It's All About the Bitcoins
Fred Wilson has just broken his two-year, no-investment streak. The Wall Street Journal reports Union Square Ventures is leading a $5 million round in Y Combinator-backed Coinbase, which allows you to buy, store and pay with Bitcoin. Also participating: Ribbit Capital, SV Angel and Funders Club.
These being the self-styled gentleman scholars of USV, there’s some philosophizing to justify the investment. Read More
Everyone, it seems, has an opinion about Foursquare, the New York-based check-in and recommendations app that was the breakout darling of SXSW 2009.
Former Square COO Keith Rabois recently engaged in a very public dustup with Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley on Twitter, tweeting that only a “Hail Mary Bebo-style acquisition will bail you out.” In January, data and research company PrivCo predicted that the startup will fail by the end of the year, eventually surrendering to an acquisition price of no more than $50 million (though the analysis didn’t account for mobile traffic). In November of last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that investors were “cooling” on Foursquare. “The company claims more than 25 million registered users, but only about 8 million of them use the app at least once a month,” it wrote.
Behance, the New York-based design-oriented community with more than 1 million members, is getting something in the neighborhood of $150 million to be acquired by Adobe Systems, a “well placed source” tells Om Malik.
JPMorgan Chase agreed to acquire the online coupon site Bloomspot for $35 million. Good to seek synergies in case the world doesn’t end. [Bloomberg]
Another precautionary measure: Seven months after raising $6.5 million in a funding round led by Union Square Ventures, Behance has been acquired by Adobe Systems. Behance said that it would remain in New York in a blog post discussing the deal. [Behance]
Zynga confirmed that it’s shutting down its Japanese operation at the end of next month. If we get there. [TechCrunch]
Three Google executives were cleared by an Italian appeals court, which reversed a lower court’s findings that the execs violated a child’s privacy by failing to remove a bullying video. [Reuters]
NASA is going to keep blogging that the world isn’t really ending until the sidewalk opens up and swallows its communication team whole. [NASA]
Hires and Fires
Union Square Ventures just capped a nine-month search for fresh blood, announcing not one, but two new investment analysts this afternoon. New York City’s best known venture capital firm welcomed Alexander Pease and Brian Watson, bringing its total investment team up to nine staffers, including its newest partner Andy Weissman, who was poached from Betaworks back in October.
In an introductory post, Christina Cacioppo called the young men “extremely-qualified candidates,” which is why USV opted to hire both.
Some may tsk-tsk the “learn to code” meme, but that hasn’t deterred New York-based Codecademy from sticking to its vision of teaching all of us to code. Today, cofounder Zach Sims announced on the company blog that the startup has raised $10M in series B funding from VC firms Kleiner Perkins, Index Ventures and Union Square Ventures, as well as angel investors Yuri Milner and Richard Branson.
Just last week, the publishing industry got the Wall Street Journal treatment for having sidestepped the disruptive effects of digital privacy. But everyone gathered on the far west side for Book Expo America might want to hold off on the high fives, because the Internet isn’t done taking aim at their business. And one Union Square Ventures-backed, Toronto-based upstart, Wattpad, just raised a $17.3 million Series B.
USV joined this latest round, which was led by Khosla Ventures. Other participants include Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang and Toronto’s Golden Venture Partners. The company will use the money for hiring, new features, and community growth.
Wattpad is both publishing platform and social network. It’s a kissing cousin to Amazon’s self-publishing platform, but the concept will feel most familiar to anyone who spent time on early platforms like fanfiction.net–complete with concerns about copyright, by the way, though the company has introduced piracy-fighting features. The modern twist: Over 70 percent of the site’s traffic comes from mobile devices.
Founder Allen Lau insisted to Betabeat that Wattpad doesn’t have any real competitors, and contrasted the company’s model with the traditional publishing process and with more accessible paths like Amazon’s self-publishing platform. “On Wattpad, people [publish] chapter-by-chapter, so for example a lot of people will upload chapter one, then instantly he or she will get feedback,” he said. Then they can upload each successive installment as its written. “It’s a very different interaction environment.”
Welcome to New Fit City
Don’t call it a startup–at least not yet–but Foursquare cofounder Naveen Selvadurai dropped some hints about an upcoming personal project at an event at Union Square Monday evening, as Erick Schonfeld revealed on Twitter.
The de-Crunched tech blogger was at the VC firm for an event about “Networked Health,” and Mr. Selvadurai’s proposition, taken straight from the Quantified Self rule book, sounded like it fit right in:
After years of bootstrapping, online portfolio platform Behance is taking on outside funding to the tune of $6.5 million, TechCrunch says. Union Square Ventures led the round, and the list of additional investors is something of a who’s who. Says a note on the company’s blog:
the startup rundown
SHUTTER. Luminance is not your average photography conference. Instead of focusing on the latest gear, this two-day program will bring together experts at the forefront of the technology we use to create, manipulate and share our images. Among the speakers are Behance founder Scott Belsky, Hipstamatic cofounder Lucas Allen Buick, Google’s Chris Chabot, Pulitzer prize winning photographer Barbara Davidson, Tumblr
CEO president John Maloney, Facebook Photos engineer Srinivas Narayanan and the School of Visual Art’s David Ross. All speakers will present a 20-minute TED-style lecture.
TOE, HEEL, TOE, HEEL. What Not to Wear‘s Stacy London is the cofounder of a just-launched site that aims to connect personal stylists with the stylistically clueless. Style For Hire stylists will perform a “closet audit,” provide personal shopping services or create new outfits out of clothes a customer already has—that’s called closet shopping. Now women who aren’t lucky enough to be on the show can still have their closets—and lack of fashion sense—torn apart, but without the benefit of a judgmental, national audience.