Russian’s largest travel search engine, Aviasales, which lets consumers find cheap flights and holiday accommodation online or via its apps (operating under the JetRadar brand outside Russia), has bagged a $10 million investment from iTech Capital, which is taking a minority stake in the company.
iTech Capital’s Managing Partner Gleb Davidyuk and Investment Manager Ilya Balandin have both joined Aviasales’ board. It’s the first external investment for Aviasales.
Aviasales said the new funding will be spent on developing its service, expanding its team and promoting “key products” — namely its two search engines (both its Russian market product, and the international offering), as well as funneling money into a Hotellook hospitality project, with the eponymous Russian hotel price comparison service; and a Travelpayouts affiliate network.
In its home market of Russia, Avisales competes (and beats) the likes of SkyScanner, Kayak and Momondo. Its travel metasearch offering gets more than 4 million monthly unique visitors, making more than 500,000 search queries for tickets per day. Aviasales compares prices across more than 100 ticket agencies and more than 60 airline carriers.
Internationally, the company competes as JetRadar, currently in 13 markets outside Russia, including recently launching a Thai version of the service. It says more than one billion fliers use JetRadar annually, with the most active markets being the U.K., Germany and Australia.
“The money will be definitely spent on JetRadar expansion and product localization, specifically huge project is Asian expansion (for example Thailand, where Aviasales HQ is located, doesn’t have any popular service for travel price comparison yet),” the company told TechCrunch.
“The expansion will be based on Travelpayouts partner program development that helps to attract local webmasters to promote the service. Also the money will be spent on Aviasales marketing in Russia and HotelLook product development.”
“Partnering with iTech Capital will allow us to keep up the growth pace on a highly competitive market. At the moment Aviasales is growing by more than 100% a year,” added Aviasales founder, Konstantin Kalinov, in a statement.
“Aviasales is a very popular service that lets people compare flights and hotel offers quickly and easily from various sources, including airline and hotel sites,” said iTech Capital’s Investment Manager Ilya Balandin in a supporting statement. “By investing in Aviasales, we expect synergy with our other online marketing and booking assets to improve growth.”
According to the Federal Agency of Air Transport, the Russian passenger air travel market grew by 14.2% in 2013 to more than 84.5 million fliers. And some RUB 240 billion worth of online tickets and hotel reservations were sold.
See the original post here: iTech Capital Injects $10M Into Aviasales, Taking Minority Stake In Russia’s No.1 Travel Search Engine
In the latest salvo in the battle to reshape the architecture by which business works VMWare, a multi-billion dollar server virtualization company, just spent $1.5 billion to buy AirWatch, which sells technology to secure data and applications on mobile devices like tablets, smart phones, and laptops.
The acquisition, and the hundreds of millions of dollars venture investors and corporations have spent on new storage technologies, databases, and security, are all trying to find ways to bring more business applications and services to mobile devices like smart phones and tablets.
With the acquisition of AirWatch – which had previously raised $225 million from investors including Insight Venture Partners and Accel Partners – VMWare can now sell security services that make it easier for professionals to do more work outside of the office.
“AirWatch provides real, important value now. They’re right there when an enterprise says we need to get this stuff [i.e. data and applications] under our control,” said Richard Wells, a managing director with the technology focused growth capital and private equity firm Insight Venture Partners, which led a $225 million financing for AirWatch back in 2013.
That Series A round was one of the single biggest first round financings for a technology company in years, and netted AirWatch a valuation of roughly $1 billion, according to several sources familiar with the deal.
That’s pretty big money, and the AirWatch deal is all part of a wholesale re-evaluation that companies are doing of the basic technology infrastructure that employees use to conduct business every day.
Venture investors and companies like VMWare have spent steadily increasing amounts on mobile security hardware, software and services so that people can do more work from more places – and do it securely, according to data from CrunchBase.
Other big enterprise companies are buying into mobile security too. Citrix, which bought the venture-backed Zenprise in late 2012, and IBM, which paid an undisclosed amount for Fiberlink Communications, a mobile device management are two examples. Venture capitalists have also backed independent private companies like MobileIron with $124 million in financing to pursue the same market in securing mobile business.
For its part, AirWatch sees the VMWare acquisition allowing it to take on a new set of competitors, like venture-backed companies Box and Dropbox, which have raised a combined $350 million from investors in the past two months.
“We see the enterprise content space as an extension of our platform,” said AirWatch chief executive officer John Marshall. “[We have] all the things that make make enterprise content collaboration possible… We have access to partners that own the infrastructure and the virtualization that hits the data center.”
