Los Angeles-based Maker Studios has partnered with Jukin Media, which operates a number of YouTube channels focused on viral videos, the two companies said Thursday. Financial details of the partnership were not announced. According to the two, they will launch a standalone website for Jukin's viral video channel, FailArmy, along with other efforts to monetize Jukin Media's various channels. Fail Army's YouTube channel features Internet "fails" -- think alcohol, a GoPro, and and overload of testosterone and Red Bull--which it compiles into weekly compendiums.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Los Angeles-based Connectivity announced today that it has raised $6.35M in a Series A funding, for the company's customer analysis software for businesses. The startup said the funding round was led by Greycroft Partners, and also included Rincon Venture Partners, Daher Capital, Double M Partners, TenOneTen Ventures, Eytan Elbaz and SLP Ventures. Connectivity--which runs local serach sites YellowBot.com and weblocal.ca--is led by Matt Booth. Connectivyt's platform helps companies manage their online interaction with customers, and helps them figure out who their best customers are, and benchmark their efforts against their competitors, according to the company. The company was previously named Solfo.
San Diego-based GroundMetrics, a developer of electromagnetic surveying technology used by the oil and gas industry, has raised $2.73M in a Series B funding round. According to the company, the funding came from Cowboy Technology Angels, an Oklahoma-based angel group made up of oil industry executives. The funding also included Tech Coast Angels, Crescent Ridge Partners, ACE Fund, Harvard Business School Alumni Angels, and Peter Landin, former Managing Director and CEO/Americas for Barclays Global. The company also said is working to raise an additional amount of debt funding from Silicon Valley Bank, although the size of the debt facility it is seeking was not announced. GroundMetrics provides geophysical data and imaging of subsurface, underground projects. The company says it has projects ongoing with Saudi Aramco, Statoil, the U.S. Department of Energy, and others.
Who needs that TV remote when you can use your smartphone? Santa Monica-based television streaming site Hulu has rolled out a new feature, which lets users control what is playing on Hulu Plus on their living room device, using their iOS or Android mobile phone or tablet. Hulu said its new remote control feature--which works with Hulu Plus running on PlayStation 4, Playstation 3, and Xbox One--lets users pair their smartphones with any devices to directly control what you are watching from an app. Hulu had rolled out similar remote control functionality on Chromecast last year. Hulu says it is in the midst of also rolling out the feature soon to smart TVs, Blu-ray players, and additional living room devices.
Los Angeles-based Fandango has acquired the assets of MOVIECLIPS from Venice, California-based ZEFR, the two said this morning, along with the team supporting the MOVIECLIPS service. Financial terms of the buy were not disclosed. According to Fandango, it will use the acquisition of MOVIECLIPS to expand its product offerings in the area of video, content, and movie discovery. MOVIECLIPS offers up exactly what you would expect--movie clips, trailers, and content--via its own website and 25 different YouTube channels. Fandango explained that MOVIECLIPS gets around 200 million video views per month via YouTube. The sale comes as ZEFR has increasingly focused on providing analytics tools to studios and brands to help then better understand online content.
Los Angeles-based Spreeify, the social marketing software startup led by Ruben Dua, announced this morning that it has launched a new, social advertising platform it is calling SocialActive. The company said that the new technology allows advertisers to embed social engagement options--such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other post/follow buttons--directly within IAB HTML5 advertising ads. Spreeify says the new technology has already been used by Swarovski, Adobe, and others. Spreeify said the inclusion of those social links in ads makes it easier for advertisers to measure social engagement, and also gain additional social conversions from their ad campaigns. Pricing on the new product were not announced.
Westlake Village-based J.D. Power, the unit of McGraw Hill Financial which measures consumer opinions of automotive manufacturers, said Wednesday that it has acquired digital advertising company Korrelate. Korrelate was based in Orlando, Florida, and developed technology to tie consumer's online behavior to offline purchasing of new and used vehicles. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. J.D. Power said the move will help its customers by allowing marketers to measure online activity and link that to actual vehicle sales.
