CrowdTwist is announcing that it has raised $9 million in Series B funding.
Since the company offers tools for creating online loyalty programs, co-founder and CEO Irving Fain said that a few years ago, CrowdTwist was sometimes “gravitationally lumped into the intense fervor around gamification,” but he pointed to the new funding is a sign that it has a bigger vision, one that can provide “long-term, sustainable value to brands.”
The real key to CrowdTwist’s approach, Fain added, is the fact that it sees loyalty programs as way to gather data about customers across online, offline, mobile, and social channels — and to do so in a way where all the data is opt-in and owned by the brand itself, not a third-party provider.
“In a world where brands want to customize their experience based on who you are and the things that you care about, they need to look at eight or nine different platforms and points of data and recognize they all come from same individual,” Fain said. “Otherwise they’re never going to be able to deliver on the promise of true personalization.”
Using that data to tailor their pitch to different customers can lead to improved sales — the company says its customers see a 20 percent lift in sales on average. Moving forward, Fain said CrowdTwist will be giving businesses “more intelligence” so that they can act on this data.
He argued that since the company was founded in 2009, an increasing number of brands are talking about “multi-channel loyalty,” for example consumer packaged goods brands who sell through supermarkets or drugstores but still want to have a direct relationship with their customers. New CrowdTwist clients include Ultimate Fighting Championship, L’Oreal USA, Sport Clips, and USA Track & Field.
The company was part of the inaugural TechStars program in New York and it raised a $6 million Series A back in 2011. The new round was led by StarVest Partners, with investment from all previous backers, including Fairhaven Capital and SoftBank Capital.
Read this article: Loyalty And Marketing Analytics Startup CrowdTwist Raises $9M More
AnyPerk, a Y Combinator-incubated startup that aims to help companies of all sizes deliver employee perks, is announcing that it has raised $3 million in additional seed funding.
The startup said it already works with 2,500 customers. (One interesting example: Lyft uses AnyPerk to offer perks to its drivers). While there’s a lot of discussion right now about recruiting top-notch employees, co-founder and CEO Taro Fukuyama (pictured above) said perks and benefits are particularly important for making sure those employees stick around and feel motivated.
According to AnyPerk, there are already 400 perks in the system — the ones featured on the home page as I write this include discounts for movie theaters, gyms, restaurants, and spas. Fukuyama noted that businesses can upload their own perks into the system, making it easier for employees to take advantage of them.
When asked about other startups, such as BetterWorks, that tried and failed to build a business around employee rewards, Fukuyama said that those companies often tried to partner with local businesses. AnyPerk, on the other hand, focuses on working with national chains, making it easier to scale the business. He also said that similar perks-focused companies have already succeeded in other countries — the United States is the exception.
It seems that investors agree that there’s a big opportunity here. The current funding came from Zappos founder Tony Hsieh’s Vegas Tech Fund, Zuora CEO Tien Tzuo, Stephen Ross (who owns both the Miami Dolphins and Equinox Fitness), and others. Combined with its previous funding (from Andreessen Horowitz, SV Angel, YC, Digital Garage, Funders Club, and Cyber Agents), AnyPerk has now raised $4.5 million in seed capital.
A big part of the new funding will go toward expanding the sales and marketing team, Fukuyama said, as well as building a mobile app for redeeming perks.
Appier, an advertising technology startup, has raised a $6 million Series A from Sequoia Capital. The company, which is based in Taipei and has offices in Singapore and San Francisco, develops tech used for cross-screen targeted marketing across a wide range of devices, ranging from wearable tech to smartphones and tablet. Appier has previously raised seed funding of $1 million and its clients currently include Heineken, IKEA, Lancome, and game developers.
Founder Chih-Han Yu told TechCrunch that Appier plans to use its Series A to finance product development and further research for its integrated cross-screen targeting platform as well as expand its international sales offices.
The startup is currently focused on expanding in Asia, where mobile penetration rates are growing quickly.
“For market opportunity, I think there is a huge growth in the region for mobile and multi-screen marketing. End users start getting second, third, fourth screens, etc. Advertisers need a solution to reach targeted audiences via ‘optimal screen path.’ I think there will be more and more demand,” Yu says.
Appier’s platform uses artificial intelligence to match the right recipients with ads and it claims to be the first cross-screen marketing solution in Asia. The company is Sequoia’s first investment in Taiwan. Other cross-screen ad-tech companies the venture capital firm has invested include Drawbridge, which is based in San Mateo and raised a $6.5 million Series A from Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers and Sequoia in May 2012.
In a statement, managing director Shailendra Singh of Sequoia Capital said “Smartphones and tablets have brought about a paradigm shift in buyer behavior. With consumers surrounded by multiple screens at any given time, it has become imperative for marketers to reach their audiences at the right time with the right message. In Appier we have a potential game changer that addresses this challenge and, with a talented and multi-dimensional team led by Chih-Han Yu, we are certain that Appier will redefine marketing in the digital age.”
MediaMath, which offers tools for ad-buying, data management, and other aspects of digital marketing, announced today that it has raised more than $175 million in additional funding, including a $73.5 million Series C and a $105 million debt facility.
That’s a pretty big step up from the $14 million Series B that MediaMath raised in 2011. The new equity funding was led by Spring Lake Equity Partners, with participation from Akamai Technologies, Safeguard Scientifics, Catalyst Investors, and Observatory Capital.
“We have been looking to back a leader in the digital marketing space for quite some time,” said Spring Lake partner Dan MacKeigan in the funding release. “MediaMath’s leading industry position, buoyed by their remarkable triple-digit year-over-year growth and best-in-class marketing platform, presented us with an opportunity that we could not pass up.”
