Wikia passes one billion page views and 70 million unique users in a month, mostly from gamers.
Levine tells Pando Daily that the next billion dollar business idea is on the front page of Craigslist. He compares the site’s link to sell and buy tickets with StubHub, and accommodation services to AirBNB:
And the best example of it is arguably Uber. There is a link on the homepage of Craigslist or within any one city on Craigslist for transportation. I think it’s even auto transportation. So you could actually for fifteen years now arrange for someone to pick you up and take you someplace on Craigslist. But no one did it, I mean a few people did it, but not like we use Uber.
Wikia says the $15 million Series D round doubles its valuation. It doesn’t give the overall figure. Page views pass 1.8 billion from 120 million global unique monthly users, and there are 34 million pages of content across 200 languages, with 400,000 fan communities.
Bessemer joins Digital Garage, Amazon, and Institutional Venture Partners in the $15 million round as Wikia looks to break into Asia. Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab and a board member at Digital Garage, becomes an advisor for its expansion into Japan along with other Japanese investors and firms.
Yelp reports profit of $2.7 million for the three months ended June 30, or four cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $878,000, or a penny a share. Analysts had expected a loss of three cents a share.
Wikia breaks into the QuantCast Top 20. Levine:
Tortoises (not just hares) can even win on the Internet
The company announces Series F funding from its existing roster including SV Angel, Bessemer, Fidelity, Andreessen Horowitz, FirstMark Capital, and Valiant Capital Partners. Total financing is $764 million, and the company is working on building out its ad monetization system and its search functions.
Pinterest starts Promoted Pins to add revenue, appearing in users’ search and category feeds. The mix of brands reflects activity on the site. Fashion features heavily, with Gap, Banana Republic, Lululemon Athletica, and Old Navy participating. Food makers Nestle , Kraft, and General Mills are also participating, along with Expedia.com and Walt Disney resorts in the travel category.
In an interview with Forbes magazine, Levine talks about how he finds successful entrepreneurs:
There isn’t a goto way of assessing and saying, ‘Ok, here are the six criteria this founder matches.’ But, in almost all cases, there is something exceptional about the person. And sometimes it’s not one person, sometimes it’s two, and they have this incredible way of complimenting each other.
The distribution giant buys an equity stake of undisclosed size as it looks to add cloud and virtualization capacity for customers that include technology resellers and IT professionals. Under the terms of the deal, Ingram will provide resellers with unified commercial terms and product support.
U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel pares the lawsuit against Bessemer, cutting more than half of the claims by Intego parent Neutral Holdings, but rejects Bessemer’s motion to dismiss several claims against it. (A summary of the claims is here.) Neutral Holdings attorney Philippe C. M. Manteau:
This opinion is especially important for non-U.S. entities seeking investment from U.S. venture capitalists by providing these foreign entities with an adequate level of comfort and predictability as minority shareholders in cross-border ventures.
Cisco buys a 1% stake, giving the software provider a seat on the Parallels board.
Bessemer participates in a follow-on investment with Amazon and Institutional Venture Partners, supplying over $10.8 million. The site now supports 250,000 communities and 20 million pages of user-generated content, 100,000 videos, and 14 million photos. Wales says the site is making a profit:
[It will remain] profitable for years.
The iconic baseball bat maker hires the company to build its new website after going over about half a dozen proposals collected by its ad agency, MEplusYOU of Dallas. Kyle Schlegel at parent company Hillerich & Bradsby says Onestop immediately stood out because of its intimate knowledge of the e-commerce business and the Slugger brand. The buildout is due to be finished by January and will give customers a wider range of purchase options and a better browsing experience.
French company Transeo LLC files a lawsuit in Federal District Court in New York asserting that three limited partnerships controlled by Bessemer breached fiduciary duties and contracts through abuse of a dominant position as controlling shareholder of Neutral Holdings, Inc., the holding company of Intego. Levine attends court sessions for Bessemer.
The network access and virtual PC privelege provider doesn’t disclose financial terms, but says the combined company will have $70 million revenues, up from a projected $50 million at Beyondtrust without the deal. Maiffret keeps his CTO position. Bessemer is bought out and Levine leaves the eEye board for his fourth major exit.
The site adds hub pages separating content into entertainment, gaming, and lifestyle categories, allowing advertisers to expand beyond individual articles to category verticals and the front page and encouraging higher, more targeted traffic.
