Goooood Morning Silicon Alley!
This is a guest post from Gary Sharma (aka “The Guy with the Red Tie”), founder and CEO of GarysGuide and proud owner of a whole bunch of black suits, white shirts and, at last count, over 40 red ties. You can reach him at gary [at] garysguide.com.
Sooooo…it’s that time of the year again. SXSW (a.k.a. Spring Break for Geeks) is right around the corner, running March 8 to 12 in Austin, Texas. And you know what that means: Parties, parties ‘n more parties!! So, once again, we’re putting together what we hope will be THE definitive guide to all this year’s SXSW Interactive parties. We’ll be updating this list regularly, so check back often. And email me if you’re organizing an event or a party.
r/findmeaparkingspace ParkWhiz, the Chicago company that enables users to find and reserve guaranteed parking spaces before reaching their destination, today announced that it has closed a $2 million Series A round of funding led by Hyde Park Venture Partners. Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian also took place in the round along with Hyde Park Angels, Amicus Capital, and others. In a press release sent to Betabeat, the company said that since its launch in 2006, it has driven $10 million in parking revenue to parking operators and provided access to 3 million parking spaces nationwide.
Fab Goes To India Jason Goldberg, the founder and CEO of Fab, took to his personal blog yesterday to announce that his company had acquired new funding. Times Internet, the digital arm of The Times of India Group, India’s largest media company, has chosen to invest in the company. Mr. Goldberg notes in the post, “As part of this investment Fab will be working with Times Internet to explore and execute on our India market strategy in the coming years.” Since launching in June 2011, Fab has raised over $150 million from investors.
Life in the Fab Lane
The Reddit AMA (or “ask me anything”) is a free-for-all question and answer session where big names duke it out with anonymous users masked by handles like “testees_testees_123.” It can be delightfully informative, but also delightfully weird. Some even morph into uncomfortable grilling sessions, as was the case with Woody Harrelson’s AMA, which quickly devolved into a game of rape accusations.
Fab CEO Jason Goldberg took to Reddit yesterday for an AMA following the news that the company had raised $105 million, and while his experience wasn’t nearly as torturous as Mr. Harrelson’s, Redditors certainly didn’t cut him any slack.
A scant seven months after Andreessen Horowitz “plowed” $40 million into Fab at a $200 million valuation, the pivot-happy flash sales site for design items just announced a massive Series C. The company closed a $105 million round led by Atomico, an international investment firm out of London run by Skype cofounder Niklas Zennström. The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news, says the new round values Fab at $600 million.
Yes, folks, that’s a 200 percent jump in valuation in seven months. We bet even Fab doesn’t sell a sleek-enough vessel to hold all that (theoretical) dough.
In a press release, Fab said ru-Net Technology Partners (RTP), the international fund backed by Russian billionaire Leonid Boguslavsky–with an office in New York City!–also participated. As did Palo Alto’s Pinnacle Ventures and DoCoMo Capital and Mayfield Fund. (It’s worth noting that Mayfield previously backed another flash sales venture, the troubled startup BuyWithMe, which was acquired by Gilt Groupe, the mother of flash sales sites, after major layoffs. Gilt Groupe, of course, later faced its own brutal round of layoffs.) Existing investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, First Round Capital, Menlo Ventures, and Baroda Ventures also participated.
Fab took another step toward design-savvy world domination today, with the announcement that the company has acquired the British Isles’ own Llustre, which will become Fab UK. The move follows the February purchase of Casacanda and relaunch as Fab.de.
In a statement released this morning, Mr. Goldberg also announced that Maria Molland, previously of Thomson Reuters, will now be Chief European Officer for Fab, a role which is clearly on a growth track.
Shortly after the news broke this morning, CEO Jason Goldberg and CCO Bradford Shellhammer appeared across the pond at Le Web, where they were grilled good-naturedly by Mike Arrington about the announcement. Curious to know more about the team’s U.K. plans, we caught the talk via livestream.
Most of all, Mr. Arrington wanted to know why Mr. Goldberg and Mr. Shellhammer decided to buy “a clone” rather than “crushing” Llustre. The Fab.com certainly hadn’t responded well to the existence of the Samwer brothers’ copycat Bamarang; why give quarter to this company?
Fab.com got its latest revamp this morning, introducing a host of snazzy new social features. We hope your Facebook friends have good taste.
Fab CEO Jason Goldberg walked us through the changes via phone, boiling them down to improving the product discovery experience. Though the site adds new features regularly, the changes going live today are the first big revamp in “quite a decent amount of time,” says Mr. Goldberg. “There’s a hundred-plus new enhancements.” He explained that it’s all “about how do you help people discover stuff better than just throwing up a catalog.”
Wilkommen! This is part one of Betabeat’s new mini-series, Die Startup-Szene, a peek at the up-and-coming tech hub of Berlin. We sat down with entrepreneurs from three leading young companies here in the city that is only very, very occasionally referred to as Silicon Allee.
Roman Kirsch, who skipped two grades, has studied in Los Angeles and London, backpacked in Australia and interned at Goldman Sachs. In July 2011, he and two cofounders started an Internet company most recently reportedly valued at $10 million. About six months later, he sold it to one of the hottest startups in New York. He is 23.
It’s enough to make you wish for some Schadenfreude. Until you meet Mr. Kirsch, that is, who gave Betabeat a hug when we met with him on Monday morning at Wohnzimmer Bar, or “living room bar,” a quiet and quaintly-decorated cafe in Berlin’s startup-heavy Prenzlauer neighborhood. Wrapped in Abercrombie, he ordered a hot mint tea with honey in place of coffee. He struck us immediately as, well, calmer than the average starry-eyed 20-something New York startupper, an even speaker with wry, smiling eyes. Still, he described his company’s acquisition by Fab.com as “the best thing that could ever happen.”
Another month, another milestone for master pivoter Jason Goldberg and his go-go daily deals for design startup, Fab. Today, the company announced that it has acquired Casacanda, a Berlin-based flash sales company. Along with the acquisition, Casacanda will relaunch as as Fab.de, serving Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
Last November ccTLDInvestors, “the online magazine for global domain investors” noted that a company called Sedo made a tidy profit by selling Fab.de for $50,000. That same week, Fab also purchased Fab.eu for 35,000 Euros, so expect more updates for Fab’s fabulous European adventure.
According to Mr. Goldberg, Casacanda has been on something of a roll. The site has 250,000 members and grew by 90,000 in just the last 30 days. Add that to Fab’s existing membership, and the company has won over more than 2.3 million users in the past 8 months.
Fab.com is New York’s fast-growing, revenue-generating “it startup” of the moment, a company that landed the rare double-pivot with a design-centric members-only flash sales site. It’s doing well and its business model is simple, so of course the fast followers have started to spring up; no less than seven copycats in the last month, says Fab founder Jason Goldberg.
The biggest come-from-behind startup story this year has to be Fab, which tried out a bunch of different services focused on the gay market before landing lightning in a bottle with a design focused flash sales site. The company just sent along a hilarious slide presentation summing up their year and revealing some new numbers on their rapid growth.
The way Fab CEO Jason Goldberg sees it, the company began as a sort of “gay Yelp.” When that didn’t work they tried to become a “gay Groupon.” Apparently somewhere along the way they also contemplated “gay Facebook” and “gay Foursquare,” as detailed in this handy chart.