Elevation Partners Backs Palm with Another $100m

palm metueIn June of 2007, private equity firm Elevation Partners announced they were committing $325 million and several experts, including iPod guru Jon Rubinstein, to turn Palm’s floundering ship around.  Palm’s CEO Ed Colligan predicted it would take about 18 months to chart the course.  Time’s about up.  It’s now been a year and half.  18 months, and many bad earnings cycles (including consecutive losses), have passed and the company’s inching up on the release of a new smartphone platform (dubbed “Nova”). With losses mounting, it’s an all or nothing gamble. A big move to redefine the brand and reclaim prominence.  Some question whether, in a down market, it will be enough even if Palm scores perfect. Some of the same wonder if it is too little too late to save the brand and restore the company. Palm’s biggest private investors aren’t among them.  Today, Elevation Partners committed another $100m.

Elevation’s one hundred million will buy them voting rights equal to about 11%.  Combined with their prior purchase, it will give the private equity firm 38% of Palm’s outstanding vote (on a converted basis). 

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More Cash for Sezmi

sezmi financingRaising money in a tightening venture climate can depend on who you know as much as what you’re company is doing.  Based on these factors, set top box developer Sezmi may be in a pretty good place.    The company aiming to potentially reshape television distribution counts among its board members a past president of the National Venture Capital Association, a prior president of Bell Labs and another executive whose resume credits include roles as CEO of NBC and Sony BMG music.

According to regulatory filings reported at PEHub, since August, the company has drawn $28m out of a possible $50m in Series C financing.  Prior investors including Morgenthaler Ventures and Omni Capital Group both participated.

UPDATE Nov. 25: Sezmi has confirmed the financing and issued a press release. A total of $33m was reported. Click to Read More

Gaming Gold: Trion World Network Raises $70m

trion-financing-c.jpgBe it a bubble or a breakthrough, investors are sure loving games. Not two weeks ago, Seattle based Big Fish Games, a maker of downloadable games, drew down an $83m round; a number likely big enough to put them on the podium for the largest gaming venture financing of all time.  Today, Redwood City, CA based Trion World Network, a “server based” game developer and publishing platform company, turned in a medal worthy performance of their own.

In a series C round, Trion raised $70m. 

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Venture Wrap Up: Challenge Games and WEBook

fundedFrom the venture wires, two startups closed new financings this week: Austin, Texas based game company, Challenge Games, and Bethesda, Maryland based online book publishing community WEbook.

Challenge Games
Based in Austin, Challenge Games was founded in 2006 with the aim of building short-form (playable in short term increments) multiplayer games.  To date, the company has launched two free browser based games: Duels (released Aug. 07) and Baseball Boss (released July ’08). 

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Venture Report: $32m for Miniweb

miniweb financingAbout year and a half to two years ago, the big money was going into Internet video platform services.  One after another companies hoping to rival YouTube in content aggregation, or IPTV services dreaming of better content delivery, closed venture rounds in excess of ten and twenty million dollars.  Today, the hot zone for massive venture investment may be interactivity. 

In late August, San Mateo based Conviva secured $20m for their interactive live broadcast platform.    Today, UK based Miniweb announced the closing of a $32m round.

Miniweb was founded in 2007, the result of a management buyout (“MBO”) of select interactive assets from British TV service BskyB Click to Read More

No Reason to Question Insight

no questionSometimes scandal lingers just below the surface.  Dig a little, or a lot, and you can uncover a trove of sordid detail.  Other times, no matter how much you dig, there’s just no news.  No matter how hard you look, even behind the specter of impropriety, there’s nothing to report. 

Late Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal ran a story looking into tips about alleged fiduciary failures at venture firm Insight Venture Partners (IVP).  At first glance, it had all the makings of real trouble: an anonymous tipster, a substantial return on investment, and an apparent conflict of interest too.  On closer inspection, however, looks are deceiving.

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Venture Round Up: Conviva and Move Networks

Two companies addressing two different aspects of the online video marketplace – live content interactivity and broader, high quality video distribution – both announced financing news Monday.  For San Mateo based Conviva, it was a $20m Series B Financing.  For Utah based Move Networks, it was news that Microsoft was joining prior Series C investors with an undisclosed strategic investment.


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