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Pond5 Raises $61 Million Series A Led By Accel Partners, Stripes Group

Pond5, Shutterstock’s rival in the digital media and video world, has today announced that the company has closed a $61 million round of funding led by Accel Partners and Stripes Group.

According to CrunchBase, this is Pond5′s second round of funding after securing a $500k seed round back in 2008.

Launched in 2006, Pond5 offers an alternative to Shutterstock with a user-driven marketplace for stock video, music, photos, special effects, Adobe AfterEffects, etc. The Pond5 model asks media creators to upload their own work and set their own prices, so control is left almost entirely in the hands of the buyers and sellers. Pond5 simply provides the venue.

Here’s what Pond5 CEO Tom Bennett had to tell TechCrunch about the round:

We are profitable, and part of the reason we were able to hold off on another financing round up until now is because we chose to grow more slowly in a way that is more robust and organic. With regards to any future financings, we haven’t made a determination one way or another whether we’ll go down that path, but we decided a long time ago that at all points in time we would have the option of a sustainable, profitable business that doesn’t require external funding.

Pond5 now accounts for more than 15 million media clips from 30,000 artists in 127 different countries, and according to the company, Pond5′s 2.7 million videos comprise the largest royalty-free video collection on the web.

In terms of the business, the company is home to around 70 employees distributed between the New York headquarters and an office in Prague. With the funding, Pond5 plans to build out the product, double the staff, add more content, and marketing.

If you want to learn more about Pond5, check out the website here.

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eBay Reports Mixed Q2 Results With Revenue Of $4.366B, Non-GAAP EPS Of $0.69

Today after the close of regular trading, eBay announced its second-quarter financial performance, including revenue of $4.366 billion and non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.69.

Its revenue tally for the period was up 13 percent year-over-year. eBay’s second-quarter GAAP earnings totaled $676 million. It’s non-GAAP earnings were much higher at $868 million.

The company had mixed results. Analysts had anticipated eBay to earn $0.68 per share on revenue of $4.38 billion. It therefore beat on profits, but missed on top line. Ebay was slightly down in regular trading, and following its earnings report is up nearly 2% after hours.

In the sequentially preceding quarter, eBay reported revenue of $4.3 billion, and non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.70. The company had a large one-time tax charge of $3 billion in that period that impacted its GAAP earnings.

In the second quarter — its most recent — eBay’s core marketplace gross merchandise volume rose 12 percent, with international growth besting domestic expansion. That business provided eBay with $2.2 billion in revenue.

PayPal, eBay’s other key asset, saw its net total payment volume rise 29 percent compared to the year-ago quarter. PayPal’s revenue for the period was $1.9 billion, with the payment company picking up 4 million new “active registered accounts,” wrapping the quarter with a total of 152 million.

eBay Enterprise, the smallest of its three main business groups, had revenue of $267 million in the quarter, up a slim 3 percent from the year-ago period.

eBay had a workable, but not ecstatic, quarter. The minor profit beat and the minor revenue miss are mostly a wash. The company is seeing its GAAP operating margin decline, which could put pressure on its future profitability.

As far as its bank account, eBay is very wealthy, ending the quarter with cash, equivalents, and non-equity investments of $12.4 billion.

For the current quarter, eBay expects something of a repeat, with top line of $4.3 to $4.4 billion, and non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.65 and $0.67.

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NEA Backs BetterDoctor’s Quest To Develop Tools To Find A Better Doctor

For Ari Tulla, the chief executive officer in NEA’s newest portfolio company, BetterDoctor, the decision to launch a company was a matter of more than just money.

Almost ten years ago, Tulla’s wife began treatment for a serious illness. At the time the couple was living in Europe and spent months looking for a doctor, when Tulla’s job with Nokia took him to the U.S. they had to relive the process again in the labyrinthine maze of the U.S. healthcare system.

“I became a super-user,” says Tulla of the hours he spent trolling the California peninsula looking for specialists. “We saw 40 different doctors [and] along the way I decided that this is a pain point.”