Venture investors view all of this activity as the first wave in moving businesses into the cloud. “Just like our consumer world shifted from 100% PC and 0% mobile to 80% mobile and 20% PC, we’re at the front end of seeing that with the enterprise,” said Matt Murphy, a partner with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
Photo via Flickr user funkypancake.
Go here to read the rest: VMWare’s $1.5B AirWatch Buy All About The Mobile Workplace
“Avoid saying anything negative about YouTube – leave the impression of the user experience up to them” Facebook tells its adtech partners in a leaked, confidential deck that teaches them to sell Facebook’s video ads. The 32-page document details Facebook’s plan to beat television with reach and YouTube with targeting, and spills the beans about an overhaul to video insights slated for Q1 2014.
If Facebook’s plan works, it could lure in tons of ad revenue as marketers shift their focus from television to digital.
The full “Facebook For Business: Video On Facebook” presentation including slides and Facebook’s notes is splayed out below. It was sent to Facebook’s Preferred Marketing Developer partners in late November to teach them to sell video ads to their clients. [Correction: This was sent to marketers, not presented at a meeting.] Facebook used NDAs to try to keep the presentation away from the public, but I’ve attained a copy.
Facebook’s pitch for video ads breaks down to three things, as explained in this excerpt from the presentation:
It doesn’t take long for Facebook to start bluntly insulting the stalwart advertising medium. “Gone are the days when a family gathered around their TV on Sunday night to connect with the outside world. Television is no longer a guaranteed way to reach and engage your target audience,” Facebook writes. It cites an eMarketer studying saying time spent on digital will surpass TV in 2013, and notes people open their phone 100 times a day and Facebook 10-15 times a day.
Facebook then hits hard with graphs and Nielsen stats, saying that each major TV network only reach 55% to 61% of 18-24 year olds during prime time, but Facebook reaches 70%. Facebook later hawks its “Blast” campaigns that let brands reach the majority of people on Facebook with a video ad within one to three days.
Other than Google, few digital companies have the ability to reach an entire populace, which classically could only be found on TV. Facebook slams other digital properties, stating ”A lot of time is spent by people on mobile with Google properties, YouTube, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Twitter and Pinterest…And more total time is spent on mobile on Facebook and Instagram than all of those combined.” It’s that scale, the ability to reach hundreds of millions of people quickly, that Facebook hopes will attract the world’s biggest advertisers.
“On TV, advertisers don’t always know who people are, and over deliver to certain people and can’t reach other people. So advertisers end up hitting the same people over and over again with a large portion of the audience being underexposed.” Again, Facebook isn’t pulling punches here.
One of the social network’s greatest assets is its trove of ad-fueling personal data. Users pour demographic and interest data into their profiles to share with friends and be found, but Facebook also leverages that data to be able to pinpoint them with relevant ads. Taking a dig at YouTube where a lot of demographic data is inferred indirectly and not always accurately, Facebook writes “In narrowly targeted campaigns, the average online reach is 38% accurate, but on Facebook, our average reach is 89% accurate.”
Facebook also touts that users volunteer to watch video ads on its platform instead of being required to watch on YouTube, so the impressions should be valued higher. “When you use video on Facebook, these are chosen views – the consumers clicks to play or scrolls through to watch the video as compared to an ad on YouTube interrupting the user experience and feeling forced.”
Still, Facebook doesn’t want its ad partners coming off as bullies so it explains “Avoid saying anything negative about YouTube.” Instead, partners are supposed to lay out the facts and just imply YouTube is inferior.
Except that it isn’t, at least not right now. And Facebook admits that.
“BACKGROUND FOR SALES RE: VIDEO INSIGHTS vs. YouTube
Currently, we only report on video plays, which is a weakness compared to YouTube, which reports on video views, completed views, and average duration of view. We are working on building out our video insights to give advertisers a better sense for how videos are performing. New video insights target launch: Q1 2014. [NOTE: Video insights improvements are highlight (sic) confidential]“
So by next year, Facebook’s video ad insights will be a better match for YouTube, but until then, partners are supposed to cite metrics about likes and comments, larger ad images, and a more “streamlined” post-click experience. The fact is that Television is the status quo for advertisers, and YouTube’s roadblock ads (even if you can skip them after five seconds) work similarly to traditional TV commercials. That means Facebook still has an uphill climb in selling its video ads.
While users might be scared that these video ads will stick out like sore thumbs on Facebook, the company is actually in the middle of a push to bring a lot more organic, user generated video to the site. It’s now rolling out its new auto-play video feature on the web and mobile. Facebook mentions videos ads you “scroll through”, which could be a subtle way of noting that auto-play video ads are coming.
