Monday, November 24, 2014

Funding Daily: Today’s tech funding stories, in one place

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Here’s a list of today’s biggest funding stories, updated as the day unfolds. Tip us here if you have a deal to share.

Note to self: Brace for more bubble talk as secret messaging app Yik Yak raises $62 million

Some things are all too easy to predict. Every day, the sun rises and you wake up. And every time some app most of the world has never heard about raises what seems like an insane amount of money, the hand-wringing begins and thousands of blog posts are spawned to discuss whether tech is in a bubble. So, get ready for a deluge of bubble talk. Because Yik Yak, the anonymous-messaging app that has spread like kudzu (hey, they’re based in Atlanta!) across college campuses, has raised $62 million, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Read more

PocketMath raises $10M

PocketMath, a startup that offers a self-service mobile demand-side ad platform that can be used to serve ads using real-time bidding. PocketMath raised this round of funding Rakuten Ventures.

Read more: TechCrunch

This list will be updated with breaking funding news all day. Check back for more.










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Mobile marketer Fetch adds tool to better connect paid ads with what users do

Two hands, smartphone II

Today, mobile marketing agency Fetch launched its latest tool in the data wars – a dashboard called FetchMe that is designed to find which media buys and other activities are most effective in generating specific user behavior, like installing an app.

It does this by automatically combining those two factors – what users are doing with how they were acquired by the brand – including how much that acquisition cost. For instance, it might show that mobile browser ads had the biggest impact on getting users to install apps, but only in specific morning hours.

“Both of these things existed before [as data], but we couldn’t query them both at the same time,” Fetch head of data and operations Dan Wilson told VentureBeat.

Before FetchMe, he said, those “two sides of the coin” – the connections between what is driving users to what they’re doing – would “have been hand-built manually” in Fetch’s system, he said.

“Now, you press a couple of buttons.”

A screen from FetchMe, comparing media against sales

Above: A screen from FetchMe, comparing media against sales

Image Credit: Fetch

FetchMe, which was built over two years, analyzes over a billion interactions a month across a hundred countries. Data includes changes in user behavior, engagement rates, and conversions.

The tool has discovered, for instance, that cost-per-app-install (CPI) rates have been increasing since January, with a big spike in October. It also shows which countries have the highest CPI rates – Australia, Ireland, and Norway – while the U.S., Canada, China, France, and Brazil have median rates.

Wilson pointed to one unnamed Fetch client “in the travel vertical” who used FetchMe and discovered that app-engagement responses to paid ads and notifications were different in the early morning and late afternoon.

Paid media in the 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. timeslot, he said, resulted in high levels of responses like checking out or installing apps, but less so for engagement with the app, like using it or responding to in-app ads.

But the response to paid media in the 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. slot was the opposite – “less open to [paid media encouraging app] installs, but more open” to in-app purchasing and other in-app behavior, Wilson told us.

Media in that later time slot, such as ads or push notifications, would therefore be more effective if they were more oriented toward encouraging that kind of app behavior, he said.

Wilson noted that other mobile marketing agencies “have the same challenges,” but Fetch’s approach stands out because the connection between media and behavior is now being made automatically.

Earlier this month, the Dentsu Aegis network of media agencies purchased the London-based Fetch, which also has offices in San Francisco, Berlin, and Hong Kong. Although no purchase price was announced, AdAge estimated it was about $48 million.

(Disclosure: Fetch owns a less-than-0.5 percent stake in VentureBeat.)










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Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare by the (big) numbers

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare in action.

Activision Publishing has been shy about disclosing the number of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare copies that it has sold — or how much revenue the game is generating in comparison to last year’s Call of Duty: Ghosts.

Analysts are assuming the comparison isn’t that favorable. But Activision, a division of Activision Blizzard and one of the biggest game companies on Earth, has disclosed just about every other number related to Advanced Warfare. The publisher has said that the Call of Duty franchise has generated more than $10 billion in revenue in the past decade, but it has been mum on each game’s revenue. The number matters to analysts because the success of Call of Duty — arguably the industry’s most valuable franchise — is closely connected to Activision Blizzard’s stock price.

In an infographic, Activision announced today that 125 million people have played Call of Duty since 2010. That’s more people than the top 300 cities combined in the United States.

Activision said that players played more than 370 million online matches in Advanced Warfare in its first week.

Viewers also watched 5 million hours of Call of Duty livestreamed gameplay videos on Twitch. That’s about 623 years of gameplay video.

Players have performed 16.1 billion boost jumps in the game, where your character jumps to the top of a building — a key feature of the exoskeleton that soldiers of the future will wear. That is the equivalent of 230 trips to the moon from Earth.

Players have also earned 1 quadrillion experience points. That’s enough to earn 15th level Prestige 58.2 million times.

In the first two weeks Advanced Warfare’s November launch, players have raised 285 million items of loot, or items that you pick up as rewards in the game. That is more than 230 pieces of loot per second.

On Nov. 19, Activision said that Call of Duty was the top entertainment property of 2014. And overall, Activision claimed that Call of Duty had generated more revenue than household movie franchises as The Hunger Games, Transformers, Iron Man, and The Avengers combined.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare infographic

Above: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare infographic

Image Credit: Activision

 


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Yes, business leader, you have a tech budget. But you still need IT. Here’s why

ss-board-meeting

Gartner predicts that by next year, 35 percent of enterprise IT expenditures will be managed outside the IT department’s budget. CMOs, HR directors, and other line-of-business leaders are becoming technologists, purchasing and implementing software to improve their department’s productivity.

