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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Weekly Featured Company: Alibaba

FoundedHeadquartersSectorEmployeesRevenueTotal InvestmentRecent Investment
1999Hangzhou, ChinaEcommerce22,072$8.4bn$2.7bn$100m
Commentary

Alibaba’s success
From a tiny startup founded by Jack Ma in his apartment in Hangzhou, China in 1999, Alibaba is now one of the biggest B2B ecommerce companies in the world. Inspired by the story of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” Jack Ma chose the name Alibaba to bring to mind the famous line “Open sesame,” an incantation that grants exclusive access to treasures. The Alibaba platform aims to open a doorway of fortune for small businesses worldwide. Due to its dominance in China’s internet and logistics space, with over 600 million subscribers and nearly $250 billion of annual transactions, it’s no surprise that Alibaba quickly rose to become one of the world’s biggest businesses. In September 2014, the company smashed records with the largest public offering in US history. Alibaba’s IPO attracted $21.8 billion, surpassing Facebook’s $16 billion in 2012. So how did Alibaba achieve this success? According to Forbes.com, Alibaba partly owes its success to Yahoo’s former CEO Jerry Yang, who invested $1 billion in the company in 2005 in exchange for 40% stake. Yahoo’s massive investment gave Alibaba the resources to boost its presence online. Included in the deal was Yahoo’s consumer marketing expertise and IP valued in the millions. Yahoo today, in exchange, enjoyed a windfall netting at tens of billions of dollars.

Pinterest acquires Kosei

Commentary
Predicting people’s behavior is big business. Facebook tracks your web activities to tailor ads to you. Google uses your search history to send you personalized ads. Now it’s Pinterest’s turn to do the same. Pinterest is beefing up its ad offerings with the acquisition of Kosei, a Palo Alto-based technology startup that makes highly personalized product recommendations to consumers. Kosei has a proprietary graph that understands over 400 million product relationships. With Kosei’s technology, Pinterest will be able improve the accuracy of its ads targeting, recommend better pins to its users, and help brands connect to the right people at the right time. In short, Pinterest will be able to predict with accuracy the products you will pin, repin or like.
You can read about Kosei’s acquisition here.

Goodbye wifi, hello LiFi?

Commentary
Most of us depend a great deal on wifi in our daily lives. Wifi allows us to access the internet, lets us work more efficiently on our computers, and connects us to our family and friends online. According to experts, wifi technology, though efficient, has one weakness: it uses radio waves. The problem with radio waves is they transmit data slowly and the signal can often be blocked by let’s say, a microwave oven in your kitchen or the walls in your house. Challenged by this problem, scientists from the University of Edinburg in Scotland led by Prof. Harald Haas have developed a faster method of wireless communication that uses light from LED bulbs instead of radio waves. Aptly called LiFi, as coined by Prof. Haas, LiFi utilises Visible Light Communication or VLC technology that allows internet connectivity using a special LED that can transmit data just like a wifi adapter. Listed as one of Time Magazine’s 50 Best Inventions of 2011, VLC technology works by attaching an Ethernet-wired device to a LED light. Instead of beaming data through the air, the data is sent via light from the LED. The LiFi signal, which looks like ordinary light, is picked up by a receiver and can instantly provide internet connectivity. PureLiFi, the startup behind LiFi technology has recently raised $2 million in a new round of funding led by London & Scottish Investment Partners, with additional funding from the Scottish Investment Bank and Old College Capital, the venture investment arm of the University of Edinburgh. You can read about the funding here.

Boom time for Lynda.com

Commentary
According to research firm Global Industry Analysts, e-learning is set to boom in 2015 with a projected value of $107 billion. While traditional face-to-face education is not going away, online learning will continue to flourish and serve as a medium to provide additional training and information. One of the startups at the forefront of online learning is Lynda.com. What makes Lynda.com popular is it offers its users access to its training library of 5,700 classes for a reasonable monthly fee. The site offers short, instructionally sound tutorials ranging from software technology, creative and design, and business classes. Users who do not have the time to go to regular classes can benefit from Lynda.com’s long list of well-designed courses. Students are free to move through each course at his or her own pace and can repeat a class over and over until the lesson is clearly understood. What sets Lynda.com apart from the likes of Coursera or Khan Academy is that they picked a niche and have become the go-to site for anyone looking for practical business instruction. Last year, Lynda.com received its $103 million Series A funding from a consortium of investors. Last week, it received $186 million at a roughly $1 billion valuation in a Series B funding round led by TPG.