Entertainment veterans from DreamWorks Animation have started their own virtual reality startup with $3 million in funding.The Santa Monica, California-based Spaces is headed by chief executive Shiraz Akmal and chief technology officer Brad Herman, two veterans who worked on DreamWorks Animation s early VR experiences through 2015.Spaces is already working with such companies as Microsoft, NBCUniversal, Big Blue Bubble and The Hettema Group, among others, to develop and produce a wide range of projects across all VR and mixed reality platforms.Among the target platforms are the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Microsoft HoloLens, Samsung Gear VR, PlayStation VR and Google Cardboard.Virtual reality spaces offer creative challenges we ve never seen before: to build fully dimensional spaces in which viewers can completely interact, Akmal said, in a statement.Herman also said, In every respect, VR is creating new horizons, and we re eager to help companies explore them.Spaces is combining remarkable capabilities, tools and creativity to push the boundaries of the VR frontier.Akmal has been the vice president of operations-product development for the now-defunct video game company THQ, and executive creative director Dean Orion has a career that has included writing for television and creating interactive, location-based attractions for DreamWorks Animation and Walt Disney Imagineering.The Spaces team has the ability and the background to make an enormous impact on VR and MxR, and I am eager to see what they accomplish, said Kai-Fu Lee, founder and CEO of Sinovation Fund, in a statement,The Spaces advisory team includes Dan Offner, attorney, angel investor and former general counsel for Oculus; Keith Boesky, former president of Eidos Interactive and the principal of Boesky & Company; and Indian film actor and entrepreneur Rana Daggubati, star of Baahubali: The Beginning, the highest-grossing film in India s history.
E.ventures, a global investment firm with offices across Europe, the Americas, and Asia, has announced a new $150 million fund targeting early-stage European startups.Founded in 1998 as BV Capital, the organization unified its various international funds under one umbrella back in 2012, when it rebranded as E.ventures.Today, the firm says it manages more than $1 billion and has some notable names in its portfolio, including App Annie, Sonos, Groupon, Azimo, and Delicious.In addition to the new $150 million fund, E.ventures will draw on a $290 million pot to begin making growth investments across Europe, with the plan to accompany entrepreneurs through the full investment life cycle, it said.Our willingness to explore every corner of the continent and provide operational support to the businesses we invest in increases the potential of our funds.E.ventures also announced that it s adding a new partner — Bernardo Hernández, who founded real estate listing platform Idealista.com and has also served as senior director of product at Google and general manager at Flickr.Hernández isn t new to the investment realm either, having previously started StepOne Ventures in San Francisco back in 2008, a firm geared toward helping European startups hit the U.S. running.E.ventures latest fund is just one of many to arrive on the scene in recent times.Notion Capital introduced a $120 million fund for cloud startups last year, while Lakestar launched a $400 million fund for both European and U.S. startups.More recently, Index Ventures closed a fresh $550 million fund for seed and venture investments in Europe, the U.S., and Israel; Accel unfurled $500 million for Europe and Israel; a Chinese investment vehicle announced $715 million to help European startups target China; and just this week, Runa Capital raised a $135 million fund for later-stage U.S. and European startups.
Shift Technology, a software-as-a-service SaaS platform that leans on artificial intelligence AI to help companies combat insurance fraud, has raised $10 million in a round led by Accel, with participation from existing investors Iris Capital and Elaia Partners.Founded out of Paris in 2013, Shift Technology taps machine learning smarts to combat insurance fraud, using what it calls a decision support platform that automates the process of detecting fraud and helps humans prioritize which cases to follow-up on.As with most machine-learning systems, Shift Technology promises to improve over time by tapping user feedback and additional data.The company claims to have processed more than 50 million claims for insurers around the world since it was launched in 2014.Shift Technology is the latest machine-learning startup to raise significant capital — back in April, Twiggle raised $12.5 million to challenge Amazon s A9 ecommerce search engine, while X.ai nabbed $23 million to launch an AI personal assistant.But Shift Technology represents a growing trend, specifically in the funding of fraud-detection startups.And just last month, Forter closed a $32 million round to bring automated real-time fraud-prevention technology to online retailers.By focusing on the specific requirements of the insurance industry, we have been able to build a unique platform that helps the industry fight fraud more efficiently, said Jeremy Jawish, CEO and cofounder of Shift Technology.Today s news represents Shift Technology s first significant funding, following a $1.8 million seed round back in 2014.
