsky Family Office, among others.

“KeyMe is poised to help tens of millions of consumers securely and conveniently copy keys at their local retailer,” said Greg Marsh, founder and CEO of KeyMe, in a statement. “This new round of funding will help us meet explosive retailer demand for tens of thousands of new kiosks and fundamentally disrupt a $ 7.5 billion per year industry.”

The round will support the company’s aggressive expansion plan to add more than 3,500 next-generation kiosks by the end of 2017 in leading retailers, including: 7-Eleven, Albertsons, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Kmart, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Mall of America, Rite Aid, Safeway and Sears.

The new KeyMe kiosk supports 85 percent of all automotive keys on the market, including modern “fob” automotive keys, the company said.

Consumers have historically been forced to go to a dealer for “fob” keys and often pay hundreds of dollars. This technology enables KeyMe to scan car keys at the kiosk, read the transponder, and ship a fully ­programmed copy with a shipment tracking code in under two days. Prices start at $ 20 for non-­transponder keys and $ 60 for “fob” keys and transponder keys. KeyMe can also replicate keys for recreational, watercraft, and commercial vehicles.

KeyMe kiosk viewed from the front.

Above: KeyMe kiosk viewed from the front.

Image Credit: KeyMe

KeyMe also enables customers to save digital copies of their keys in the cloud. Customers can then recover a copy simply and securely using their fingerprint at any of the kiosks if they are ever locked out and can also use KeyMe’s free iOS and Android apps. Keys can be saved via the app and stored in the cloud, then accessed and printed at a kiosk in the event of a lockout. That could save hundreds of dollars that would ordinarily be spent on an emergency locksmith visit.

“KeyMe has successfully brought key copying into the 21st century, with technology that offers convenience, security and control to anyone with a set of keys,” said Nick Superina, partner at QuestMark Partners, in a statement. “KeyMe’s unique kiosks, mobile application and cloud storage of keys truly make the key copying and sharing experience much more convenient, accurate and safe. We are proud to lead the new round of funding for KeyMe, fueling KeyMe’s rapid expansion to thousands of stores and millions of mobile users worldwide. With over one million keys produced and a massive national retail presence, we expect KeyMe to continue to shape and define the industry.”

KeyMe was founded in 2012. KeyMe said its advanced robotics and artificial intelligence technology produces key copies that are more accurate than the originals, whereas traditional key duplication services have 15­-20 percent error rates as a result of their “tracing” methodology. Customers can also use KeyMe’s free, downloadable mobile app to safely scan and save a digital copy from anywhere, and either mail order copies to their door or print a copy at any KeyMe kiosk.

KeyMe has introduced unprecedented security and control into key duplication and lockouts. KeyMe provides accountability across the entire customer experience. For every key made, there exists a detailed transaction history, financial paper trail, and fingerprint encryption at login.

With the new funding completed, Superina at QuestMark Partners has joined the board, replacing current board member Jens Molbak.

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