Los Angeles-based StudyMode, which develops online, educational tools and apps, said today that it has released a new online game aimed at helping students practice spelling. The company said that its new game, Stellar Speller, is an extension of its flashcard site Cram.com. The new software is free, and also is accessible via mobile platforms. StudyMode said the new game is the second online game released by the company's Cram.com website. StudyMode is led by Blaine Vess.
Los Angeles-based wireless network provider Boingo Wireless has scored a win near home, saying Wednesday that it has been selected by the County of Orange to upgrade the wireless network at John Wayne Airport (SNA). Financial details of the win were not disclosed. Boingo said the deal includes both a new, Distributed Antenna System (DAS) for the airport to improve cell phone coverage and capacity at the airport, as well as an upgrade of Boingo's existing Wi-Fi network. Boingo said it will also manage any future deployment of cellular small cell networks at the airport. Boingo says it now serves more than 75 airports.
Costa Mesa-based Emulex, the developer of high speed networking equipment, said yesterday that it has joined the OpenPOWER foundation, the industry group which supports IBM's POWER hardware and software stack. Emulex said it provides its equipment for IBM POWER platforms, and the move will help improve the functionality and value of that platform. The company said it joined the group as a preparation for transition to Gen 5 Fibre Channel and 40GB Ethernet.
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Facebook has received antitrust clearance from the Federal Trade Commission, for its acquisition of Irvine-based Oculus VR, the FTC said today. Facebook had said it would pay $2 billion for Oculus VR back in March. Oculus VR is a maker of 3D, virtual reality goggles and hardware. Two year old Oculus VR was venture backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Formation 8, Matrix Partners, and Spark Capital.
Sizmek, a developer of digital advertising technology, said this week that it has named Patrick Meehan as head of Sales in its Los Angeles office. The company--which is based in New York--has around 40 employees in Los Angeles. Meehan was previously
Director of Agency Sales and Account Management at DoubleClick. Sizmek focuses on open ad management, helping to manage online advertising campaigns for advertisers and agencies. Los Angeles is a major center for online advertising, with other companies like OpenX, Convertro, Frequency, Rubicon Project, Airpush, ReachLocal, and many, many others in the industry based in the region.
Valencia, California-based Nexus, the information technology services provider headed by Deron Pearson, has been acquired by $6 billion IT solutions provider Dimension Data, the two said this morning. Financial terms of the acquisition were not announced. Nexus was founded in 2004, and has nineteen offices across the country. According to the companies, the buy will bolster Dimension Data's operations in the US by 40 percent, and particularly increases the company's presence in the West, Southwest, and Southeast. As part of the acquisition, Dimension Data said it has added 657 employees from Nexus to its operations.
Irvine-based Allergan said late Tuesday evening that it has adopted a one-year, stockholder rights plan--better known to investors as a "poison pill"--after the receipt of an unsolicited bid by Valeant Pharmaceuticals to acquire the company. Allergan said its board of directors has unanimously adopted a one-year stockholder rights plan, and also declared a dividend distribution of one preferred share purchase right for each outstanding share of its common stock. Allergan said the plan is not intended to prevent an acquisition, only to allow its board "adequate time" to assess any proposal. Allergan--which makes Botox--received the unsolicited, $48.1 billion bid from Valeant late Monday.
Los Angeles-based survey and sampling provider uSamp said Tuesday that it had a record quarter, saying it saw revenues grow by 42 percent, year over year. Actual financials were not released by the company. uSamp said the growth came due to growth in Europe. uSamp's services are used in market research efforts by companies. uSamp is venture backed by OpenView Venture Partners, Greycroft Partners, DFJ Frontier, and others.
San Diego-based Cubic Corporation, which operates information technology, system integration, and technical support services for the military and government sector, said Tuesday that it has named Steven John Norris to its board of directors. Norris is a UK businessman and served as a government minister in that country, serving under Prime Minister Sir John Major. He became a Member of Parliment in 1983 and was in the government until 1997. He also serves as Chairman of Soho Estates, BNP Paribas Real Estate UK and Virtus Data Centres Ltd., among other positions.
