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Investment Round: Atomico, Soundtrack Your Brand, NewsWhip and Pleo

Tim Maytom

Funding rounds and investment aren't just the lifeblood that keeps technology firms alive and growing. They're also fantastic indicators of which ideas and technologies are catching the interest of the business world and have the potential to impact the mobile marketing industry as a whole.

Investment Round is our weekly update on which firms have secured new funding, which areas are seeing the most financing, and who is putting up the cash that enables these firms to pushing the capabilities of mobile marketing further.

Atomico Closes Fourth Fund with $765m
Venture capital firm Atomico has secured $765m (£616m) for its fourth fund after 11 months of raising money, making it one of the single largest venture capital funds ever raised in Europe.

The firm plans to use Atomico IV to work with ambitious founders who combine disruptive technology with a global scope, investing in companies from Series A onwards. The fund represents a considerable advancement on Atomico III, which closed with $476.6m in 2013.

Atomico currently holds stakes in Finnish game developer Rovio, payments firm Klarna and tarvel site GoEuro, and racked up big wins with Climate Corp, which sold to Monsanto for around $1bn, and Supercell, which was purchased by Tencent for $8.6bn.

European venture capital funds have traditionally lagged behind their US counterparts, with European institutions hesitant to engage in this particular format of investment. However, Mattias Ljungman, general partner at Atomico, believes that attitude is changing and European funds could soon outpace US investment.

Soundtrack Your Brand Secures $22m for Enterprise Music
Billing itself as the "B2B Spotify", Soundtrack Your Brand already counts McDonald's, TAG Heuer and Toni & Guy among its customers, and has now raised $22m to expand its business globally and strengthen its tech offering.

The firm, which selects and plays licenced music in stores and other retail locations, was founded by an ex-Spotify executive and one of Beats' co-founders. It also operates Spotify Business in Sweden, Norway and Finland, and counts the music streaming service among its previous investors.

The latest round was led by Balderton Capital and Swedish fund Industrifonden, with contributions by Telia, Northzone, Creandum and HMP. It brings Soundtrack Your Brand's total funding to around $40m.

The company currently works with streaming services like Spotify and Play Network to relicence music for business use, but is seeking to work direct with record labels, and this new wave of funding could help make that a reality.

AP Invests $6.4m in NewsWhip to Track Trending Topics
The Associated Press and Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun are among the strategic investors who have provided $6.4m in funding for NewsWhip, a service which tracks which stories and themes are trending on social media.

NewsWhip provides publishers and brands with insights into popular subjects and what influencers are talking about, and is already used by the AP and Asahi Shumbun, as well as media companies like the BBC and The Washington Post.

The Irish firm previously raised $3m from AP, 500 Startups and others, and other participants in this round include Tribal Ventures, Enterprise Ireland, Matter VC and AIB Seed Capital Fund.

"Across the media ecosystem, NewsWhip is replacing hunches and guesswork with hard data and predictions," said Paul Quigley, CEO of NewsWhip. "Each minute, we're matching content and stories with the people who need to know about them. Our long tail data helps shape editorial strategy at the most important media outlets and brands."

Easy Expensing Startup Gets Backing from Creandum
Pleo is a London and Copenhagen-based fintech firm that offers users a credit card and accompanying app, enabling them to easily manage company expenses. The service, which launched officially in July 2016, has just closed an additional $3.25m in funding, led by VC firm Creandum.

"Dealing with expenses today involves too many manual processes and creates friction for businesses everywhere," said Johan Brenner, general partner at Creandum, who will be joining the Pleo board. "With Pleo, it's now easy to buy things for work and seamlessly manage and control expenses. There are lots of expense apps out there but non the provides the ease of use and integrated solution."

Pleo consists of a prepaid Mastercard which can be distributed to employees, either physically or virtually, and couples with a backend system that enables companies to to manage spending limits, permissions and reimbursements. The funding will fuel the firm's expansion into new markets, as well as being used to strengthen its tech offering.