News & Analysis

Alibaba to acquire $4.6 billion stake in Suning; Startups.co acquires Zirtual; Vox Media raises $200 million

- August 14, 2015 5 MIN READ

At the end of another week, Alibaba has signalled its intentions to acquire a 20 percent stake in Chinese electronics chain Suning for $4.6 billion, Startups.co rescued virtual assistant startup Zirtual, and Vox Media got a $200 million investment from NBC Universal. Closer to home, Sydney on-demand cleaning startup WHIZZ raised $2 million.


Opera acquires Bemobi

Opera Software, developer of the Opera browser, has acquired Latin American platform Bemobi, which offers users a subscription to access apps in the Android ecosystem. Lars Boilesen, CEO of Opera Software, said in a statement, “Opera has expanded rapidly in the mobile-app ecosystem, and our goal is to innovate within this space in a manner that benefits everyone. Bemobi is a natural fit for Opera in this direction. This acquisition brings an added dimension to our app-discovery services, with a new monetisation model that has proven to work well in our core markets.”

Alibaba to buy 20 percent stake in Suning for $4.6 billion

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is to acquire a 20 percent stake in Chinese electronics retailer Suning for $4.6 billion. In turn, Suning is spending almost $2.3 billion to acquire a 1.1 percent stake in Alibaba. The strategic partnership will see the two companies work together on logistics and omni-channel strategies; Suning will be opening a flagship store on Alibaba’s Tmall.com platform, and will also become a partner of Cainiao, Alibaba’s logistics affiliate. According to Alibaba, Cainiao’s delivery solutions paired with Suning’s distribution network will soon allow customers to receive products in two hours.

Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group, said, “We are seeing the integration of e-commerce with traditional commerce where consumers are able to enjoy a more engaged, omni-channel and seamless shopping experience. Customers will be able to enjoy the vast online offerings while having convenient access to physical stores. By maximising Suning’s bricks-and-mortar assets with Alibaba’s vibrant ecosystem, we are in the best position to provide the ultimate shopping experience for all our customers.”

The Carlyle Group acquires Symantec’s Veritas for $8 billion

Symantec has sold Veritas, its information management business, for $8 billion in cash to the Carlyle Group and GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund. Michael Brown, Symantec president and CEO, said in a statement, “This transaction strengthens our financial foundation, paving the way for Symantec to grow its security business and increase its lead as the world’s largest cybersecurity company.”

Startups.co acquires Zirtual

At the start of the week, virtual assistant startup Zirtual let customers and over 400 staff know that the company was likely to be shutting down. Just a few days later, one of Zirtual’s clients, Startups.co, offered to acquire the company. Zirtual founder Maren Donovan wrote in a blog post that, despite the fact that Zirtual had raised $5 million over the last 3 years, the funds weren’t enough to manage shifting workers from independent contractors to employees. Thanks to Startups.co, Zirtual’s service will be resuming on Monday.

Branch Metrics acquires ClassOwl

Mobile deep linking startup Branch Metrics has acquired education startup ClassOwl, which helps students and teachers communicate and collaborate more easily. ClassOwl’s team will be joing Branch, with Branch co-founder Mada Seghete saying in a statement that the ClassOwl team could be key to expanding deep linking to mobile markets worldwide. The ClassOwl service will continue to operate during the acquisition.


WHIZZ raises $2 million

Just six months after launching, Sydney-based WHIZZ has announced a $2 million Series B funding round. WHIZZ has secured investment from five high-profile Australian investors including Simon Rothery, CEO of Goldman Sachs; Tom Krulis, CEO of Godfreys; Alex Waislitz, Founder of Thorney Investment Group; Tony Gandel from Melbourne’s renowned Gandel family; and Allen Linz, Founder of Rebel Property Group.

Massdrop raises $40 million in Series B round

San Francisco startup Massdrop, which provides e-commerce services for communities of hobbyists and enthusiasts, has raised a $40 million Series B round led by August Capital with participation from First Round Capital, Mayfield Fund, and Cowboy Ventures. David Hornik, general partner of August Capital will be joining the company’s board. With the funding Massdrop, which now reaches 1 million users, will be looking to expand on its team of 70.

Who What Wear raises $8 million Series B round

Who What Wear, a platform giving users style tips from the runway and celebrities and then directing them to where they can buy the same items online, has closed an $8 million Series B round. Investors in the round include Amazon, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, Greycroft, and Lerer Hippeau Ventures. Who What Wear will be looking to expand into Europe and Australia.

View raises $150 million

View, the company developing ‘dynamic glass’ which can change tints in response to the sun, has raised $150 million from investors including the New Zealand Super Fund, Corning Incorporated, Madrone Capital Partners, and others. The funding will go towards manufacturing and company growth.

Vox Media raises $200 million

Online media company Vox Media has raised $200 million thanks to a strategic investment from NBC Universal which will see the two companies work together on programming, advertising, and technology. The deal values Vox at $1 billion.

Grey Orange raises $30 million

Grey Orange, an Indian company producing advanced robotics systems to automate warehouses and distribution centres, has raised $30 million in a Series V round led by Tiger Global and Blume Ventures. The funding will help the startup execute on its expansion plans.

Spotted raises $14.5 million

German dating app Spotted, which allows people to ‘subtly’ ping someone they’ve walked past in public if they want to get to know them better, has raised a $14.5 million Series A round that it will use to expand into the US, Korea, and Japan. The round was led by Media Ventures and Wolfman Holdings.

LivSpace raises $8 million

Indian interior design startup LivSpace has raised $8 million from existing investors Helion Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Jungle Ventures. The startup, which launched last December, raised a $4.6 million Series A round earlier this year. The funding will be used to expand its service around India.

Soothe raises $10.6 million

On-demand massage startup Soothe has raised $10.6 million in a round led by The Riverside Company. Soothe is active in 12 cities around the US; the funding will be used to hire new employees, further develop the platform’s technology, and expand.

Lightricks raises $10 million

Israeli photo app developer Lightricks, creator of the iOS apps Enlight and Facetune, has raised $10 million from Carmel Ventures in its first venture funding round. According to VentureBeat, the startup will be looking to double its employee headcount with the funding, as well as develop premium apps for Android.

DoubleDutch raises $45 million

DoubleDutch, a startup helping clients measure the performance of their events, has raised $45 million in a round led by KKR, with participation from existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Index Ventures, and others. The funding will go towards international expansion, sales and marketing, and acquisitions.

PokItDok raises $34 million Series B round

California startup PokItDok, which helps healthcare providers streamline transactions, has raised $34 million in a Series B round led by Lemhi Ventures. According to a statement from PokItDok, the funding will go towards business development, marketing, and technical support to better assist clients.

Infogain raises $63 million

IT services startup Infogain has raised $63 million from private equity firm Chrys Capital. The funding will help Infogain expand its offering, make acquisitions, make new hires, and expand internationally.

StyleLounge raises €2.3 million

German startup StyleLounge, which helps users compare prices for fashion and lifestyle products, has raised €2.3 million from investors including TA Ventures, Axivate Capital, and ASTUTIA Ventures. Already active in Germany, France, and the Netherlands, the startup plans to expand into five new European countries by the end of the year.

Image: Zirtual founder Maren Donovan. Source: J Carter Rinaldi