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Tuesday, April 22, 2014
What do you do if you'd like to become a web developer, but can't afford to pay for the courses to learn those skills? One aspiring Los Angeles web developer has come up with a unique idea, an Indiegogo campaign to help raise money for a coding camp--in exchange for donating 10 percent of his income for the next two years to scholarships. Lex Alexander says he wants to launch the Code It Forward Scholarship by raising $9,000 to help him pay for coding boot camp at General Assembly, and wants to send women and other minorities to similar, coding bootcamps. Alexander says he was inspired to enroll in those coding boot camps after winning fourth place for his app, MapMySnaps, in the recent Hack for LA hackathon.
Tubular Labs, which develops online video marketing tools for AwesomenessTV, Maker Studios, and other local MCNs, said today that it has raised $11M in a Series B funding round. The company--which is based in Silicon Valley, but has some staff in Los Angeles--said the funding was led by Canaan Partners, and also included FirstMark Capital and Lerer Ventures. Canaan Partners's Warren Lee joins the company's board along with the funding. Tubular Labs develops video analytics and marketing tools, and also has raised prior funding from Machinima co-founder Allen DeBevoise and LowerMyBills founder and now investor Matt Coffin.
Los Angeles looks to be a hot market for online dating apps, as yet another, mobile dating app--Hinge, said it has launched in the city. Hinge--which comes out of New York City--said it is launching in LA today, to help single, young professionals meet others in the city. Hinge is focused on connecting people via their extended, social network, saying it uses Facebook validated profiles and a user's social links to help them meet people they will actually like. Hinge said it targeted Los Angeles for the launch, because it found that LA is "officially the hardest place to meet new people." Unlike native LA dating app Tinder, Hinge uses things like friend sin common,interests, religion, and other factors to help match up potential dates.
Los Angeles-based online advertising technology provider OpenX and YP said this morning that the two are in a new, display advertising deal, where YP will offer up programmatic, digital display advertising based on OpenX's technology. Financial details of the multi-year agreement were not announced. The two said the deal calls for YP to integrate its national sales team with a real time-bidding (RTB) an ad network system. The companies said the move would allow YP to unify both YP.com and a display ad network of hundreds of sites under a single inventory, making it easier for its advertisers.
Los Angeles-based investor The Chernin Group and AT&T said this morning that the two have created a new, joint venture, which will acquire, invest, and launch over-the-top (OTT) video services. According to the two, they have committed a total of $500M for the new venture, which is specifically aimed in online video businesses. Other financial details of the deal were not announced. According to the two, the new venture comes due to the move by consumers to view video on their phones, tablets, computers, game consoles, and connected TVs. The two did not announce the name of the new venture. The Chernin Group also said it will contribute its majority stake in subscription, video on demand service Crunchroll to the new venture.
Irvine-based healthcare firm Allergan has received a hostile bid from Valeant Pharmaceuticals, in a deal worth around $152.89 per share. Valeant offered to pay $48.30 in cash plus 0.83 percent in Valeant stock for each share of Allergan's stock, in a proposal released via an SEC filing. According to Allergan, it has had no discussions with either Valeant or backer Pershing Square on the proposal, and only became aware of its via those public filings; Allergan said it will consider the offer and proposal, once it is received by the company.
Venice-based electric vehicle app developer Recargo said Tuesday that Norman Hajjar, its Managing Director of its PlugInsights research division, has completed a record-setting, electric vehicle "road trip" around the country, driving more than 12,000 miles in under 3.5 weeks. The software company said it has submitted information on the trip to the Guiness World Records organization, and is seeking to have its trip verified for the longest vehicle journey ever taken using 100% electric power. Recargo--which makes an app to help EV drivers find the nearest charging station--took a stock, Tesla Model S cross country across 27 states. Hajjar said he had to stop 91 times to charge the Tesla, using Tesla's network of nationwide charging stations 86 times.
