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Freshly Funded: January Venture Recap

cashThe second half of January proved fruitful for a number of startups seeking capital.  5, with focuses ranging from gaming to social networking, mark this issue of the venture roundup:

•IGA Worldwide
New York based IGA is one of the larger independent companies running an in-game advertising network.  On January 24th, they announced the closing on an additional installment of $5m in funding for their Series B round.   Translink Capital, ITOCHU and Presidio STX, a subsidiary of Sumitomo Corp, provided the funds.

IGA previously took $25m in Series B financing last July. That initial round included funding from GE/NBC Universal’s Peacock Equity Fund and KTB Ventures.

IGA’s core business is providing both dynamic ad streams, similar to internet banners, and static ad placements within video games.  They estimate the market will reach $670m this year.

Their most recent deal partners them with Electronic Arts to provide brand partnerships for EA’s upcoming title: Burnout Paradise. (EA has partnered with Massive Inc on other titles)

Notable advertisers who have worked with  IGA so far include: 20th Century Fox, Ben Sherman, Discovery, FHM, Hawaiian Airlines, Intel, Jeep, MTV, and T-Mobile.

IGA competes against similar ad services from Microsoft (via subsidiary Massive Inc.), Google (via AdScape), and upcoming efforts from Sony.

IGA has an operational partnership with NBC Universal.

Details on valuation or use of proceeds were not provided.

•Hi5 Networks
San Francisco, hi5 is operates a global social network that competes with sites like Facebook, MySpace and Bebo. 
On the 29th, the company reported the closing of a $15m debt financing led by Hercules Technology Growth Capital.

Hi5 was launched in 2003 and though their traffic ranks don’t put them in the top 10 in the US market, they are ranked by Alexa as a global top 10 website.   The company is especially strong is South America. Thy claim more than 70m global registered users with reach to 250 counties. 

One of HI5’s principal strengths has been localization; providing not just translated pages but unique content for the different geographies their audience is in. 

Many large social networks have extremely high hosting and server expenses to handle the traffic load generated by their global audience.  Notable in this case is that the money was raised in a debt financing as opposed to a venture round.  This financing also follows relatively closely on the heels of previous funding. (HI5 previously closed a $20m round led by Mohr Davidow in July). 

The combined facts suggest, they’re either burning through capital extremely quickly or are concerned about the future funding climate and decided to try and stockpile as much of a cash reserve as they could afford.

•7 Digital
UK digital music and media shop  7Digital announced  January 28th they’d closed an $8.5m (L4.25) led by Sutton Place Managers.  Prior investor Balderton Capital (previously called Benchmark Europe) also invested.

7Digital sells music, movies and video to customers in German, Ireland and the U.K.  They also provide white label digital music stores and store management services for other companies.   Bebo,, ITV and MTV are clients.

Some of the company’s music offerings are DRM-Free (they signed a deal with EMI in June). They also recently signed licensing deals with Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones. Currently the total catalog on the site includes about 3.5m songs

Sutton Place’s Patrick Maxwell will take a seat on the company’s board of directors as part of the deal.  (Sutton Place Managers, though not a widely known name, includes Mark Getty of Getty Images fame among its principals).

7Digital says proceeds will fuel expansion into Europe and the U.S.

•C3L3B Digital
C3L3B Digital (pronounced "Celeb") is a Simi Valley, CA based developer of casual multiplayer online games.  PE Hub reported January 29th they’d raised $3 to $4m from BlueRun Ventures.

Currently C3L3B is in “stealth mode” and little has been disclosed about their in development projects. 

One of the company’s apparent founders is Michael Steele.   Steele was most recently the Vice President & General Manager, Live Game Services at Emergent Game Technologies.  Prior to that he was also Executive Producer of the Matrix Online at Ubisoft’s online division.

Joey Carson, former head of reality TV production house Bunim Murray Productions (producer of MTV’s The Real World Series) , and former TV Guide Network producer Seth Bedell are also associated with the company.

(BlueRun also funded mobile gaming company Vollee in September)

•Visible Measures
Boston based Visible Measures raised $13.5m in a series B financing led by Mohr Davidow.  Previous investor General Catalyst Partners also invested.

Founded in 2005, the company offers software tools that measure how Internet video is consumed and distributed.   They sell these behavioral analysis tools to web publishers and advertisers.

Visible Measures principle product is called VisibleSuite.  The platform measures not only how audiences find video, but what they do with it.  In concept, it is similar to a web-traffic monitor or a stats package a website administrator might use to analyze traffic. It goes into the video stream (via plugin) and records details like how long a video sequence is watched, where a viewer paused, rewinded and so on.

Visible Measures raised $5m from General Catalyst partners in early 2007. In 2006, angel investors, including MIT Entrepreneurship Center chairman Edward Roberts, invested $800,000 in the company.


Related Articles
Venture Round Up: December 2007
Hi5 Closes $20m Round
Sony Gets into In Game Advertising
NBC and Peacock Equity Move to In-Game Advertising
Venture Roundup: November 2007
All Venture News covered in the Metue Venture Finance Category

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