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Posts Tagged ‘Digital sky technologies’

Article from GigaOm.

“The investment team at the Kauffman Foundation believes the venture capital industry is broken and they — or rather investors in VC funds — are partially to blame. The report condemns venture firms for being too big, not delivering returns, and not adjusting to the times. But then it blames the situation on a misalignment of incentives: Namely, limited partners that invest in venture firms have done so in a way that encouraged VCs to raise huge funds at a time when huge funds weren’t really warranted. And now, for the Kauffman Foundation at least, the chickens have come home to roost. From the report:

The most significant misalignment occurs because LPs don’t pay VCs to do what they say they will — generate returns that exceed the public market. Instead, VCs typically are paid a 2 percent management fee on committed capital and a 20 percent profit-sharing structure (known as “2 and 20”). This pays VCs more for raising bigger funds, and in many cases allows them to lock in high levels of fee-based personal income even when the general partner fails to return investor capital.

A smaller VC industry is needed

The solutions to the problem — changing the compensation structure, investing in smaller funds where the partners have also committed at least 5 percent of their own capital, investing directly in startups or alongside funds at later stages, and taking more money out of the over-saturated VC market — are already happening. Look at the widespread trend of angels or smaller funds created by a few investors. Or look at the rise of hedge funds or Digital Sky Technologies’ investing directly in hot companies like Twitter or Facebook at crazy valuations.

It’s unclear if other LPs will take the advice issued in this report, but the trends around VC investment these days are fairly clear. There are plenty of firms willing to put small amounts in at an early stage, so they have the option to keep playing if the deal gets hot. And they are just as likely to drop firms quickly around the second (Series B) fundraiser if they aren’t shaping up into a Pinterest or a Spotify. This hit-driven style of investment is a symptom of too much money chasing a new type of startup, and it’s likely that venture investors will compete until much of the return is squeezed out of a hot deal. And that’s no good for limited partners either.

The Kauffman report lists the ways it has decided to solve the mismatch between LPs and venture firms, and it goes into a lot of depth on how to improve the industry overall. But if one agrees with the assessment and solutions offered in the report, it also will result in some serious questions about the startup economy. The venture industry invested $28.4 billion into 3,673 deals in 2011, according to the NVCA and the PWC MoneyTree report. About 50 percent of their total investments were in seed and early-stage companies.

Does less venture money mean fewer startups?

Following the Kauffman Foundation’s suggestions means the pool will shrink. In many ways this is a good thing, as there will be less money chasing the few standout deals, but it also opens the door to thinking about building companies in a connected era. Angels are already picking up some of the VC slack and will likely continue to do so. Once Facebook goes public, I expect we will see a host of newly minted millionaires playing at being an angel or perhaps taking their riches and using it to build something new.

For those without soon-to-be-liquid options, Kickstarter and the gold rush promised by the JOBS Act are also likely to fill the gap. So it’s entirely possible the pool of venture capital will shrink while the pool of startups will remain about the same. In such a scenario, VCs, angels and then the rest of us play the role of investor. It’s a role millions already undertake, with Kickstarter’s seeing $200 million pledged and 22,000 projects funded since its founding.

And the passage of the JOBS Act means startups can now beg for money among the ranks of friends and family who aren’t accredited investors. I for one am leery of this development, believing it ripe for scams. The law also has the side effect of cloaking information about companies until right before they hit the public markets, which I think is the exact opposite of what a bill that encourages consumer investment ought to do. But still, there will be legitimate companies that will be able to start businesses thanks to the bill.

And as lawyers and entrepreneurs get comfortable with the law, new funding platforms should arise. So perhaps the Kauffman Foundation will find itself on the cusp of a trend, from the old-school style of fundraising where an entrepreneur has few choices and has to play by the VC industry’s rules to a crowdsourced and connected era of raising capital that mimics how the Web is changing a variety of businesses. Maybe the VC industry is like Motown. And it’s going to have to adjust to the new reality.”

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Article from SFGate.

“Facebook has sold about $6.6 million worth of its shares to the investment fund GSV Capital Corp. as the company is believed to be preparing for an initial public offering next year.

GSV said Monday that it had purchased 225,000 shares in the world’s most popular social network at an average price of $29.28 per share. The investment makes up about 15 percent of the publicly traded fund’s total portfolio.

On its website, GSV describes itself as a way for its investors to access “dynamic and rapidly growing” companies ahead of their IPOs.

The investment fund did not say how large its stake in Facebook is, compared with the company’s overall ownership, and did not offer clues to the overall valuation of the social network.

A $500 million investment in the Palo Alto company by Goldman Sachs and Digital Sky Technologies in January valued the company at $50 billion, though some anticipate the IPO will push the company to a valuation of as much as $100 billion.”

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Article from SFGate.

“In the company’s most revealing disclosure of its financial plans to date, Facebook Inc. said Friday that it has raised $1.5 billion in investments and planned to start reporting its finances publicly by April 2012.

