Facebook Acquires Pittsburgh Speech Recognition And Translation Startup

Jibbigo, Pittsburgh Startup, Facebook, AcquisitionOn Monday morning Tom Stocky, Director of Product Management at Facebook, announced that the social networking giant had acquired Mobile Technologies, the Pittsburgh startup behind the app Jibbigo.

Jibbigo is an app with the kind of technology you’d think the NSA would be after. The app allows you to record someone talking in a foreign language and translates the voice snippet for you in both text and spoken word in the language selected. This is the kind of technology that everyone has wished they had at one time or another. You know, you’re riding the subway and you hear a loud argument in another language? Jibbigo is perfect for that.

Now obviously Facebook is going to use this technology for translating and speech recognition, but its specific uses have yet to be announced. What Stocky did say, by Facebook post of course, was “I’m excited to announce that we’ve agreed to acquire Mobile Technologies, a company with an amazing team that’s behind some of the world’s leading speech recognition and machine translation technology.”

Facebook already integrates Bing’s translation technology into news feeds and posts. Anthony Sarvas at ITProPortal speculates that they could use the technology for improving their mobile ad network and expanding a mobile ad campaigns reach.

The Pittsburgh-based team will relocate to Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters. Terms of the deal were, of course, not disclosed.

“With this deal we will welcome some of the industry’s most talented people to our engineering teams in Menlo Park, California,” Stocky said in the Facebook post.

Find out more about Jibbigo here.



Brooklyn Startup Makerbot Acquired in $604 Million Dollar Deal

Makerbot, Stratasys, New York startup, acquisitionMakerbot, the Brooklyn startup that came on the scene in 2009 and made 3D printing a household name, has been acquired in a $604 million dollar deal.

Makerbot developed the first desktop 3D printer, dubbed the “Makerbot” and quickly sold out of the initial 20 printers they had ordered. Fast forward to just two weeks ago, the company opened up a 50,000 square foot factory in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park. In addition to the 3D printers, Makerbot has a consumer facing web platform called Thingiverse that allows people to upload their 3d printer plans and have them printed by the company.

Almost immediately after the opening of the new factory rumors started swirling that Makerbot had put themselves on the market. This afternoon those plans materialized with the announcement that industrial 3d printing giant, Stratasys, acquired the company in a deal worth up to $604 million dollars.

Many tech sites, including CNet, reported earlier in the day that the all stock deal was worth $430 million howeverThe Verge reports that the initial 2/3 of the deal would happen when the deal closes with the remaining 1/3 of the deal contingent on Makerbot’s performance.

Stratasys has been a mainstay in the industrial 3d printing space. While their printers print molds and parts for several industries, they came into light earlier this year when Defense Distributed used one of their high end printers to print a 3D gun that actually worked.

3D printing continues to explode. While the original Makerbot desktop printer sold for over $2,000, back in April there was a desktop 3d printer featured in the SkyMall magazine for under $1000. We saw that advertisement on the way to TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013 where we got a chance to see 3DLT pitch their platform which is like 99 designs for 3D templates.

Makerbot is also working on a 3d scanner so that users can scan objects and then print them using a Makerbot printer.

This acquisition will give Stratasys a firm footing in the consumer 3D printing space. Early adopters are seeing an approaching time when people will be able to print shoes, sunglasses, cups, bowls and just about any household item from their home. 3D printing could end up being the alternative to same day delivery from giant retailers like Walmart, at least for goods that can be 3d printed.

Just last month NY had another huge exit with Tumblr.


New York Gets Billion Dollar Exit With Tumblr

Tumblr, Yahoo, David Karp, Marissa Mayer, Acquisition, Exit

Tumblr founder David Karp onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt 2011 (photo: K. Sandler for Thedroidguy.com)

This was the big startup news all weekend. At the end of last week, rumors started bubbling up via AllthingsD suggesting that Yahoo, and it’s new powerhouse CEO Marissa Mayer was looking for their biggest startup acquisition to date. That startup was Tumblr.

Last week we started hearing that Yahoo was prepared to buy Tumblr for $1 billion dollars. Many tech and startup pundits suggested that Facebook may try and jump in and swallow up Tumblr before the Yahoo board could get together Sunday and vote on the acquisition. Facebook reportedly, never made an offer.

