venture capital

A bitcoin start-up has bagged fresh investment from one of Silicon Valley’s best-known venture capital firms.

Coinbase, which provides online bitcoin accounts, said on Thursday that it secured $25m in a round of fundraising that was led by Andressen Horowitz, writes FastFT. 

In a rare event, a crowdfunded start-up has gone on to raise mainstream venture capital.

Digital Spin, which raised £60,000 in August from platform Seedrs, has now received several times that amount from Passion Capital and Balderton, two of London’s most active venture funds. Could this be the start of growing links between amateur and professional early-stage investors? 

Pinterest, the fast-growing online scrapbooking site, has raised $200m, valuing the three year-old company at $2.5bn.

The San Francisco-based company is adding to its unconventional list of investors with this financing round, rather than turning to the Silicon Valley venture capital firms that typically lead investments for a company at this stage of growth.

The latest round was led by Valiant Capital Management, a hedge fund in San Francisco founded by Christopher Hansen, who is better known for his attempts to bring an NBA basketball team back to Seattle than his technology bets. 

Is Silicon Valley drying up? David O Sacks, founder and CEO of enterprise social network service Yammer, certainly seems to think so. Others, like Marc Andreessen, disagree. That makes for a lively debate, and it is taking place on perhaps the most apt forum of all – Facebook, writes Vinjeru Mkandawire and Robin Kwong.

“I think Silicon Valley as we know it may be coming to an end,” wrote Sacks on his Facebook page over the weekend, just before the social networking site’s shares sank to half its initial offering price. 

Maija Palmer

Funding Circle, a UK-based online marketplace where individuals lend directly to small businesses raised $16m of Series B financing from joint investors Index Ventures and US-based Union Square Ventures. This brings the total amount raised by the company to $21m.  Launched in August 2010, the company now facilitates around £1m in loans each week. The company is planning to use the funds to double its staff over the next year.

Dragonplay, a Tel Aviv-based games developer raised $14m in a Series A funding from Accel Partners.  Dragonplay specializes in makes card, casino and board games for smartphones and social networks and is best known for Live Holdem Poker Pro, which has more than 2m monthly active players.  The company will use the investment to expand its portfolio of games. 

Maija Palmer

For once it was not shopping and e-commerce that dominated that European VC funding rounds.

In March, financial services were the flavour of the month, with eToro and The Currency Cloud attracting investment. Both of them seek to disrupt the financial services sector by using either social networking or cloud computing to jazz up a staid industry.

Advertising solutions are also finding willing backers, including personalised online ads from MyThings and advertising to wrap around Android apps from StartApp .

 

Maija Palmer

The frenzy to invest in mobile payments providers continues with Boku, the San Francisco-based start-up raising $35m, in a funding round led by Telefónica Digital. It will take the total raised by the mobile transactions company to more than $75m since 2008.

Investors in this round also included New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Andreessen Horowitz, Benchmark Capital, DAG Ventures, Index Ventures and Khosla Ventures. 

Maija Palmer

A little bit of much-needed consolidation is finally taking place in the European Venture Capital industry. On Wednesday DFJ Esprit and Tempo Capital announced plans to merge their secondary investment businesses.

Tempo is a specialist in this market of buying existing venture capital investments, and DFJ has been dipping its toes in since 2007 when it bought out Cazenove’s venture capital fund. 

Tech news from around the web:

As the deadline for applications for the latest Y Combinator start-up showcase nears, GeekWire reports that survey of 52 venture capital firms raised $1.72bn during the third quarter, a 52 per cent decrease in dollar commitments on the same time last year. The survey, by Thomson Reuters and the National Venture Capital Association, says the latest total is the lowest for eight years.

Mobile devices now amount to almost 7%  of all US web traffic, Apple Insider says. According to a report by comScore,  Apple’s iOS mobile operating system takes up a 58.5% slice of all mobile traffic, with the iPad now accounting for more traffic than iPhones. 

Richard Waters

The direction in which venture capital is moving is clear: fewer funds investing ever-larger amounts in companies that are good candidates for an IPO. What this means for the industry’s long-term health is another matter.