According to Tulla, some 70 million patients in the U.S. will switch their physicians or seek additional consultations or treatment, and BetterDoctor aims to make that process easier — thanks in part to $10 million in new financing led by NEA.

Tulla launched BetterDoctor three years ago in the waning days of Nokia with his partner, another Nokia employee, Tapio Tolvanen to make the process easier. Based on social media reviews, physicians’ social networks, and a host of other public and private data, BetterDoctor offers would-be patients a one stop shop for vetting, selecting, and booking appointments with doctors based on user criteria.

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The company isn’t without competition, companies like ZocDoc provide online scheduling services and organizational tools for doctors’ offices, while HealthGrades, offers online services to select a physician. The company sees itself as a combination of the two, like an OpenTable and Yelp service for the buffet of medical services offered under a customers’ health care plan.

BetterDoctor pulls its information from a number of sources including Yelp, Doximity, and Federal health professional registries. The database serving information to the site’s users took nearly a year and a half to put together. That initial legwork was financed by a broad consortia of seed stage investors including Burrill & Company, Commerce Ventures, Kima Ventures, Lifeline Ventures, 500 Startups, MESA+, and SoftTech VC.

While the company’s basic service is free, there are new premium offerings on the way that will cost money for both prospective patients and for doctors. Six months ago the company allowed doctors to create and change their profiles. Soon, BetterDoctor will begin charging for premium sites for doctors that have been vetted as top-quality physicians by the service.

While Tulla does expect to see a shakeout in the industry, he’s not worried about things in the admittedly heavily invested healthcare information technology market becoming overly frothy anytime soon.

“You’re looking at a funnel here that is $800 billion a year,” he says. “There’s no one company that will own that market.”

View post: NEA Backs BetterDoctor’s Quest To Develop Tools To Find A Better Doctor

Harley-Davidson Might Be Making An Electric Motorcycle

A mysterious video released on Harley-Davidson’s YouTube channel today shows a much quieter motorcycle zooming down Route 66, fueling speculation that this bike is electric.

Harley fans were already suspicious after the folks at Visor Down leaked of one of the possible bikes on the set of the new Avengers movie a few days ago.

The Harley is a symbol of the open road and the Hells Angels. This seems like a watered-down version of all that is Harley-Davidson and America to some.

All of this is, of course, just speculation for now.

The video title says “06.19.14.” Probably not coincidentally, the Harley crew is set to make a big announcement about its next hog tomorrow.

Originally posted here: Harley-Davidson Might Be Making An Electric Motorcycle

Adform Raises $5.5M To Expand Its Rich Media Ad Business In The US

European ad-tech company Adform is announcing that it has raised $5.5 million in Series B funding.

The company was founded more than a decade ago, in 2002. Chief Marketing Officer Martin Stockfelth Larsen told me it sells its technology to both advertisers and publishers, with products including a demand side platform for ad-buying from multiple sources.

Most DSPs, Stockfelth added, “compete on algorithms,” namely their ability to efficiently buy ads through real-time bidding. While that’s part of Adform’s offering, its real focus has been on rich media ads, including a variety of video formats. Those formats aren’t unique, but Stockfelth said that with Adform, advertisers can “easily scale rich media” rather than go through the standard process that’s “very manual, very cumbersome” and can require negotiation with and customization for individual publishers.

Those ads can run across desktop, tablet, and mobile devices — Stockfelth said mobile has become a big part of Adform’s traffic, though revenue lags behind.

Supposedly, the company has always been profitable, but he said the funding will allow it to become “more aggressive,” particularly in the United States, where it recently opened two sales offices (in New York and Los Angeles). Adform also plans to launch its own data management platform and to expand its efforts in outdoor advertising.

The new funding comes from Nordic firm Via Venture Partners, which previously invested in Adform a few years ago.

Go here to see the original: Adform Raises $5.5M To Expand Its Rich Media Ad Business In The US

Mobile Social Networking App Skout Acquires Nightlife App Nixter

Skout, a social networking app that’s backed by $22 million from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, just acquired nightlife app Nixter.