In case you’ve been living out in the wilderness without internet access, Tumblr is a microblogging platform. They have over 100 million monthly visitors and see over 90 million posts made per day.  Unlike the 140 character restriction on Twitter, people posting to Tumblr can write longer formatted posts and include pictures, videos etc.

Coincidentally Tumblr, and it’s founder David Karp, were the subjects of my most widely read story ever in my career is a “blogger”. Tumblr is just that popular.

Karp has been swatting off offers to buy Tumblr almost since it’s inception. Celebrities like Lady Gaga and others, flocked to Tumblr to add to their social media strategies. In fact GaGa actually posts on her own Tumblr, whereas her Facebook page is updated by a social media team.

The Wall Street Journal, and several other credible sources, have said that Yahoo’s board approved a $1.1 billion dollar acquisition of Tumblr. Many sources speculate that Mayer, a 13 year veteran of Google, hopes that Tumblr will be Yahoo’s YouTube.  It’s also been reported that, for now, Tumblr will operate as it’s own business unit, and continue to be based in New York.

There are no solid revenue numbers for Tumblr reported online. What has been reported is that the startup, that was founded in Karp’s mom’s small New York apartment in 2007, has raised $125 million in venture capital and at one point Karp sold 25% of the company for$750,000. It’s unclear how much Karp still owns today.

Karp, along with girlfriend Rachel Eakley, a grad student and chef, lived in a modest west village apartment until last year when they moved into a $1.6 million dollar loft in West Brooklyn. Karp dropped out of high school, finishing up his education on his own and then moved to Japan where he coded for a living.

There’s no official word of how long Karp will remain with the company.

New York even has a ping pong startup!


SideCar Acquires Ride Sharing Competitor Heyride

HeyRide,SideCar, Austin startup,ride sharing, startup, acquihire, acquisitionRidesharing has been a very popular means of transportation in Europe for many years, it’s just now starting to take off in the United States. Startups like RidePost, who recently graduated from the Iron Yard accelerator, and HeyRide have started a trend in peer to peer ride sharing.

San Francisco based SideCar has, by far, been one of the most popular ride sharing platforms to date. With SideCar you use the companies web based and app based platform to find someone “going your way” and then book a ride with that person. Unlike Uber and Halo users aren’t relying on pricey, already existing ride for hire drivers. Rather, with these kinds of apps you’re just looking for someone going the same place you are. These apps essentially take the ride bulletin board off the campus wall and put it in an app.

HeyRide, was a startup founded two years ago when the founders were embarrassed by the lack of adequate transportation in their hometown for SXSW. People were tweeting, updating their Facebook status and finding other ways to use the web to communicate the need for rides. The HeyRide team turned that need into an app that took off and quickly spread.

Now, with less than a month to go before SXSW 2013, SideCar has acquired HeyRide for an undisclosed amount.

“We’ve heard from people across the country and around the world that they want the SideCar community to take root in their cities and towns,” said Sunil Paul, CEO of SideCar. “Heyride’s talented team has developed a unique design and experience that will help take the rideshare movement we started here in San Francisco nationwide. We are thrilled to welcome Heyride to the SideCar family.”

SideCar and Heyride have a shared vision for empowering communities to solve transportation problems. Heyride’s world-class user experience and design team will join SideCar’s product team to focus on creating an outstanding experience for SideCar drivers and riders. Heyride’s assets include its critically acclaimed iPhone application for ridesharing available at Heyride.com.

During its initial launch phase SideCar will be available for drivers and riders Friday and Saturday nights from 5pm – 3am in West LA, Venice, Santa Monica and Culver City in Los Angeles; and downtown Austin and Philadelphia. Expanded hours and days will follow as the community grows. SideCar is actively recruiting drivers in New York, Chicago, Boston and Washington, DC. Drivers can sign up to be part of the community at www.side.cr/drive. SideCar’s free mobile application is available for download for riders via the App Store for iPhone and GooglePlay for Android users.

How SideCar works
SideCar matches everyday drivers with a car with people nearby who need a ride. It’s like getting a ride from a friend or a neighbor when you want it. Riders place a request to share a ride by setting a pick-up and drop off location using the SideCar app. Once the request is accepted, drivers can be viewed approaching in real-time. Riders can make a voluntary donation at the end of the ride.