This doesn’t mean they need to have IT skills, but they do need to appreciate the expertise of IT professionals in protecting their investment and making it work.

To date, there’s been a lot of talk about collaboration between IT and business leaders. It’s mainly been lip service. But this collaboration isn’t just about playing nice — as a line-of-business leader implementing technology, you’re codependent on IT. Here’s why:

SaaS companies prey on LOB execs

SaaS vendors know where the budget is and sell directly to line-of-business execs, hoping they don’t get IT involved. Oftentimes, they’ll start the business leader out in Proof of Concept (PoC) mode, deploying software for free or minimal cost but in a limited capacity. If adopted, you end up with technology you’re relying on for decision-making that may not be properly architected or configured to scale in your particular enterprise settings.

This could be for any number of reasons, such as not being integrated with corporate security or identity systems; using “offline” or local versions of data vs. being integrated with current production sources of data; not having reliable or consistent backup and recovery processes; or storing confidential information in the cloud without appropriate security measures.

You’re not programmed to think about IT governance

Yes, IT needs to be more sensitive to the speed and adaptability needs in the business. Robert Lacis, Director of Field Enablement at Maxim Integrated, brought this to light in a recent conversation. He said, “IT tends to focus on providing the broadest benefit at the lowest cost to the majority of the users, sometimes to the detriment of the user.” He cited app development as an example — IT would likely rather use HTML5, whereas users prefer native iOS or Android apps.

This is an opportunity for you and your IT partner to meet halfway. If IT is pushing for your app to be web-based, but the richer experience of a native app is critical, help them understand that. On the flip side, not all apps need to be native, and if yours doesn’t, let IT make that decision.

As a line-of-business leader, you must appreciate the tenets of IT governance, put in place to create value for all stakeholders. This includes aligning the performance of technology to your department’s strategic objectives.

An IT partner will ask tech vendors things you wouldn’t know to increase software performance. They’ll focus on security, scale, and seamless UX features such as single sign-on (SSO). They’ll also make sure your valuable data is backed up and that admin and reporting features are in line with your and IT’s needs.

The hyper growth of mobile in the enterprise is a key driver of this IT-LOB disconnect, but also a great opportunity. Business leaders want to tap into the computing power in employees’ pockets, and employees have come to expect the convenience of consumer applications in the workplace. LOB and IT must work together to quickly develop apps that not only work, but also meet employees’ UX expectations (thanks to Apple) to drive wide adoption.

Creating a successful partnership

By now you’re convinced that tech deployments for your LOB should be in partnership with IT (right?). Here are a few tips for making sure that partnership runs smoothly:

  • Initiate a shared project. You may have different priorities, but a shared objective will keep you working towards a common goal to benefit the company.
  • Join each other’s staff meetings. Don’t bring an agenda, just listen. This will inform your approach to the project, its requirements, and problem solving to meet goals.
  • Get on the road together. Attend an industry event with your colleague. Not only will the time together help you bond, but listening to your colleague’s peers will give you a sense of the challenges they face in more detail.
  • Motivate your direct reports to connect with counterparts. Collaboration needs to happen at all levels, not as a top-down mandate. Direct reports in each department should collaborate in the same ways as leaders. This helps to sensitize both teams to needs “on the other side of the fence.”
  • Break bread. A casual conversation — equal parts personal and business — over a meal can be a real bonding experience. Talking about company challenges and how each function attacks them can offer a great amount of insight to make working together more enjoyable.

The bottom line is, because individual departments have budgets, they often implement technology that has sensitive data, may need to integrate with back-end systems, and must, at some point, become accessible to a broader employee base. Without bringing IT through the process as a partner, these systems may never work as they’re supposed to, and IT may not be there if things go sideways with your tech vendors.

It’s time for both IT and LOB leaders to stop paying lip service to collaboration and actually cross the party lines. Without it, neither department will be successful in the long haul.

Mark Lorion is CMO for Apperian, a software company that provides a hosted enterprise app store and management platform. Prior to Apperian, he ran marketing for Spotfire, a venture-backed software company that developed data discovery and analytics software. He blogs about startup marketing at MarkLorion.com.


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BlackBerry offers up to $550 to trade your iPhone for a BlackBerry Passport

The BlackBerry Passport

BlackBerry today announced a new trade-in program to woo Apple users over to its latest flagship device. In short, the company is offering iPhone owners up to $550 for their device, as long as they purchase a BlackBerry Passport.

The BlackBerry Passport Trade-Up Program is available only in North America starting on December 1 and ending February 13. iPhone users upgrading to a BlackBerry Passport will get up to $400 USD/CAD for their iPhone, plus an additional $150 USD ($200 CAD) in the form of a Visa Prepaid Card.

The amount paid for the iPhone will be based upon the condition and model of the device traded in; BlackBerry says it is accepting the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S, and iPhone 6. The prepaid card will be sent by mail following the receipt of a qualifying iPhone as well as valid proof of purchase of a BlackBerry Passport, which must be bought from ShopBlackBerry.com or Amazon.com.

More to follow










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