Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Gavin O'Malley, June 29, 2011, 12:35 PM
Social Browser RockMelt Secures "Serious" $30MLos Angeles Times

Boldly trying to reshape the browser, RockMelt just secured $30 million in funding from Accel Partners, Khosla Ventures, and Andreessen Horowitz. Officially launched this past November, RockMelt incorporates popular social networking services like Facebook and Twitter so users can take their friends with them around the Web.

"Facebook is the people-centric Internet, and we are the people-centric browser," Eric Vishria, RockMelt's co-founder and CEO, explained to The Los Angeles Times.

Meanwhile, a recent Facebook partnership will serve as a model for others, according to Vishria. "Our goal is to build services right into the browser," Vishria said. Those services will include commerce, gaming and music, he added. Additional investors include Intuit chairman Bill Campbell, First Round Capital's Josh Kopelman and angel investor Ron Conway. Jim Breyer, famous for leading Accel's investment in Facebook, and clean-tech investor Vinod Khosla have also joined RockMelt's board as observers.

"That's some pretty serious money," TechCrunch says of RockMelt's new investors. And, that's "despite attracting only a few hundred thousand active users since its much-hyped launch."

What do RockMelt's investors see in the start-up? "Could it have anything to do with the special interest Facebook is showing towards the social browser?" TechCrunch asks. "After all, both Marc Andreessen and Jim Breyer are now board members of both RockMelt and Facebook. Seems like an interesting coincidence."

Also of note, RockMelt has been especially embraced by young users, according to CEO Eric Vishria. "Fifty-six percent of active RockMelt users are age 24 and younger, and most of them use the browser's chat feature on a daily basis," writes All Things D. "The browser certainly hinges on social tools, but it also leverages Google's search engine to help users find content," eWeek points out. "There is also a version of RockMelt for Apple's iPhone."

Long term, "RockMelt's goal is to amass 'hundreds of millions' of users ... but its executives declined to specify a time frame or be more specific about numbers," Reuters reports.

Read the whole story...
  • Gavin O'Malley, June 29, 2011, 12:35 PM
  • Square Scores $100M At $1B Valuation Mobile payments start-up Square has raised $100 million in venture funding at a valuation north of $1 billion. The Series C round was led by venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, while KPCB partner Mary Meeker will be joining Square's board of directors.

    "Square is eager to continue our momentum, and we are proud to have the support and expertise of KPCB among our team of investors and advisors," Square CEO -- and Twitter co-founder -- Jack Dorsey stated. "Our goal is to empower everyone to accept payments anywhere, and we are on course to accelerate our growth in a meaningful way." Meanwhile, "The new round of funding means that Square's value has quadrupled in the last six months," writes Mashable. In January, the company raised $27.5 million in a Series B round that valued the company at $240 million.

    That said, "Square has been on a tear recently," Mashable notes. "Not only did it add former U.S. Treasury secretary Larry Summers to its board, but it [is] processing $4 million in mobile payments every day and expects to process $1 billion within the next year." It also recently released a "pay-with-your-name" payment system. Read the whole story...
  • Animoto Eyes Mobile On $25M Investment Cloud-based video platform Animoto has raised $25 million led by Spectrum Equity Investors with participation from existing investors Madrona Venture Group and In turn, the start-up "is ready to invest heavily in its growing business," according to GigaOm. Animoto is a freemium service that lets users create short video slide shows with the pictures and videos they have stored on their computers or mobile devices. "If they want more features, such as custom templates or longer videos, users have the option to pay a small one-time fee for individual slide-show creation or a subscription for an unlimited number of slide shows," GigaOm explains.

    "So far, that model has been working pretty well." Indeed, Animoto has more than 3 million users, who together have created about 15 million videos. To expand its user base further, the company plans to develop mobile apps, which forging partnerships with third-party photo- and video-hosting sites. Bigger picture, Animoto wants to make it easy for consumers to create and share slide shows with friends. Read the whole story...
  • Data: Groupon Losing Grip On Daily Deals Little by little, Groupon appears to be losing its stranglehold on the daily deal market. From April to May, its share of online daily deals slipped from 52% to 48%, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, citing new data from deal aggregator Yipit. At the same time, rivals like are closing in on the deal leader. From April to May, LivingSocial's marketshare grew from 20% to 24%, according to Yipit, which studied online daily deals in 30 major North American cities for its analysis.

    "The main reason you're seeing Groupon's market share fall is that competition is still on the upswing," David Sinsky, data product manager for Yipit, tells Bloomberg Businessweek. "Groupon pioneered a brand new space a year and a half ago, and because of their success they have attracted a lot of competition."

    In sheer dollar terms, Yipit's researchers estimate that Groupon made $64.7 million in sales in May -- more than double LivingSocial's $31.6 million. Industrywide, online daily deals are now delivered by 345 sites, and account for about $133 million in revenue in top North American markets, according to Yipit. Read the whole story...
  • Twitter Tops Make "Obvious" Move At an uncertain time for Twitter, three key developers -- Biz Stone, Evan Williams and Jason Goldman -- are launching what could be called a quixotic new venture. The Obvious Corporation, so-called, will develop "systems that help people work together to improve the world," Stone explained in a blog post on Tuesday.

    "Our plan is to develop new projects and work on solving big problems." The move, however, marks the latest "musical-chairs shuffle at Twitter, which is undergoing a leadership overhaul as the 5-year-old venture matures from a start-up to a tech industry power player," writes In October, COO Dick Costolo took over Evan Williams' role as the company's CEO, while Williams agreed to focus on product development. Soon after, however, Williams relinquished day-to-day involvement at the company, while the once estranged co-founder Jack Dorsey returned to lead product development.

    "The Twitter crew and its leadership team have grown incredibly productive," Stone wrote in his blog post. "I've decided that the most effective use of my time is to get out of the way until I'm called upon to be of some specific use." Read the whole story...