SideCar has many features in place to keep riders and drivers safe. All SideCar drivers are pre-vetted for safety. All rides are tracked and passengers can share their progress and ride status in text, email and social media. Donations are made through the app, so the entire experience is cashless and hassle-free. The SideCar community sets and enforces high standards for safety and quality. Drivers and riders rate one another and people with low ratings are removed from the SideCar community. SideCar’s safety features can be found at www.side.cr/safety


Israeli Startup Intucell Acquired By Cisco For $475 Million


An Israeli company that created a technology that allows cell phone towers to communicate with each other, has just been acquired for $475 million dollars.

Business Insider reports that Israeli startup Intucell, started four years ago, and prior to this acquisition, had only raised $6 million dollars. The initial investment round had one investor, Bessemer.

After Bessemer’s investment was reported in 2011, AT&T quickly started using the technology.

On Wednesday, All Things D suggested that this was a very good investment for Cisco. The report by Arik Hesseldahl suggests that strategically this makes sense because of the relationships that Intucell has with wireless carriers globally.

Another key factor is the technology deals directly in computer aided, customizable software to control networking.

The idea is basically this: Software controls can define and dynamically control the size and configuration of a network, rather than swapping out hardware. Hesseldahl said in his piece.

Exclusive: Nashville Startup RentStuff Acquired


We’ve been covering the wild, but awesome ride that Nashville startup RentStuff has been on since May. RentStuff is a 2011 graduate of the JumpStart Foundry startup accelerator in music city.

Over the summer the Nashville startup relocated to the 1871 startup incubator in Chicago.

RentStuff started off as a peer to peer rental platform. Got a lawn mower rotting away in the garage. You could use RentStuff to rent it out to someone who needed it for a few days. Items like iPads, DSLR cameras and even powerful leaf blowers could be found at RentStuff.

In August the RentStuff team, led by Chris Jaeger, pivoted away from that model in favor of a more traditional rental search utility. Jaeger told us then that they would continue to support both platforms however the original model, despite rave reviews, wasn’t scaling fast enough. You could find a lawnmower for rent in Nashville and a DSLR camera in Pennsylvania, with the people who actually wanted to rent them hundreds of miles away.

Today we found out that RentStuff has been acquired by RentalCompare, the largest searchable database of things to rent across the country. Terms of the sale were not disclosed by press time.

Jaeger has always been a big proponent of the Nashville startup scene, especially the Entrepreneur Center and JumpStart Foundry. Tennessee venture firm Solidus backs several Tennessee accelerators including JumpStart Foundry and also participated in a follow on round for RentStuff.

RentStuff alerted their user base to their acquisition with the message below posted on their Facebook page:


Tennessee is a great place to startup, apply now for the Seed Hatchery accelerator click here


Find RentStuff Here

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Yahoo’s First Mayer Acquisition, New York Startup Stamped

Stamped,New York startup,Yahoo,Marissa Mayer,Startup,Startups,acquisition,xooglerLast April we brought you the profile of New York startup Stamped. Stamped, which is made up of a team of 11 with five being Xooglers, created a recommendation platform that allowed users to put their “stamp of approval” on their favorite places and things.

Stamped offers a unique value proposition by having a quick, easy to understand way of providing recommendations without having to read 1500 word reviews. It’s the recommendation platform for those on the go.

Stamped marks the first Yahoo acquisition under the leadership of new CEO Marissa Mayer who took over the helm at Yahoo six weeks ago after a thirteen year stint at Google.

Prior to this announced acquisition, Stamped had already attracted the attention and investment from Bain Capital Ventures and Google Ventures. Their first round of funding was $1.5 million dollars.  They also have rockstar advisors like Instagram founder Kevin Systrom and food personality Mario Batail.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Mayer made it clear that acquisitions were part of Yahoo’s strategy going forward, in her first quarterly earnings call earlier this week. Several tech and startup focused sites have been speculating on some of the other possible target startups in Mayers cross hairs.

On Tuesday we brought you the story about the hot and heavy rumor that Yahoo may be looking to acquire Baltimore mobile ad startup Millennial Media. 