Pasadena-based Jacobs Engineering Group said this morning that it has entered into a deal to acquire Federal Network Systems (FNS), a provider of system integration and communications, information technology, and data security, which is a subsidiary of Verizon Communications. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. FNS is based in Ashburn, Virginia. Jacobs said the deal will help it enhance its presence in the intelligence community market. FNS helps integrate, secure, and operate voice, data, and video networks for the intelligence community, the Department of Defense, and other agencies.
Costa Mesa-based Airwolf 3D, a developer of 3D printers, said today that it has begun shipping a product that allows its 3D printers to print using materials like polycarbonate, Bridge nylon, and Nylon 645. According to the company, the support make it possible to print engineering-grade parts, allowing its "prosumer" grade 3D printers to print parts which previously would require expensive, high end industrial 3D printers. The company said the support requires a $195 add-on to its 3D printers, and also allows users to continue printing the more common, lower temperature PLA and ABS parts. Airwolf 3D is led by Erick Wolf.
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and California legal issues related to the transaction.
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Monday, April 21, 2014
A new report, released over the weekend, says that Los Angeles should look towards New York and San Francisco and what they have done to help strengthen the community here for technology startups. The L.A. Tech Agenda report, edited by David C. Murphy, says that although LA's tech community "is on fire", the community could learn from those other markets, by addressing funding shortages, retaining engineering talent from loca luniversities, building closer ties with the community, and by addressing housing and transportation challenges. Specifically, among recommendations in the report: asking Mayor Eric Garcetti to become "advocate-in-chief" for the Los Angeles tech community by presenting at conferences in San Francisco and New York; encouraging LA tech leaders to host "road shows" to investors in the Bay Area; by recruiting more big tech companies to open up engineering offices in LA; in addition to addressing issues with traffic and gridlock. The authors of the report are launching a set of events focused on talking about those issues, with the first event being held this evening in Santa Monica.
Look out, Uber--another, smartphone-driven ride service, Taxi Magic, is looking to get into the Los Angeles market, saying that it will offer up free rides to people in Los Angeles who need a ride, starting on Tuesday (April 22nd) and running until Friday, April 25th. According to Ride Charge, the Virginia company behind the Taxi Magic app, everyone in Los Angeles who books a ride with the app for the rest of the week will ride free, as long as they include a special code (TAXIBACK) in their booking--and the rides cost less than $15.00. Taxi Magic joins a long list of smartphone-driven ride services and taxi apps -- including not only Uber, but also Lyft, Sidecar, and Flywheel--trying to gain mindshare in the Los Angeles market. All of those services--with the exception of Flywheel--are fighting the local, incumbent taxi and transportation services already serving the LA market.
Los Angeles-based Beats Music--the heavily backed, streaming music provider spun out of Beats Electronics--is struggling with its launch, and only has subscriber counts in the "low six figures", according to a report today from Billboard. The report says Beats Music also will face new competition from Spotify, which is rolling out a music partnership with Sprint which challenges Beats' own deal with AT&T.
Los Angeles-based Oversee.net said today that it has sold its DomainSponsor domain monetization business. Financial terms of the sale were not announced. Oversee.net said it sold DomainSponsor to Rook Media, a European domain monetization company based in Zurich. Oversee.net said the move would allow it to focus on "more aggressively" developing its portfolio of web properties and mobile applications--and in particular, the many branded websites the company now owns in the areas of travel, consumer finance and comparison shopping.
Preact, a developer of software to help software companies reduce churn in their subscription customers which came out of Los Angeles-based startup incubator/accelerator Launchpad LA, has raised $4.6M in a funding round. The company said the funding came from Trinity Ventures. Preact--which was formerly known as FolioHD--was founded by Christopher Gooley and Cory Watilo. The company is now based in San Francisco. Gooley was at Earbits, and Watilo is an Orange County native who has consulted for Kelley Blue Book, Zillow, and others. The company's investors include Launchpad LA's Sam Teller. Preact came out of Gooley and Watilo's experience at FolioHD, a photo sharing service for professional photographers, and their own customer churn issues with that subscription service.
