All posts in “M&A”

Cluep, a Canadian startup that raised just $500k, acquired for $40M

Everyone loves a tale of a bootstrapped startup founder’s journey to an eight-figure exit.

The team at Toronto-based Cluep have a good one.

The founders of the adtech startup raised less than $500,000 from angel investors before selling their company to Impact Group for $40 million this week.

Founded in 2012, Karan Walia, Sobi Walia and Anton Mamonov were just 21, 17 and 16 years old, respectively, when they started the digital advertising platform, which uses artificial intelligence to help brands connect and engage with people based on what they are sharing, how they are feeling and the places they’ve been.

They, being teenagers, struggled initially to get the company off the ground. At one point, the trio hacked into computers at a university in Toronto to train the neural networks on large amounts of data sets because they didn’t have enough money to buy their own tech. On a shoe-string budget, they would split meals at Popeyes to get by.

“No one wanted to give us money at that time so we had to live off of my student loans,” Walia told TechCrunch . “We did pretty much everything, whether it was programming and building the product, or going out and selling. I was our first sales rep and I was pretty bad early on but I learned.”

Ultimately, Cluep was able to raise enough from angels to pay themselves a salary, hire a few engineers and sales representatives, and move into an actual office. From that point, their revenue began growing significantly YoY.

  • 2015: $2 million CAD in revenue
  • 2016: $6 million CAD in revenue
  • 2017: $14.5 million CAD in revenue
  • 2018: On track to bring in ~$30 million CAD

They fielded offers from VCs toward the end of 2015 and considered raising a proper Series A round of capital, but ultimately decided staying independent would lead to the best exit.

“This way allowed us to basically maintain control and exit on our terms,” Walia said.

Impact Group, a Boise, Idaho-based grocery sales and marketing agency, will operate Cluep independently.

iHeartMedia is acquiring HowStuffWorks

iHeartMedia has agreed to acquire Stuff Media, the company that owns the HowStuffWorks podcasting business.

The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, but both the Wall Street Journal and Variety are reporting that the acquisition price was $55 million.

According to the announcement, Stuff Media podcasts will retain their branding and the organization will remain headquartered in Atlanta, while President and CEO Conal Byrne joins iHeartMedia as the head of its podcasting division.

HowStuffWorks was originally founded in 1998 and had a number of owners before spinning out as an independent company and raising a $15 million Series A last year. In recent years, its focus has shifted from explainer articles and videos to podcasts, and in fact, it says those podcasts receive more than 61 million downloads and streams each month, with Stuff You Should Know surpassing 500 million downloads this year.

iHeartMedia, meanwhile, filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. (The media company was formerly known as Clear Channel.) Prior to announcing the acquisition, it was already working with   Stuff Media on its true crime podcast Atlanta Monster.

“Stuff Media is the original trailblazer of the podcasting industry, and we’ve been impressed by its ability to grow a massive, loyal audience over the past decade, led by a strong, experienced and cohesive management team, who we welcome to iHeartMedia,”  said iHeartMedia’s chairman and CEO Bob Pittman in the announcement. “This strategic acquisition will pair Stuff Media’s wildly popular content and strong creative capabilities with iHeartMedia’s extensive resources and massive scale through our digital platforms, social reach and broadcast radio stations, introducing podcasts to the vast majority of the country and offering even more unique opportunities for advertisers to reach their consumers.”

Global M&A activity is flat so far in 2018

U.S. tech companies continue to be the most active acquirers in the world, says a new report from Crunchbase and Mind the Bridge

The pair crunched data on 22,000 startup exits since 2010, recording about 4,200 so far this year. U.S. companies, though less active this year than last, have acquired approximately 2x more startups than their European counterparts.

Overall, 2018 is a flat year for M&A activity, despite a record-setting 2017. 

Here are a few key takeaways from the report, which you can read in full here.