ThoughtSpot, a search-driven analytics service for enterprise, announced today that it snagged a $50 million investment led by General Catalyst Partners.Based in Palo Alto, California, the business intelligence startup just opened offices in London.The company said it will use the latest funds to fuel technology advancement and further global expansion.The businesses of the future will not wait days or weeks for reports to be built.And the analytics teams of the future will no longer be report factories, said ThoughtSpot s CEO, Ajeet Singh.We create a win-win scenario for both groups — business people get data instantly to make decisions, while analytics teams can focus on more advanced analyses.Geodesic Capital and existing investors Lightspeed Ventures and Khosla Ventures also participated in the round.The series C round brings ThoughtSpot s funds to at least $90 million.
Austin, Texas-based startup Bloomfire announced last week that it raised a $12.8 million investment from Austin Ventures.Bloomfire helps businesses manage and share all information their employees need, using its database.By doing so, employees can promptly get answers to their questions and perform better.Nearly every company has the problem Bloomfire s knowledge sharing platform solves: providing employees with easy access to the information they need to do their jobs, said Austin Ventures GP Chris Pacitti.This funding will enable Bloomfire to continue to innovate its products and further develop its core services for knowledge sharing across the enterprise.Etsy, Ogilvy, and Whole Foods are some of the clients on Bloomfire s portfolio.Bloomfire said it will use the series B funding to further develop its technology, as well as fueling its marketing efforts.
TourRadar, an Austria-based online marketplace that specializes in selling multi-day tours around the world, has raised $6 million in a round led by Cherry Ventures and Hoxton Ventures, with participation from Austrian funds AWS Founders Fund and Speedinvest.Founded in 2010, TourRadar works with third-party travel companies to connect travelers with more than 20,000 tours across 200 countries, covering everything from city breaks to high-end luxury holidays.The company claims that 70 percent of its customers are female, and the most popular destinations are France, Italy, and Spain, with Australians and Americans representing its biggest source markets.Austria doesn t often hit the mainstream startup radar, but last year Adidas acquired Linz-based mobile fitness company Runtastic in a $239 million deal.And earlier in the year, Zynga founder Mark Pincus invested in Austria s slack competitor ChatGrape.While TourRadar s latest cash influx may serve as a minor boon to the broader Austrian startup ecosystem, it also illustrates the growing impact of online marketplaces.We are amazed that from its office in Vienna, the team has been able to cover the world so effectively and become a recognized leader.It will be used to support the company s ongoing expansion, with plans to grow its existing 40-strong headcount to 70 within the next 12 months.
The fund has already put more than $100 million into over 15 companies across the world, and it will continue to invest both locally and globally.Big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence will be a big focus.Collectively they have more than 50 years of experience investing hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital and private financings.They have separately participated in investments in PayPal, The Rubicon Project, Internet Brands, and CrowdStrike.As for VR and AR, Mandal said the markets should hit a critical juncture in the next 12 to 18 months, as the price of hardware comes down and new players like Google and the Chinese come into the market.March Capital Partners invested in Dojo Madness, an esports coaching platform that leverages big data and machine learning.Mandal said investments have to be global now.March Capital portfolio companies include AppCito, App lariat, BillDesk, Bridg, CarTrade, Coho Data, Deep Forest Media sold to Rakuten , Dojo Madness, E8 Security, OpenHouse, Pensa Networks, Perspica, quick.ly, VeloCloud Networks, Vyng, and ZowDow.
Volkswagen Group made it rain on Gett with a $300 million investment, as part of a strategic partnership that aims to fuel Gett s growth.Alongside our pioneering role in the automotive business, we aim to become a world leading mobility provider by 2025, said Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller, in the press release announcing the deal.Within the framework of our future Strategy 2025, the partnership with Gett marks the first milestone for the Volkswagen Group on the road to providing integrated mobility solutions that spotlight our customers and their mobility needs.The on-demand ride-hailing company has raised at least $520 million to date and operates in more than 60 cities worldwide.With VW s investment, Gett will now accelerate its expansion to the rest of Europe, and strengthen its position in NYC, where we already operate, said Gett s founder and CEO Shahar Waiser, in the same press release.May the investment be used to work on a log-out button.