The Palo Alto social networking powerhouse remains private, but a news release issued 15 minutes after the close of the stock markets signals that Facebook is moving closer to an initial public offering.

Facebook officials had previously remained mum on published reports that surfaced as the new year dawned about a deal that would bring a $450 million investment from New York’s Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and an additional $50 million from Digital Sky Technologies Inc. of Russia.

But the news release was Facebook’s first public statement on those reports, and it confirmed the investments were based on a company valuation of $50 billion.

Facebook also said it had the option to accept between $375 million and $1.5 billion from Goldman Sachs, which planned to raise that money by selling shares of a special Facebook fund to select clients.”

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Here is some news from Techcrunch.

“Google has quietly (secretly, one might say) invested somewhere between $100 million and $200 million in social gaming behemoth Zynga, we’ve confirmed from multiple sources. The company has raised somewhere around half a billion dollars in venture capital in the last year alone, including $150 million from Softbank Capital last month and $180 million late last year from Digital Sky Technologies, Tiger Global, Institutional Venture Partners and Andreessen Horowitz. The Softbank announcement was never officially confirmed by the company, however, and the Google investment was likely part of that deal as well.

The investment part of the deal closed a month ago or so. A larger strategic partnership is still in process.

The investment was made by Google itself, not Google Ventures, say our sources, and it’s a highly strategic deal. Zynga will be the cornerstone of a new Google Games to launch later this year, say multiple sources. Not only will Zynga’s games give Google Games a solid base of social games to build on, but it will also give Google the beginning of a true social graph as users log into Google to play the games. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see PayPal being replaced with Google Checkout as the primary payment option. Zynga is supposedly PayPal’s biggest single customer, and Google is always looking for ways to make Google Checkout relevant.

And there’s more. These same sources are saying that Zynga’s revenues for the first half of 2010 will be a stunning $350 million, half of which is operating profit. Zynga is projecting at least $1.0 billion in revenue in 2011, say our sources. This blows previous estimates out of the water.

Zynga continues to work on high level strategic business development deals. The reason these deals are so attractive to companies like Yahoo and now Google is this – Zynga allows them to rebuild the massive social graph, currently controlled by Facebook. For whatever reason people love to play these games and get passionately addicted to them, coming back day after day. That’s helped Facebook become what it is today. Google, Yahoo and others want some of that magic to rub off on them, too.”

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Here is a interesting article from WSJ Online.

“Twitter Inc.’s $100 million funding round drew considerable attention for its massive size, but it’s not the largest venture deal so far this year. That round actually tied for the fourth largest, according to data compiled from Dow Jones VentureSource.

Here’s a list of the Top 10 venture capital rounds through the third quarter. The deals are impressive considering the cloud hanging over the venture industry. Besides Twitter and another dot-commer, Facebook Inc., these companies range from massive clean-technology projects and health-care plays to wireless equipment makers and, in one case, a waste-collection service.

#1 Solyndra Inc., Fremont, Calif. – $286 million

The solar panel maker is on the federal government’s hot-list, receiving a $535 million loan guarantee in September to build a second manufacturing plant and create hundreds of jobs. That loan encouraged venture firms to invest at least another $198 million in Solyndra. (The company announced that amount in September though a spokesman told VentureWire the round’s total was even higher.) Argonaut Private Equity, an investment vehicle for Oklahoma billionaire George Kaiser, led the round. Others participating in the round weren’t disclosed, although Solyndra’s investors include CMEA Capital, Redpoint Ventures, RockPort Capital Partners, U.S. Venture Partners and Virgin Green Fund, which together have invested more than $600 million. Solyndra plans to finish building its plant in Fremont by the end of next year and ship its first product in early 2011.

#2 Clovis Oncology Inc., Boulder, Colo. – $146 million

In May, Domain Associates, New Enterprise Associates and others bet $146 million that former executives of cancer-drug company Pharmion Corp., which sold for $2.9 billion last year, will repeat that success with newly formed Clovis Oncology. Also participating were Pharmion investors Aberdare Ventures, Abingworth Management, ProQuest Investments and Versant Ventures, and newcomer Frazier Healthcare Ventures. Like Pharmion – which raised $145 million in venture capital and convertible debt before going public in 2003 – Clovis will acquire cancer therapies, develop them through to regulatory approval in the U.S. and Europe, and market them.

#3 Small Bone Innovations Inc., New York – $108 million

The orthopedic device company, founded in 2004, has developed a portfolio of products for thumb, hand, wrist, elbow, foot and ankle surgeries. The STAR Ankle total joint replacement system, one of Small Bone’s flagship products, received Food and Drug Administration clearance in May. The $108 million Series D round, which closed in April, included new investors The Family Office of Bahrain, Goldman Sachs & Co., Khazanah Nasional Brhd. and Malaysian Technology Development Corp. and existing investors 3i Group, Axiom Venture Partners, NGN Capital, TGap Ventures and Trevi Health Ventures. Executives told VentureWire they expect Small Bone to reach profitability in 12 months, and unlike many medical device companies which become acquisition targets, could grow into a full-fledged company in its own right.