But the big thing absent from this deck is measurement. TV and some other online ad platforms have a tough time proving that marketing spend on them generates a return on investment. Facebook may be discounting one of its most potent weapons in the ad war. Online, Facebook hooks into sales information through cookies, hashed CRM data, and Autofill With Facebook. Offline, brick and mortar data providers like Datalogix and Facebook’s Custom Audiences tool let advertisers see if showing someone an ad made them buy more.
It may not be the platform with the biggest reach, targeting, or engagement that captures the ad dollars fleeing television in print, but the one that can best prove its ads actually work.
More on Facebook’s big video push:
Full leaked video ads deck below with Facebook’s presenter notes as captions.
Emerging markets are increasingly accessing the Internet via their mobiles first, given the lower price-point of smartphones — and this is clearly seen in Southeast Asia, where there has been a rapid upswing in smartphone sales as more consumers upgrade from feature phones to smartphones.
According to a new report from market research agency GfK Asia, Southeast Asia’s smartphone sales volume grew 61 percent in the first three quarters of this year, compared with a year earlier.
From January to September 2013, consumers from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines spent $10.8 billion on nearly 41.5 million smartphones, according to a new report from market research agency GfK Asia. Last year, they spent $7.54 billion on 25.8 million smartphones.
Gerard Tan, account director for digital technology at GfK Asia, says September marked a new milestone as well – one in every two mobile handsets purchased in Southeast Asia is now a smartphone.
Among the seven Southeast Asian markets, Indonesia is the one with the greatest smartphone sales volume and value — no surprise considering its large population of about 247 million. Indonesian consumers have already bought 14.8 million smartphones worth over $3.33 billion in the first three quarters of this year, GfK Asia notes.
Thailand and Malaysia follow closely behind — with smartphone sales at 7.2 million and 6.4 million respectively. In terms of smartphone sales value though, Malaysians bought more expensive devices to chalk up $2.25 billion in sales, while Thailand raked in $1.96 billion.
As for the type of smartphones that are raking in the sales in Southeast Asia — it should be no surprise that Apple’s iPhones aren’t as popular in this part of the world, considering the relatively higher prices.
Android has a 72 percent market share in Southeast Asia, and GfK Asia notes that it “continues to be increasingly sought after across six of the markets.” The Android operating system makes up 91, 83 and 81 percent of total smartphone sales in Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore respectively.
It is also catching on in Indonesia — as the proportion of Android smartphone sales jumped by 23 percent within a year, from 37 percent to 60 percent. Previously, BlackBerry was the reigning smartphone operating system there.
Southeast Asian consumers are also expressing their preferences for smartphones with large screens. GfK Asia notes that out of total smartphone sales, the share of four-inch and above smartphones in the first nine months of this year has more than doubled — to 27 percent from 13 percent last year.
Tan observes that this love for big screens will continue — and extend to even bigger phones. He adds that phablets — which GfK defines as those with displays that come in between 5.6 to 6.99 inches — are the latest trend in the market. GfK says that despite being introduced only in mid-2013, more than 460,000 such phablets have already been sold.
It seems like as Southeast Asian consumers prove their thirst for smartphones, Apple’s tactic to leave Asia-Pacific untapped should probably be revised — after all, there is a huge potential market in Southeast Asia which Android is currently dominating, and this means space for Apple to grow its presence.
Headline image via Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images
Read the original post: Report: Smartphone sales surge 61% in Southeast Asia, Android dominates with 72% share
Mobile ad retargeting startup TapCommerce is announcing that it has raised $10 million in Series A funding.
When I first spoke to co-founder and CEO Brian Long earlier this year, he described the company’s approach to mobile retargeting (where ads are targeted based on user’s prior activity) as “very large amounts of data coupled with sophisticated statistical analysis.” This week he told me that TapCommerce is now being used by more than 50 customers, including more than 30 of the top 100 grossing apps.
Retargeting can be particularly important for e-commerce companies (who want to lure customers back to spend more money), so it’s not too surprising that TapCommerce customers include Fab, eBay, and Jackthreads.
Looking at the money that’s already spent on mobile advertising, Long continued, “Our major thesis is that at some point, all of these companies are going to say, ‘Okay we got the installs, we just spent $3 million, what’s happening now? How are we making money on these people?’”
Competitors are starting to emerge, but he suggested that they’re still trying to develop their basic technology, while TapCommerce already has a solid platform (though it will continue to spend money on product development). He also acknowledged that Facebook has started to add retargeting-style options to its mobile app ads, but he said that he’s not worried about the social platforms moving aggressively into retargeting — he sees them more as potential customers of TapCommerce’s technology than as competitors.
