April Venture Round Up: Kongregate Turbine and MOG

fresh fundingWhile Kleiner Perkins is out raising a 13th fund, two gaming companies and one music discovery engine closed out April with fresh rounds of funding.

TURBINE:  Leading the April rounds was game publisher Turbine.  The Westwood, Massachusetts based game developer closed on a massive Series C to fuel their Massively Multi-Player Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) business.  According to regulatory filings, the company took an installment of $25million out of a possible $40m in the round. Granite Global Ventures led the financing and took a seat on the board to represent the Series C stockholders.  Prior investors Highland Capital, Polaris, Tudor Ventures and Columbia Capital all participated as well.

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Blockbuster TV: Joining Channel X?

bbi joining channel xIn efforts to turn around the long struggling company, Blockbuster, under the leadership of Jim Keyes, has gotten experimental.   They’ve been testing rental kiosks, exploring cellular downloads, and evaluating concept stores.  They’ve added managerial transparency.  The company has even gone public with an ill received interest in acquiring Circuit City to create a new hybrid rental retail chain.   Now, in the latest move from Keyes’ Frankenstein lab, Blockbuster is reportedly eyeing TV distribution too.

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iPhones to Canada. Subsidies from AT&T in the U.S.?

iphone canadaSurf Apple’s Canadian website and conspicuously missing is any link for the iPhone.  The same void can be found in Apple’s four retail outposts north of the border too.   If you’re a Canadian, it’s not that you can’t get (or use) the phone, but absent a carrier agreement, there’s been no service provider to “officially” unlock it.  Now that’s soon to change.

Canadian wireless provider Rogers Wireless confirmed today they’ve reached a deal.  In an official statement they said they are, “thrilled to announce that we have a deal with Apple to bring the iPhone to Canada later this year.”

That Rogers won the deal is little surprise.  They’re the only cellular carrier in Canada with a GSM network capable of supporting the platform (either with EDGE or in a future 3G model).  In fact, the lack of competition for Canadian airwaves, and the resultant high prices that flourished for data services, has widely been blamed as the reason for the phone’s slow migration.   It was only this past February that Rogers began offering a reasonably priced unlimited data plan on their network.

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CBS Earnings Beat Street

cbs earns calcsUnlike rivals NBC (part of GE), ABC (part of Disney), or Fox (part of News Corp), TV Network CBS lacks the insurance and financial cover that comes from being part of a larger, more diversified conglomerate.   As a standalone network, nearly two thirds of the company’s revenues come from advertising.

This morning CBS reported their earnings.  Despite the exposure to a fluctuating ad industry, and despite challenges levied by the writers’ strike, the numbers proved mostly positive.   Total quarterly revenues were up 14% to $3.65 billion during the first quarter.   Overall, earnings came in at $244.3m or 36cents per share, a positive gain over 28cents per share earned during the same period last year.  On an adjusted basis, the EPS were 40 cents.

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Xbox Bargains: Microsoft Slashes Prices Internationally

xbox 360 salesSince inching into the black, Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices division has continued a steady roll of progress on the strength of the Xbox 360 gaming platform.  Since its 2005 launch more than 19 million consoles have sold helping to make the entertainment and devices division the company’s fastest growing business unit.  To further drive growth and to spur wider international adoption, the company is cutting prices in select international markets.

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Inside Apple and PA Semi Part 1: The Micro Look

PA Semi Last week, Apple made a tiny debit from their enormous cash reserves to buy small semi conductor design firm PA Semi.  At approximately $278m, the deal barely shifts the multi billion dollar cash account on the balance sheet; still it has left many analysts, watchers and writers asking questions.  The first and most obvious is “why?” Why did a company that favors buying companies in the early stages of development buy a company with an established customer list? And why given Apples’ focus and success with consumer-focused products choose to invest in the challenging and cyclical semiconductor industry?

Another more macro set of questions (in a companion post to this article) query whether the deal represents a possible shift in Apple’s acquisition policies.  Was this the start of a more acquisition friendly Apple; one interested in taking advantage of weaknesses in the current financial markets to fortify underlying tech assets?

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Inside Apple and PA Semi Part 2: The Macro Perspective

apple m and aLooking at Apple’s purchase of Palo Alto Semiconductor (PA Semi) opened the door to two core questions.  One, the micro look, questioned what Apple’s specific interests in the company were.   Why did they make the purchase?   Part 1 of this two part article series delved into that question in detail.  The second question is a recurring issue and more macro in focus: does this small scale purchase give any indication of a change in Apple’s M&A strategy? 

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