Yelp debuts on the NYSE, with shares jumping 63.9% from the IPO price to close at a $24.58. The closing price places the company’s market value at $1.47 billion.
The company remains unprofitable ahead of its IPO, reporting a full-year net loss in 2011 of $16.7 million on sales of $83.3 million. In 2010, it lost $9.6 million on $47.7 million revenue. It has also cut cut half its sales staff. Other internet companies have successfully gone public despite questions about their business model, and Yelp pushes ahead with IPO plans.
Yelp prices the deal at $15 a share, above its target, expecting to raise $106.5 million by selling 7.1 million shares.
Yelp files a prospectus to raise up to $100 million. It doesn’t say which exchange it wants to list on or how many shares it wants to sell, but preempts investor concerns about its rivalry with Google:
[Google] has promoted its own competing products, including Google’s local products, in its search results. Given the large volume of traffic to our website and the importance of the placement and display of results of a user’s search, similar actions in the future could have a substantial negative effect on our business and results of operations.
The company hires Palmer as chief executive after he leads Gracenote through its acquisition by Sony. Outgoing CEO Gil Penchina:
Craig is a perfect fit for Wikia’s next stage of growth, which will rely on efficient processes that can help us rapidly scale our community, revenue, and profit. Craig’s history of building successful businesses in content, online media, and technology makes him well-equipped to lead Wikia.
Yelp talks to a Senate hearing about Google’s power over search results. Stoppelman:
Google first began taking our content without permission a year ago. Despite public and private protests, Google gave the ultimatum that only a monopolist can give: In order to appear in Web search, you must allow us to use your content to compete against you.
(Written statement here.)
Shares rise as much as 171% intraday on debut at the New York Stock Exchange before closing at $94.25, more than 109 percent above the IPO price. The company is worth nearly $9 billion after the first day of trading. A LinkedIn employee celebrating in the parking lot of the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.:
I got here at 6 a.m. We’ve been celebrating since then. We recognize that there’s potentially a bubble right now.
The underwriters price the deal at $45 a share, near the top of the range, giving a valuation of $4.25 for 7.84 million shares—the biggest U.S. Internet IPO since Google. Bessemer sells into the IPO, and Cowan and Levine exit and leave the board.
Analysts are divided with the bearish view being that the valuation is high and references to things like ‘key metrics’ of website visits and page views are reminiscent of Dotcom hype. The bullish view is that the company is supported by three diversified revenue streams – ads, premium content, and hiring tools sold to recruiters. It is also the only social media stock that is publicly available, justifying a premium on the shares.
Amazon closes the deal. Levine leaves the company, his third major exit for Bessemer.
Amazon announces it is buying the company for $540 million and assuming $45 million debt. Bezos:
This acquisition brings together two companies who are committed to providing great prices and fast delivery to parents
Amazon is reported to offer $540 million cash, $200 million over what Quidsi is valued in its latest round of venture financing. The founders will get multi-year employment contracts.
Quidsi launches Beautybar.com to compete with supermarkets that sell prestige products online. Prices range from $20 for some basic products to an anti-ageing cream that costs $715. Merchandizing director Caroline Childers:
We went back and forth internally about whether to launch Soap.com and BeautyBar.com at same time. The person looking for Pantene shampoo is also looking for Bliss Body Cream. I don’t think the two dilute each other; they compliment each other.
The three sites share backend systems including an in-house call center, shipping, warehousing and an online shopping cart.
Renamed Quidsi, or What if? in Latin, the company expects to bring in $300 million revenue.
The South African media conglomerate buys out Bessemer and the other investors, and Levine leaves the company’s board. Details of the strategic investment aren’t disclosed but it is rumored to be around $20 million-$40 million. Nexus, the latest investor to join funding, says it made ‘multiples’ on its $5 million investment. OLX now owns Mundoanuncio.com, a classifieds site targeting the Hispanic market, and has a stake in Chinese free classifieds site Edeng.cn. Naspers has been targeting the Latin American market, and says it wants to:
acquire/establish a core internet community within a specific country/region and to then expand the operations by adding additional services such as e-commerce, communication, social networking, content and gaming.
