San Francisco-based Muzy has raised $4.4M led by WPP Group which joins Andreessen Horowitz. Muzy calls itself a blog platform but I wonder if users think of themselves as bloggers. It has a number of apps that allow users to easily create, for example, contests to choose which of two photos is better. It’s closer to Instragram than say Blogger.
The key number to the investment is that Muzy has 20M users. However, we don’t know how active those users are. From the looks of the stores it seems that Muzy has a lot more traction in Android than Ios.
Muzy was founded and is led by co-founder and CEO Andrew Chen CTO and Matt Rubens. Chen worked at Mohr Davidow Ventures and Revenue Science. Given his ads background and WPP it will be interesting to see how they include ads here. There currently seems to be no Reader of Muzy so that might be something to launch so they can run ads there.
Tremor Video is filing an IPO In 2011, the company lost $21M; last year, then last year narrowed that to $16.4M. The problem from our perspective is that from 2011 to 2012 its revenue increased from $90.3M to $105.2M. That’s not the kind of growth that would get an investor excited about the market or how the company is executing. Tremor points to data that shows that the online video ads market is growing at 30% per year so should they be growing at a tear if they have the best technology?
Since its founding in 2005, Tremor Video has received a total of $116M from Canaan Partners, Masthead Venture Partners, W Capital Partners, Meritech Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and General Catalyst Partners. So we understand that these investors want to see their money back but it would surprise us if public market investors didn’t see through that.
We have spent some time in the Tremor platform and it is solid. Apparently we can expect to see IPO filing from its competitors YuMe and Adap.tv which might explain why Tremor’s growth has slowed.
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Monitoring energy and water usage is a winning combination for WegoWise as the Boston-based company announced today they have raised $3 million in addition to their Series A round. Zipcar backer Boston Community Capital (BCC) provided the funding. BCC provided the original $1.9 million for the initial Series A in 2011.
WegoWise has developed a Web-based platform that definitely has the interest of landlords. Not only does the platform monitor water and energy consumption, it compares the data to similar buildings in the area and lets landlords know whether or not their building is doing better, or worse, than its peers. It also offers users ways to save money on their energy and water expenditures.
While multi-unit landlords in energy conscience states will probably geek-out once they connect with WegoWise, the interesting part about the company is that they have developed a commercial application that could allow them to compete at a much larger level.
And if they can make significant inroads into the commercial real estate market, investors might forget WegoWise was a favorite of little landlords and give them a healthy upgrade in their Series B valuation. But breaking into that market could be challenging as companies like EnerNOC (ENOC :NASDAQ) already occupy the commercial real estate energy market and offer other services, including power demand, that WegoWise doesn’t.
But it’s hard not to like the cost-conscious approach of WegoWise and hopefully they will continue to grow.
As investors anxiously await whether or not solar giant Suntech Power (STP) can restructure its debt and improve their operational efficiencies, the solar manufacturer announced preliminary results for Q4 2012 and full year results that are not going to win over new investors.
For Q4 2012, Suntech stated that shipments of photovoltaic products dropped by approximately 4 percent from Q3 2012. Considering that Q4 is usually the largest sales quarter for solar companies, a 4 percent drop from Q3 is extremely disturbing. Revenues for Q4 2012 were approximately $358 million, a decline of 8 percent from the previous quarter. Gross margin for Q4 was 0.4 percent.
Full-year revenues took an even bigger hit as the company booked approximately $1.625 billion, a 48 percent drop from the previous year. Gross margin for the year was negative 1.4 percent.
Whether or not today’s numbers will fuel the Warren Buffet takeover rumors remains to be seen, but it’s fairly obvious that the declining revenues and disappearing gross margin will not attract many new investors to this troubled stock.
And with revenue disappointment came the additional setback that Suntech is delaying its full-year 2012 results.
Suntech’s American Depository Receipts, worth an ordinary share, were off 4 percent in morning trading.
Los Angeles-based Nativo has raised $3.5M in Series A from Greycroft Partners. The company has also changed its name from PostRelease in order to cash in on the benefits of the “Native Advertising” buzzword.
Nativo is an ad network that, rather than selling banner ad units, sells in-stream placements where the ad is a post, similar to Twitter ads.
When we spend time with ad industry folks they tend to be fairly cynical of Native Advertising, even though many of them do it and tout the buzzword. They are cynical because there is nothing new here. This is advertorial and sites have been doing that for years. Nativo touts that their ads don’t interupt the visitors, but is that really the case? What is more interrupting than an ad that is posing as content. We understand why people are hungry for new ads to take the place of banner ads and we think that is what is fueling the buzz.
This is not to say that Nativo and others in this space won’t do well. We think they will. Banner CTRs don’t work for advertisers and its hard to see in-stream advertising being sold in exchanges or real time bidding any time soon, so interestested advertisers will need to work through a network like Nativo.
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Centzy provides local data on shops similar to Yelp or Google local listings. But the company thinks it has niche data that is not provided by those services. Some services like salons or nail services don’t list prices on Yelp. They also promote that the have hours on businesses, but that does seem like data that is widely available. They have reviews but those are from Yelp. Centzy is currently available in a dozen cities.
It seems that rather than try to license this content, Centzy’s model is to try to become a destination site. Is there enough value here for a destination site. Today our feeling is no. We wouldn’t go to Centzy to review local services just because they have pricing. But it seems that Centzy wants to try to negotiate deals with local services. If we could get better deals then yes it would make sense.
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Fuel cells, despite their reliance on natural gas, still remain a part of the future for clean energy development. And despite the environmental hazards associated with fracking, money is still pouring into these companies as ClearEdge announced today they have raised $36 million in equity financing.
The Hillsborough, Oregon-based company states they will be using the cash to server current customers, support manufacturing operations, rapidly expand sales activities.
But with their recent purchase of the much larger UTC Power, a former subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation, the company probably needs a cash infusion to replenish its coffers. Last week ClearEdge released 39 percent of its employees, most of whom were associated with UTC Power.
In August 2011 ClearEdge made headlines by announcing a $73.5 million Series E round that was led by new investor Artis Capital Management and also included Austrian-based Güssing Renewable Energy; Southern California Gas Company (SRE :NYSE), and existing investor Kohlberg Ventures. The Series E round brought the company’s venture capital total to around $100 million.
Still, ClearEdge is far short of the $400 million rival fuel cell manufacturer Bloom Energy has raised but thanks to its recent acquisition, it now has the products to compete with them.