Still, he said he was glad to have raised a large round (and almost exactly a year after TapCommerce raised its $1.2 million seed round), because “part of this is going to be a land grab, just as it was on the web.”
The new funding was led by Bain Capital Ventures and RRE Ventures, with a strategic investment from Nielsen Ventures and participation from previous backers Metamorphic Ventures, Eniac Ventures, and Nextview Ventures. Bain’s Scott Friend and RRE’s Eric Wiessen have joined TapCommerce’s board of directors.
Continue reading here: TapCommerce Raises $10.5M To Compete In The Mobile Ad Retargeting “Land Grab”
Ilya Pozin is an entrepreneur, writer and investor. He is the founder of Open Me, a social greeting card company, and Ciplex, a digital marketing agency. He’s a columnist on entrepreneurship and marketing
As technology evolves, so do the cries against its impact on our personal lives To some, more apps means more time spent staring at a smartphone and less time spent with loved ones. While times certainly are changing thanks to the new tech in our lives, I beg to differ: tech isn’t hurting us, but actually helping us to find more balance.
Life’s short, and many of the technological advances that roll out on a daily basis are hoping to help us get more out of it. Rather than looking at tech as the downfall of humanity, we should consider it a way to improve our lives and help us to make more time to spend with people we love the most.
While you may be on the hunt for the mythical work-life balance, I prefer to look at my life as a mesh of both personal and professional endeavors. And the growth of tech has only helped to further my productivity and time spent with my loved ones.
Here are a few examples of how tech can help balance your life.
Whether “there” is home, work, or a quick errand, tech advancements are helping us race the clock faster than ever before. Whether you’re simply using Google Maps or a more focused app like Waze or Beat The Traffic, you’re now able to find the fastest route quickly.
The minutes you’re saving will likely go back to spending time with your family, significant other or even your hobbies. In fact, a shorter commute may even save your relationship — one study found commutes longer than 45 minutes mean you’re 40 percent more likely to get divorced. You should never let work affect personal relationships, especially if it can be salvaged with better time management.
We all know productivity and technology don’t always get along, which may even be how you happened upon this article in the first place. But when used correctly, tech apps and tools can be your productivity secret weapon.
Take Evernote, for example. This app syncs all of your notes, to-do lists, clipping and general reminders across devices, ensuring you never forget anything again. An app like CloudOn will help you boost your productivity by creating documents across Microsoft Office platforms on the go. These, along with countless other tools — like ActiveInbox or Google Drive — are here to help you get your work done and spend more time with those you love.
Gone are the days of timely news reading (think back to starting your day with the newspaper). Thanks to tech, we can now get news and information faster than ever before and in a more organized, digestible way.
Take the multisource video news service Newsy, for example. It analyzes world news for you and produces two-to-three minute, streaming video clips. Or consider The Skimm, a daily newsletter that simplifies headlines. Less time spent sifting and consuming leaves you with more time to get to the things that matter.
Alternatively, if you do find something you want to devote more time to reading later, there are always apps like Pocket and Instapaper. Better yet, save the long reads for the commute if you use public transportation and kill two birds with one stone.
Budgeting, saving, and checkbook balancing aren’t just time consuming, they’re also frustrating. But thanks to tech, there are a number of ways to keep your budget in check and find ways to get more for your money.
This could mean booking a cheaper flight, using sites like Kayak, so you can finally go on vacation or finding a low-cost concert ticket. It could also mean earning extra cash by selling old items on Craigslist or getting your daily to-do list done with help from TaskRabbit. Years ago, these things just weren’t as easy as they are today.
Think back to the days when a movie night with your family meant a lengthy trip to Blockbuster. Today, you’re able to cut the time spent choosing a movie to watch in half with Netflix.
Tech has provided us with seemingly endless options for getting things done more efficiently. I even built Open Me, my online greeting card company, around this very concept. Being thoughtful and sending a greeting card is a whole lot easier without having to go to the dreaded stationery aisle and spend who knows how long picking the “right” card.
Thanks to the numerous online review sites for every product, service, company or experience, we’re now able to save time and go with the most-approved option. Sites like Yelp mean you never have to go without a personalized review again. This means less dinners ruined by poor service and food and more time enjoying life.
Tech isn’t just helpful, it’s becoming an unmatched part of how we find balance and efficiency in our daily lives. Just remember to use them effectively instead of relying on them to begin making choices for you. You still have to be control of your own life.
