Tech-Internet M&A and Investment Database

Be kept informed of the latest tech deals. Get up-to-the-minute analysis about the day’s most interesting fundings and exits. Internet DealBook is a database that tracks the latest angel, VC, private-equity investment and M&A activities across Internet- and technology-related private companies all around the world.

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Carl Icahn invests in Lyft

Commentary
Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn has invested $100 million in ride-sharing startup Lyft. Icahn, known for investing in publicly-listed companies such as Apple, Netflix, and Ebay/PayPal, and then pressuring these companies to make radical changes to boost their value, believes that Lyft has a lot of potential for growth despite the presence of Uber in the market. Lyft raised $150 million at this funding round at a $2.5 billion valuation. The other $50 million investment came from anonymous sources. While other companies may cringe at the thought of Icahn being on board, Lyft executives are quite bullish. The new investment will allow them to broaden Lyft’s presence in the United States and innovate existing products. Also, being backed by Icahn, one of the most influential and well-connected investors in the world, will add a sense of legitimacy to Lyft that could help the company attract more funding in the future.

Weekly Featured Company: Zenefits

FoundedHeadquartersSectorEmployeesRevenueTotal InvestmentRecent Investment
2013San FranciscoSoftware & Services1,000$120M$583.6M$500M
Commentary

Disrupting HR

Most small companies do away with HR departments. After all, money is tight and the managers themselves are expected to do the hiring and firing, while the accountant takes care of the payroll and benefits. While this process may work for some businesses, the truth is, managing human resources is one of the more tedious aspects of running a small business and the work itself can be frustrating to non-HR managers.

Zenefits, a San Franciso-based SaaS startup, is making the entire HR process a whole lot easier and cheaper, too. Dubbed by Forbes the hottest startup of 2014, Zenefits offers free, cloud-based HR software to small businesses. So how did Zenefits beat the likes of Uber and Airbnb to become Forbes’ 2014 hottest startup? What makes Zenefits stand out is its awesome business model. By giving away a free HR cloud software to companies and then contracting to become the insurance broker of record for these companies, Zenefits earns hefty commissions from their partner insurance firms. This business model has been so effective that Zenefits has amassed more that 10,000 companies and announced a projected annually recurring revenue of $100 million over the next year. The company also recently raised $500 million at a $4.5 billion valuation.

Warby Parker: the next IPO star

Commentary
Years ago, billion-dollar tech startups were considered the stuff of myth. These so-called tech “unicorns” were regarded as rare and highly exclusive. Today, however, the tech industry is teeming with them. Thanks to generous funding from private investors, companies like Uber, Airbnb, Dropbox, Spotify, Snapchat and Pinterest have all sprinted towards “unicorn” status and definitely created an impact on the business status quo. The latest startup to join this elite group is Warby Parker. Only five years old, the online and offline retailer of fashionable eyewear, is now reportedly worth $1.2 billion, based on a recent funding round of $100 million. The funding made Warby Parker one of the few ecommerce startups in the US to grow beyond a $1 billion valuation. Thanks to a very effective business model: Find a premium product, get rid of the middle man and sell the product online at an affordable price, Warby Parker has made huge inroads on sales because of its attractive pricing. It’s also one of the most successful online brands to open physical retail stores. The company now has 12 stores across the US. According to experts, the $1 billion valuation has placed the company on an IPO timetable and it could very well be New York’s next big IPO.

Ensogo to dominate Southeast Asia

Commentary
Ensogo is on a roll. Last March, the Southeast Asian ecommerce giant raised $15.5 million from Ward Ferry Management of Hong Kong and Vipshop, China’s leading online discount retailer. Just last week, the company announced that it has raised another $29.3 million from a consortium of Australian and Asian institutional investors as well as Vipshop, which contributed $2.4 million to the funding round. As part of the deal, Vipshop now holds a 10% stake in the company. So what does this mean for Ensogo’s future? With its strategic partnership with Vipshop, Ensogo now has access to Vipshop’s vast inventory of low-cost Chinese products and will also benefit from the Chinese retailer’s proven expertise in the areas of logistics, merchandising, technology, marketing and user acquisition, which impressively allowed it to grow its revenue from $32 million in 2010 to $3.77 billion in 2014. With the help of Vipshop, Ensogo can further strengthen its business throughout Southeast Asia and continue its upward trajectory.