July 30, 2015
There’s some insane amounts of money being tossed around this Thursday: GitHub raised $250 million, NBCUniversal is considering investing $250 million into BuzzFeed, and Truecaller wants to grow up to be a unicorn via $100 million. It just goes to show you, there’s never a dull moment in the tech community – especially when funding is involved.
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Autopilot Raises $7 Million
Before getting the funding from Blackbird Ventures, Garnett Ventures, and Tim Draper, CEO Mike Sharkey was actively pursuing government funding from Australia. One of the criteria he had to meet was actually being denied funding from a VC firm in Australia.
He wrote each firm – there are only two prominent ones down under – hoping they would reject him. As he tells it, his letters were filled with profane language and insults. However, despite the language, Autopilot caught the eye of investors and he wound up with $7 million in funding.
They’ve only been operational for four months at this point, but their user base has seen substantial growth in that time. According to Sharkey, the growth and the marketing automation capabilities of Autopilot are what caught the eyes of the investors: to date they’ve raised $20.5 million.
Thrive Market Raises $30 Million
Thrive Market was built as a subscription service where users pay a monthly membership due in return for healthy products and supplies either at or below their listed retail prices. That is, the platform purchases products in bulk and passes their savings onto the customers – it’s like going to Costco online.
The $30 million Series A round included investors like Greycroft, Scripps Network CAVU, Powerplant Ventures, John Legend, Toby McGuire, and Demi Moore. According to the team they’ll allocate part of the funding to open up a new fulfillment center in Indiana. The new, 275,000 square foot establishment will help serve the East Coast customers easier, since they only have a fulfillment center where they’re based in Los Angeles.
PicMonkey Raises $41 Million
PicMonkey has been around for about three years at this point, but they opted to bootstrap the company. This $41 million growth equity investment from Spectrum Equity actually marks the first round of outside funding they’ve ever accepted.
The platform itself is used to make adjustments to pictures, build collages, or create complex illustrations. To date they’ve accrued over 25 million users, hundreds of thousands of which are on a paid subscription model.
FreedomPop Raises $10 Million
FreedomPop is a US wireless carrier that’s spent their time building free voice and data services for their users, and they raised $10 million from two strategic investors. The first was Asian mobile carrier Axiata, and the second was an unnamed tech investor based out of the US.
As it stands, Axiata’s involvement means more capital with the added benefit of being able to expand their free services into Asia. According to the team, they’re currently the largest carrier in Southeast Asia with 230 million subscribers. All of this comes hot on the heels of FreedomPop’s recent, different $30 million investment.
GitHub Raises $250 Million at $2 Billion Valuation
GitHub confirmed rumors, via the Wall Street Journal, that they are in fact raising a round of funds estimated around $250 million, which would effectively put their valuation at $2 billion. The Series B round was led by Sequoia Capital. Institutional Venture Partners, Thrive Capital, and Andreessen Horowitz also chipped in.
BioLite Announces $5 Million in Funding
A lot of people are familiar with BioLite for their camping stoves, but the team just announced a $5 million round of funding. As the team tells it, this funding will go to accelerating expansion of off the grid products for those who need them most in the developing world.
The cooking stove by BioLite is able to reduce harmful emissions caused by wood burning fires by 90 percent while also drastically reducing the amount of deaths attributed to those same, smoky fires. In other words, this round of funding translates into safe cooking and off the grid power for those who badly need and want it.
Funding News to Follow
Truecaller Wants to be a Unicorn, Seeking $100 Million
We saw Twilio officially become a unicorn startup yesterday, and now Truecaller wants in on the action. They’re a communications app, specifically a caller ID platform that currently has about 150 million users.
As the team says, they’re looking to raise $100 million at a $1 billion valuation. It’s been reported that Morgan Stanley has come on board to help out and term sheets are out: this funding round will most likely encompass both new and current investors into the platform.
Truecaller has currently raised about $80 million in funding, and if they get their wish to join the unicorn club they’ll be putting the funds towards massive product growth. They also are looking to expand operations out of Sweden and India and into the US: they’re projected to hit 300 million users this year.
NBC Universal to Invest in BuzzFeed and Vox Media
First off, you need to understand that this isn’t set in stone. As we know, deals like this have a tendency to disintegrate if anything goes wrong, but it’s still worth paying attention to.
It’s been reported that NBCUniversal is considering investing $250 million into BuzzFeed, skyrocketing the value of the publication to around $1.5 billion. Sources close to the deal have said that NBCU is also willing to invest in Vox Media in a deal that would value them at $850 million. We’ll keep you updated as things unfold.
Image Credit: Wikipedia
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