Like Millennial Media, Stamped is a natural fit for Yahoo who hasn’t had a good review product, much less a mobile product for reviews. Mayer also said that mobile was one of the key focuses for Yahoo going forward as well.

Yahoo Senior Vice President Adam Cahan told the Associated Press that Stamped would be “a great asset as we expand Yahoo’s mobile efforts and build a world-class mobile development organization.”

Stamped issued a statement on their website today that said:

“We’re excited to start work again on something big, mobile, and new — but we can’t discuss the details just yet. And we’re really stoked to be able to hire lots of talented engineers and designers for this new project.”


Stamped is here

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Portland Startup: CrowdCompass Acquired By Cvent for $10 Million

A Portland Oregon startup up that specializes in producing smartphone apps for conferences and events, has been acquired by event planning software company Cvent. CrowdCompass is Cvent’s second acquisition in just one week. Last week Cvent, who’s based in Virginia, acquired Austin startup Seed Labs.

“Let’s be clear: We bought this for their people,” said Cvent chief executive Reggie Aggarwal. “We’re going to let the management team run the place they way they’ve been doing it.”

Mobile apps and technology have been changing trade shows, conferences and conventions over the past few years. It’s already been seen that the more robust your tradeshow app is the better. South By Southwest 2012 had a great app that covered every speck of the event officially produced by SXSW. As did the CES app earlier in the year.

Last fall the Oregon company raised $1.3 million led by the Oregon Angel Fund.

CrowdCompass was founded in 2009 and makes apps that connect event go-fers to specific events, other attendees and social media.

CrowdCompass corporate portfolio includes event apps for

E*Trade, Daimler, and Intuit; and meetings industry organizations, like The Meetings Technology Expo; and associations, like the American Bar Association, Association of General Contractors and American Society of Anesthesiologists.

“Cvent’s success is predicated on delivering best-of-breed technology solutions to our event industry clients and partners. This acquisition is an important step to ensuring we continue to lead the industry in the adoption of mobile technologies,” said Reggie Aggarwal, Founder and CEO of Cvent. “We selected CrowdCompass because it was clear that they are a leading developer of native mobile apps for business and association events. With experience building hundreds of apps for a wide variety of mid-to large-sized public and private events, the addition of CrowdCompass gives us unparalleled expertise in creating mobile apps for events. We have offered mobile friendly event web sites for some time, but the CrowdCompass product takes the mobile experience to the next level.”

To date CrowdCompass has produced 435 event apps which have seen over 500,000 downloads for Blackberry,Android and iOS.

“Becoming part of Cvent will allow CrowdCompass to operate on a greater scale than it ever has before,” said Tom Kingsley, Founder and CEO of CrowdCompass. “Our technologies and expertise will be a great fit with Cvent’s unmatched reputation and client base; we’re looking forward to all the services we will be able to develop under the Cvent umbrella.”

“The CrowdCompass app demonstrates the excellence and innovation that attendees have come to expect from the Mental Health and Addictions Conference,” said Courtney Young, Digital and Social Media Specialist at the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. “We had over 3,000 healthcare professionals and administrators in attendance, and the response to the app was overwhelming, with 80% of them downloading it. By offering the CrowdCompass app, we showed our attendees that we are listening to their demands and care deeply about their conference experience.”

Cvent was founded in 1999 by Reggie Aggarwal. Aggarwal took the company from a two person team to a team of over 900 in McLean Virginia, the city that was once home to America Online. Cvent has been profitable over the last ten years.


For more on Cvent check out their corporate website here

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New York Startup: SinglePlatform Acquired By Constant Contact For $100M

Another New York startup has just had a really big exit. This time it was, web and mobile advertising specialists SinglePlatform. As the name implies, SinglePlatform is one centralized robust advertising platform that allows advertisers to update their advertising in one centralized location.

Our friends at tech.li report that SinglePlatform estimates their reach to be 200 million people every month. SinglePlatform allows the management of advertising space both big and small.

“SinglePlatform lets small businesses quickly distribute rich content so that consumers can find it at the very moment they are looking to make a purchase decision,” Constant Contact said in a press release. “The SinglePlatform offering complements the current Constant Contact suite of online engagement marketing tools by helping small businesses reach and engage their next customer even earlier in the customer lifecycle.”

