Programmatic Lunch

Investment Round: Branch, Popular Pays, Saleswhale and MIT's Engine

Alex Spencer

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.

Android creator Branches out with $60m investment
Branch has landed $60m in a Series C round for its deep linking platform. According to TechCrunch, the funding comes from Playground Ventures, founded by Android creator Andy Rubin.

Branch enables marketers to link between content on the web and in apps, as well as handling links sent via SMS, social or email, all supported by attribution tools.

Since the company was formed in 2014 – as Branch Metrics, originally – it has raised $53m, most recently including a $35m round last January.

$3m for Popular influencer marketing platform
Influencer marketing firm Popular Pays has raised $3.2m in fresh Series A funding, led by GoAhead Ventures, with Pallasite Ventures and Hyde Park Angels also contributing.

The funding builds on the $2m previously raised by Popular Pays in July 2015, and closes the company's Series A round.

Its platform connects brands with 8,000 creators, who can submit content for approval through its iOS app and then get paid to post it on their social media accounts. First founded in 2013, the company initially offered non-cash rewards to influencers, but has switched to monetary payment.

Popular Pays has 24 employees, and the investment will be used to add another 12, split between engineering, sales and operations, over the next nine months.

Saleswhale lands $1.2m for email AI
Saleswhale, a Singapore-based AI sales email automation startup, has raised $2.1m in seed funding.

The investment came from Monk’s Hill Ventures, Gree Ventures and Wavemaker Partners, plus a host of angel investors.

Saleswhale offers an automated sales assistant, named Engage, that can be used almost as a virtual employee – it’s able to handle sales leads, including those which gone stale, warming them up over email before handing back over to human staff.

Saleswhale was founded in December 2015, and currently has a team of five engineers. The funding will be used to expand its engineering and product teams.

The Engine revs up with $150m fund for 'tough' tech startups
MIT startup accelerator The Engine has secured $150m, its first pot of funding to support ‘breakthrough scientific and technological innovations with potential for societal impact’.

The Engine was launched last October, and focuses on ‘tough’ technologies – that is, those that will take some time to commercialise. It is comprised of the fund, an accelerator and open network of technical facilities to support startups in a range of sectors from robotics to health tech. With the funding in place, it is now working to select its first set of investments.

“From the beginning, our vision for The Engine has been to foster the success of ‘tough tech’ startups with great potential for positive impact for humanity,” said L Rafael Reif, president of MIT, which contributed $25m of the fund.

“By enabling crucial investments in The Engine’s first portfolio of companies, the funds announced today will also strengthen the local innovation ecosystem and the regional economy.”