Tech-Internet M&A and Investment Database

Internet DealBook is a global database that tracks angel, VC, and private-equity investment and M&A activity across Internet- and technology-related private companies.

Microsoft’s got game

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The popular game Minecraft, which started as a small, open-world indie game, has since grown into a highly successful franchise. Created by Swedish programmer Markus ‘Notch’ Persson in 2009, Minecraft is now a global phenomenon that has spawned Lego sets, books, clothes, toys, accessories and other merchandise. Since it started in 2009, it’s sold more than 50 million copies across all gaming platforms, including PC, consoles and mobile. The game also remains one of the top sellers for Xbox 360 and Xbox Live. Its commercial success and wide fan base has led Microsoft to purchase the game and its parent company Mojang for $2.5 billlion. With the acquisition, Microsoft will be able to expand its reach to the youth market, which is a relatively untapped demographic for the company. Analysts are predicting that this could be one of the smartest moves Microsoft has ever made.

Read about the acquisition here.

Rakuten’s bold ambition

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Rakuten is a household name in Japan. They’re into ecommerce, online travel, auctions, ebooks, banking and securities, as well as baseball as owners of the Rakuten Eagles. Using their scale, they’ve created an ecosystem that rewards members each time they patronise a Rakuten service. It is said that 60% of Japan’s population are members of Rakuten. At present, the internet juggernaut operates in more than eighteen countries, including the US.

Recently, Rakuten has continued to ramp their M&A efforts, acquiring Viber and investing in Pinterest. With a particular love of ecommerce, they’ve also snapped up businesses like France’s Priceminister, Brazil’s Ikeda, Germany’s Tradoria, UK’s Play.com, Canada’s e-book reader Kobo, Singapore’s Carousell, Thailand’s Tarad.com, the US-based product launch platform the Daily Grommet, the online shopping app Slice, Buy.com, Webgistix, and recently Ebates for a whopping $1 billion. The company also holds significant investments in Russia’s Ozon.ru and US-based AHAlife.com. Analysts feel that Rakuten’s acquisition spree underlines the company’s ambition to be the biggest ecommerce player in the world and topple Amazon. If Rakuten are to be a competitive threat to Amazon, they’ll need to keep acquiring share in the US. Clearly, with eighteen acquisitions to date and huge investments in other ecommerce companies, Rakuten is fast becoming the Japanese force to be reckoned with globally.

Are you ready for the connected home?

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We may not be living like the Jetsons just yet, but there’s no denying that the connected home is fast becoming a reality. The battle for share in the connected home is in full swing and tech companies everywhere are scrambling to produce connected gizmos and gadgets like never before. Google’s Nest Labs has a “learning” thermostat that can program itself to adjust the temperature of the house according to the weather, time of day and your daily habits. Philips has its Hue Connected Bulb that allows you to change the colors of your light bulbs and control them from your phone. The Kwikset Kevo home lock will lock and unlock doors with the mere touch of a finger. There’s also the Sleep Number x12 Bed that can monitor your breathing, movement and heart rate and can assess the quality of your sleep. With so many companies vying for the keys to your house, the big question is, how many independent brains can one house support? Last week, a company called Savant Systems, put others on notice by taking $90 million from private equity firm KKR & Co LLP. Savant offers top-of-the-line home automation systems in some of the wealthiest homes in America. Google has shown intent in this space, and we know that they like owning the initial touch point and central control in most technology solutions (advertising, search, email and mobile). Is it a matter of time until they expand beyond the thermostat to own the centralised controls of the connect home?

Google’s loss is Amazon’s gain

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Google’s loss is Amazon’s gain

In a surprise move last week, Amazon scooped up and acquired the massively popular video gaming platform Twitch for $970 million in cash. Just a few months ago, everyone thought that Google, who dangled $1 billion dollars to buy the company, would acquire Twitch. The deal fell through due to Google’s concern about potential antitrust issues that could come with the acquisition.

So why does a retailer like Amazon want a gaming company like Twitch? For revenue and member-base. Twitch is a potential revenue powerhouse. It has 55 million monthly users, with 58% of these users spending more than 20 hours a week on the website. In February, it ranked fourth in peak Internet traffic in the U.S., after Netflix, Google, and Apple, respectively. Twitch will fortify Amazon Games and give Amazon access to advertise and sell to millions of people in the ever expanding, highly engaged and increasingly lucrative gaming community.

The new and improved GoDaddy

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The new and improved GoDaddy

GoDaddy, the controversial domain registrar known for its provocative Super Bowl TV ads, is turning over a new leaf. Blake Irving (formerly Chief Product Officer at Yahoo) has come on board as CEO since the private equity consortium acquired the business in 2011. Apart from getting rid of the usual scantily clad women in its commercials, GoDaddy has further positioned itself as a full-service marketing platform for SMBs and has expanded its product offerings. It has acquired Outright, a cloud-based financial management firm; M.dot, a mobile website development tool; Afternic, a domain marketplace; Locu, a tool that helps SMBs manage across multiple platforms; Ronin, an online invoice company; Media Temple, a premium domain hosting and website services company; and recently, Mad Mini, an email service for small businesses.

With an upcoming IPO and revenue of $329 million in the first quarter of 2014, GoDaddy seems intent on adding a few more strings to their metaphorical bow.