Industry Archives: Online Services

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Facebook Buys And Shuts Down Shopping Site TheFind To Boost Commerce In Ads

Facebook today announced it has acquired personalized shopping search engine TheFind to help improve its commerce ads. TheFind had raised $26 million from Lightspeed and Redpoint since getting off the ground around 2005, but will now be shut down. Some, but not all, members of the team are joining Facebook.

TheFind’s product allowed people to get customized recommendations for products while searching through its massive database of products. A user could enter somewhat generic terms like “black sweater” and then compare prices on black sweaters from a wide array of retailers aggregated by TheFind. They could also discover places to buy their chosen product locally if they want it immediately.
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Passion Capital Backs Ravelin’s Hybrid Approach To Tackling Online Fraud

Another fintech investment to chalk up in London: Passion Capital has invested an undisclosed level of seed funding in Ravelin, an early stage online fraud prevention startup formed by a team of ex-Hailo employees in January this year. The startup is currently working out of Passion’s co-working space, White Bear Yard.

Ravelin’s founders had been involved in fraud prevention at the taxi app, among other roles, where they came up with the original idea to spin out their own business. The seed funding will be used to get their platform to market later this year.

Passion’s average seed round investment — last we crunched the numbers — was around £187,300. TechCrunch understands that in Ravelin’s case the VC is investing above that average. Albeit the sums involved here are clearly modest at this nascent stage. Ravelin is currently working with a small group of beta customers as it develops the platform for a full launch, pegged for Q4.
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Russia’s Ulmart shops around with Hong Kong on IPO schedule

Wall Street Journal
The Hong Kong stock exchange, once one of the world’s top venues for IPOs, hasn’t been on the shopping lists of foreign companies for a long time. But a listing plan by a Russian ecommerce retailer could put it back in the fray.

Once a market that drew foreign companies from Italian fashion house Prada SpA in 2011 to Russian commodity firms seeking to play up their popularity among spend-thrift Chinese consumers, Hong Kong hasn’t seen a major non-Chinese company listing for at least three years.

Some Japanese firms, such as Fast Retailing Co., operator of the Uniqlo casual-clothing store, and e-commerce services provider econtext Asia Ltd. have listed in the past couple of years, but they haven’t raised much funds, or in Fast Retailing’s secondary listing, none at all.
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Japan’s Recruit Buys European Restaurant Booking Service Quandoo For $219M

TechCrunch
Restaurant reservation service Quandoo, a major European rival to OpenTable, is being acquired by Japan’s Recruit in a deal worth 27.11 billion yen, that’s around $219 million.

Berlin-based Quandoo, which was founded in 2012, took a strategic investment from Recruit — via its RGIP venture capital fund — in October, and now the Japanese company has returned to snap up the remaining 92.91 percent of the company to give it 100 percent ownership. Last year Quandoo closed its Series $25m growth financing round lead by Piton Capital, along with Holtzbrinck Ventures and DN Capital.

Quandoo is an online reservation system that is used by over 6,000 restaurants in 10 countries in Europe, South Africa, Lebanon and Singapore. The company said that it is seeing particular momentum in Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Turkey and Poland, but it did not provide more specific figures.

The deal is an interesting one because Recruit, as the name suggests, started out in the business of connecting job seekers with potential employers when it began life in 1960. It has since branched out to become a “global matching platform” that offers 10 different kinds of services, including HR, education, travel, housing and (in Japan) dining.

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TrulyMadly Is A Tinder-Style Dating App That’s Built For India

TechCrunch
“Facebook is India’s Facebook and Twitter is India’s Twitter, but Tinder won’t be India’s Tinder.” That’s according to Sachin Bhatia, co-founder of TrulyMadly, an app that is aiming to take the mobile dating phenomenon fueled by the likes of Tinder and repackage it to fit with India’s social and cultural nuances. “There is still a stigma around online dating, but our mandate is to make it more cool,” Bhatia explained to TechCrunch in an interview.

Bhatia, who co-founded top online travel site MakeMyTrip, sat down with two friends — MakeMyTrip colleague Rahul Kumar and Hitesh Dhingra, founder of Flipkart owned-Letsbuy — to brainstorm areas that were “ripe for disruption” last year after he exited his company.