Newark Venture Partners announced today that it closed a $23 million investment fund, part of a $50 million intended fund, to finance seed and series A-stage tech startups.The CEO of Amazon subsidiary Audible, Don Katz, founded Newark Venture Partners with backing from Audible, Dun & Bradstreet, Prudential Financial, and angel investors.The recently launched venture firm also announced that it will start accepting applications for its accelerator program, which will be homed in 25,000 square feet of state-of-the-art coworking space in Newark, New Jersey.Newark Venture Partners Labs, as the program is called, will be working with New York tech entrepreneurs, as well as people from all over the globe, starting September 2016.NVP will funnel $80,000 into each participating company, and award alumnus that complete a qualified financing with up to $1 million in follow-on investment.
Marketing then tracks the sales rep s interactions to help the platform learn and improve, and to prove ROI.That includes $1.4 billion in the productivity and enablement sector, specifically in content enablement systems like Seismic, $652 million in data visualization, and another $618 million in the contracts management sector.Why is inside sales such a hot space?Essentially, sales has become a more challenging job in recent years, so new tools are popping up to solve these new problems — namely, figuring out how to help extremely informed buyers.They know more about you than a junior salesperson that was just hired knows about you, Seismic CEO and founder Doug Winter told me in an interview.These extra-educated buyers have given rise to broadly adopted, high-touch, one-on-one strategies like consultative selling.This group plays an increasingly important coordination role in the enterprise — like business operations, a corporate function emerging to help optimize for business metrics like revenue while utilizing marketing and sales teams.And the sales team will say, Hey we work really hard and try and have a conversation with them and don t have the right content , Winter said.One thing is clear with respect to this flurry of new platforms — particularly those that automate basic functions in the sales process: We are definitely entering a world of fewer, more effective sales people, Winter said.
Second, the firm unveiled an intelligent security bot that promises to simplify and streamline the work of corporate security operations.The company s announcement is well-timed given the burgeoning interest in bots, but CEO Slavik Markovich says the timing is coincidental and driven solely by customer need.The average security analyst has to access three or four different products and follow perhaps 10 steps in order to identify and blacklist a malicious file, said Markovich.Demisto s bot addresses this challenge by integrating with more than 30 security tools from companies like Check Point and Carbon Black to provide a unified interface that sits atop their software.Developing a sales and marketing team will be a primary use of the new investment.Based in Cupertino, California, Demisto s founders began work on their security chatbot in July 2015.The positive feedback on our collaborative interface was an ah-ha moment.The need for security analysts and the lack of workers with the right skill set can be addressed by chatbots like ours, said Bhargava.Available now as part of Demisto s Enterprise Security Operations Platform, the chatbot contains two intelligent functions with two more on the way.This prevents two redundant tasks from being executed.
Montreal, Canada-based startup AmpMe announced today that it closed an $8 million funding round led by Relay Venture for its portable sound system.On top of this news, the company also shared that its service is now integrated with YouTube, allowing users to access the video social network as a music source.AmpMe s iOS and Android app offers a sound system alternative to portable speakers by syncing the music playing in your phone with an unlimited number of your friends phones and tablets.You know, for those moments when you go to the beach and forget to bring speakers, but still want to play Drake s One Dance to disturb the family sitting next to you.CEO Martin-Luc Archambault told VentureBeat, We re going to end up making portable speakers obsolete.Archambault declined to provide AmpMe s valuation.As the company seeks to increase growth, it has set its sights on doubling its number of employees currently 10 over the next year.Also, it will be adding music sources beyond YouTube and SoundCloud, although no specifics were provided, and launching more interactive features such as song voting, enabling multiple DJ controls, improving sharing to social platforms, and allowing different songs from multiple sources to be added to the playlist.Since launching 8 months ago, AmpMe said that its app has been downloaded more than 2 million times.Of course audiophiles will always have their Sonos system or Bang & Olufsen multi-thousand dollar systems, but AmpMe is the solution for the rest of us who want to experience music with friends in social settings, are cost-conscious, and want access to all music wherever they are.