  • There was a slight decrease in activity in the U.S., but Europe has really pulled back. European companies have completed 11 percent fewer M&A deals YoY. 
  • U.S. and European companies continue to make up the bulk of M&A deals. More than three-quarters of the transactions and the money spent involved startups from North America and Europe.
  • Twenty-two of the top 30 world acquirers are from the U.S., which remains the most active acquirer of European startups, though Europe is closing the gap.
  • Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft are the world’s most active acquirers.
  • The most active European acquirer is Paris-based Publicis Groupe, which is 20th on the list of top global acquirers. That’s a step up from last year, when the most active European acquirer was Germany’s SAP — 33rd on the list.
  • European companies are increasingly buying more of their European counterparts. This year, 81 percent of European acquisitions were domestic versus 75 percent last year.
  • Of the startups that exited, 55 percent were between five and 15 years old and had raised between $10 million and $100 million.

Branch pairs up with TUNE to create a supersized marketing and measurement platform

Branch announced today that it has acquired TUNE‘s attribution analytics team and business, a part of the SaaS platform that focuses on optimizing and accurately attributing ad spend. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

TUNE, a Seattle-based startup founded in 2009, helps ad platforms tie marketing investments to measurable outcomes. 

Backed by Android co-founder Andy Rubin’s Playground Ventures, Branch creates links between websites and mobile apps, called deep links. The deal will help the company, which supports 40,000 apps with roughly 3 billion monthly users, expand its portfolio of linking and attribution analytics tools to become the ultimate marketing and measurement platform for businesses.

“TUNE has always been a steward of Branch’s core values, especially when it comes to putting user experience and privacy first,” Branch CEO Alex Austin said in a statement. “Combining TUNE’s years of learning with Branch’s innovation, raw product execution, and key strategic partnerships is the beginning of a new era of mobile marketing. It’s going to be an incredible ride.”

Formerly known as HasOffers, TUNE was founded by twin brothers Lucas and Lee Brown. Peter Hamilton joined the startup in 2012 and has served as the CEO since.

The performance marketing company completed a $9.4 million Series A investment in 2013 led by Accel, followed by a $27 million Series B in 2015 led by ICON Ventures. For its part, Branch is in the process of raising a fresh round of venture capital funding at a unicorn valuation. 

VMware acquires CloudHealth Technologies for multi-cloud management

VMware is hosting its VMworld customer conference in Las Vegas this week, and to get things going it announced that its acquiring Boston-based CloudHealth Technologies. They did not disclose the terms of the deal, but Reuters is reporting the price is $500 million.

CloudHealth provides VMware with a crucial multi-cloud management platform that works across AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, giving customers a way to manage cloud cost, usage, security and performance from a single interface.

Although AWS leads the cloud market by a large margin, it is a vast and growing market and most companies are not putting their eggs in a single vendor basket. Instead, they are looking at best of breed options for different cloud services.

This multi-cloud approach is great for customers in that they are not tied down to any single provider, but it does create a management headache as a consequence. CloudHealth gives multi-cloud users a way to manage their environment from a single tool.

CloudHealth multi-cloud management. Photo: CloudHealth Technologies

VMware’s chief operating officer for products and cloud services, Raghu Raghuram, says CloudHealth solves the multi-cloud operational dilemma. “With the addition of CloudHealth Technologies we are delivering a consistent and actionable view into cost and resource management, security and performance for applications across multiple clouds,” Raghuram said in a statement.

CloudHealth began offering support for Google Cloud Platform just last month. CTO Joe Kinsella told TechCrunch why they had decided to expand their platform to include GCP support: “I think a lot of the initiatives that have been driven since Diane Greene joined Google [at the end of 2015] and began really driving towards the enterprise are bearing fruit. And as a result, we’re starting to see a really substantial uptick in interest.”

It also gave them a complete solution for managing across the three of the biggest cloud vendors. That last piece very likely made them an even more attractive target for a company like VMware, who apparently was looking for a solution to buy that would help customers manage across a hybrid and multi-cloud environment.

The company had been planning future expansion to manage not just the public cloud, but also private clouds and data centers from one place, a strategy that should fit well with what VMware has been trying to do in recent years to help companies manage a hybrid environment, regardless of where their virtual machines live.

With CloudHealth, VMware not only gets the multi-cloud management solution, it gains its 3000 customers which include Yelp, Dow Jones, Zendesk and Pinterest.

CloudHealth was founded in 2012 and has raised over $87 million. Its most recent round was a $46 million Series D in June 2017 led by Kleiner Perkins. Other lead investors across earlier rounds have included Sapphire Ventures, Scale Venture Partners and .406 Ventures.

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