#4 (Tied) A123 Systems Inc., Watertown, Mass. – $100 million

The electric-car battery maker’s initial public offering last month captured investors’ imagination – and wallets – with a vision of a future where power is stored intelligently and deployed efficiently in a world of lower carbon emission. Before the IPO, A123 Systems gathered $100 million in Series F funding in June from investors Gururaj Deshpande, General Electric Co., North Bridge Venture Partners and Qualcomm Inc. A123 also received a $249.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy grant, the second-biggest awarded as part of a $2.4 billion program to start up a domestic battery industry. The company, which has a deal to supply Chrysler Group LLC with batteries for planned electric vehicles and hybrids, is said to be in the late stages of negotiations for another DOE loan worth as much as $235 million.

#4. (Tied) Facebook Inc., Palo Alto, Calif. – $100 million

Facebook recently reached an important milestone for an Internet company, becoming cash-flow positive as it also grabbed its 300 millionth member. Will an IPO be coming soon? Executives won’t say, but the company’s investors are counting on a spectacular exit at some point given how much money they’ve invested over the years. One of the newest investors is Digital Sky Technologies, a Russian Internet investor that put $100 million into Facebook in July while also paying another $100 million to buy out shares of any selling employees.

#4 (Tied) Open Range Communications Inc., Greenwood Village, Colo. – $100 million

One Equity Partners committed $100 million to Open Range at the start of the year to help it roll out wireless broadband and Internet services in rural America by the end of the year. The deal followed a $267 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Utilities Program. Founded in 2004, Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Open Range hopes to reach more than six million Americans in 546 underserved and rural communities across the U.S. lacking access to traditional DSL or cable broadband service providers. Open Range plans to use WiMAX technology to enable access to its planned wireless service with a simple plug-in device.

#4 (Tied) Twitter Inc., San Francisco – $100 million

At a $1 billion valuation, Twitter’s $100 million fourth round proved the Web messaging company is here to stay, at least longer than some thought. The funding came from some unlikely sources, including T. Rowe Price Group, better known for its retirement funds than venture capital investing, Morgan Stanley, which invested from its asset management business, and Insight Venture Partners, a growth-equity investor that doesn’t typically put money in pre-revenue companies. Other investors in Twitter include Benchmark Capital, Institutional Venture Partners, Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures, which didn’t reinvest in the latest round reportedly because the deal priced the firm out. Now the pressure will be on for Twitter to live up to the hype.”

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Facebook avoid the IPO and steam ahead with expansion plans. It is not your average valuation we are talking about – $10B is quite a accomplishment. Please find earlier Facebook articles here; Facebook turned down funding at $8B, Few IPO candidates, Rapid growth and several more here.

Here is a story from Read Write Web.

“After we saw some rumors about this over the weekend, Facebook today confirmed that it will receive a $200 million investment from Digital Sky Technologies (DST), one of the leading Internet investment groups in Eastern Europe. This investment puts Facebook’s valuation at $10 billion. DST also plans to offer to purchase at least $100 million in Facebook common stock from existing shareholders.

According to Facebook‘s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, roughly 70% of the company’s users are now outside of the U.S., so cooperating with an international investment firm seemed to make sense in order to bring a global perspective to Facebook’s operations. DST will not get a seat on Facebook’s board, however.”

It continues…

“Digital Sky Technologies is a major player in Eastern Europe, and with Mail.ru, Forticom, and vKontakte among its assets, the company claims to account for over 70 percent of all all page views on the Russian-speaking Internet. Interestingly, DST (mostly through its investment in Forticom) also owns interests in a number of social networks like one.lt and Odnoklassniki.ru.

This deal also fits in well with other rumors about Facebook trying to raise capital to allow its employees to cash out some of their options. Just two weeks ago, our colleagues at VentureBeat reported that Facebook’s current investors “found it a stretch to supply the full amount of capital” that would be needed to provide Facebook with enough money to allow it to buy out roughly 15 million common shares at around $10 each.”

Zuckerberg commented this deal on the pressconference by saying…

“The company does not have any immediate plans for the cash it will receive from DST. Zuckerberg was also asked about a possible IPO, but according to Facebook’s CEO, an IPO is not on the “immediate horizon.”

Being asked about Microsoft’s investment in Facebook at a $15 billion valuation, Zuckerberg mostly sidestepped the issue, but stressed that this investment was part of a larger partnership at the top of the bubble and that he thinks that $10 billion valuation is “fair” and that he “feels good” about it.

Given the nature of the call, there was not a lot of focus on specific features, but Zuckerberg did confirm that Facebook is testing out a video chat feature. Our friends at All Facebook spotted references to this in Facebook’s code two weeks ago.”

Read the full article here.

Other sources for this topic include: TrolleyBlog, The Next Web, PEHub, Northloop,

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