It provides venues across North America with the necessary software and hardware — like scanners and RFID wristbands — to promote events and sell tickets.Though the ultimate goal is to help companies shift tickets, founder and CEO Mark Tacchi told VentureBeat that the company s mission is much more than that.We re told this sales figure is about to hit the $2 billion mark, which means that Vendini has had more or less the same number of ticket sales in the past year as it did in all the years that preceded it.We re also told that the company was profitable, though as a private company it s not at liberty to divulge specific numbers.This leads us to one obvious question — why seek investors cash when things appear to be going very well?Tacchi explained:It is true that startups can struggle under the weight of too much money and the expectations of impatient VCs.We re excited to keep building, innovating and giving organizations the tools they need to compete and succeed, and this round of funding lets us do that faster.Working at Next and then Apple essentially laid the groundwork for who I am as an entrepreneur and how I build my product, explained Tacchi.For example, massive arenas like Madison Square Garden are probably going to be using Ticketmaster, which was designed with huge venues in mind.
Clarity Money, a New York-based startup still in beta, announced in a public filing that it raised a $2.5 million investment.Cofounded by venture capitalist Adam Dell — brother of Dell founder Michael Dell — Clarity Money s stealthy Angel List page says it aims to become your money guru by providing actionable insights into a consumer s financial relationships.The company s service appears to feature some sort of AI or chatbot-style interface for navigating your personal finances, judging by a screenshot posted on Clarity s site.Dell declined to comment on the raise.However, in April on Twitter he called for users to sign up for Clarity s beta.At the time, he described the service as a financial concierge that does the work of getting you the best deals.Deals on what, we still don t know.
A new artificial intelligence AI startup has raised $3 million and launched its first product to help people find information buried in documents, files, email attachments, and more.Cofounded by Gary Fowler and Dr. David Yang, Findo has unveiled the Findo.io intelligent assistant for iPhone and the Web.This feature allows users to search locally stored files or connect their cloud-based accounts from Facebook, Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, Box, Gmail, Exchange, Outlook, and more to unearth information even if they can only remember vague details.For example, while a user can search by specific keywords they know are included in file names or subject headings, Findo also uses natural language processing NLP to understand a very general search query such as phone number of that guy I met in London or PDF sent by Jonathan last Thursday.It also has involved some notable people, including Bill Reichert from Garage Technology Ventures, who s serving as an advisor and board member, and Rick Orloff, formerly chief security officer at Apple, who also sits on the board.Our estimates show that over 300 million of the total email and file searches have failed over the last 24 hours.But before then, the company is also bringing its search smarts to third-party messaging platforms, including Slack, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, and Skype via bots.This means you can actually use Findo on any platform supported by your messenger service.You simply ask Findo to find whatever information you need, and the response comes back at you without your leaving the messenger app — this could be information from within an email or a specific file from your Dropbox account, such as an annual report.Findo is one of many tech companies embracing the emerging bot revolution, with the likes of Poncho, 1-800-Flowers, CNN, and Foursquare launching bots in recent months.
Its latest investment was led by Riverwood Capital and will be used to not only hire more employees, but to expand its reach globally and with additional third-party enterprise applications.Other firms that participated in Spredfast s Series F funding round include existing investors: Austin Ventures, InterWest Partners, OpenView Venture Partners, and Lead Edge Capital.As a marketing platform, Spredfast focuses on giving brands like the Atlanta Hawks, Airbnb, Viacom, and 3M the ability to not only curate user-generated content from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other social networks, but also distribute their own content across various channels, from the Web to television.Favaron thinks this gives Spredfast a competitive edge, as large companies move too slowly and startups won t be able to raise the necessary capital.While Spredfast has the core product down, it s looking to solve other areas and is eyeballing additional integrations.His company is also looking at facilitating shoppable content and establishing closer ties with customer relationship management tools.One of the important things that needs to happen in the market is knowing how many people are loyal customers of mine — do they shop at my store, frequent flyers, etc.It currently has customers that license its platform in more than 30 different countries and is looking to open offices in other areas.As we scale and want to do business with companies that aren t global, but big in specific countries, we ll need to put people on the ground…within the next few years, Favaron stated.To help grow the company, Spredfast has enlisted the help of more executives, bringing on board former Marin Software managing director Tim Collin as its first general manager for AMEA; former Nuance Communications vice president Eric Anderson as its chief revenue officer; former HomeAway general counsel Melissa Fruge as its chief legal officer; and Ogilvy executive Leo Ryan as vice president of customer solutions for EMEA.Spredfast currently has a team of more than 500 people spread across 5 offices worldwide.
