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.
Simulation Startup Improbable Raises $502m With Softbank’s Help
Improbable, a British firm that specialises in the technology underpinning VR environments, has raised $502m (£389m) in a Series B funding round led by Japanese tech giant SoftBank. The funds are set to be invested in developing the firm’s SpatialOS distributed operating system and other technology.
The company is also planning to accelerate recruitment in its London and San Francisco offices, and make investments to develop a wider ecosystem of developers and customers using its tech. The firm centres on using cloud-based distributed computing to enable virtual worlds to be created with greater ease and less intensive data demands.
“We believe that the next major phase in computing will be the emergence of large-scale virtual worlds which enrich human experience and change how we understand the real world,” said Herman Narula, CEO of Improbable. “At Improbably, we have spent the last few years building the foundation infrastructure for this vision.”
In addition to SoftBank, existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Temasek and Horizons Ventures also contributed to the funding round. Deep Nishar, product strategist at SoftBank, will join the Improbable board following the investment round.
Naspers Orders a €387m Stake in Delivery Hero Group
Online food ordering and delivery marketplace Delivery Hero has announced that global internet and entertainment group Naspers is investing €387m (£332m) in the company, with at least one Naspers representative joining the firm’s supervisory board. The investment will primarily consist of newly issued shares, and is at a valuation in line with the company’s previous estimated worth of $3.1bn.
“We are delighted to welcome such a renowned and strong investor with a proven track record in building successful platforms around the world,” said Niklas Östberg, CEO of Delivery Hero. “Naspers’ capital and knowhow will support our growth momentum as we continue to focus on creating an amazing takeaway experience.”
Berlin-based Delivery Hero’s previous growth has largely been fuelled by local startup accelerator Rocket Internet, but with over 5,000 employees and total investment of over $1.3bn, the seven-year-old company is hardly in need of accelerating any more. Naspers’ investment will fuel Delivery Hero’s international growth, especially in Central America, where Naspers has already invested in one of the leading food delivery platforms.
Retail AI Firm Twiggle Expands US Operations with $15m Round
MizMaa Ventures and Korea Investment Partners have led a new funding round for Twiggle, an Israeli company that specialises in the use of AI in online retail. The $15m investment round, which also included existing investors, brings the firm’s total funding to over $33m, and will be used to expand US-based operations, accelerate product development and grow the company’s customer success, marketing and sales teams.
Twiggle’s patented technology uses natural language processing to improve customer searching and increase relevance and recall for online and mobile retail platforms. The firm’s Semantic API enables retailers to instantly improve their search engines and interact with online customers in a more personal and natural way, resulting in improved conversion rates.
“This stamp of approval from such high calibre investors as MizMaa Ventures and Korea Investment Partners validates Twiggle’s ability to transform the online shopping experience,” said Dr. Amir Konigsberg. “It also helps expand Twiggle’s reach in Asia, the fastest growing retail eCommerce market. I look forward to working with our stellar board, our dedicated and passionate team, and our forward-thinking customers and partners to drive better site search and reinvent the online shopping experience.”
Social Micro-influencer Platform Takumi Fuels Growth with $4m
Takumi, a leading European ‘micro-influencer’ platform that connects brands with social media users to create grassroots Instagram campaigns, has announced that it has completed a $4m Series A funding round. The new investment will be used to fund the company’s US and global expansion, and brings the firm’s total funding to date to $7.1m.
The investment comes largely from family offices and high net worth angel investors, and brings the total investor base to over 50, including prominent UK, European and US investors. Takumi focuses on ‘micro-influencers’ with between 1,000 and 200,000 followers, who have been found to generate higher engagement levels thanks to their more active and engaged audiences.
“Influencer marketing is still in its early stages but will grow into a major marketing channel over the next five years,” said Mats Stigzelius, CEO and co-founder of Takumi. “By offering the best platform possible for influencers and brands, it has allowed us to scale quickly and this will also drive our future growth. However, with this new funding, our undoubted aim is to make Takumi the leading global influencer platform, both for brands and influencers.”