Forbes reports that the deal was structured as $65 million in cash, $5 million in cash and equity for retention purposes, and up to $30 million based on performance over the next two years, for a total of $100 million.

The company expects the deal to contribute $10 million in 2013 and adds that it should be accretive in late 2013 to early 2014.


More on Constant Contact Here

More on SinglePlatform Here

Source: Tech.Li & Forbes

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Facebook Acquires Karma

After a topsy turvy day on Friday for Facebook, and Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg’s nuptials on Saturday, the company has decided to extend their good Karma. They’ve done this by purchasing San Francisco based startup Karma.

Karma is an application that allows users to send gifts. Karma says while their are a number of social gifting apps on the market, they differentiate themselves by combining intelligence, social discovery and easy gift giving.

Facebook recently acquihired the team from photo app Lightbox sans their Creative Director Giles Peyton Nicoll who started his own agency. Of course we also know about Facebook’s $1 billion dollar acquisition of photo app Instagram which is expected to close in the second half of the year.

Like Instagram the Karma purchase was a complete acquisition. Karma and Facebook are both saying that for now Karma will continue to operate as is, with a bigger “back bone”.

An acquisition of a startup like Karma makes sense since it is a social app that would inherently give “more” to the social experience. Until we see what’s to come, the LightBox acqui-hire didn’t make that much sense since Facebook did just acquire Instagram which is in the exact same space as Lightbox. In fact Lightbox used to directly compete with Instagram in their outbound marketing to Android users.

source: Engadget

UPDATED – London Startup: Lightbox Acquihired By Facebook

Facebook is obviously using their last days of independence to scoop up whatever companies they want. Of course everyone knows about the $1 billion dollar acquisition of Instagram. Facebook also recently acquired social discovery app Glancee which uses Facebook as it’s backbone and was the closest competition to Highlight at South By Southwest in Austin this year.

Now we’ve learned that Facebook has acquired the seven man team behind Lightbox. Including designer Giles Peyton-Nicoll, the companies creative director and the driving force behind their UI.

Giles Peyton Nicoll The Creative Director behind Lightbox, acquired this week by Facebook, has announced plans to launch a new global design consultancy and build a portfolio of brands “as cherished as Coca-Cola, Apple and Nike”.
As the seven-strong Lightbox engineering team prepares for its relocation to the States, Creative Director and Product Designer Giles Peyton-Nicoll is staying in London and is set to launch a new agency.  Full Press Release Below

No financial details were announced. The Lightbox team is based in London, so it’s also unclear where they will work out of or if they will all move to Silicon Valley.

Lightbox is a photo sharing app for Android. They debuted last year and had a pod set up at Google IO. The service is very similar, at least in the sharing aspect, to Instagram. In fact, before Instagram arrived on the Android platform Lightbox would send out emails to it’s user base touting it as a better than Instagram and available on Android. They continued with the same marketing message after Instagram launched on Android just days before the Facebook acquisition.

It was widely reported that on the Facebook investor road show, the company was highly criticized on their mobile efforts. Despite pushing out regular updates of the Facebook app some investors seemed worried that more and more users are resorting to the mobile device and that Facebook needs to make sure they own that position the way they do with social media.

It’s also obvious that Facebook is taking photography very seriously. They recently updated their mobile site and mobile apps to enlarge the size of photos on users walls and news feeds. With the acquisitions of both Instagram and Lightbox they must be working on some bad ass mobile photo app to integrate into the social network.

source: VentureBeat




The Creative Director behind Lightbox, acquired this week by Facebook, has announced plans to launch a new global design consultancy and build a portfolio of brands “as cherished as Coca-Cola, Apple and Nike”.
As the seven-strong Lightbox engineering team prepares for its relocation to the States, Creative Director and Product Designer Giles Peyton-Nicoll is staying in London and is set to launch a new agency.
The 41-year-old is a world-leading branding strategist with a wealth of experience in designing and developing global brands. He founded boutique design agency Aspect, which sold to GYRO in 2000. He then took on a Creative Director role at GYRO, helping them achieve global recognition.
After leaving GYRO in 2002 he became a Digital Strategy and Design Consultant working on global brand, advertising and marketing campaigns for some of the best London digital agencies.
With extensive experience in brand guardianship for many of the world’s favourite brands, his true talent lies in creating successful brands from conception – his last two brand identities – Nakama and Lightbox – have become global success stories.
Mr Peyton-Nicoll said: “I wish my Lightbox colleagues all the best. We had a great time developing the product and I am very proud to have played a major part in the development of what is now a globally-recognised digital brand.
“I’m now looking to the future and the exciting prospect of creating similar powerful brands, as cherished as Coca-Cola, Apple and Nike, for my new clients.”

