Ron Conway is one of the most influential venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. Some of his investments include Yammer, Gowalla, DailyBooth, Foursquare, Bit.ly, Y-Combinator, Seesmic, Twitter, Facebook, DanceJam, Mint.com, Digg, Google, Simply Hired, and Answers Corporation. Conway is now raising $10 million for his SV Angel investment company. Conway averages about 4 investments per month. [TechCrunch]
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Vook is an Alameda, California based video book publishing service. Vook intends to connect text with video and social media. Vook has partnerships in place with HarperStudio, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette Filipacchi Media. Vook has just raised $2.5 million in seed capital from Ron Conway, Kenneth Lerer, Maples Investments, Baseline Ventures, and Founder Collective.
Kakai is a stealth company that was started by Chegg founder Osman Rashid and Babur Habib. Interestingly Kakai is still in stealth and raised a Series B round of funding already. The second round is $7.5 million and the investors include venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Josh Kopelman, and Ron Conway. Marc Andreessen is joining Kakai’s board of directors as a result of the funding.
Kakai’s previously raised $1.85 million in Series A from Osman Rashid and Mike Maples. Rumor has it that Kakai has something to do with electronic readers. The portable consumer electronics products made by Kakai will be Linux-based. Kakai currently has about 40 employees. Rashid’s other company Chegg.com has about $144 million in funding and was started in 2005.
WePay, a startup where groups of people manage financial accounts has just raised $1.65 million in their first round of funding. August Capital and several angel investors were involved in the WePay funding. WePay can be used for invoice production, money collection, and transaction management.
WePay was founded by Boston College students Bill Clerico and Rich Alberman. The company has been moved to Silicon Valley ever since and has moved into Palo Alto’s University Avenue where Facebook used to be based. Interestingly WePay’s founders had a hard time finding funding out in Boston. The investors in Boston said that they were too much in the early stages. Y Combinator ended up accepting WePay.
WePay makes money by taking 3.5% from every transaction, similar to the PayPal business model. WePay is starting by partnering with small companies and professional groups. Some of the angel investors include Max Levchin (PayPal co-founder), Paul Buccheit, Ron Conway, Mark Goines, Angus Davis, Andrew McCollum, and Joe Campanelli.
Gowalla is a location based social networking website that has raised $8.4 million in funding. Greylock Partners was the lead investor and the company plans to use the funding to strengthen their development capabilities. Thus far Gowalla has raised over $10 million since they started in 2007.
“Gowalla has rapidly attracted a passionate user base by creating an innovative, useful service that is also a lot of fun,” stated Greylock’s David Thacker. “It’s exciting to discover new places and earn stamps for your passport from places as diverse as Buckingham Palace and the Sydney Opera House to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the coffee shop down the street. Gowalla also connects you with your friends, letting you share your travels and meet up with others in real time.” Thacker has joined the Gowalla Board of Directors as part of the investment.
LinkedIn co-founder and Greylock Partner Reid Hoffman also joined Gowalla’s board of directors as an observer.
Other investors in Gowalla include Jason Calacanis, Kevin Rose, Maples Investments, Shasta Ventures, Ron Conway, Gary Vaynerchuk, Shervin Pishevar, and Chris Sacca. Previous investors Alsop-Louie Partners and Founders Fund also participated in this round.
DailyBooth is a real-time photo blogging website that launched out of Y-Combinator. The website launched this past August and has been receiving a good amount of traffic ever since. Now the company has raised $1 million from investors such as Sequoia Capital, SV Angel (Ron Conway), Betaworks, Kevin Rose, and Caterina Fake (Flickr founder). DailyBooth was co-founded by Ryan Amos and Jon Wheatley.
The service encourages users to send messages along with webcam photos. DailyBooth receives about 6 million monthly visitors and a majority of their visitors are 15-25 year old women. The company said that they plan to use the funding for developing a premium offering and photo-printing distribution platform. Below is a screenshot of the service.
In less than 2 years since launching, Mint.com is supposedly selling themselves to Intuit Inc. Mint.com is a financial tool that allows you to aggregate all of your bank and credit card information and find ways to save money. The deal is expected to close within the next few days.
Mint had launched at the TechCrunch50 conference two years ago and took the top prize giving them $50,000. Mint raised $31.8 million in total funding from First Round Capital, Felicis Ventures, Shasta Ventures, Benchmark Capital, Sherpalo Ventures, Hite Capital, DAG Ventures, and The Founders Fund. Angel investors in Mint include Ron Conway, Mark Goines, Geoff Ralston, and Dave McClure.
This acquisition is interesting because Intuit had previously sent Mint a letter demanding an explanation for how they jumped to 850,000 users within several months.
Thread is a dating application on Facebook that suggests potential matches that has just raised a new round of funding. The company raised $1.2 million from Sequoia Capital, the Founders Fund, First Round Capital, and angel investor Ron Conway.
Thread was founded by several former PayPal product managers. “The best people to date are friends of friends,” stated Thread CEO Brian Phillips. “Not all the best people are on dating sites. All the best people are on Facebook.” Phillips recently went on his third date with someone he met on Thread.
Thread pulls in your contact information using Facebook Connect and pulls the public profiles of all your friends. Through the website, you can find out which friends of your friends are single and ask you mutual friend to introduce you. Stalking at its finest.
Thread was originally known as Frinto (friend+intro) but decided to change their name. The Thread.com domain name was already taken and it took them two years to negotiate a deal over the ownership. The owner was told that they would receive equity if the business was successful. If it wasn’t successful, the owner would get the domain name back.