Saban Capital Adds Digital Media Venture Focus

saban vcSand Hill Road in Silicon Valley remains ground zero for venture capital investment.  In 2007 Silicon Valley outpaced its closest geographic competitor by a factor of nearly three to one (via PWC Moneytree).  Still, even with a smaller scale Hollywood Blvd. is getting busier, generating more investment traffic, and building buzz.  Saban Capital Group is the latest to hang up a V.C. shingle to address the SoCal market.

First reported in the Hollywood Reporter, Haim Saban’s Saban Capital Group (SCG) is expanding from a focus on broad, large, traditional private equity deals to now also include more venture oriented digital media component in their portfolio mix.

Historically, SCG has been known for large media transactions. Haim Saban himself was behind Fox Family Worldwide which News Corp sold to Disney for $5.2b in 2001. Click to Read More

$100m KPCB iPhone iFund: Shocking or Marketing?

kpcb ifundOne hundred million dollars buys a lot of iPhones, probably about two hundred and fifty thousand or so.  A hundred million also buy a lot of iPhone software development.  Just how much will be up to Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers (KPCB).  As part of Apple’s iPhone Road Map Day on Thursday the Sand Hill Road venture capital firm took the stage to announce the organization of a $100m investment initiative earmarked for developing applications and services for use with the phone.

$100m is a lot of money.  Pledging it all to software and services built around a single product sounds significant.  But while there is no question it is a strong endorsement of the iPhone’s potential, beneath the headlines the allocation may be less significant than it seems.  It comes down how venture funds work and a distinction in phrasing between a fund and a focus area.  

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More Talent Agent VCs: William Morris to partner with Accel

WMA venture fundHollywood studios fight and follow each other in the search for their next blockbuster movies so it probably  should come as no surprise that the same “follow the leader”  “anything you can do I can do better,” mentality applies to the talent agencies representing  those in  the films.  And that’s exactly what’s happening.   Like one shotgun wedding after another, or the line waiting outside the Elvis Wedding chapel in Vegas, pairs keep forming between venture capitalists and talent managers.

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Social News Site Mixx Raises $2m

mixx series bThanks to popular websites like Digg, Propeller (rebranded from Netscape in September) and Reddit, the idea of crowd-sourced, user submitted, news sites have become a staple of the “Web 2.0” Internet-era.   Mixx, a later entrant to the market that launched in October, has reportedly just closed a $2m financing led by prior investor Intersouth Partners.

It’s unclear if the round is formally a Series B or an extension of their prior A round financing.

Mixx is based out of Maclean, Virginia.  It was founded by Chris McGill, the former General Manager of Yahoo News and former VP of Strategy for USA Today.   They initially raised $1.5m from Intersouth.   A small equity investment was also sold to the LA Times as part of a larger syndication and partnership struck in early December.

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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. Click to Read More

$29.5m for and Automattic

automattic financingTwo million bloggers reaching more than 114million unique visitors and now, $29.5m in cash.  That’s the amount of money software company Automattic, the developer behind the popular open source blogging platform and the hosted community has raised in a Series B financing.

The round was led by existing investors Polaris Venture Partners, True Ventures and Radar Partners.  The New York Times, which runs a number of blogs on the software, also invested.

Automattic is best known for developing the Wordpress publishing platform Click to Read More

Game Publisher Outspark Raises $11m in Series B

outspark fundedSan Francisco based Outspark, a publisher of online community driven games announced the closing of sizable $11m Series B Financing Thursday.  China’s largest Internet portal and instant messaging operator Tencent Holdings led the round. Series A investors DCM (formerly Doll Capital Management) and Altos Ventures also participated. DCM has invested in other gaming co’s recently, including Trion World Network.

Outspark was founded in 2006 by CEO Susan Choe.  Choe was formerly COO of NHN USA and also International Director of Yahoo Games.  Outspark’s studio services are run by Nick Foster, former CTO of Starz Media and former head of global FX at DreamWorks Animation.

Outspark is purely a publisher and game operator.  They do not develop games themselves.  Their model is centered on licensing launched games from international markets (currently China and Korea) and localizing them for redistribution in western markets.

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