How does tech help you find balance?
Read more here: 6 ways to use technology to find your work-life balance
As consumers are increasingly connecting to the Internet via their smartphones, advertisers are piling on the money to roll out mobile ads. In the first half of 2013, US advertisers spent $3 billion on mobile advertising, up from $1.2 billion a year earlier, according to estimates from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The share of mobile ad expenditure out of total online ad spending in the US more than doubled to 15 percent during the first half of the year, the data showed. In all, US advertisers spent $20.1 billion on Internet ads during the period. Comparatively, TV ad spending will likely stand at around $66.35 billion for the whole of this year, research company eMarketer predicts.
eMarketer is forecasting that that Google will take 46.8 percent of the US mobile ad market this year, while Facebook will have a 14.9 percent share.
➤ Mobile Advertising Begins to Take Off [Wall Street Journal]
Headline image via Jacques Demarthon/AFP/Getty Images
Read more from the original source: Mobile ads on the rise: US advertisers spent $3b in first half of 2013, up 60% on last year
When it comes to acquisitions, it’s clear that Twitter had been spending more money on acquiring technologies and talent in 2013 than in the past few years.
According to the company’s recently filed S-1, Twitter spent $52.2 million in cash and stock on acquisitions in 2012. In the first half of 2013, Twitter spent double that, $112.5 million on acquisitions. Note, this does not include the company’s largest acquisition to date, MoPub, which was purchased in September for $305 million in stock.
Other acquisitions made after June include Trendrr and Marakana (it’s unclear how much the company spent on these acquisitions). Even without these numbers included in the tally, Twitter has spent over $417.5 million on acquisitions this year (which isn’t over).
That’s a 700 percent jump in acquisition spend over the past year.
According to the filing, Twitter spent $52.2 million on 10 acquisitions in 2012, which include Dasient ($19.1 million), Summify, Cabana, RestEngine, Vine, Nclud, Posterous, Hotspots.io, Clutch.io and one other unnamed acquisition. Together, Twitter spent $33.1 million on these acquisitions (minus Dasient). Twitter also agreed to put up as much as $28.5 million of cash and equity consideration (i.e. bonuses) contingent upon the continued employment of some of the employees of these acquired companies.
In the first half of 2013, Twitter spent $112.5 on acquisitions. These include Crashlytics ($38.2 million in stock), Bluefin Labs ($67.3 million in stock), an unknown acquisition that could be We Are The Hunted ($2.5 million), and three others that could be Ubalo, Spindle Labs, and Lucky Sort ($4.5 million altogether). It’s unclear if Spindle is a part of this group because the acquisition was made in mid-June of this year, and it may not have been complete by June 30. In addition, Twitter says it agreed to pay up to $54.9 million of equity to employees from these acquisitions on the conditions of staying at the company.
What’s not listed in the acquisitions note in the filing is the $305 million purchase of MoPub (though Twitter did add this in other sections), and the separate acquisitions of Trendrr and Marakana, which were both announced in August. It’s unclear how much Twitter paid for the latter two companies, but counting MoPub, it’s safe to say that Twitter has spent at least $417.5 million on acquisitions this year.
In 2011, Twitter spent $20.4 million (in cash and stock) for TweetDeck. The other acquisitions from 2011 include Julpan, Whisper Systems, BackType, Bagcheck, and AdGrok. The total purchase price for these acquisitions was $18.5 million in mostly stock, but a small amount of cash. Twitter also greed to pay an additional $15.5 million in cash and equity for employment. There have been other acquisitions prior to 2011, (Fluther, Smallthought Systems, Cloudhopper, Atebits, Mixer Labs, Values of n, and Summize) but the filing doesn’t elaborate on these in the note.
While Twitter has made a number of acquisitions for talent, the company’s biggest acquisitions add core functionalities to Twitter’s advertising platform. Twitter sees MoPub as potentially being a key foundation of the company’s mobile advertising efforts. Adding Bluefin’s technology is key to providing analytics to advertisers, especially when it comes to providing marketers with information about what people are saying about their brands from TV.
Dasient added anti-spam and malware security features and talent to Twitter, and Crashlytics brought app crash report tools to the company. Twitter’s purchase of search engine became the foundation for its own search. According to this Business Insider report, Summize’s acquisition could be worth around $800 million with the current value of Twitter’s stock.
As Twitter’s vision broadens, expect the company to continue to be aggressive with its acquisitions, especially with some of the billion dollars it raises in an IPO.
Here is the original post: Twitter’s M&A Has Ballooned From $52.2M Last Year To Over $417.5M In 2013