San Diego-based Nervana Systems, a startup developing hardware specifically aimed at artificial intelligence software, has raised $600,000 in a funding round. The funding came from Ali and Hadi Partovi, Sam Altman, Geoff Ralston, Scott Banister, Owen Van Natta, Eric Baker, Farzad Khosrowshahi, Dara Khosrowshahi, Allen & Co., Aditya Agrawal, Ruchi Sanghvi, and SV Angels. The company--led by Naveen Rao--says it is developing computer hardware specifically for "deep learning". That hardware includes features specifically for implementing machine learning and big data analysis software.
Los Angeles-based Enplug, a company that develops digital displays which display real time, social media from Twittter, Facebook, Yelp, and elsewhere at retail locations, has raised $2.5M in a seed funding round. Enplug said the investment came from Larry Keele (Oaktree Capital), Rasoul Oskouv (Juniper Networks), Bill Gross (Idealab), Hossein Eslambolchi (ATT), David Cohen (Interscope), Justin Caldbeck (Lightspeed Vnture Partners), Troy Carter, Howard Marks, DominateFund, zPark Venture, and Amidi Group. The company was co-founded by Nanxi Liu, Alex Ross, Zach Spitulski, David Zhu, and Navdeep Reddy, and says it now has 30 employees.
The latest numbers are out on venture capital investments in Southern California from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, finding that the region had nearly $762.88M invested in companies in the region during Q1 of 2014. According to the MoneyTree Report, based on data from Thomson Reuters, Los Angeles led the region with $309.9M in funding, followed by San Diego with $242.98M in investments, and $209.97M in investments in Orange County.
The biggest deals of the quarter came from San Luis Obispo-based MINDBODY, which raised $50.0M in the quarter, followed by San Diego's Lumena Pharmaceuticals with $45.5M; the third largest funding was for Aliso Viejo-based Aquesys raised $43.6M in funding. Carlsbad-based Luxtera raised $37.38M in its funding round.
The most active Southern California-based venture capital investors for Q1 were Correlation Ventures (10 investments); Upfront Ventures (9 deals); and Avalon Ventures (5 deals); Frost Data Capital invested in 4 companies during the quarter. The venture investors actually investing the most in Southern California itself were Upfront Ventures (5 investments); Frost Data Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (4 investments each); then DFJ Frontier, Shasta Ventures, Versant Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, Siemer Ventures, and First Round Capital, all of which investd in 3 deals during the quarter.
The investment of $762....
Carlsbad-based biotechnology developer Verdezyne said this morning that it has hit a key production milestone. The company--which is developing processes for developing renewable chemicals--said it has produced more than one metric ton of bio-based dodecanedioic acid (DDDA) using its proprietary yeast platform and downstream process. DDDA is a precursor to such products as nylon, molding resins, lubricants, adhesives, and powder coatings as well as such products as toothbrushes, fishing line, and other similar products. The company said the milestone proves the scalability of its process. Verdezyne is venture backed by BP Alternative Energy Ventures, DSM Venturing B.V., OVP Venture Partners and Monitor Ventures.
Santa Barbara-based whole home music system developer Sonos said late last week that it has made a big change to the way its products work, removing the need to connect one of its components to a user's wireless router. The requirement to connect a Sonos BRIDGE or other product to your Wi-Fi router has been a requirement since the introduction of the company's products, even though Sonos has its own, proprietary wireless mesh technology called SonosNet. Sonos said the removal of the wireless router requirement comes due to the improvement in wireless technology over the last ten years. Previously, Sonos had used that WiFi network to ensure full coverage of homes; the company said that now, most homes should not require Sonos BRIDGE or other product on a WiFi network, except some very large homes.