The trio looked over a number of areas for new opportunities but were most taken by dating, and, in particular, the lack of services catering to the 18-26 year-old demographic. TrulyMadly was created to fill that void.
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Grofers, An On-Demand Delivery Service For Indian Cities, Raises $10M From Sequoia And Tiger Global

TechCrunch
Large marketplaces like Flipkart, Snapdeal, and Amazon are benefitting as India turns into one of the world’s fastest-growing e-commerce markets, but many brick-and-mortar stores are missing out on the boom. A startup called Grofers wants to help local shops by not only providing them with a mobile platform for their inventory, but also facilitating on-demand delivery within 90 minutes.

Grofers’ business strategy is ambitious, but the startup just got a vote of confidence in the form of a $10 million series A round led by Sequoia Capital (a returning investor) and Tiger Global. This brings its total raised so far to $10.5 million.

Co-founder Albinder Dhindsa tells TechCrunch that the capital will allow the service, which is currently available in Delhi and Mumbai, to expand into more cities, with Bangalore first on the list. Grofers will also improve its technology to make it easier for merchants to upload and manage their goods.
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Business Services

Mail.ru Says Headhunter Sale in Doubt as Russia’s Recession Dampens Revenue Growth

Russian Internet group Mail.ru said on Thursday the sale of its recruitment site might not be completed after the company saw an economic downturn constrain ad spending.
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TinyOwl Lands $16M To Expand Its Food Delivery Service To 50 Cities In India

India-based food ordering service TinyOwl has raised a $16 million Series B round to fund an aggressive plan to reach 50 cities in the country, TechCrunch has learned. TinyOwl co-founder and CEO Harshvardhan Mandad disclosed details in an email to staff earlier this month. The company initially denied the round, but has since confirmed it to TechCrunch. The capital was provided by Matrix Partners and existing investors Sequoia Capital and Nexus Venture Partners. TinyOwl raised $1 million in August 2014. It added a $3 million Series A round in December.

It’s been public knowledge that TinyOwl was raising fresh funding. Last month, Mandad told VC Circle that he was in discussions over a $5 million raise. Perhaps spurred by increased competition, TinyOwl has taken on a lot more capital and raised its targets — VC Circle reported plans to expand to four new cities in the next six months — accordingly.

TinyOwl’s service allows customers to order take-out via its iOS and Android apps. It launched in March 2014 and is currently available in Mumbai only, however Mandad explained in the email that the aim is to take the service to over 50 cities in India before the end of the year. Another target, he wrote, is to pass 50,000 daily orders per day before the end of the year — that would be a big jump on its current daily order rate of 3,000-5,000.

The young startup has witnessed the competition intensify lately. Rocket Internet-backed Food Panda entered India via the acquisition of TastyKhana last year, and this month it snapped domestic rival Just East as part of a glut of global acquisitions. In addition, food discovery service Zomato — which has global reach and raised over $110 million from investors — will launch a food order service in India next month, and has allocated $50 million to build the business.
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Sparta, The Gamified Sales Platform, Gets Backing From Spotify Managers And Other Swedish Angels

TechCrunch
Sparta, the Stockholm-based startup that provides an online platform to help sales managers more easily run sales competitions, has picked up a very modest €100,000 round of funding. However, its new backers are perhaps more noteworthy.

They include Spotify’s European MD, Jonathan Forster, and Henrik Torstensson, CEO of ‘health tracker’ Lifesum and also a former member of Spotify’s management team. Previous investors Johan Attby (CEO of Fishbrain) and Pär Ribbne also participated.

After building an MVP in late 2013, Sparta launched fully in July 2014 after the team began working on the project full-time. It consists of a simple real-time leaderboard for each sales competition, and an easy way for sales reps to keep the rest of the team updated by logging achievements or exchanging sales banter. Read More

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Peer-To-Peer Rental Service NoBroker Grabs $3M To Battle India’s Property Brokers

NoBroker, a peer-to-peer property listings startup that wants to rid brokers from the rental process in India, has closed a $3 million Series A round to expand its service to more cities beyond Bombay and Bangalore.

SAIF Partners and Fulcrum Ventures participated in the round. The startup last year raised an undisclosed seed round from Saurabh Garg, an angel investor who co-founded the Four Fountains Spa chain.

The Bangalore-based startup wants to simplify the process of renting properties. It believes that a peer-to-peer model, facilitated by its site, can slice out property brokers — the kingpins who control rental deals and take a large slice of commission for matching landlord and tenant.
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