Sequoia Backs Simplisafe In A Play For The Home Security Market

Sequoia Backs Simplisafe In A Play For The Home Security Market

Editor’s note: This is a repost of a TechCrunch article written by Jon Shieber.

Sequoia Capital has made a minority investment in the do-it-yourself home security company Simplisafe in a play on the home security and automation market, TechCrunch has learned.

The investment from Sequoia came on the heels of Google’s $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest Labs, which showed just how lucrative the home market can be. That deal netted a healthy return for investors, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Generation Investment Management, Venrock, and Google’s own Google Ventures. Continue reading

Seeking Growth, The Payments Industry Embraces New Technologies

Editor’s note: This is a repost of a TechCrunch article written by Jon Shieber.

Now a victim of its own omnipresent success, the global electronic payments industry is increasingly turning to new technologies as it looks to expand its footprint and find new ways to make money by getting consumers to spend theirs.

The pace of technological advancement in the payments market has even caused regulators to take notice, with innovations like cryptocurrencies continuing to grab headlines and attract government scrutiny at the federal and state level.

Those same regulators are also looking for ways to alleviate the financial pressures and burdens that affect the underbanked and to address the issues of privacy and security that continue to bedevil the industry. Continue reading

Entertainment Deals Take Center Stage In LA’s Burgeoning VC Scene

Editor’s note: This is a repost of a TechCrunch article written by Jon Shieber.

A string of big acquisitions, public offerings, and a pipeline of growing young startup companies has venture investors saying “I love L.A.

The recent acquisitions of Maker Studios and Oculus VR, as well as the planned public offering for TrueCar that’s finally going through, all point to a healthy investment ecosystem, but there’s still one industry that rules over Tinseltown: that’s entertainment.

“Our ecosystem has been building for the last 20 years and it is coming to a crescendo now,” said Mark Suster, a partner at the Los Angeles-based firm Upfront Ventures. “Americans watch 5.3 hours of television a day and they read less than a half an hour. You’re not going to change media consumption patterns [so] you’ll continue to see the rise of a tech ecosystem in L.A. because of the rise of TV and commerce and what that entails.” Continue reading

CrunchBase Monthly Export – 2014 Q1 Investment Soars

After passing the 500k milestone last month, the CrunchBase community has continued to contribute at a record pace. The CrunchBase dataset has grown significantly since 2013 Q1 when it encompassed just over 291k profiles. One year later we now capture over 537k companies, investors, people and products in CrunchBase. Highlights of the March 2014 Export include:

The CrunchBase dataset continues to grow at a blistering pace thanks to our community of contributors and members of the CrunchBase Venture Program. We’re publishing this snapshot today which includes all venture funded companies.

You can download the snapshot here and if you find any errors or omissions, please let us know!

SoFi Raising New Cash To Help Ease Students’ $1 Trillion Debt Burden

Editor’s note: This is a repost of a TechCrunch article written by Jon Shieber.

Student lending service Social Finance is close to securing a new round of as much as $75 million, according to two investors familiar with the company’s plans.

The San Francisco-based company is one of a new generation of lending and consulting services backed by venture investors that are looking to help debtors better manage the almost $1.2 trillion in student loan obligations currently breaking the financial backs of America’s graduates.

Social Finance, which does business as SoFi, has already raised $77 million in its last round of venture funding back in 2012 from investors, including the Chinese social networking service Renren, Baseline Ventures, and DCM. The company’s public relations firm did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

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Education Technology Startups Raised Over Half A Billion Dollars In Q1

Editor’s note: This is a repost of a TechCrunch article written by Jon Shieber.

Education technology-focused startups raised over $500 million already in the first quarter of 2014, marking the single biggest quarter for capital committed to the sector in the past five years.

What began as a trickle in 2009, with 20 companies raising over $64 million at the beginning of the year, is now a flood as funding leapt to $500 million in 99 venture-backed startups, according to CrunchBase data.

“It’s interesting because public education hasn’t changed that much in 150 to 200 years and there had been almost no technology going into it,” said Don Burton, managing director of the Techstars Kaplan Edtech Accelerator program. “It’s not only that there’s this huge behemoth sector of the economy that spends $1.2 trillion on educating kids, but that it’s old, it’s long in the tooth and it’s bound to get disrupted.”

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Opening Consumer Products To Crowdsourced Investment, CircleUp Raises $14 Million

Editor’s note: This is a repost of a TechCrunch article written by Jon Shieber.

Technology’s ability to harness the wisdom of crowds has created massive new businesses that support entrepreneurship around arts, craftsmanship, and technology while simultaneously re-shaping the market for personal lending.

With its new $14 million financing, CircleUp wants to change the development of consumer products with equity crowdfunding.

The Series B round was led by Canaan Partners, with commitments from previous investors Google Ventures, Union Square Ventures, Maveron and Rose Park Advisors.

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Startup Financial Services Companies Come Of Age

Editor’s note: This is a repost of a TechCrunch article written by Jon Shieber.

With one eye on businesses abandoned in the wake of the financial crisis and the other on a new generation of investors, startup companies are now raising significant sums to challenge the hegemony of big banks and investment firms.

Since the beginning of 2013, venture investors committed over $800 million in new funding to develop businesses providing new investment, lending, mortgage and real estate, and wealth management services in the U.S. These startups have had their best quarter so far in 2014, when 13 companies raised $238.2 million in later stage funding — with at least $162 million committed in March alone.

Meyer “Mickey” Malka, the founder of the venture investment firm Ribbit Capital, raised $100 million at the beginning of 2013 to invest behind this thesis. Continue reading

For Tech Investors, The Midwest Is Flyover Country No More

These days, Midwestern entrepreneurs and investors are seeding more than just fields.

A resurgent U.S. technology industry, propelled by strong initial public offerings and a healthy M&A market, as well as the launch of technology infrastructure services from companies like Amazon and Microsoft, has meant that entrepreneurs across the Rust Belt and Farm Belt are starting new technology companies in addition to more traditional manufacturing.

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These Are The 15 Best Accelerators In The U.S.

Editor’s note: This is a repost of a TechCrunch article written by Jon Shieber.

Business accelerators like Y Combinator and TechStars have come to occupy a critical geography in the tech landscape, and today two professors are announcing the results of their survey to determine which ones have come out on top at South By Southwest.

“The goal of the seed accelerator rankings project is to start a larger conversation about the accelerator phenomenon, its effects and its prospects for the future,” according to a presentation by Professor Yael Hochberg, a faculty member at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Hochberg and her colleague, Professor Susan Cohen of the University of Richmond and the Batten Institute at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, used original research and data from CrunchBase to determine the best 15 accelerators in the U.S. Those accelerators were then grouped into Gold, Silver and Bronze categories to reflect how they performed in a series of categories. Here are the best:

1.      Y Combinator (Gold)

2.      TechStars (Gold)

3.      AngelPad (Gold)

4.      Launchpad LA (Silver)

5.      MuckerLab (Silver)

6.      AlphaLab (Silver)

7.      Capital Innovators (Silver)

8.      Tech Wildcatters (Silver)

9.      Surge Accelerator (Silver)

10.   The Brandery (Silver)

11.   Betaspring (Bronze)

12.   BoomStartup (Bronze)

13.   Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator (Bronze)

14.   JumpStart Foundry (Bronze)

15.   DreamIt Ventures (Bronze)

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