Skout’s CEO Christian Wiklund (pictured above) said he pursued the deal to find a better way to marry offline and online interactions in Skout’s app with real-world events. While Skout is an app that helps connect strangers all over the world, Nixter’s platform lets party seekers find upcoming nightlife events in their city, buy tickets, see the guest list or get VIP accommodations.

“This will be a huge value-add service to our users. I also think it’s highly monetizable and it will build even stronger loyalty from our users,” Wiklund said.

Wiklund didn’t close the amount Skout paid for the company. The deal was a mixture of cash and stock.

Nixter, which came out of Santiago, Chile, was founded about two years ago and it now operates in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. It had raised about $200,000 in angel funding, largely from a group of angel investors down in Chile.

The company’s co-founder Francisco Saez says the company weighed a bunch of different options. They’re competing against a number of other apps including San Francisco-based WillCall, which focuses on live events.

“We had other offers, but we worried about losing a lot of power and autonomy until we started talking with Skout,” Saez said.

Wiklund said that Nixter will be kept as a separate app and brand, although it will be heavily integrated into Skout.

As for Skout, while Wiklund didn’t share overall audience numbers, he said the company hit profitability about six months ago. The app sells points, which are like a virtual currency that can be redeemed to unlock special features like the ability to see who has checked you out. Wiklund says that 30 percent of Skout’s users are in the U.S., while the remainder are abroad.

skout-nixter

Originally posted here: Mobile Social Networking App Skout Acquires Nightlife App Nixter

Zynga Rallies 4% After Reporting Q1 Revenue Of $168M, EPS Of -$0.01

This afternoon following the bell, Zynga reported its calendar first-quarter financial performance including revenue of $168 million, bookings (non-GAAP) of $161 million, and earnings per share of -$0.01 (non-GAAP). Analysts had expected the company to report top line of $164 million, and a single cent per-share loss.

That revenue figure is a decline of 36 percent from the year-ago quarter. The company’s GAAP net loss of $61 in the quarter contrasts with a $4 million first-quarter 2013 profit. The company endured restructuring costs during the period.

In regular trading, Zynga fell around 2 percent. In after-hours trading following its earnings report, Zynga is up more than 4 percent.

The company indicated that its founder Mark Pincus will step down from his “operational role as Chief Product Officer at Zynga to focus on serving in his role as Chairman of the Board of Directors.” This clears the deck for new CEO Don Mattrick to have a firmer grip in the till.

The company reported that its average bookings per daily active user, or ABPU, rose to $0.063 from $0.049 in the year-ago period. Total monthly active payers, a key metric, were 1.4 million in the first quarter, down from the year-ago figure of 2.5 million.

Zynga is a company in transition, with declining revenues as its older games that drove it to the public markets obsolesce. Rounds of layoffs have taken place, and a new CEO was installed. The question is whether Zynga can survive and thrive in the mobile gaming world when it was born atop Facebook’s platform that has since lost ascendancy.

For the current quarter, Zynga expects revenue of between $140 million and $160 million, and a net loss of between $75 million and $65 million. For the full year, the company anticipates bookings between $770 million and $810 million, and a minor non-GAAP per-share profit.

IMAGE BY FLICKR USER Sabrina Dent UNDER CC BY 2.0 LICENSE (IMAGE HAS BEEN CROPPED)

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Aol Moves To Prevent Spoofed Emails Following Mail Hack

A few days ago Aol Mail was hacked, and users’ address books were scraped. Today, Aol announced moves that will help other mail providers reject email messages sent from email accounts spoofed from this security breach.

Like Yahoo earlier this month, Aol changed its DMARC policy to reject. This puts a line of text in its DNS record telling mailbox providers to reject Aol mail if it didn’t come from an Aol server. While effectively stopping email sent from spoofed accounts, this also affects bulk email that would have previously been authorized.

With this line of code, Aol is telling other email providers to trash email if it wasn’t sent from Aol.