Quidsi, the parent company of Diapers.com, launches Soap.com to leverage the operation’s existing backend logistics and supply more than 25,000 health, beauty, personal care and household products from over 900 brands. This will increase to more than 40,000 products by the end of 2010 and more than 100,000 by end-2011. It says the average offline drugstore has only 10,000 items.
proudly announcing that www.soap.com is now live! watch this vid to learn more: http://bit.ly/bWFrNu Enjoy!
— Soap.com (@soapdotcom) July 15, 2010
Maiffret returns as CTO to the company he started when he was 17, and says he will be in charge of the overall technology vision and day-to-day research.
Quidsi moves to fully automated warehouses on both coasts as it prepares to launch Soap.com. It now has 2.5 million square feet of space. Bahrara:
All the robots are in place.
CEO Gil Penchina says revenues grew four times in 2009 and the company kept costs in check. He doesn’t state the amount of profit, but says it is looking to add a dozen staffers to its roster of 40 people.
Unique visitors in the six months to July increase 76% in the U.S. to 6.5 million, 14.2 million worldwide, and Penchina says the site is making money:
[Ad revenues are] significantly higher than the cost of operations in total
The company adds another $5 million in funding, this time from India-based Nexus Capital.
The retailer more than doubles in size, achieving 147% sales growth as it doubles the number of products it carries and adds product categories including toys, books, clothing, shoes and a Green Baby section to sell environmentally safe products. The company also makes a point of answering phone calls to its call center within 30 seconds and responding to customer service email queries within 20 minutes, which it says creates customer loyalty. Lore:
2008 was a great year but there is very strong price pressure in this category from competitors. We’ll grow in 2009 by continuing to diversify our product mix and delivering what our core customers want.
Wales announces that he is retiring the search engine, to focus on core Wikia activities and Wikianswers.
The site launches a competitor to About.com, Yahoo, and Mahalo. Penchina:
We believe that a more open, freely licensed community will always do better than a corporate site that takes customers contributions and copyrights them in order to take rights away from the contributor.
Diapers.com is renamed Quidsi, What if?, in Latin, and becomes the parent company. The baby products site retains the Diapers.com name.
Goldman Sachs, The McGraw-Hill Companies, and SAP Ventures join the fifth round, with Bessemer the only existing investor to follow-on from the previous rounds. They provide a total of $22.7 million. Bessemer managing partner Cowan:
In today’s economy we spend more time tending to our professional networks, and so it’s no surprise that LinkedIn continues to grow in membership and engagement.
Bessemer is the sole investor in the Series A round and supplies $13.3 million to the full-service e-commerce outsource company. Levine joins as a director.
The 5% stake acquired by Bain Capital, Bessemer, Sequoia, and Greylock in exchange for $53 million in funding values the company at $1.015 billion. Nye:
We have a long list of things our members are asking us to build and a list of investments we need to deliver that functionality
That includes expanding internationally, adding its mobile app, and rolling out new premium features. It doesn’t need the funds for day-to-day operations, and hasn’t yet spent the $12.8 million from the previous round.
Levine leaves the board as Bessemer exits via a $260 million sale to Sony. The company’s MusicID service how has a database of over 6 million CDs and 80 million tracks, which it uses to display song information on music app services such as Apple iTunes, Yahoo! Music Jukebox, and Winamp.
Bessemer joins General Catalyst, Founders Fund, and DN Capital, the same group of investors from the previous round, to provide $13.5 million in Series B funding. The company, which aims to become an international Craigslist, is popular in Spain, India, Portugal, Mexico, South America, China, and the Philippines, where it has a white label partnership with Friendster. It has a presence in 40 countries while supporting 15 languages, and has 92 employees working out of New York, Buenos Aires, Beijing, and Moscow.
Levine’s investment for Bessemer in what looked like a risky venture begins paying off, as Lore and Bharara modify the high-volume, low-margin formula that failed for other e-retailers like Pets.com and Webvan. The company uses software that it wrote to analyze orders and select from among 25 different types of box to avoid U.P.S.’s oversize shipping charge, saving $2-$3 on a typical $100 order. It also places its two warehouses in zones where 45% of customers can get free overnight shipping. Lore:
When you’re shipping diapers, wipes and formula, after shipping costs are taken out, there’s really nothing left in the way of profits. But you add in shampoo, lotions, feeding bottles and those things come out with 35 to 50 percent gross margins.
This brings overall gross profit margins to about 13% compared with 4.6% in 2005.
The site’s search engine launches, including social media-type features and looking to improve results via crowdsourcing.