The company — which provides audience measurement solutions for monitoring consumer behavior on every device, app, and platform used throughout the day — intends to use the funds to scale its services globally within the digital media, mobile app and gaming, adtech, and Internet sectors and expand its global operations.Launched in 2013 and headquartered in New York, Verto has raised a total of $23.9 million, to date.And mobile multi-device usage is a global phenomenon.For comparison, 94 percent of online users in China are using smartphones versus 70 percent in the U.S, and there are twice as many online users in China as there are people living in the U.S.Verto is focusing on the global explosion in mobile with this funding round, but what does global expansion mean for a company with existing offices in the U.S., U.K., and Finland.We have expanded in two ways,  Dr. Hannu Verkasalo, CEO and founder at Verto Analytics, told me.First, our global clients, which range from big Internet companies to advertisers, need and have requested more global data.The biggest challenge most mobile-centric and increasingly multi-platform publishers have is that they cannot benchmark themselves against the total market or competitors, Verkasalo said.
The company is built around the idea that once you immerse yourself in virtual reality, the next thing you want to do is interact with it using your hands and have it track your head movements accurately.The investment will help the company launch its inside-out 26DOF degrees of freedom hand-tracking and 6DOF head-tracking tools for VR and AR.It s all about making AR and VR more fun and useful, and helping it on its way to fulfilling predictions that it could be a $120 billion industry by 2020.The funding round was led by Fosun Kinzon Capital, with participation from returning investor Maison Capital and new investors Great Capital, Fortune Capital, Oriental Fortune Capital, iResearch Capital, and Chord Capital.ARM Innovation Ecosystem Accelerator also participated in this round with their funding, service and resources.The company s technology is being demonstrated live this week at the Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara, Calif. Tracking is critical to AR VR experiences, said Anli He, CEO and co-founder of uSens, in a statement.As AR VR display technologies approach mass adoption, we re excited to bring great interactive solutions to help global platforms, hardware makers, and especially content developers overcome the complicated challenges of hand and position tracking.This funding round is further validation that we re on the right path to bring compelling natural tracking technologies to augmented and virtual reality.uSens has more than 50 employees, including 20 at its headquarters in San Jose, Calif.
A new Silicon Valley venture capital firm has launched with a $120 million fund aimed at backing bold teams from the earliest stages of company creation through to market leadership.Founded out of Palo Alto in 2014, Clear Ventures was created by Chris Rust and Rajeev Madhavan, who collectively have founded and sold multiple companies, and claim to have invested in more than 50 companies to date.Rust was also formerly a partner at Sequoia Capital from 1998 to 2002.The new Clear Ventures fund is backed by institutional pension funds, educational endowments, charitable foundations, and some industry executives, and the firm says that it exceed its original target by 50 percent, having initially set out to raise just $80 million.Though a fledgling VC fund, Clear Ventures is already active and has invested in a number of startups including Falcon Computing, Paysa, Reflektion, Robin Systems, and Swift Navigation.The main focus of the fund will be on early-stage startups, with a primary focus on helping business technology and services get off the ground.As career startup veterans, we understand the intense team effort and shared sense of purpose required to build mighty companies from humble beginnings, said Madhavan, in a press release.We founded Clear to help ambitious startup teams navigate the complex entrepreneurial journey from concept to significant shareholder value creation, working in a supportive and respectful manner as full lifecycle partners.
On-demand luxury fashion startup Armarium launched out of beta today with a $1.25 million investment from Metamorphic Ventures, Venezuelan fashion entrepreneur Carmen Busquets, and Net-a-Porter, among others.The New York-based service debuted in April as an invite-only platform targeting fashion insiders.Now that it s open to the general public, users will have access to short-term rental pieces from high fashion designers like Alberta Ferretti, Jimmy Choo, and Alessandra Rich.Users can schedule a visit to the Armarium showroom in New York City for a styling and fitting session with the Style Brigade, a team of on-site stylists.The styling service is also available via chat on the Armarium platform or in the privacy of a user s home in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.Once style and fit are determined, Armarium clothes are temporarily tailored and sent to the user.