TechCrunch was told by sources close to the company that they believe less than 1 percent of all Aol Mail users were impacted by this security breach. Still, that 1% was a vocal minority as the hashtag #aolhack is still going strong with users still reporting spoofing issues.

Disclosure: TechCrunch is owned by Aol. Thankfully TechCrunch’s staff uses Gmail.

Continued here: Aol Moves To Prevent Spoofed Emails Following Mail Hack

IBM India Battles Fraud Amid Scramble To Save Its $2.5B Airtel Contract

Over the past few weeks, IBM India has fired at least half a dozen top- to mid-level executives, as well as several others accused of fraud. The fraud led to a portion of the over $2 billion outsourcing contract, with Bharti Airtel being subcontracted to a company founded by former IBM-ers.

The original contract signed was in 2004 and was for managing telecom networks, desktops and other software applications at Bharti Airtel. It was worth around $300 million annually and over $2 billion overall for IBM India. It was also one of the most showcased engagements globally for Big Blue.

Now, as Airtel prepares to announce renewal of this 10-year-old contract, IBM’s share of the business is set to be reduced to around $100 million annually, at least three people familiar with the discussion said.

“IBM and Airtel are now negotiating terms of a contract that could be reduced to around 3-4 years with total value of less than $400 million,” one of the people I spoke with said. He also cautioned that this figure could change, especially given the ongoing negotiations.

The reasons are multifold — first, Airtel wants to reduce its over-dependency on IBM and shift away from the total outsourcing mode, and secondly, the mismanagement and involvement of executives from both sides in the subcontracting fraud has created “an environment of distrust,” one of the people directly familiar with discussions added.

“The Bharti contract renewal has already undergone over a dozen iterations; it was supposed to get signed and announced weeks ago. Ongoing investigations into ‘unprofessional conduct’ of some IBM-ers and customer staff has made it a contract everybody wants to sign, but with conditions that reflect lack of trust,” a person familiar with the talks said.

In one of the major changes, IBM will not have the freedom to take independent calls on subcontracting work, or buy hardware and software solutions as part of the contract. Instead, a committee of executives from both IBM and Bharti will make joint decisions about what products to procure and how.

At least half a dozen sources, which included some company executives, confirmed that around nine IBM India officials being investigated for “process violations” have been fired.

“The specific charge being leveled internally is called the business conduct guideline violation,” one of the sources told me.

IBM’s Business Conduct Guidelines has strict rules for working with a third-party vendor, and any kind of special treatment to a supplier is considered sinful. In this case, IBM has started investigations to understand why a particular subcontracting firm, Mara-ISON (whose management mostly comprises former IBM India executives) was given a chunk of the business.

Several IBM insiders and some officials at Airtel confirmed off the record that there are “conflicts of interest” about the decision to subcontract work to Mara-ISON.

“At least a quarter of all the work being outsourced to IBM was being subcontracted to Mara-ISON, and the motives look questionable,” another person familiar with the investigations added.

“Supplier selection cannot be dictated by a customer, which happened in this case. And when giving business to an outfit run by former employees who have quit IBM within a year, you need to take three levels of approvals,” another person familiar with the developments said.

An email query sent to Mara-ISON in January this year was unanswered at the time of writing.

IBM is not offering any specific comments on this story. An IBM India spokeswoman said the company does not discuss details of confidential client contracts.

The latest process violations and a potential fraud being investigated by IBM India also involved the CIO of Bharti Airtel who was sacked for violating code of conduct in December last year.

IBM CEO DELIVERS KEYNOTE ADDRESS AT MOBILE WORLD CONGRESSFor IBM, a lot is riding on this contract beyond just the commercial value. IBM’s current CEO Ginni Rometty made a quiet visit to India last year to meet Airtel’s Mittal, underscoring how crucial it is for IBM to ensure that the contract renewal happens without too much reputational damage.

I have been tracking the internal fraud at IBM India and even the negotiations that could see its biggest outsourcing contract in the country reduced by over half. Now, sources at IBM and those in the industry are telling us there’s much more to the recent firing of dozens of senior and mid-level staff than just a cost-cutting move being executed globally.

