The markets may be volatile and concerned but the VC industry is chugging ahead. There have been 4 IPO’s and 4 $100m-plus M&A exits for portfolio companies at Accel Ventures this year. Buoyed by that success, the firm just closed their tenth fund with $520m available for investment. That total, while still below the $950m raised in 2000, is up a handsome 30% over prior fund Accel IX (IX closed with $400m in 2004).
Accel hasn’t been involved in any new digital media or entertainment related deals the past couple weeks, but other firms have committed plenty of capital. Takkle, Vivox and Vobile are among the recipients. On the other hand, AmeriTV, a supposed IPTV company that sounds like Joost, apparently didn’t receive capital despite a press release to the contrary. AmeriTV’s financing, possibly even the existence of the company, appear to have been a hoax that tripped up a few news sites that didn’t check on their facts.
Here’s more on the hoax and the a round up of deals recently announced or closed:
Based in Framingham, Massachusetts Vivox raised $7.8m in a Series B Round. The company was founded in 2005 to provide voice services, notably voice chat, for virtual environments and massively multi player online gaming. Linden Labs, the create of Second Life and IBM are among their clients. Benchmark Capital led the round. Canaan Partners and Grandbanks Capital also contributed. Mitch Lasky from Benchmark will join the board. Proceeds are for general operations including product development and sales. The total funding to date, including the B round, is $13.8m (company press release)
Santa Clara based Vobile is making content management services for online video. More specifically, their VideoDNA product is focused on digital fingerprinting technologies to help identify and potential track video content as part of anti-piracy initiatives. They’ll compete against Audible Magic, among others. New capital was provided by Disney’s Steamboat Ventures and AT&T. NBC may have also participated, along with individual investors including Brian Mulligan, the former chairman of Fox TV. The toal amount of the round is unclear but reports are of numbers between $5 and $10m. AT&T is currently testing Vobile’s technology
In other news, Vobile also named Gideon Yu to their board of directors. Yu is currently the CFO at Facebook and previously held the same role at YouTube through the Google acquisition. Other board members include Jarl Mohn, the former EVP of MTV and VH1, Nicholas Moore, former chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers and Brian Mulligan, the former Chairman of Fox TV and Co-Chair of Universal Pictures.
Also New York based, Takkle is shooting to be a destination social network for high school sports, from participant to fan. Wasserman Media Group (through WMG Investments) and Greycroft Partners led the $7m Series A round. The expectation is the site will expand to cover a wider scope of amateur sports. CEO David Birnbaum notes, “[Takkle is] initially targeting the high school market but will soon grow the TAKKLE network to encompass all amateur athletics – intramural, club, office league, youth, and fantasy – and create uniquely targeted marketing opportunities for our partners and sponsors.”
•HD AmeriTV (Hoax?)
The deal that wasn’t? AmerTV was the subject of a press release announcing a substantial $45m round. A number of reputable news outlets that focus on Venture Deal news including Thompson’s PE Hub, DMW Media and Venture Beat ran stories on the release Monday.Other’s, more vigilant in checking facts, raised flags not the least of which was to question why a reported three year old company seems to have no Internet footprint. Additionally, The press release reported the company was profitable with earnings above $20m. For an IPTV platform company, that was dubious too.
Details are scarce, but AmeriTV looks to be a hoax. The press release has been pulled from the original posting sites (it was originally hosted on www.prleap.com. For now, it is still available here reprinted on PEHub).
In an interesting bit of reporting, PaidContent.org has further noted a comparison between IPTV company Joost’s financing press release from last spring show a surprising amount of word for word duplication and the duplication goes beyond simply using a boilerplate form. In one example, full paragraph quotations from executives at the respective companies are virtually identical.