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Boston Startup Play140 Acquihired By OOmba Founded By The Creator Of Atari

Play140 CEO Shawn Broderick and his team thought they were onto something that could be game changing. The company had built an acronym game, called The Acronym Game, to be played on Twitter. Their thinking was simple, make Twitter more than just communication. It was a novel idea, play games on Twitter, I mean everyone was doing it on Facebook.

The game was simple, see who could make the most clever phrase out of the acronym provided. For whatever reason the game never took off. The company’s Twitter feed shut down and they stopped posting on their blog. Boston.com reports that the employees of the company, including two of the three co-founders went to find other jobs. That left Broderick and the company’s CTO Michael Johnson left manning what was left of the game.

Fast forward to this week and they’ve had some rather exciting news. A venture funded startup called Oomba has acquired Play140 for an undisclosed amount. What’s really interesting is that this startup’s founders include Nolan Bushnell. Now if  y you’re thinking that name sounds familiar, it’s because Bushnell founded Atari and Chuck E Cheese among other feats in his career.

More after the break
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Chicago’s Groupon Acquihires Ditto.Me

Lately the news about Groupon hasn’t been the good news we’re used to hearing. First, there is a group of investors that are suing Groupon suggesting that the Chicago based startup had cooked the books. Also over the weekend Groupon disappeared from Apple’s iTunes app store.

That hasn’t stopped them from making acquisitions though. Social check in, recommendation, chat with friends app Ditto.me was just acquired by Groupon. Terms of the deal were not disclosed however a post on Ditto.me’s website clearly indicates that this is a total acquihire.

Ditto’s founder and CEO Jyri Engestrom posted this on ditto’s website:

“We can’t reveal what we’ll be working on at Groupon but we are excited to give it 100% – to enable this, we’ll be winding down Ditto. On April 30th we’ll switch off the service and remove the app from Apple’s and Nokia’s stores*. We think you’ll love what we and Groupon dream up next.”

If Groupon manages to come out of the investor lawsuits unscathed and whatever this issue is with the Apple iTunes app store they have their work cut out for them. As a pioneer in the daily deals space, they are just like FourSquare. FourSquare was a pioneer in the check in space, but then after checking in that was it. The same thing holds true for the original Groupon, you’ve got group deals, and daily deals, everyone has those now.

Groupon may be using this acquihire of Ditto.me to make their daily deals and group buying app more social. Perhaps share deals with friends and then go in together? The technology is definitely there as is the technical know how from Engestrom.

We’ll be watching this one closely.

source: Forbes


Chicago Startups Yield $160M In Q1 From Funding To Acquisition: What’s This Midwest Mentality?

Whoever said Chicago didn’t have a thriving tech scene may need to crawl out from under their own angels and actually look at the facts. Builtinchicago.com has just released the Q1 numbers and they are mighty impressive for a town with no startup culture and entrepreneurs who are at home by 5:00pm.

According to the latest data from builtinchicago, 32 new startups were launched in Q1 2012. 17 startups saw funding to the beat of $33 million dollars and there were 12 acquisitions for a total of $127 million dollars. If you put your basic arithmetic hats on you’ll see that Chicago startups (and just the ones builtinchicago.com reports on) yielded $160 million dollars in funding and acquisitions.

Ageology, gtrot, Band Digital, Hireology, BodyShopBids, Kauzu, Buzz Referrals, Lab 42, CareShare, MediaFly, Channel IQ, Retrofit, Eved, Tap.me, Fippex, Univa and Vmock all saw some kind of funding in the first quarter of 2012.

Cellit, ClearTrial, Pointbridge, PrepMe, FeeFighters, RegistryPro, Intelli, RoundArch, ki edit + design, Savid Tech, MobManager, and Quiet FDN all saw exits through acquisition.

data from builtinchicago.com