And it’s not just internal process violations forcing IBM to let its staff in India go. IBM’s revenues have been declining for the past seven quarters, causing a rethink of its top-heavy management structure.

When the going was good, IBM could accommodate even some its average performers in the top ranks. But with 2013 global revenues ($99.7 billion) almost close to what it reported in 2008 ($103.6 billion), IBM Rometty is cracking down on units and executive positions that were once considered untouchables a few years ago.

“It’s a bloodbath for those making anywhere between half a million to $1 million and above annually,” an executive told me two weeks ago. In India, there are at least a dozen such highly paid executives who have been either asked to take a pay cut or move a rank below.

The pressure to cut costs and rationalize is not just for the top positions — many low-level programmers and even mid-level operational staff are facing the whip, too. Earlier this month, IBM started the process of laying off around 2,600 staff in India

After dominating India’s over $70 billion domestic software industry for over a decade, IBM’s revenues and profits from the country have been shrinking recently. According a regulatory filing with India’s ministry of corporate affairs, IBM’s profits for the financial year ended March 2013 fell by 20 percent.

Falling profits, newer instances of corporate governance breaches and shrinking business from top customers such as Bharti Airtel are in stark contrast to the dominance that IBM enjoyed in India until a few years ago.

All this is putting pressure on IBM’s India headcount, which is estimated to be around 150k currently, according to several sources. This is much more than what IBM employs in the U.S. (less than 100k).

While it seeks to trim its payroll overall, IBM is also attempting to call back old talent in order to steer through the ongoing crisis. For instance, the company has extended the tenure of its former India head Shanker Annaswamy by another two years till November 2015. Shanker, an IBM India veteran of over a decade, had retired last year and now serves as a senior advisor.

About seven years ago, IBM’s Palmisano addressed hundreds of company workers at the imperial Bangalore Palace, announcing over $6 billion worth of investments in the country. It was the first time IBM held its global investor meeting anywhere outside the U.S. and Airtel had won what would potentially become an over $2 billion outsourcing contract.

“IBM means I am Bharti Mittal,” Sunil Mittal, chairman and founder of Bharti Airtel had said in June 2006 while hosting then IBM chairman Sam Palmisano in Bangalore, the tech capital of India.

Everything seemed perfect back then. 

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Xiaomi Sets Singapore Launch Date As It Prepares For Global Expansion

Xiaomi just announced that it will launch in Singapore on Feb. 21. This is a significant move because it marks the company’s first expansion beyond China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan six months after naming Google’s former Android vice president Hugo Barra as the head of Xiaomi Global in a surprise announcement.

The company unveiled its Singapore site earlier this week. The only product currently featured is the Redmi, Xiaomi’s cheapest Android phone, which will cost just S$169 (or about $133 USD).

Despite its very low price, the Redmi still has some impressive features, like a quad-core processor, a 4.2-inch HD screen, and 8MP camera, that may help it standout from competitors. Xiaomi’s other handsets have also earned kudos for strong specs, attractive design, and Xiaomi’s Android skin, which it customizes by crowdsourcing user feedback.

Singapore makes sense as Xiaomi’s first stop in its international expansion because the country has one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world. According to Nielsen, 87% of people in Singapore have a smartphone, the same number as in Hong Kong. To put that figure into context, it beats the 71% mobile penetration rate in China, 72% in the UK, and 60% in the U.S.

Xiaomi has grown extremely quickly since launching just three years ago. In 2013, for example, it more than doubled its sales to 18.7 million phones.

Though Xiaomi continues to face strong competition from domestic Android handset makers like Lenovo, ZTE, and Huawei, it has held its own thanks to the high profile of its founder, Chinese tech pioneer Lei Jun, as well as unique marketing strategies, like selling phones directly from Sina Weibo, China’s top microblogging platform.

Xiaomi’s growth plan has worked very well so far: in August 2013, Xiaomi’s market share in China surpassed the iPhone by a small margin, according to Canalys.

Link: Xiaomi Sets Singapore Launch Date As It Prepares For Global Expansion