Go here to read the rest: Digital Ad Company MediaMath Raises Another $73.5M, Plus $105M In Debt
UK’s National Crime Agency: You have two weeks to protect against GOZeuS and CryptoLocker malware
HotelTonight takes its curated same-day hotel booking service to Windows Phone
The final month of spring brought quite a few exciting news stories from tech startups and established companies in Central and Eastern Europe. In this round-up, we have put together the most significant tidings to keep you on top of things.
Image credit: Shutterstock
Continue reading here: Catch up on a month of tech news from Eastern Europe: May
AdYapper, a startup allows marketers to see how often their online ads are viewed, has raised $1 million in new funding from angel investors, including movie producer Jack Giarraputo. The company says it will use the new funding to expand into new markets and explore emerging media.
The TechStars alum also gained accreditation from the Media Rating Council (MRC) for real-time measurements of viewable display ad impressions.
The MRC, a non-profit industry association that ensures advertising measurement services are valid, lifted its advisory on viewable impressions for display advertising at the end of March, which AdYapper says will allow it to begin transacting on the metric for the first time.
The company’s newest product, called Viewable Consumer Behavior (vLayer), builds on its MRC-accredited viewability measurements with new data points that look at click-through rates, granular geographic viewability, and audience reach, among other pre-set and custom metrics.
The TechStars alum raised a $1.2 million seed round last fall, bringing its total raised so far to $2.2 million. AdYapper’s technology focuses on ad viewability, or letting marketers analyze exactly who is seeing their ads. This is especially important because three out of 10 ads are never seen, according to a ComScore report.
AdYapper told TechCrunch when it received its seed funding last year that its platform is able to measure viewability on 95% of all ad impressions, compared to the traditional geometric approach, which only measures viewability on 50% to 60% of ads. This is how AdYapper seeks to differentiate from competitors like Meetrics and Integral.
AdYapper says its technology can offer accurate real-time measurements for advertising buyers and sellers even through cross-domain iFrames, or HTML documents within another HTML document, which are often used to embed online ads.
The company says it processes “billions of ads on a monthly basis,” and that it enables marketers to increase revenue or customer engagement by up to 450% for the same advertising budget.
In a statement, founder and CEO Elliot Hirsch said, “The MRC accreditation validates that AdYapper’s technology and methodology is sound, consistent with the latest standards, and in alignment with the industry. Now, brands, ad networks, demand-side platforms, publishers, and technology providers will be able to confidently bring viewability to their organizations.”
Photo from PicJumbo
We’re hearing that BitPay, a platform that processes payments in bitcoin for merchants, is raising the field’s biggest round yet. The company is raising $30 million on a roughly $160 million valuation in a round led by Index Ventures, with Richard Branson and Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang participating. BitPay declined to comment.
With BitPay’s previous funding round, the company’s financing tops the combined $26 million that Boston-based rival Circle has raised from Accel Partners, or the $31 million that San Francisco-based Coinbase raised from Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures or the $20 million round that Benchmark led for Xapo.
It’s yet another sign that the bitcoin ecosystem is maturing with big chunks of funding coming from top-tier venture firms. While there have been high-profile collapses like Mt.Gox’s bankruptcy, it feels like every major fund wants at least one bet in the space in case bitcoin does live up to the hype.
Back in December, BitPay said it had processed more than $100 million in transactions last year. They recently scored backing from Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing through his Horizons Ventures vehicle.
BitPay has also had some high-profile tests with clients like Zynga and Branson already. Bitcoin earns revenue via different tiers of accounts for smaller, medium-sized and enterprise clients that range from $30 to $300 and then a custom level. They also have a starter kit that charges 1 percent of all transactions.
The Atlanta-based company has previously raised funding from Founders Fund, along with angel investors including WordPress’ Matt Mullenweg and bitcoin regulars Roger Ver and SecondMarket CEO Barry Silbert.
See original here: BitPay Is Raising $30M At A $160M Valuation From Index, Richard Branson
Weebly, which offers easy-to-use tools for building websites, announced today that it has raised $35 million in Series C funding.
The money comes from previous investor Sequoia Capital and from Chinese company Tencent. Weebly CEO David Rusenko told the Wall Street Journal that the round valued his company at $455 million.
“As technology takes over the workplace and impacts the job market on a global scale, we want to be the entrepreneurial springboard that helps everyone bring their idea to life,” Rusenko said in the funding release. “With the support from Sequoia and Tencent, this next phase for us means making Weebly more accessible. We will continue to build an empowering technology platform that helps people turn ideas or passions into scalable businesses.”
The company says it has been used by 20 million people “in every country in the world” to build websites, blogs, and online stores. (I used Weebly to build my personal website.)
Competitor Squarespace announced last week that it had raised a $40 million Series B.
Original post: Website-Building Platform Weebly Raises $35M More
Major League Gaming (MLG), one of the oldest e-sports companies out there, picked up a new hire today from Machinima, another well-known gaming content company. Ryan Wyatt will join MLG as its vp of programming.
According to MLG, MLG.tv has grown its viewership 60% monthly since launch, growing a total of 1,376% in the first quarter of 2014 alone. That’s actually less surprising than you might imagine, given that MLG launched the online network with a limited set of broadcasters that it quickly worked to expand.
Wyatt, former head of e-sports for Machinima, is actually returning to MLG in this move. He left the company for Machinima three years ago. His role at MLG is simple to get: He’ll work to expand its content, both in-studio and via game streaming personalities. More content, more viewers, and more viewers, more money. That’s the gist of it.
Machinima, which has raised $67.6 million to date, has seen a number of executive changes in the last six months, including the installation of a new president. Wyatt’s impact will be easy to grok: Either MLG.tv’s audience continues to grow quickly, or it doesn’t. If Wyatt can’t keep the new content flowing, it probably won’t.
Top Image Credit: MLG